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Archive for December, 2008

Thailand Day 3-7: The Reason We’re Here

Posted by evankessler on December 30, 2008

A lot has happened since I last wrote .  The rehearsal dinner for Jayvalyn’s wedding Saturday evening (Saturday Morning-NY Time) allowed for merriment poolside at the Royal Suites hotel.  There was an array of tasty Thai food and wine.  Speeches were made and a general good time was had.  It was also the first time several of our other New York friends such as Flosario and Enisha made their presence felt on Thai soil.

Enisha's Debut Appearance on our Thai Adventure

Enisha's Debut Appearance on our Thai Adventure

More Delectable Thai Treats

A Mix of Delectable Thai Treats

The strangest part of the evening was the selected soundtrack, which we think was put together by Kayvalyn’s brother, or maybe he just gave directions to the DJ.  The entirety of the evening’s musical selections consisted of easy listening cover versions of past popular hits.    I didn’t realize this until halfway into dinner  when after recognizing a soothing version of Prince’s “Kiss”, I walked towards the buffet table only to be intercepted by Jason’s dad, who then asked me who was singing the current song.  I told him what the track in question was and he remarked something along the lines of, “oh, that’s why I know it.”.  The song that immediatedly followed was a slowed down ballad-y version of “Funkytown.”  I made sure to notify Jason’s dad and from that point on I realized that those were not the only two weird covers and that in fact, each successive song fit that mold.

Having had a good amount of wine made falling asleep and getting more in step with the 12 hour time difference a good deal easier for the next day.  Having arrived at Sunday the 28th of December , the stage was set for wedded bliss, better known as the entire reason for our trip to Thailand in the first place.  Before things got ceremonial, however, they got edible.  Breakfast was served in the lobby restaurant yet again and even more familiar faces made their Thailand debuts.  Ken, Andy, and Jeff had flown in the previous evening and were ready to join in the ritual revelry.

We weren’t set to explore the city some more before the big event.  Jason and Kayvalyn thought it unwise if we were to get lost and not make it back to the hotel in time to catch the shuttle to the church.  Instead we would be having our bodies explored and stretched to their limits by masters in the art of traditional Thai Massage at Healthland.

We left the hotel lobby at 10am and were whisked away to two hours of being pampered.  Actually, it was more like two hours of having someone’s elbow pressing into your groin while simultaneously kneading your calves, but in the end it felt absolutely wonderful.   Before we went in for the operation, the ten participants, including myself, were treated to some sort of flower-flavored water.  They made us take off our shoes and provided us with some official Healthland sandals.  .

At that point the ten of us, Flosario, Miller, Morwin, Ken, Andy, Jeff, Justin, and Meghan were led into three separate rooms.  My room included Jeff and Andy and three masseuses who in body English directed us to to our massage mattresses, which were simple, firm, twin mattresses placed on the ground.  It sounds a bit seedy, like a heroin addict’s apartment, but it was actually very clean and comfortable.

We were then handed a change of clothes that more or less resembled outfits that might be worn by a boy band shooting a video on the beach.  It took us a while to figure out which was the front of our pants and how to tie the drawstrings, but once that was sussed out we were ready to go. Soon enough our professional muscle stretchers came back into the room and had us lay with our backs on the mat…and just like that, we were off.

Andy and Jeff in The Video for Their Smash Hit, "Girl I Want To Be With You This Summer"

Andy and Jeff in The Video for Their Smash Hit, "Girl I Want To Be With You This Summer"

My Thai Massage Machine unsympathetically explored my muscled contours starting with the toes, making sure to crack each one.  She then slowly worked her way up my legs towards the groin area.  Once there my valuables were delicately moved aside a few times as my leg was put in a position that equaled my maximum threshold for flexibility.  An elbow then applied steady pressure to my groinage in such a way that I would not have to double over in pain.  My vitals were spared and my tendons and ligaments were beginning to feel surprisingly limber.  Meanwhile on the other side of the room there was a lot of chatter.  Andy’s masseuse was tossing him around quite freely and remarking about the size of his feet, or so he thought.

