We went for lunch together at the same little Thai-Sri Lankan greasy spoon off Phetchaburi Road that I'd been eating at every day, and had us a good long chinwag. She was fascinating to talk to: she was about to start university in the fall (studying journalism, no less!), and had worked as a waitress in a pub. She knew all about pulling pints. We talked a fair bit about journalism's slow but steady transition from print to Internet and how that would affect our respective careers. ("Career" is a pretty loose term to use about the lazy, indolent stuff I've been doing since I graduated in 2007, and I said as much.) Even though I was nearly eight years her senior, I did my level best not to be patronizing or offer unwanted advice; I remembered how I'd felt as a twenty-year-old green buck and I used to hate it when people tried to counsel me. Just let me do my own thing, will you, you old codgers?
Then I took the BTS Skytrain south and west to the Chao Phraya River (the Saphan Taksin stop on the Silom line), strode a few hundred meters to the Sathorn waterbus stop, bought a ticket for 40 baht, and boarded a boat heading upriver.
|Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, on the western bank of the Chao Phraya.|
During the voyage I spoke to an elderly, rotund, balding Oregonian man who'd been stationed in Thailand in 1967 and was now visiting with his freckly, frizzy-haired granddaughter. He said he was most impressed with the high-rise hotels: Bangkok had become a "very modern city" since he'd seen it last. They hadn't a building over three or four stories in '67. He'd been stationed somewhere in the north of Thailand to monitor Communist air traffic in Laos, I believe, but he and his comrades would sneak south into Bangkok whenever they could and have a bit of fun. I can only imagine what a rough-and-tumble place the city was back then, before it was civilized, digitized, modernized, and gentrified. Saddens me I never saw it, and I told the Oregonian so.
I got off at the No. 8 stop, Tha Tien. I weaved through the dockside throng, ignored all the souvenir sellers and noodle joints clinging perilously to stilts along the waterfront, and dove headfirst into Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. But I'll show you that in the next post.