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Tales From Bangkok
geb dok mai
Aug 22, 2001
I wrote this email yesterday, but the net connection got severed and I
lost it so, a second draft....

Things here are settling down a little and all of the oddities are
seeming more normal, that is normalish.

I have begun to see full size elephants walking down the middle of huge
streets here every night. And yes I firmly believe that they are
actually there. Come on. They are. It's really cool, they are enormous,
and you can feed em for 20 baht if you want. Its pretty neat although I
do always feel bad for the elephant. But the other day, it was like 12
am and we were stopped dead in traffic, so I figured there had been an
accident or something... wrong. It was a 2 ton elephant trying to
parallel park. Not the easiest of all ventures. You should try backing
one of those puppies up into a space barely big enough to park a Geo.
The driver was quite talented, cause somehow he managed. I was like,
hey, you don't see that everyday. But now, I do.

So, I finally did it. I actually ate a scorpion. Mmmm. So yummy. Every
part of it, head, claws, legs, body, abdomen, tail (minus the stinger).
Crunchy goodness... I think it was fried, but either way it was scary
looking. Big and black, with eyes and fried into an attacking position.
The whole thing was about 3 inches long, so it was pretty big. It also
cost 20 each, which is about 45 cents and the same price as a full
meal. The whole thing is just really crunchy and oily until you get to
the abdomen when all of the guts squish into your mouth. Not crunchy.
At this point you sorta wish you had something to drink, but the tail
is so good, that you stop worrying about it. I have to say that
scorpions are much better on all levels than grasshoppers, ants and
beetle larvae.

So all of the bars here now close at 1 am, or they suffer huge fines.
The chief of police is trying to crack down on all of the naughtiness
of bangkok. It is actually sorta working but at the same time, it is
making a lot of people more poor. Anyhow, this closing bars at absurdly
early hours has driven us to several treasure hunts to look for some
shady vendor to sell us beer at "forbidden hours." This is not
difficult. In fact it is barely a treasure hunt. You just have to be
willing to walk down not main roads. And here, everyone is more afraid
of me than anything cause I am not Buddhist, and they know it.
whoooahahaha. Anyway, so Vaughn and I have been on several of these
adventures, and I am telling you it is way better than drinking in a

At one point I found this dog... it was really a great dog, and he
really thought I was great. i tried to talk Vaughn into taking it home
with us, but thankfully he adamantly prohibited bringing home any pets.
So, I did what any good temporary owner would do... I gave it a name...
Donkey. I have wanted a donkey for about a month now, but so far my
efforts to have ECC subsidize the thing have been unsuccessful. Then I
met this baby elephant who was so soft, and cute, and too small to
ride... and I decided that one of those named donkey would be just as
good, except that it is a little too easy to get here. I don't think
they even have donkeys in Thailand... actually they probably do, but
everyone who I have asked where I could get one, had no idea. So
anyway, with all of this in mind, Donkey (the dog) was given the name
of all names, and I think he knew it and liked it cause he followed us
everywhere that night, until we got in a cab and he ran home.

So that same night, we found a shady woman to sell us beer and we found
a nice shady bench to sit on, and some nice buckets to drum on... we
must have sat there singing, and drumming and drinking beer for two
hours... it was great. People, mostly farang, would walk by and start
dancing and singing with us. I then started barking at all of the dogs,
so that we could have a nice chorus of barking dogs, angry shouts from
the neighbors, drums, and "almost singing" from a group of about 8-10
people at any one time. We must have met 50 people just sitting there.
It was great. It was the finest music I had ever heard. And that's the
truth. Almost.

So, on Tuesday I went with Vaughn to the Imperial Palace (which is not
where the King and Queen live) to see the Emerald Buddha. This thing
was quite fantastic. It was about 2 feet tall and solid jade, adorned
in fantastic clothing which they change 3 times a year according to the
season. It sits 25 feet above everyone's head and just sorta glows.
When you first get there, you think to yourself, hey this thing is
sorta small, but then you realize why they love it so much. Apparently,
in the 1400s I believe it was found, but it was all covered in ceramic.
But then one of the monks noticed that part of the nose was chipped
off, revealing this green stone. So they took off the covering and
discovered the Buddha image which they originally thought was emerald.
This thing was tossed around everywhere. Where ever the power was, the
emerald Buddha was as well. The Laos people captured it for 200 years,
then in a raid, the Thai captured their city and took it back. Then one
of the Thai kings moved it to Chiang Mai in the North, and it has been
in bangkok now for about 150 years I think, that number could be off.
The wat that it is kept in is amazing. It sparkles like no other. And
it is only one beautiful building in the complex of about 30... some
old, some new. The whole thing was awesome. Oh, and you can't take
pictures of the emerald Buddha from inside... strictly forbidden. And
that wat is the private wat of the king and queen. so it is sorta neat
thinking that you could go be in the same place as where the king and
queen pray.

eh, you are probably sufficiently tired of reading or perhaps you
should be in bed or getting back to work.