The Took Took Game
I hopped off the bus in an area that looks promising. Streets covered in vendors and merchandise, Taxis and motorcycles litter the street. I am looking for Bangkok's distinguished temples and Buddha statues. I have no idea where to start, people are running every which way, I'm lost and happy. I pick a direction and start walking, looking for anything that could loan me some useful information. Little shop owners wave and smile with crooked teeth, in effort to try and sell me something small and tacky, I smile politely and keep walking. I approach an intersection, a little old man sitting by a motor cart waves for me to come over. It doesn’t appear like he is trying to sell anything, so I walk over to him and say hello. He introduces himself to me, a name that I can not repeat, not due to content but pronunciation. He pulls out a map and begins pointing with lightning speed to all of the shrines, temples and attractions in the area. I laugh and look up at him, “I take you! 10 Baht!” 10 Baht is like 30 cents, if a new adventure only costs 30 cents, you can always count me in. “Well that seems like a good deal, lets go!” I say hopping in the back of the cart. “This is Took Took.” The old man says with a smile and we take off. This little cart cruses, and the old man driving is for sure certifiably insane! We weave through traffic, pass cars on the shoulder of the street and occasionally ramp onto the sidewalk to bypass traffic. I hoot and holler in delight, the ride alone is worth 10 baht. I nod at other Europeans in Took Tooks, all with wide eyed grins plastered on their faces. We ride up to a little dark alley and stop, “this is first.” the driver says and points down the alley. Jesus where am I. Slowly, I start down the narrow walk way, preparing myself for some sort of an ambush. I round a corner, and none other than Buddha himself is there to greet me.
A small little fenced in temple lay there, a small guard sitting on a stool smiles at me. I walk over, the guard greets me and shows me around. I take my pictures, thank the guard and head back down the alley to the awaiting Took Took. I smile at my driver, “where next?” He looks at me with a wide grin and says, “Thai Fashion!” Not in need of a new suit anytime in the next 5 years I say. “Um, I'm good. I don’t want to go there. Can we skip it?” “Your lucky day, you special!” I’m sure you say that to all the girls I want to say, but refrain. “we go, and me free.” the old man says. “It only cost 10 baht, ill pay, don’t worry.” I say sincerely. He shakes his head and says. “It quick.” I nod, tired of arguing in broken English and we race off to Thai Fashion. We pull up to a nice little store with suits lining the windows, a man opens the door for me and welcomes me in. As soon as I step through the door, another man who speaks impeccable English comes up to me and ushers me to a big leather couch. The leather is cold as I sit down feeling like a homeless man who just wandered into the Ritz. He immediately starts pushing one fashion book after another at me, pointing at various colored suit. After 10 minutes of looking through the books, replying, “Ooooh very nice.” to every picture the guy shows me. He looks up and says, “So which one would you want.” in a way that would imply that you have to buy something since you sat on my big cold couch. “Errrm, none?” I say trying to be nice. He looks at me with an expression that you can only guess what it means and waves for me to leave. I laughed out loud at the absurd situation, maybe to loud, the man that was showing me the suits is now glaring at me. I smile and quickly leave, not expecting the Took Took driver to still be there. But sure enough, when I walk out of the door, There he is. I shake my finger at him, the universal way of saying, you asshole. He laughs and we race off to the next attraction. We go from golden Buddha to giant Buddha, From temple to shrine. All of these attractions have two things in common,
