KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
You are probably well aware that Bangkok is a major hub for many airlines and has become a must on any itinerary we have for Asia. We stayed a few days, time enough to relish some Tom Yum Kai and coconut shakes. This time we stayed in a better hotel, one just on the edge of the Khao Son Road area, the New Siam Riverside. It was a real treat to have a swimming pool, and the fact that it overlooked the busy Chao Phraya River made it even more enjoyable. We were delighted to learn that they served breakfast on the riverside terrace; I love eating breakfast outdoors.
I really wanted to visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market; however, we arrived on a Monday and booked our flight to India for the following Friday. I had heard that some of the thousands of stalls were open during the week so we decided to go there. At first, we were disappointed to find that all of the stalls were closed up tight but then found that every bit of available space in front of the stalls was full of plants and flowers. It seems that Wednesdays are dedicated to botanicals and people from all over Bangkok were coming to purchase items for their balconies and gardens.
We were astonished at the variety of plants on display and spent over two hours walking throughout the huge complex. The sun was scorching and we wished we could take the watering can and pour cool water on our heads whenever we saw someone dousing the displays. At one-point Anil said that the atmosphere was so wonderful, he would have been willing to pay admission if there had been a fee. I took many photos but mostly of plants that I had never seen before. I hope my plant-loving readers will enjoy the blooms.
When we left the market, we took our first ride on the relatively new underground metro. We had travelled many times before on the elevated sky train, but this was our first on the metro. It's nothing much different than other subways in the world, but a sign near one of the entrances to the subway car made me smile. The sign indicates that people should give up their seats to the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women and monks. I've never seen a sign like this include monks before.
We spent the remaining time indulging ourselves with Thai massages and facials. It was great to get all the dust of China and Vietnam out of our pores. I talked Anil into having a manicure (I had to stress the "man" in manicure) and he was so impressed with the condition of his hands that he went back the next day for a pedicure. He says he's now a convert to pampering and I am delighted to find that he no longer seems to bite his nails or pull at the dry cuticles on his fingers. Why didn't I think of this years ago? I had my legs and arms waxed too, but didn't even mention this treatment to him. There's no "man" in waxing!
A very unusual thing happened on our last day in Thailand. As I walked past a silver shop on Khao Son Road, I stopped to look at silver rings. I had been thinking of getting a ring for some time, to wear on the ring finger of my left hand. Anil had thoughtfully removed my wedding rings in the emergency ward of the Langkawi Hospital, shortly after I shattered my left wrist. If he hadn't thought to do it, they would have had to be cut off later as my fingers swelled badly. Ever since my mother and grandmother died within six months of each other in the late 1970s, I had worn their gold wedding bands alongside mine. The bareness of my hand has bothered me for some time, and I often wonder if people think we aren't married because I don't wear a ring on my left hand.
After I selected a band made of three stands twisted together, I asked the young woman the price, and finding it within reason, asked Anil to buy me a ring. Something he has never done for me before. The woman didn't have the correct change and ended up giving us an extra 10 baht. I was surprised at this gesture and commented that I was pleased, as I hadn't even bargained with her. I told her I knew if wasn't a fixed price shop and to my surprise, she went to a drawer and handed me another 40 baht. Have you ever heard of bargaining after paying full price for something? I thanked her for her thoughtfulness and said I'd be back if I plan to buy more silver jewellery. It was sometime later that I realized that the silver ring I had selected was made of three bands; in parallel on the bottom and twisted together on the top. Three silver bands to replace three gold bands. The coincidence surprised me but seemed fitting also.
Now it was time to pay India a visit once again. Anil had heard that there was now an international airport in Gaya, a small city only 100km from his hometown Patna. Just outside of Gaya is the famous temple where Siddhartha had meditated and at last reached enlightenment. Bodhgaya, the site of the temple is a major pilgrimage site for the world's Buddhists and the airport at Gaya means that people can fly directly from Bangkok, Sri Lanka and Bhutan in order to pray at this most holy of places.
We visited Bodhgaya in 1999 with our children, Adia and Raj, but were keen to go again, so a flight directly from Bangkok to Gaya was convenient in many ways. The travel agent in Bangkok found three airlines we could use, but we were surprised to learn that the small kingdom of Bhutan has its own airline (Drukair) and offered the best fare to Gaya. We booked our tickets, but dreaded the early flight, it meant we had to leave our hotel at 4:30am and miss that wonderful breakfast on the terrace. Oh, the downside of international travel.