Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thailand.....day 8

    Today, I figured I'd tackle the shopping world once more. Lost cause is all I have to say. On the good side I did get to see some more of the city, and even some Christmas decorations. If you are a man and over 5 feet tall; pack well if you ever venture to Asia. Ladies it is no holds barred for you. I did take a look at clothes here even no I was not going to buy; next piece of advice, know your products and prices. The streets are lined with t shirt shops reminiscent of the Jersey shore, most are cheap and have ridiculous things written on them.

               So there are 2 large and I mean LARGE shopping malls, I figured I'd go have a look see. I had, by this time, given up on actually shopping, and moved on to window shopping. I was surprised and mildly delighted to see that they had Christmas decorations here. Glad you are not all Godless heathens....only kidding.







Christmas Merry!

....well they tried....ha ha.

    This mall was very Western in store choices, Gap, Levi's, Forever 21 (called 21 Forever); etc...oh and Rolex; which was tempting, but I fought it. They did have some of the most beautiful jewelry I have ever seen; especially in a mall. I mean just at a glance I saw a 5 carat ring.....in a mall? I did forget to mention the other day in the mall/ mart I saw some amazing furniture. It was handcrafted and just striking. I'm not one to get excited about furniture, but it was really that nice. I looked at the prices, and if I wasn't positive that it would've been a small fortune to ship, I would've bought quite a few pieces. Anyway, it was time to move on a see where getting lost would lead today....
            I crossed a small river...........



....and wondered on through the bustling streets, by the vendors; dodging the masses glued to their cells, and scooters driving along the sidewalk. I find one of the major differences in this city as compared with most, is that there is no rhyme or reason to where things are. There is a Giorgio Armani store next to a slum, and Mercedes dealers hidden at the end of an alley. Every so often, there is a random Temple. Almost every building has a shrine where people pray. The best part of these is that there is always incense burning, and fresh flowers placed throughout the day; a welcome change from the general stink of exhaust and...well "city smell" 


                  I looked at my city map and headed towards the "Victory Monument". I figured I would start getting ready to take in some culture, as that is my plan for the next few days. A brief history of the monument:



The monument was erected in June 1941 to commemorate the Thai victory in the Franco-Thai War, a brief conflict waged against the French colonial authorities in Indo-China, which resulted in Thailand annexing some territories in western Cambodia and northern and southern Laos. These were among the territories which the Kingdom of Siam had been forced to cede to France in 1893 and 1904, and patriotic Thais considered them rightfully to belong to Thailand.


In fact the fighting between the Thais and the French in December 1940 and January 1941 had been brief and inconclusive. Only 59 Thai troops were killed, and the final territorial settlement was imposed on both parties by Japan, which did not want to see a prolonged war between two regional allies at a time when it was preparing to launch a war of conquest in South East Asia. Thailand's gains were less than it hoped for, although more than the French wished to concede. Nevertheless the Thai regime of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram decided to celebrate the war as a great victory, and the monument was commissioned, designed and erected within a few months.

The monument became an embarrassment in a more political sense in 1945 when the Allied victory in the Pacific War forced Thailand to evacuate the territories it had gained in 1941 and return them to France. Many Thais regard the monument as an inappropriate symbol of militarism and a relic of what they now see as a discredited regime. Nevertheless the monument remains one of Bangkok's most familiar landmarks.

          I saw that the monument was on a traffic circle, but wrongly assumed there would be a way to cross. I was stopped by a tuk-tuk driver who asked where I was going. When I told him, he simple responded; "why?"  I did however figure out the deal, or scam, with the tuk-tuks. He said, "I take you there and then back to hotel, we just make quick stop...." So the deal was, we stop at a tailor and I have to try to fight off there sales pitch; whereas the tuk-tuk driver gets gas coupons. Ahhhh...now it all makes sense. I opted to walk....So I arrived at the monument only to find, A) there are 6 lanes of traffic to cross in said traffic circle, with no crosswalk to mention; and B) there is no way to get into the monument; it's surrounded by a fence. I got some strange looks, and now I know why. But I came, I saw, and here are some pictures.....



      I dodged traffic, like Frogger, and headed back to the hotel. I was reminded, albeit ever so slightly of home. First I saw this:

.......and then this. Can you figured out what I thought it said as it emerged letter by letter as I approached?... There was something blocking my view so I only saw the first 3 letter.....My heart starting to beat faster...and then....

.....wah wah.....Nope not Wawa. So sad. That concluded my day. I did decide to actually head at tonight, a real change of pace from my routine; (getting up before the sun); but that idea quickly ended when I hailed a cab and was told it was too busy and traffic was to bad. I briefly considered walking, but my feet have taken a beating the last few days. Pacing myself and living to fight another day......Until tomorrow......

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