1. You will see Buddha, in some form.
2. You will get yelled at by a monk for not taking your shoes off.
Every temple and shrine I go to is a maze of shoes on, shoes off and I feel like I cant get it right. I wander up a few flights of stairs only to be taken back down by a furious monk. Or I walk up a crazy hot stair case only to find myself on a scorching roof top surrounded by people who have their shoes on, infuriating. One temple I visit I mess up bad, I truly had my shoes on every inch of holy ground it had to offer, and I spoke with maybe half a dozen monks about how silly I am to have not seen the sign hidden behind the bush or under the stairs. This happened over and over again, so after leaving a new temple, I would quickly go to apologize the only way I knew how, by ordering an iced latte from the temple coffee shop and leaving a decent tip, sorry Buddha. After seeing a few more attractions my Took Took driver drops me off at another Thai fashion place, this time without telling me! I glare at him with laser eyes, he looks down like a dog that did something wrong and points toward the door. It would appear that these Took Took drivers are paid by the fashion stores to corral tourists into little buildings so they can bully them into buying cheap suits. Alright you dirty old man, Ill play your game, but let me warn you, I love games. I walk into the store, another man in a suit ushers me to a couch and starts pushing books at me. “How many suits do you own?” he says in a tone that would imply that the answer is none. He’s not wrong, I don’t own any suits, and I’m sure its easy to deduct this by the way I keep my facial hair. But now, since were playing a game, the answer is “12.” He stops pushing books at me and looks up “12? all colors?” “EVERY COLOR.” I say expressionless. “Any from Thailand?” he says trying to figure out how to still sell me something. “3, from the last store.” I say with a smile and stand up. “Why your Took Took driver take you here? Tell him he’s stupid.” The man says with a frown. I laugh, nod in agreement, and walk out. The Took Took driver is standing waiting for me, I smile a devilish smile, He looks concerned. We continue this game of Buddha, Shrine, Temple, Coffee (out of penance for my flip-flop crimes) and finally Thai Fashion. I get good at the game and also wildly caffeinated. I could be in and out of the clothing store in 30 seconds or less. I would walk in, stare at the man by the couch, and like a deranged animal say, ”I bought all of the shirts at the last place.” Then I would wait. the man would stare back at me for a few seconds, unsure of what was happening, eventually he would nod, and then I would leave. Every time my driver would drop me off, I would come out faster and faster and every time his old man mouth would work up a larger and larger grin, the game was in full swing. We drove around for hours, laughing whenever we would pull up to another Thai Fashion place, I would go in, and come right back out. Its getting late and the tour is almost finished, but old Mr. Took Took man had one more surprise in place for me before my experience was complete. We pulled up to a wildly fancy jewelry store, I look at him with a smile and a cocked eyebrow, half wondering if he thinks I can afford this place and half wondering if he seriously wants me to go in. I eventually shrug and walk in, silver and gold rings cover the walls, I walk straight to the back of the store where there are cheap little plastic souvenirs. I want to get my driver something, something offensive and cheap, something that appropriately sums up our time together. He needs a Jesus, all they have is Buddha.
I got lost today, not on accident. It was one of those days where it felt appropriate to keep walking. Put in head phones and go where strange people usher you. I started by taking a bus to the end of its route, it dropped me by a bunch of temples and touristy attractions. I walked along the street until I reached a pier. A small lady waved at me to come to her, so I did.
She ushered me onto a great big boat that ran up and down the river, I took a seat on the boat and we floated to a little market, after a few moments we went to another little market. It would appear that I got on the floating market tour. after about 45 minutes the boat pulled up to a great big dock with gobs of tourists drooling on their cameras. I got off and walked up some stairs and found myself at a sky train station. I bought a ticket to the funniest sounding town, Tawenki, not that funny, oh well. I got onto the train and left for my little mystery town. The train came to a stop and Tawenki flashed on the display above me. I got off and walked down the stairs and out of the station. I had managed to find one of the touristy places I had been yet. Giant malls engulfed me, Hugo Boss advertisements plastered on there walls. Tourists glued to their phones holding bags that read Gucci and Prada. Locals wearing nice shirts and pants walk past me quickly with their heads locked forward, faces wrinkled and disgruntled. Damn, this is not where I wanted to get lost. I wander around for a little while until I find this.
The diamond in the rough, an oasis in a metal waste land. I called Aekkapon to come meet me, he did and we made an evening out of it.
A cat café, genius!
Order yourself some food, and then some food for one of the 30 cats around you.
Messages to Mom
Alright mom, I know you probably have a thousand questions, so, I'm going to try and assume what they are and answer them to the best of my ability. If you are not my mom, feel free to skip this part or don't, live your life.
- I have not had to poop in a hole and wipe my butt with my hand yet. However, all of the toilets I have encountered so far are a type of make shift bidet. Basically, you do your business and then there is a hose for you to clean with. Nice and fresh.
2. I have seen 1 mosquito since iv been here and I killed it.
3. I will be heading to Chiang Mai this Monday. I have a new host to stay with, I'm not sure how to spell his name, so I wont try. I will head to the school 3 days after getting to my new hosts house.
4. I am well and have been using oils, mostly orange.
5. I got the runs once, it was just as spicy coming out as it was going in.
Until next time,