I've spent the last two weeks on "vacation." It is sad to me that I've been in Thailand 4 weeks today, and only about a week of it in the forest. I am very ready to get back there and really get rolling on our fieldwork. I am also a bit nervous because going back means that I will be collecting data myself and will really have to be on my A game. As for the last two weeks, I've had ample ways to waste time other than blogging, so I have been a slacker. So, I intend to give an abridged version of my two week vacation from Khao Yai.
I spent my first day back at Chollada's house doing nothing but sitting around watching TV and eating good food (and had absolutely no problem with this). The next day, Saturday, Chollada and her mom took me to the IT mall: basically a place with hundreds of the exact same stores, that somehow stay in business even though they are all selling the same laptops, TVs, tablets, etc. We found what I was looking for, a new laptop adapter cord, and a real HP one (for much cheaper than HP sells it for, so who knows about the integrity of the store selling it) it seems like it will last a decent while. This was the day I discovered deep fried bananas-my life will never be the same, and I don't even like bananas! We went to bed fairly early because we were getting up early on Sunday to head to Ayutthaya. We left the house very early and met all of Chollada's friends at a temple downtown. In Atutthaya of course we visited a temple, then we went a saved a buffalo. To me, it was a stupid concept. The group shelled out 25,000 baht (about $1000) to "save a buffalo." This means they get to pick out a buffalo (or a cow for 23,000), and it gets sent to some farmer who promises not to kill it but to use it for other purposes (I'm assuming milking it or using it to pull a plow or something?). The buffalo's savior gets to track it and make sure its still alive. Its a campaign organized by the king and it seems to me like its just something to make him look like a good guy to the public (who already worships the ground he walks on-literally). Not to say the kind isn't a good guy, I don't know much about him. I would just rather people donate to have the cows/buffaloes living on the farm in better conditions. I think being butchered for meat after only a year of a good life; being fed properly and not walking around knee deep in your own shit, is better than perhaps being the one chosen by some nice people to be saved, but in the meantime living in atrocious conditions. And who knows how the farmer who gets the saved individual will treat it? Sorry for the rant, but I saw this whole thing as a scam and a huge waste of money. After rescuing our poor buffalo, we headed to lunch at a floating seafood restaurant. It was pretty good, although some seafood dishes here are a bit too fishy for me. After lunch we saw the main draw of Ayutthaya; the ruins of the old capital city. We went to a very old temple and looked around a bit. Our last stop before heading back to Bangkok was to get some of what I call "sugar burritos" (I should probably learn the real name). Its stringy sugar wrapped in a sweet tortilla like thing: yummy.
pouring flower water on our "saved" buffalo
giant freshwater shrimp
old temple in Ayutthaya
I guess its called "roti sai mai"
Monday I had another lazy day while Chollada was at work. When she got home we planned some things for me to do in the city Tuesday. So, Tuesday I woke up early and went into the city with Chollada on her way to work. First I headed to the Jim Thompson house-an American man who apparently revived the Thai silk industry and collected a lot of Asian art. His house is like a little retreat within the city, a big garden with lots of trees so you can't even see or hear the business of Bangkok. Inside his collection of teak houses was tons or art (paintings, sculptures, ceramic pieces). After a tour in English(?) I headed off to my next destination. I mastered public transit, including both the skytrain and the ferry boat, I walked through the delightful smelling flower market, and finally made it to Museum Siam-a new museum about the history of Thailand. It was a nice museum, geared more towards kids; you can touch everything in the museum. It sort of reminded me of a small version of the Henry Ford. Afterward I had some delicious Pad Thai for lunch. Then I headed back to the main shopping area of town. I checked out the MBK center-a bargain shopping place, and bought some harem pants. Then I went to Siam Square and bought a tank top (probably paid too much). Chollada and I met for dinner at Coffee Beans by Dao-a tummy restaurant with delicious cheesecake!
Jim Thompson house
Just when I was beginning to get sick of the city, I left for Hua Hin, a beach town about three hours from Bangkok...