Bangkok: Oriental City!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Talk about the pendulum swinging! I did not expect the culture shock, but shock it was. But let me back up.

Trudy and Jeff and Tim and I left the Children’s Home in Siliguri, India on Thursday afternoon, got some ice cream at a local joint (where, once again, everyone knew Jeff’s name.) They have this Black Currant flavor that is DE-LICIOUS! Then back to the hotel and got a GREAT night of sleep. Good thing since the 24 hours that followed were hellish!! We got up on Friday morning and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of, yes, butter-jam-toast and eggs.

The Lord had been telling me to pray for a woman that worked as a maid-of-sorts in the hotel. She had a very large goiter (enlarged thyroid, maybe) at the front of her throat. I was uncomfortable doing that for two main reasons: she is Hindu and she speaks no English. I am, however, very adept at charades. I said to myself, “IF I see her, THEN I will pray.” I didn’t see her all morning but as we left the room, with suitcases in tow, there she was coming down the steps from the 3rd floor. I did my charades things (praying hands, pointing at my throat, then hers) She nodded. It was a go. I prayed as the Lord led and then left. I do so hope that God will “restore her throat to the way he created it to be!”

WE then made our way to Bagdogra where Jiwan dropped us off at the airport. We flew to Delhi, got off the plane and were met by Jeff’s pal, Rajeev, who took us back to our original motel, Waves. We dumped all of our luggage, used their WIFI and then broke free from the norm and had our driver take us to PIZZA HUT! It was the BEST pizza, ever…we overate (of course) and were happy campers. Once back at the hotel, we continued to compete for band-width and then, as Tim and I awaited our 11:00 departure time from the hotel for the airport, we just all got punchy intermittently with pitiful attempts at power naps. Tim and I said our good byes and left for the lobby where we waited for 5 minutes for our driver to take us BACK to the airport. WE checked in early and then waited 3 hours for our 2:30am flight for Bangkok. Tim dozed. I read. Time crept by. WE finally loaded, tried to sleep unsuccessfully due to many factors: crying baby, air conditioner that worked too well, and food service smack dab in the middle of the 3.5 hour flight.

But, what awaited us was well worth it….

Paul and his brother, Alex, met us at the airport (after we cleared customs, exchanged USD for Thai Bohts, and got our luggage). We were as delighted to see him as he was us. WE loaded up into a sweet van (Paul’s brother, Alex’s) and his driver took us promptly to the Hotel Novotel. This is a four star hotel that Paul got a sweet deal for. By this time, Tim and I were running on empty. So we checked in, grabbed a cup of coffee, got a quick shower and we were off!

First we went to the mall to visit the food court. Now this food court was like NONE that I had ever experience. One part was all sweets (Haagen Das, Krispy Creme, etc) and then a few fast food (no Chick-fil-A), and then dozens of sushi, Chinese, Indian, Asian, and Thai restaurants. Each was decorated impeccably and each had people buzzing in and out of them. Unlike in India where 95% of the women that we saw were wearing Sari’s, these girls/women had on cute dresses, short shorts and wore makeup. The contrast was mind-boggling. Alex helped us choose a sushi restaurant and also helped us order. It was not only beautiful food but delicious. We, of course, ate too much.

Then, Alex and Paul wanted to take us to the Sunday Market. The Sunday Market is only open on Saturday and Sundays and is literally acres and acres of booths (some inside, some outside) of everything from modern furniture, antiques, lamps, clothes (cheap and high dollar!), jewelry, fabrics, purses, shoes, novelties, food, art, silks, pashmere, etc. Much of it was locally designed and made. We were overwhelmed with the vastness of it all. We also got a quick picture of a Thailand teenage movie star who was making an appearance at the market. He had teenage girls swooning!

Then we came back to get a power-nap. Our hotel is plush (the sheets are amazing and it is so cleeeeeean!) with a view that overlooks the city!

By 6:40 we met Paul where he took us to an old Thai/Chinese restaurant that his family has been frequenting for over 50 years. We sat around a round table with a huge lazy-susan that was set for 15. AS we drank some hot tea, Paul’s brother, Alex and beautiful his wife came in, then each of their 3 daughters and husbands and kids and Paul’s youngest brother. Then the food started coming in…bowls and platters filled with spring rolls, and prawns and crab and beef and chicken and rice and noodles…colorful presentations and flavors overloaded our senses. PLUS, we were served GREEN food…we had not seen anything green for 12 days! AS we ate (yes, we began with chopsticks) the food kept coming and the lazy susan kept spinning. There were at least 8 bowls of sauces/dips, each of which were suppose to go on its own dish. One would think that would be enough, but more food came, then more drinks (camomile and chrysanthemum tea), hot green tea. Then the dessert (ice cream, fresh coconut, peanuts and corn-kernels) and THAT was followed by a tray of fresh cut fruit with a dry salt/sugar/spice dip. And then THAT was followed by a little bowl of egg-shaped things in a dark liquid. I tried it and when they asked me what I thot I answered, “I cannot even think of something nice to say…” (It was nasty) BUT, everything else was FANTASTIC.

Paul’s family is delightful. So welcoming, so talented so gracious. It was a beautiful experience!

WE all left there about 9:00 and we headed back to hotel. I am typing, Tim is snoring. Need I say more?

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