We woke up at 5AM to take Mom on a birding expedition. I hired a birding guide to take us around BKK to the good bird-watching locations. Our guide, Peter, met us at the hotel at 6AM and off we went.
Our first stop was a park of sorts. I’m not exactly sure what the place was officially, but it seems to be owned/maintained by the Army. This leg of the trip was basically birding by car. There were so many birds to see we didn’t even have to get out and walk. I fully admit that I have no real love or interest in birds, but to see my Mom having fun was enough for me.
After the park we went to another location… off the beaten path. Now, when I say “off the beaten path” I’m talking WAAAAAAAAY off. I was amazed how one turn off the main road transported us to an entirely self-sufficient sub-culture. Shacks were grocery stores, houses were made of whatever was available, and food carts were located in the strangest places. This is not to be taken the wrong way, not to be looked upon as “those poor Thai people, it must be so hard for them.” Yes, they do not appear to have much, and I would certainly be hard-pressed to find anyone I know that could survive with so little. But what strikes me the most is that these people aren’t merely surviving, they are thriving. None of them look hungry, sick, or sad. In fact, they look content and happy to be among family. Do they wish to have more than they do? I’m sure they would (Who wouldn’t?). But it seems to me – purely as an observation – that unlike us Westerners they don’t sit around complaining, “if I only had more money…”; they make the best of what they have and do it with big smiles.
So back to birding. This location was not really the most conducive to Mom being able to bird. The trail – and I use that term very loosely – was muddy and slippery. It was also ridiculously hot and humid. Mom fell once, and although she found it quite funny I don’t mind telling you that it gave me a coronary. The bottom line is that it was too much work in this location and we had to cut it short and head back. Mom did manage to get a few new species, and we did see the replica of the ancient city (I don’t know much about it, but I took a few pictures from a distance). Since it was still very early in the morning, we went back to the first birding location and managed to get a few more species. All in all it was a very enjoyable morning, and Mom seemed to have a great time.
After birding it was back to the hotel for showers and fresh clothes. One of my goals while in BKK was to buy the rest of the Harry Potter books in Thai. I have the first two volumes already, but I wanted the other five to complete the collection. The mall seemed to be the best place to find them, so it was off to capitalism’s greatest invention.
I should note at this point that one of BKK’s greatest achievements is its transportation. You will NEVER have a problem finding a taxi here. There are literally hundreds of taxis everywhere you look, and the fares – as with pretty much everything else in Thailand – is incredibly cheap. A 20-minute taxi ride will cost you 65 Baht – about $2.50 USD. Between the taxis, buses, SkyTrain, and tuk-tuks you will never have to wait more than about fifteen seconds to get transportation.
The mall was big… VERY big. It’s about nine stories tall and filled with everything from clothing shops to restaurants, furniture and a movie theater. But when you’ve been to one mall you’ve been to them all (for me, at least) so it was right to the bookstore. I did find my Harry Potter books; Mission Accomplished!
Not too far from the mall is the Jim Thompson house. No need to go into his history (you can read more about it here) but we took the tour and it was very interesting.
We then went back to the hotel to relax for a while (the heat and humidity makes regular breaks a necessity) and that’s when the time difference and heat finally caught up with me. I crashed HARD and slept for several hours. Mom woke me up for dinner but I was not happy about getting up. I’m glad she got me up because we hadn’t yet eaten a complete, full meal and it was much-needed. Once dinner was finished it was right back to bed for the night. I think it took me all of 45-seconds to get back to sleep.