Following breakfast we walked down Thanon Khao San and took a taxi round the corner. Our driver couldn't speak English nor read our map or understand roman alphabet so he offered us the path from which we could flag another taxi. The second one hadn't heard of Jim Thompson's house either but Ian managed to get him to take us to the National Stadium, close enough to where we sought, and he could read a map. We sat in motionless traffic for ages, dripping with sweat, praying for the traffic to move. When we reached the National Stadium and yet more Bangkok traffic our driver leaped out of the car to ask another Thai man for directions to Jim Thompson's house. When he ran back across the road to return to the car a motorcycle had blocked off the drivers door leaving him stranded in the road from his car. It was highly amusing to Ian and I who were still sat in the rear of his taxi in the traffic queue!
Exhausted from the heat and humidity we took a tuk-tuk to Thanon Sukhumvit which exposed us to some backstreets of Bangkok where our driver was hoping to take us for a Thai massage and a hideous amount of road pollution. He then tried to avoid our previously arranged fare by introducing another Thai man into the discussion, thus insinuating our dishonesty. Ian laid the agreed fare on his lap and we walked away, not willing to be robbed by a con artist.
After wandering up the road, whereby I had struck a deal on a book exchange, though not the best, two travel books and a novel in exchange for a new Lonely Planet guide, and an additional expense of TBT 210. The vendor said he was happy. I bet he was. He just received three books in good condition.
We then spent a fortune in a cyber cafe, reading e-mails and writing a compact disc with all of the digital images taken to date, after spending an hour or more browsing a bookshop elsewhere in the Times Square Mall.
A taxi journey back to Thanon Khao San revealed some very cheeky and inspiring creative traffic manoeuvres of other taxis and tuk-tuks and trolley vendors. It was very amusing and surprisingly accepted with just a little inconvenience by the inconvenienced. In England, that kind of behaviour would have met with all kinds of abuse and threatening behaviour! Bangkok is preparing for the Songkran festival which is due to take place at the beginning of April and will attract millions of people to the streets for celebrations.
After a small dinner, as we had eaten lots and late at lunch, we retired to the guest house, Ian to a beer, me to the shower and eventually packed our backpacks. I made a telephone call, no doubt highly expensive, to my Mum to settle her fears of us travelling to Hong Kong tomorrow. The World Health Organisation has issued an advisory notice for people not to travel to Hong Kong due to the ongoing spread of SARS. I'm not sure that I made her feel less worried by she was pleased to hear my voice, and I hers.
At 01:00 we finally rested. I was sad that I would be leaving Thailand without photographing a Thai sunset.
Copyright 2003 Helen Fuller. All rights reserved.