We had called Yut to advise him of our return before
having left Laos. His response that he hadn't been expecting us for a
few more weeks, did not bode all that well. I could only interpret his
concern as meaning he did not have the money to buy the bikes back.
Unfortunately my interpretation was right on the mark. Our agreement
was that I would have the bikes back by the end of April and we were a
few weeks early. Yut wanted us to hold off for two days and talk with
his friend for which he had brokered this deal to begin with. I could
see that Yut genuinely felt that he had been put on the spot in this
deal. He wanted us to relate to his friend the laundry list of problems
and hassles we had had with the second bike. His friend was at the shop
that Thursday as promised, and we agreed to the buyback price, but
unfortunately he didn't have the money. He had 20,000 baht, and Yut
said that he could have the balance by the 28th of the month. This
left more than 300,000 baht or right around $10,000 that they owed us. I
made it clear that we were definitely not inclined to hang around
Bangkok for a full two weeks, and that we were anxious to get down to
the beach. Yut suggested as an alternative that we could leave the
bikes with him and take the registration documents with us and he would
send the money via postal money order on or before the 28th. I could
then mail him the documents. I didn't feel all that comfortable with
Yut's friend, but I reminded Yut that it was his name on the contract
and not his friend's.
Reluctantly we accepted the arrangement, and decided we would spend a couple days in town during the upcoming Thai New Year since it would probably be difficult to find lodging in the resort areas on that weekend. After a day of shopping and just relaxing, we figured that now that we were here for the third time it might be a good idea to actually get out and see some of Bangkok. We chose a walking tour beginning by taking a taxi out of the busy center to Wat Arun on the other side of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya river. We had learned a little late in the game that, with a little planning, the river taxis on Bangkok's rivers and canals provide an excellent alternative to Bangkok's choked traffic.
|Wat Arun, along
with Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho, represent Bangkok's holiest of places.
It's Khmer style Prang towers more than eighty meters, and is
surrounded by four other prangs like the one on the right. The entire
complex is covered with the most incredible mosaics.
above and below show just a small amount of Wat Arun's exquisite detail.
river from Wat Arun there is a high concentration of Bangkok's most
famous tourist sites. Above, these soldiers guard one of the gates to
Wat Pho which houses Thailand's largest and most famous reclining
reclining Buddha (above and below) is nearly fifty feet tall and one
hundred and fifty feet long.
|Across the road
from Wat Pho is an enclosed complex covering two square blocks housing
the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. We made it as far as the entrance
below before being yanked from the line because I was wearing shorts.
They were willing to lend me a pair of pants, but I figured it was a
karmic wake-up call after my previous rants about the hootchie mama
look at holy places.
|That evening we
went to Khao San Road for the first night of Thai New Year. Better
known as Songkran, the new year celebration lasts at least 3 days, and
for some revelers it can last even longer. Pick up trucks ply the
streets with garbage cans full of water tossing out sauce pans full of
water on passers-by. Motorcyclists and taxis are favorite targets of
people with hoses. And pedestrians walk around with water pistols and
super-soakers, many of them with backpack reservoirs. On Khao San the
air was so thick with mist in places you could hardly see.