The massage of the left and right legs each took about a half hour each.  Before we flipped over Andy’s masseuse asked him if he wanted to go to the “Hong Nam.” Jeff and I took this as our cue to head out to the bathroom as well as I had had to pee the entire first hour of the massage and was worried that should I feel too relaxed I might just urinate all over the place.

Luckily that didn’t happen and we returned once again to our respective beds and had our flesh kneaded and  pressed.  Elbows ran along the frames of our musculature and when it was all over, we felt great. Before our time at Healthland was through we were treated to one more amenity in the form of a soothing cup of tea.  It was all quite the bargain way to spend the late morning/early afternoon in the throes of relaxation.  Just over $14 to be treated like a king or rag doll depending on your circumstance for two hours.  ‘Tis not bad.

With just under an hour and a half until the shuttle bus left for the wedding, we arrived back at Royal Suites.  Ken, Miller, Morwin, and I set about finding a little food shack before getting ready, as we were all pretty hungry and we weren’t quite sure how long the ceremony would last, and just when we’d be eating next.   We walked about five minutes down the road and found a meagerly accommodating restaurant of sorts tended by an effeminate Thai man wearing pink nail polish.  Before we realized he didn’t speak any English, we had already sat down. When we tried to tell him we wanted chicken, he couldn’t understand and had to fetch a neighbor to take our order, but when all was said and done and we had been served our four orders of Chicken with Basil and chilies; it was quite enjoyable.

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Last Minute Chowdown

The only downside was that we had 50 minutes to get ready for the wedding.  However, being a men and not resigned to looking perfect, we were ready with plenty of time to spare.

Waiting in the lobby we were greeted by Eric S and his friend Judy.  They had been to a wedding in Chiang Mai a few days before, so they stayed in Thailand to make it to Jayvalyn’s affair.  It was excellent to see Eric as I had completely forgotten that he would be attending.  It’s always nice to have another familiar face around in a foreign land.

Soon enough, the majority of the wedding guests had made it downstairs and a few shuttle vans took us to the Church which seemed relatively far away.  We arrived to find a rather pristine building with a large Christmas tree in front at the end of a dirt road in what seemed like a more rural suburban area.

Eric Finds Jesus and Father Christmas at the Same Time

Eric Finds Jesus and Father Christmas at the Same Time

Flosario's Glamorous Arrival

Flosario's Glamorous Arrival

The Groom and Family Arrive With The Best Man in Tow

The Groom and Family Arrive With The Best Man in Tow

We stood around for about 45 minutes as Miller and Ken practiced fighting techniques in formal wear. The priest arrived and spoke to a few groups of people.  I was sort of hoping the backup priest would be officiating as the stringer had been afflicted with the shingles days earlier and the bench warmer was supposed to be a really famous preacher named Father Joe.  Oh well, we didn’t get to be in the presence of a prestigious prostheltyzer, but things worked out just fine.

It's Ken!

It's Ken!

Vs. Miller!  The Battle Rages In Our Hearts and Will Eventually Spill Over Into The Ring

Vs. Miller! The Battle Rages In Our Hearts and Will Eventually Spill Over Into The Ring

The building itself was wonderfully clean with lots of natural light spilling in to complement that which was unnatural.  Jesus loomed over the altar from on high with an abnormally large head that made him look like “The Buddy Christ” from the film Dogma.

The Watchful Eye of The Buddy Christ

The Watchful Eye of The Buddy Christ

The ceremony itself was rather beautiful.  Two great friends finally cementing their relationship after about seven years of being together. If I was listing the two biggest highlights of the event it would probably be the entrances and subsequent walking down the aisle to an organ rendition of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” and Kayvalyn messing up the beginning of her vows by stating, “I, Jason.”

Man and Wife Take A Flower Shower

Man and Wife Take A Flower Shower

Once the ceremony ended it was back into the shuttle and off to the reception.  The site of the party was like nothing I’d ever seen before.  It was actually some rich guy’s ridiculous house.  It didn’t actually seem like someone’s home, but more like a movie set.  It made me think of one of those criminal mastermind compounds like Victor Maitland’s in Beverly Hills Cop or wherever Schwarzenegger rescued Alyssa Milano from in Commando.  I half expected henchmen with machine guns to pop up as we approached the breathtaking, largely open air space.   I would’ve taken pictures of the entire place, but they couldn’t possibly have done it justice.

