Friday, August 6
I pried myself away from the creature comforts of Donna Guest House and May Kaidee's vegetarian restaurant for a trip up to Chiang Mai in Northwest Thailand. My journey started around 3:00 p.m.--just in time for rush hour! I took a circular but at least continuously moving route around Bangkok via the Chao Phraya river taxi, Skytrain and a city bus to Bangkok's Northern bus terminal. All of these conveyances were toe jam-packed with the maximum amount of human-sized sardines allowed by law on this side of Charlie the Tuna's house.
The Northern bus terminal is a huge place with umpteen people taking up all of the chairs, sitting along the walls and even outside on a small lawn. Plenty more milled around inside the air-con-blasted innards while others patronized the ubiquitous 7-Eleven and several food stalls that served up crummy, cold buffet food. At around 8:00 p.m., I walked outside into the loading area: a huge, hot, fume-filled place with at least 100 gates and several hundred double decker tour busses at any one time, many of which looked quite colorful and festive--both inside and out.
I was assigned an aisle seat in row two up on the top level. A Buddhist monk sat in the front row diagonally across from me. A few moments after the bus started rolling, a DVD came on. It was an over-the-top Thai gross-out comedy / horror flick that seemed to go on forever and a day. I kept wondering what the Buddhist monk made of all the slapstick violence and humor that ranged from crude to downright morbid. It was hard to tell from my angle, but it looked like he might have glanced at the movie a bit at the beginning, but later he definitely stared out the front window. Maybe he was meditating. In an odd twist of synchronicity, a Buddhist monk character showed up later in the movie.