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2006-11-19 Around Parliament

We got up late. Big surprise!

Then we ate breakfast, slept some more, and got up at 13:00. We took the cab to Vimarnmek Palace for 90฿. The taxi meter worked. No problem! (Mai dai!)

We got stuck in the traffic and arrived there at 15:00. We got out shortly before 16:00. Things were already closing again! We slept too long.

We walked down Thanon Rajasima, and came to Thanon Ayutthaya. It was blocked with what looked like old buses. Military stuff! There were soldiers taking a nap in the shade, looking bored. But the road was blocked. Why?

It took me a while to realize that this road led straight to the parliament, and since Thailand was under military rule after the coup – these must be the troups “occupying” the centers of power! Eek!

Half way to the King Chulalongkorn Monument, we noticed a market on our left. “What is this?” I asked a policemen at the insistence of Claudia. As expected, he pointed towards the market and said: “Yes, yes!” There’s a lesson for Claudia. :)

We walked around and there were many Thai women with head scarves, and the food stalls all had big blue signs saying “حلال”. I knew immediately what this was all about: Halal food that satisfies Muslim religious requirements! As I looked closer, I noticed that this label was issued by the Muslim Committee of Thailand. It’s official! I don’t think there is anything like it here in Switzerland. But then again, the Muslims I know around here don’t buy their meat at the ordinary food outlets. They buy them at the Turkish butcher’s. And those are the only butchers still left. Most of the others had to fold as food distribution changed in the 1990s.

At the back of the market we were able to see the big square where King Chulalongkorn Monument stands. There was a parade going on! The reality of the coup was creepy. I lived in Bangkok at the time of the last coup about fifteen years ago! Creepy.

We walked to Wat Benchamabopit – the Marble Temple. It was late. The tourists had left, only a few professional looking photographers remained behind. The priests were chanting inside the main building.

We took another cab to Wat Indraviharn. There’s a huge 41m Buddha and various other statues. The big Buddha looks upon some old wooden houses outside the temple grounds. I took a picture and a few grinning kids approached. I smiled. One of them shouted: “Fuck!” What the fuck? Then more of them started shouting: “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck you!” We left.

Later I read in our guidebook that the Buddha is overlooking many poor brothels. I guess the kids thought I was interested or something. Brrr!

Elated by the positive Taxi experience, we took a Tuk Tuk to Thanon Samsen Soi 2, looking for a restaurant recommended in the book. We agreed on 20฿, but it turns out that we were somewhere around Soi 8 or 10, so it was a really short trip. Damn crook!! :)

There was no good-looking restaurant to be found, however. So we took out the map and noticed that Khao San Road (Images:Khao+San+Road) was nearby. We decided to walk there and find another restaurant in Thanon Rambutri. We were looking for the Au Thong, but I think we got the wrong one. The food wasn’t awesome, but it was expensive none the less. Oh well.

We walked down Thaon Rambutri and up Thanon Khao San, and to the Democracy Monument, where we got our favorite bus: Bus 15!

Back at the hotel, Claudia suggested we watch Inside Man (2006) using the video-on-demand system of the hotel. It cost about as much as going to a good cinema would have (385฿), but audio quality was lousy. Oh well. The movie was ok entertainment…

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