Judy Arrives at The Colossal Wedding Compound

Judy and Eric Arrive at The Colossal Wedding Compound

The evening was an entirely splendid affair, but not very dancy.  Thai people apparently don’t love to shake themselves around.  Our lively group tried to get things going at some point towards the end.  Jayvalyn finally had their first dance, Jason’s parents were cutting up rugs and Kayvalyn’s American cousins were certainly involved on the dance floor along with myself Andrea, and Andy. I danced with the groom’s mother for a bit, though “spun Jason’s mom repeatedly” is probably a more accurate description.  I can’t tell if I had her convinced I was a good dancer, but perhaps.

The First Dance

The First Dance

A Photo of Me Dancing in An Embarrassing Manner With Kayalyn and Andrea

A Photo of Me Dancing in An Embarrassing Manner With Kayalyn and Andrea

Andy and Andrea gave the best man/maid of honor speech together, finishing one another’s sentences and cutting into  anecdotes like a lounge act.  It was completely improvised after Enisha put the kaibosh on the original speech topic which had an anecdote about a certain incident involving urination that was deemed to not exactly be in the realm of good taste according to the senses of humor of many in attendance.

Jayvalyn React to the Best Man/Maid of Honor Speech

Jayvalyn React to the Best Man/Maid of Honor Speech

I somehow ended up sitting next to the newlywed couple during the duo’s dynamic spewing of kind words and remembrances, so there’s a good chance I’ll be in the midst of a lot of wedding photos, though I didn’t purposely position myself to be embedded in the memories of their special day.

It wasn’t terribly late when the wedding drew to a close, but before it did we got in a few more toasts or shouts of “Chayo!” to the couple in a little sidebar in a well-lit nook of the party house.

Nook Photo #1

Nook Photo #1

The Andy C. and Jeff show

Nook Numero Dos: The Andy C. and Jeff show

Chayo!

Chayo!

Prior to hopping back on the shuttle bus, Jason’s dad asked us what we’d be doing after the wedding.  He still wanted to hang out and drink for a bit.  He suggested meeting poolside at the hotel with a few beers from our room.

On the ride back to the Royal Suites, we popped in a Kung Fu Movie with Thai subtitles which we had been watching on our way over to the reception.  Since it wasn’t in English we entertained ourselves by inserting our own dialogue.  It was  a fun way to pass the time while our driver fought his way through the brutal Bangkok traffic.

When we finally made it back to our temporary residence, Jeff, Andy, and I checked by the pool for Jason’s dad but to no avail.  Rather than keep the party going, we went to bed.

The next morning (Monday) I was slightly hung over but worked myself over it at the hotel gym.  Afterwords I went for a swim along with Ken and Andy.  Unfortunately, my ear has since become clogged with either wax or water, hampering my hearing abilities.  This usually happens about twice a year and I have yet to unclog it without a doctor.    I was a little worried about the blockage coming so early in the trip but I guess I’m just going to have to deal with it.

Regardless of my ear’s condition, Monday was to be the last full day in Bangkok before heading to the beach at Koh Lanta.  There was plenty we could do in a city as large as Bangkok, but we decided on visiting the Grand Palace where the King lives.

That's One Grand Palace

That's One Grand Palace

It was a very dudes kind of day as myself, Ken, Jeff, Andy, Miller, and Morwin took off in two cabs and found orselves at the palace some time around 11am.  We walked around snapping photos of wonderfully detailed structures, murals, statues, and greenery.  I probably took the most classless tourist photo in history though no further detail is necessary.

