My name is Duncan. Often Dunk…Daffy Dunk, Duncan Disorderly, Mr. D, Dunk-Funk, Dunk-Show, D-Show…a man with a mildly uncommon name, yeah. Met one other Duncan-that was in Hali – he worked at a video store….
Where was I?
Thailand, that was where…for a week. My own trip with a lovely lady who proved quite heroic and humble.
This ravishing lady is Jane :
And this chubby rascal is me:
And we spent a lunar new year holiday -Tet- in Vietnam checking out the provinces just to the west of Bangkok: Ratchaburri, Phetchaburri, Samut Songkhram, Cha-am, Hua Hin,, Maeklong and Ampawa were all names we got confused.
We Flew out of Hanoi and into Bangkok – arriving in the evening we jumped out of a train with the address of our first night’s lodgings into the first taxi we found, already trying to give greetings in Thai.
That Cabbie brought us on his own night tour of Bangkok, we looked out on an almost inexplicably colourful array of local citizens all involved in the legitimately life-affirming buzz of a living city – which we observed from the muted and amenable aquarium interior of the taxi; The driver old, and silent, and focused on the road.
We got to our first Airbnb room – in a suburb of the city, semi-gated community, nice big houses but not terribly fancy. Our hosts were Toon and Alex: Thai and German respectively; woman and man furthermore. They were very kind and accomodating, Toon translated an address for me – for which I was very grateful. Alex gaves us tips about the city and filled us in on the local life: don’t argue, be happy, enjoy the curry, see the sights – the first two rules are the really important ones.
This German man, strangely enough, in his mannerisms and even in the structure of his face reminded me of an old friend of mine: Andy Finelli, and the rest of the week as Jane and I enjoyed Thailand, I though about Andy and how much he’d dig this place. He’s bought a charter bus recently: I called him a “magnificent maniac” because that’s what he is. Bad people go to hell, Good people go to heaven – Mr. Finelli will float in from the South China sea on a pineapple cloud and touch down in the mangroves with all the terrible good humor of an enfant terrible let off the chain. I have no doubt.
The first day Alex showed me, via Google maps and street view, how to navigate to the Golden Mount and Khao San road – two auspicious sights in the city – by bus and then by boat in one of the city’s canals. The bus was hard to see out of – luckily Jane spotted the right building and we got out in time. Then it was climbing onto a long wooden boat with other canal commuters. The cool water breathed on us as it splashed up at the gates of the boat’s wake. The whole world was a living artwork of sights, sounds and smells…the smells can not be easily described. Fragrances, to start, intriguing ones, floating through the air from all directions…it was all there and very clear in that new, alien place.
We finally made it to the golden temple.
After paying for tickets at the base, we began to ascend the ancient wooded peak to see the temple and steeple at the top.
We were greeted by golden and resplendent Bodhisattvas, being there in the ancient unaffected remains of the old jungle in the middle of the city.
Each terrace prompted you to ring prayer bells one by one, and strike massive gongs three times, and lean back in the deep resonations, setting the spectral world into vibrating life – like ripples crossing ripples in the surface of a pond. Like little fish, the shadows of cosmic doings passed above us like this. A silencing of the storm to hear a deeper thunder.
Eventually we made it to the top and had a look around. We were pretty happy. Four Angel-headed guardians watched over the final golden steeple. Monks chanted and paced the four corners of the roof in reverent routines. looking into the eyes of old statues with the chanting of monks in my ears, I felt truly that I was in an ageless place, or at least a very mystical and ancient place.
We came down the mountain, bought some barbecued squid from a street vendor, and began a perfectly agreeable perambulation in the general direction of Khao San Road. Jane was quite keen to take it in.
We got some pad thai, watched the dreadlocked, the hip, the hollering, and the guarded all pass us by on that dense and flavourful road. If you’re into shopping at the end of a fun trip, you will lose your little monkey brain here. Sadly our schedule didn’t give us much time in Bangkok, and at the end of the same day we were on a mini-bus to the coast.