Tuesday, 20 September 2011

FINALLY - Meeting the one and only Matt...

And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City.  That's right, sports fans - the Bull and Striker are hitting you with a one-two punch and giving you 2 blogs today.  But since I didn't blog a single time Down Under, I guess we owe you all at least that much. :-)  So let's get back to the retelling of the Thailand Adventure, picking up with the most overdue activity of 2011 - FINALLY meeting KJ's boyfriend Matt.

FINALLY at the Grand Palace...
in some really cool pants...
So as Jenny said, I arrived in a TOTAL MONSOON on Friday night, but honestly - the sideways rain ("Forrest Gump" style) was the least of my concerns on the flight over (Mum - turn your head away for the rest of the paragraph).  You see, being delayed is one thing, but when you get the "cabin crew - stations for landing" and hear the landing gear drop, all the frustrating tends to die away.  Then you see the runway, and you feel the excitement building - I'm about to see my baby!  But then, suddenly, the plane picks up speed like Usain Bolt in the last half of the 100m and you climb STRAIGHT UP off the landing field.  What's worse than that?  DOING IT TWICE.  And then, finally, the captain says, "From the flight deck - the wind is actually too strong to allow us to land, so we're gonna fly to the other runway and try again."  GREAAAAAAAT.  So the captain (who was actually an AMAZING pilot, as it was CRAZY turbulence the entire time) flies us basically to New Guinea before turning around, at which point we land hard enough to crack asphalt.  Throw in a driver with a rigged meter (BURNED ME FOR $50 USD on the cab vs. the normal $30 - SO ANGRY) and then the fact that the streets in BKK make NO SENSE when you're trying to read directions, and I arrived slightly frustrated at the Amber Boutique hotel.  However, after a night of 3 entrees at the Jazz club (Miller - maybe I am like Jabba the Hut on the platform) and some "Sweet Home, Alabama," all was right with the world.

The highlight of the weekend for me was not the sites we hit, but rather a) seeing Muffin Puffin, of course, b) hangin' with Yazz "Gut you like a fish" Klarin, c) seeing KJ for the first time in 8 months, and d) finally making the acquaintance of KJ's fella - Matt.  I'd heard so much about this guy (he's a Tar Heel, in case anyone's curious), and I'd even talked to him once on Skype, but in their more than a year of dating I'd never actually met him.  All that changed Friday night, and even if my brother-in-law opinion doesn't count for much, I will say that I highly, HIGHLY approve.

We got up about 9 AM on Saturday, and whilst we'd originally planned to visit the ancient capital of Ayutthua (I'm sure I butchered that), we were dog ass tired and decided instead to cross off the one big "to-do" that JT and I missed last time - the Grand Palace.  There was no stoppin' us this time (minus eating like KINGS at the street vendors along the way), and we rocked up to find it actually OPEN - who saw that comin'?  I was so excited I almost wet my pants, which I was wearing because otherwise they won't let you in.  I'd actually walked up there in pants, unlike Brother Matt who dropped his trousers on the GRAND PALACE LAWN to put his jeans on - it was AWESOME.  We spent about 2 hours at the Grand Palace, and whilst it was really, really cool, it wasn't nearly as impressive (in this humble redneck's opinion) as Wat Pho.  Also, the "Emerald Buddha" - really?  REALLY?  I'm expecting an absolute SLAB of green stone in there, and all I get is a 1 foot high Jade Buddha?  Sick and wrong...and we didn't even get into the throne room, as there was a big sign out front that read "Practice for Funeral Choir" - sounds charming...(just like Plumb Island Animal Disease Research Center - name the movie...).  But fret not - a couple of closures didn't slow down this fearsome fivesome, as we had plenty of cracks at amusing ourselves at the expense of local culture.  I mean, if there was ever a time for somebody to hit me with their prayer book...

Those aren't REALLY storm clouds...
After that it was a GREAT lunch before heading over to Wat Arun.  This was GREAT, as we got some really good shots with a CRAZY sky as a backdrop.  At one point, Kim commented about how dark the sky looked, and I responded "Oh, don't worry - it's always like that.  That storm is a good 30 minutes away."  About 5 minutes later, it is POURING on us like few storms I've ever witnessed.  And so there we are, 4 Ang Mo's standing on the highest tower on the river in the middle of an ELECTRICAL storm, all holding our steel umbrellas above our heads.  And when we decide to step down the INSANELY STEEP Khmer stairwell, water is flowing off that thing like Niagra falls.  AWESOME.  But we did make it down, and we got back to the palace in time to knock back a few brewskis before heading out for dinner, during which time Yazz SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER as rats the size of Volvo's scurried in front of us (But Wesley, what about the R-O-U-S's?  "Rodents of Unusual Size?  I don't think they exist...).  We had a GREAT meal and sacked out about 2 AM (again - see a pattern here?), exhausted but thrilled with the efforts.

On Sunday, we were all pretty lazy, but we finally hopped the famous Skytrain and rolled over to some weekend markets.  I was hoping for some great food at this joint, but we ended up settling for hot dogs covered in mayo (NOT exceptional) and a sweet corn pie from McDonald's (yes, that's right - but it was just $1, so I couldn't argue).  It poured AGAIN this day (just like it did on Sat night), but it was all good, as the markets are basically a covered rabbit warren of goods.  The only problem was that these cats WOULD NOT negotiate AT ALL.  I tried every technique, but in the end I didn't buy anything because no one would budge even 10 bhat - RIDONKULOUS!

It was then off to the airport, where I said farewell to Muffin Puffin and the gang before hopping my flight to Sing Sing.  They, however, continued on their merry way through Thailand, but that is another adventure for another time (like tomorrow).

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print.  Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

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