This Is Not The Most Classless Photo in Tourist History...But It Is Semi-Cheesy and Sort of Stupid

This Is Not The Most Classless Tourist Photo in History

We went into 2 weapons museums within the walls, the first of which was overwrought with pikes, lances, swords, and axes; all of which seemed repeat throughout the room.  It was an impressive, yet somewhat redundant display of arms.  The second was more of the same, but with pistols, revolvers and other types of guns.  Ken geeked out a bit noting that the Mauser Pistol was the inspiration for the Star Wars guns.

Waiting outside the museum I was chatted up by an Aussie woman with a deformed hand.  I know it sounds horribly insensitive but I am severely uncomfortable around people with deformities.  I think it goes back to being in Hong Kong as a child and seeing a guy with a bone pretty much sticking out of his back. It’s probably not all that uncommon, but even if I’m not sure if someone has a deformed limb, I begin to imagine something amputated even if they are just holding their hand behind back.  I don’t really know why that freaks me out so much.  It didn’t stop me from making conversation of anything, but I did feel consciously fixated on it even though I didn’t make it obvious.

Anyway, after having our run of the palace, we all went to the local market to grab a bite to eat.  The stand we chose had the widest array of Thai culinary choices and  they even allowed us a taste before settling on our final choice.  I picked yet another chicken dish, though some people made bolder choices.  Either way, I was happy with what I ordered.

A Cornucopia of Culinary Options

A Cornucopia of Culinary Options

With lunch firmly entrenched in our bellies and our stomachs handling the ingredients with much fortitude, we perused the market a little longer.   A few additional dishes were sampled.  Andy had Octopus balls.  I don’t think they were actual testicles of an Octopus, they were just pieces of Octopus rolled into a ball.

When our market adventure ended it was on to Wat Pho to see the Reclining Buddha, a ridiculously large sideways gold statue that took up more or less an entire temple.  The odd part about some of the Buddhist shrines were the donation jars.  Wat Pho had some sort of line of ritual donation bowls where people would drop change in each one as an offering to the Buddha.  I’m not so clear on the tenets of the Thai’s particular mode of Buddhism, or most modes of Buddhism for that matter, but my previous understanding of the beliefs system was that according to the Buddha “Being is Nothingness” not a monetary pursuit.  So then what good would offerings of money to the Buddha do.  Maybe it’s a show to the Buddha that they don’t require monetary possessions and therefore they are offering it to the Buddha as a show of their respect for his teachings.  I don’t have any good answer.

The Buddha In Relax Mode

The Buddha In Relax Mode

Anyway, after seeing big Buddha bless his disciples, we made a decision to get lost.  We wandered a few blocks looking for a bar to grab a drink but ended up in the electronics district where Miller kept stopping to look for plug converters in each store.  This was only slightly annoying.

Our aimless plight succumbed to the realization that we were not in an area heavily populated with  drinking establishments.  After getting a call from Kayvalyn we planned to meet up with her and Jason at Khao San road, the popular backpacker area of Bangkok.  Ken, Andy, and Jeff hopped into a Tuk-Tuk to get there.  Morwin, Miller & I decided against that route as we had heard that Tuk-Tuks were liable to take you anywhere but where you wanted to go.  They’d take you to a tailor store, a jewelry shop, or anywhere that sold valuable curios that tourists are wont to buy when forced to.  So rather than subject ourselves to such a fate, the three of us jumped in a cab after a slight bit of hardship hailing one.  We eventually hailed one and he charged us 100 baht for the trip which only ended up being a few blocks to the tourist haven which was more or less a glorified street fair for Americans in the midst of Thai tailor shops, massage parlors and bars.

...And Most Importantly, McDonald's

...And Most Importantly, McDonald's

The six of us quickly found each other on the road and settled down at a place called Silk bar.  After spotting a table with a looming tower of beer, rather than order individual pints, we ordered one of those towers of Singha Beer for ourselves.   We sat there for a bit sharing some beer and some laughs and listening to six Tracy Chapman songs that seemed to be playing on a loop.  They wouldn’t have been our optimal choice for musical entertainment at the moment, but you play with the cards you’ve been dealt.  We kept joking that Tracy Chapman was actually playing on the corner repeating the same six songs over and over again….”Give me one reason to stay here…and I’ll turn right back around.”

