Addict (drugaddict) wrote,

Robert writes from Thailand

Dear Chris,
I've just returned with Willem and Eric from Singapore this morning
at 5:30 am where we were stuck for three days trying to get on the KLM
night flight to Amsterdam. Each time we had to check out of the hotel
and sit in the airport till after midnight, only to be told to try the
next day. But if you have to be stuck somewhere, I guess Singapore is
better than most. Besides which the hotel allowed us late check outs
consecutively. So in total we traveled through Thailand and the city
of Singapore for about three weeks. It was an incredible trip. We
spent most of the time in Krabi, which although not an island, can
only be reached by longtail- a gondola type of boat powered by an
outboard motor.
This is also the transportation used to get to the
surrounding islands. Good snorkeling and mountain climbing, pristine
beaches and warm clear water. We found a four star hotel for $50.00
bucks a night. The food was excellent. Eric consumed no less than
fifteen shrimp pah thais and Willems favorite was tiger prawns with
garlic and pepper. We all loved the banana pancakes which were more
like crepes topped with nutella.

I ate everything until I think I had
a little crab that was off or maybe it was in the ice, anyway I was
out of it for a few days with bed sweats and a very unsettled stomach
and never returned to my initial enthusiasm for the food. My unsettled
state was compounded by the fact that it came the day we were
transferring by ferry to Pipi Island which was overcrowded, standing
room only, and although it departed at ten in the morning, offered
little comfort from the stagnating heat- about 90 degrees!. After a
few days in Pipi Island, which I was told, (I never made it out of
bed) seemed to have suffered more than Krabi from the Tsunami and was
much more commercial, we went back to Krabi.

We decided it was a
slice of paradise worthy of a longer stay. Great boulder islands of
limestone protected it from much of the devastation found in the
surrounding areas. Then we caught a cheap flight to Bangkok and stayed
there for three days. Bangkok is a huge city, perhaps the biggest I've
ever seen with open markets on every corner. Every kind of food you
can imagine and some that you wouldn't( deep fried crickets and
cockroaches) can be found along the bustling streets. Transportation
around the city involved many of the more familiar ways to get around
like buses, ferries and subways as well as some very unique and
creative ways to beat the intense traffic. The Tuk-tuk is an elaborate
three wheeled motorcycle with a open cab which barely sat the three of
us, but never the less cost more than a conventional air conditioned
cab and is Willem's favorite way to travel. The sight of the three of
us stuffed into the back seat, screaming and laughing at every hairpin
turn, (Eric describes it as "almost suicidal") was quite the scene. If
you're traveling by yourself you can hire a motor cycle and sit behind
the driver as he weaves in and out of the traffic designated from
private cyclist by the driver's orange vest.

We visited the oldest
temple in Thailand and had a guided tour and crash course in Buddhism.
It seemed to explain the incredible generosity and gracious spirit of
the people and everywhere we went we were greeted by the unforgettable
smiles and personal touch of the locals. All Thai boys enter the monk
hood at the age of 19 or so before or after their term in the army.
(We were never really clear which came first.) Massages can be found
everywhere for less than 8 dollars an hour. Manicures, pedicures, and
foot messages are also incredible inexpensive and we've all returned
finely manicured and very relaxed. I giggled and grunted through the
entire experience. Thai message is very intimate and involves the
little girls using all their might and various body parts to achieve
total relaxation. The first time I was shocked when they mounted my
back hugging with their knees and arms using all body and force. All
the girls are graduates of the Bangkok Temple where they learn the art
of message. Wild life is every where. Willem let a pet gecko into our
room who seemed to keep the insects in check. Monkeys are abundant
and, although I've heard stories that they can be aggressive, I feed
well over twenty with one bag of peanuts, each one grabbing the nut
right from my hand.

Their family relations are obvious and from Papa
to Mama and on down, it is evident the hierarchical place each one
performs. The vegetation and fauna is jungle, jungle and more jungle
with palms and soaring coconut trees. Eric would stop in his tracks at
night as he would point to the brilliant night sky full of bright
stars silhouetted by the rustling palms that wave in the ocean's
breeze hundreds of feet over head. Magical and mystical are words I
would use. Eric has returned to work two days late and Willem and I
will have the rest of the week to catch up on friends and dinners both
here in Amsterdam and this weekend, in their home town, Tilburg, where
we'll say hello to friends and family. Then I'm on my way back home on
Wednesday via New York to the tip of Cape Cod. It's been an incredible
journey that I hope will never fade from memory.
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