Singha Tower of Power

Singha Tower of Power

Jayvalyn joined us towards the end of the tower and we headed to another bar where we had even more food and I partook in at least two large Changs before leaving.  We met up with Andy C and Tracy and had dinner at a restaurant on the water somewhere before closing out the night at another bar, again with a heaping helping of Chang.  The plan was to not stay out too late since the very next morning we were leaving for the tropical island of Koh Lanta.

The next morning I awoke at 6:15am.  The shuttle was leaving at 8, and our flight to Krabi at 10:30am out of Subvarnhumi airport.  Everything was more or less clockwork despite the sheer volume of people traveling.   We made it with plenty of time to spare, checked in, and went through security. The only hiccup on that end was that my bottle of Thai Whiskey got confiscated, but other than that it was smooth sailing amid a minor hangover.

To satisfy my hunger and thirst I got a water and some Men’s Pocky.  I don’t know why the Pocky was for Men, but I made it abundantly clear, no chicks could partake.

This Pocky Is pH Balanced For A Man

This Pocky Is pH Balanced For A Man

The plane ride to Krabi was a breeze and the two ferry’s to Koh Lanta just as easy.  We rode a floating parking lot or two between to reach two different islands and subsequently the Relax Bay resort.  The only problem was that when our van arrived, I went to the front desk to check in only to find that my and Morwin’s room reservation was lacking.  The manager was accommodating however, and drove us in the back of his pickup to Mook Lanta, 100 feet down the road.

Ken, Morwin, and I split a bungalow for 2000 Baht a night…about $19 a night per person.  Aside from not being directly on the beach our spot was perfectly lovely and even though we were paying less we had an air conditioned room that would serve as a perfectly lovely location for recharging in between the days of hanging out on the beach.

After getting situated we rejoined the bulk of our party back at Relax Bay for a large lunch, during which we saw a wedding taking place on the beach.  The bride and groom both dressed in white walked along before a minister and a guy playing Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” on guitar.  We all applauded when the knot was tied and then went for a swim in the sea.

Miller Being Miller by The Bonfire

Miller Being Miller by The Bonfire

Sittin' Down By The Fire

Sittin' Down By The Fire

One thing led to another and before we knew it we were drinking by a bonfire in the evening with two pale blond unsupervised  South African children named Jack and Paige keeping a constant supply of flammable material on hand so our party did not die.  At around 9pm myself, Jason, Kayvalyn, Andy, Morwin, Miller, Jeff, Ken, and Meghan found ourselves at a tiny restaurant on the beach eating Thai specialties one at a time as there was only one cook.

The way it worked was that one person would finish their meal, we would wait a few minutes, then came the next person’s food.  They’d finish, we’d wait a few minutes, then would come the next person’s food…They’d finish…We’d wait a few more minutes…and so on.   In between we’d hear bouts of the cook yelling at the waiter.   It was ridiculous, but also amusing.

The Waiting Game

The Waiting...and Then Eating...And Then Waiting Game

During the evening we also saw two lanterns shot into the sky.  Jason told us that this was done to honor the dead.  It reminded me of balloon day at Camp Westmont, when we  launched a balloon with a postcard attached in the hopes of having it returned from an exotic locale so we could win a visit to said exotic locale.  I once received my postcard back from Oneida, New York, but never told anyone because I had no desire to visit there.  If only it had landed on a beach in Thailand.

The night from that point ended pretty unremarkably, but it’s New Year’s Eve (not quite yet in NY), so there’s high hopes for good fun after a day of relaxation…or should I say relaxasian.

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Posted in beach, Thailand, Travel, vacation, Weddings, Weekday Recap, Weekend Recap | 1 Comment »

Thailand Day 2-3: Sawa-dee Kap, Bangkok!

Posted by evankessler on December 27, 2008

Sawa-dee kap, Thailand!  Sawa-dee kap! Translation: Hello Thailand!  I’m not exactly sure how long I’ve been in Bangkok at this point.  It’s not so much the jet lag that’s killing me, so much as the crossing the International Date line confusion.

After leaving New York at Noon on the 24th of December, I arrived at the Bangkok airport past midnight in the wee hours of Friday, January 26th.  Of course it was only just past noon on the 25th in New York.  In adddition to a thirteen-plus-hour flight to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, Morwin and I had to switch to a Japan Airlines flight that was slated to leave three hours after our arrival at 6:45pm Tokyo time.  I had no concept of the time difference between Tokyo and New York, so I didn’t even try to calculate.

Having heard so much about Japanese efficiency, I was shocked to learn, as we sat at gate 92 waiting to board JAL flight 707 to Bangkok, that our plane was late and our boarding process and subsequent departure would be delayed 45 minutes or so.  This wasn’t too much of a bother as I sort of enjoyed being in the Tokyo airport.  There was a certain cuteness to the employees of the convenience store located at our gate. As I purchased my brown rice iced tea I gave a subconscious semi-bow accompanied by a hesitant “hai” which was duly reciprocated.  It filled me with a little rush of joy that made me want to repeat the motion all day.

Unfortunately, (but fortunately) our plane eventually boarded and we were whisked away to Thailand on a massive double decker JAL jet that was quite the marked improvement over our aged American Airlines plane that had brought us halfway around the world.  Whereas the American Airlines plane was equipped with video screens that were displaying operating systems with copyright dates of 1997 and took a fair amount of time to load, by contrast JAL’s systems were all high-speed and first-class.

American attendants would show up with food or drink just when you were seemingly on the brink of starvation, JAL stewardesses would constantly keep your glass full.  While the JAL food was a bit too Japanese for me, as I can be a picky eater at times, I could at least tell that the contents were higher quality than my mystery pizza and meager rice and beef portion on the first leg of the trip.

Mystic Pizza

Mystic Pizza

The entertainment options were also better on JAL, from the Fasten Your Seatbelts video to the availability of films like The Dark Knight, Hellboy 2, and Wanted.  For some reason I decided to watch The House Bunny instead. I wanted to sleep more than think, that was probably the reason.

I actually slept a great deal of the 2nd flight thanks to seats that were considerably more comfortable, though the small bottle of wine I imbibed probably helped a bit.

When our plane finally landed, it didn’t take too much time for us to deplane and we more or less breezed through customs.  After a bit of a walk, we finally reached the meeting point where we were greeted by a driver holding a sign reading, “Mr. Evan/Mr. Morwin.”  It was safe to assume that was for us.

We followed our driver towards the exit but decided we should go to the ATM’s  so we could pay him for the ride.  The only problem was that after we loaded up on Thai Baht we couldn’t find our driver.  We stood around dumbfounded  wondering if we’d find him, but he eventually found us. It was an uneventful drive to the Royal Suites hotel.  When we arrived I wondered if I should tip the driver, but he had left before we could.

Morwin and I checked in and the bellhop took our bags up in an elevator with us.  I wondered again about tip etiquette and not knowing the answer I handed him 100 Baht.  This, as it turns out is less than $3, yet is considered a very fine tip.  It didn’t really put a dent in my savings, but it more than pleased him.  I considered this little event a “Baht Mitzvah” or sorts.

Our room was one of the nicer rooms I’ve stayed in, or at least one of the most complete setups I’ve stayed in.  It was like an apartment, with a living room, refrigerator, washing machine, tv, stereo, an alcove with a desk and a separate bedroom with two beds; not to mention the bathroom.

Our fridge was stocked with water, beer and other assorted drinks, each costing a dollar or so, if we were to choose to  to partake in them.  We had some complimentary drinking water and wondered if the tap was potable.  We didn’t chance it.  We also looked through our gift bags Jason and Kayvalyn had put together complete with personalized city guides, diarrhea medications, herpes cream, mints, Thai Red Bull, and Thai Whiskey. It was about 3am when I went to sleep.  Morwin stayed up at the hotel’s business center working on a paper he had yet to finish.

Friday morning we awoke around 8am.  Jason had called us the night before to tell us about breakfast, but before that we walked to Kayvalyn’s house to say hello and exchange phone chargers.  We somehow got lost along the way encountering a few stray dogs, but eventually making it to our good friend’s childhood home where we were greeted  by the groom to be along with the bride, her mom, dad, and cousin.

There was some jovial conversation prior to heading back to the hotel to eat with everyone on hand including Jason’s parents and sister.  Breakfast was an array of Thai staple noodle and beef dishes as well as omelet options, spaghetti in cream sauce, fresh fruit and cereals.

From breakfast we tried to work out a day activity.  We ended up just tagging along with Jason and Kayvalyn  at first.  We went with them to the Emporium Mall to get a cell phone that we could use for the remainder of our trip.  The mall was in full Christmas swing as was most of Bangkok despite having a 95% Buddhist population.  Christmas trees were everywhere and carols blasted from speakers in almost all surroundings.

Christmas after Christmas in Bangkok

Christmas after Christmas in Bangkok

Morwin and I split up with Jason and Kayvalyn and came to the Siam Square shopping area as was recommended via the Sky Train.  The area was commerce central.  Multiple malls lined the streets.  It was a paean to Capitalism and not exactly super appealing.  It wasn’t as if I’d come all this way to see malls.  Though everything was mind numbingly cheap, it was sort of boring to shop when I didn’t feel like shopping.  Morwin and I eventually got hungry and miraculously found a restaurent mentioned in  Kayvalyn’s brother’s handy-dandy list of food options.

The restaurant we went to was recommended for it’s Chicken Papaya salad and sticky rice.  That’s what we ordered, thinking it was one dish.  In actuality, all three were separate, so we got Papaya Salad, Fried Chicken things, and sticky rice.  While the food was decent, the service was crap.  We asked for the bill four times and no one reacted, though we’re pretty sure they understood.

Also there were at least three ladyboys in plain sight that were restaurant employees.  That was kind of funny. All of our friends had made plenty of jokes about ladyboys prior to our departure and here they were in the flesh, serving us food. Morwin apparently spotted more on the way to the bathroom, but I suppose only he can confirm those sightings.

Our chicken adventure ended eventually when we finally were allowed to pay and so it was off to our hotel yet again.  We jumped in a cab that took us a roundabout way that cost us 160 baht ($4.60 or so).  We felt as though we had been both literally and figuratively taken for a ride.

Quite The Culinary Spread

Quite The Culinary Spread

Upon our return we showered up and went back to Kayvalyn’s house for a big dinner with everyone who was at breakfast and one of Jason’s co-workers, Andy and his wife Tracy. Most of the catering was done by a relative of the family who had invented one of the dishes that was now widely copied…I think.  I’m not so sure I got that story right.  The more amazing of the culinary delights, at least to me, was the bizarre fruit selection.  The array of juicy treats were utterly foreign to me.  There were Jackfruit, Pomelo, and a mystery brown star-shaped fruit.

Strange Fruit Indeed

Strange Fruit Indeed

Jack fruit was odd-tasting and had the flavor of at least two different things.  It brought my tastebuds on a roller coaster ride as it resembled everything from cotton candy to peaches, to utter nastiness. Pomelo was a delightfully less tart grapefruit-flavored thing and the mysterious star-looking fruit was kind of bland, but a little too sweet.

Jason’s dad was amusing as we both seemed to be picky eaters who had distastes for the same types of food.  We both don’t like fish so we were okaying certain foods with each other.  Meanwhile, his mom was describing all of the new mystery fruit to me with pinpoint accuracy  At one point she described one of the other fruits as tasking like perfume.  I challenged her assertion and tasted said fruit for myself.  Much to my surprise, she was dead on.

The Night Market...Well Not All of It

The Night Market...Well Not All of It

I previously did not have any post dinner plans, but that quickly changed as Andy, Tracy, Kayvalyn’s cousin Valerie, and myself all went to the Night Market, which was at first glance a bazaar of stalls selling stereotypically funny or stupid touristy t-shirts, thai craft souvenirs and whatnot.  I bought two shirts . One was of a Thai beer called Chang and the other was a Red Bull shirt written out in Thai.  I also came upon an awesome bunch of shirts from a company called Clayland, but none of the shirts I liked were available in my size.  Andy and I also happened upon a shirt that said “Kill Mechnic” and had a bizarre picture on it.  It didn’t seem to make any sense and thus had much appeal to us.  Unfortunately, they only had the shirt in one size and the shirt Andy had his heart set on was a no go.

Tasers!  Get Your Tasers Here!

"Tasers! Get Your Tasers Here!"

In addtion to t-shirts, the Night Market also had an abundance of weapons being peddled.  Chinese stars, swords and *gasp* Tasers, were all available for the purchasing.  A guy kept showing off his taser to me asking me if I wanted to buy it.  Even if I did, I doubt I could get it past customs.  At around 11:30pm, we finally headed back to the hotel after quite the ordeal to get a metered taxi to take us.  When I returned back to the room I was exhausted and went straight to bed.

I woke up bright and early this morning at 7am and went to the hotel’s gym, getting a bit of a workout staring out over the the Bangkok Highway system while using the elliptical and listening to my iPod in an empty fitness room.  After dressing I went downstairs to see an even larger crew of breakfast buddies.  Miller, Andrea (BK related), Jen, Justin, Meghan (Syracuse-related) and Luis (Jason’s sister’s boyfriend) had joined our wedding party overnight.

After breakfast a big group of us went to the famous Chatuchak market , the world’s largest open air market, via the subway.   The ride over was fun and we tried to keep our group together, but split up pretty early into our market foray.

Morwin and I bought nothing; Miller bought two shirts assisted by Andrea, not to mention a hat that made him look like the Marcus Brodie of the Thai markets.  We repeated lines from the last crusade about how Miller would be blending into the Thai scenery and no one could ever find him.

En Route To Go To Chatuchak Weekend Market...Or Something Else

En Route To Go To Chatuchak Weekend Market...Or Something Else

Riding On The Subway

Riding On The Subway

"Miller's got friends in every town and village from here to the Sudan, he speaks a dozen languages, knows every local custom, he'll blend in, disappear, you'll never see him again."

"Miller's got friends in every town and village from here to the Sudan, he speaks a dozen languages, knows every local custom, he'll blend in, disappear, you'll never see him again."

We also sat down and had a really great authentic Thai meal at a tiny restaurant in the market. I had a chicken dish with basil leaves and chilis that was extremely spicy.  I was a little worried at first that I didn’t have enough water to beat the heat, but I settled down after a bit.

Food, Glorious Food

Food, Glorious Food

From there Miller, Morwin and I took the Sky train to the National Stadium and attempted to walk to the Jim Thompson House.  However, the map we had wasn’t nearly descriptive enough, as it avoided identifying smaller streets and what had seemed like just a short walk from a subway stop turned into a nomadic expedition.  We wandered from sidestreet to sidestreet and back alley to back alley looking for somewhere matching up to the words on our map, but to no avail.  We got lost and found ourselves exploring some seedy areas for a look at the real Bangkok.  Miller bought street meat from a lady in one of those alleys and apparently his intestines held up.

Where The Back Alley Begins

Where The Back Alley Begins

Miller Waits for Street Meat

Miller Waits for Street Meat

Morwin split up with us after our bout of fruitless exploration and Miller and I made our way to Siam Square.  He was looking for cheap computer equipment, but couldn’t find what he was looking for amongst the the zoo of electronic parts that is Patik Plaza, though we did encounter some people trying to sell us porn using fake windows programming disc boxes as camouflage.

With our largely unsuccessful escapade to the market, we decided to reconvene back at the hotel, and that’s where we find ourselves now.  The rehearsal dinner is just a few minutes away and I must be getting ready.

Posted in Thailand, Travel, vacation | 3 Comments »

Thailand Day 1: Somewhere Over The Beaufort Sea

Posted by evankessler on December 24, 2008

The 13-hour flirght to Tokyo couldn’t be going any slower.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve been watching the map channel the majority of the time.  There aren’t many great entertainment options on board unless you count episodes of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” in the pantheon of great in-flight time passers-by.

I think they could’ve served the meal a tad bit later.  Dinner came at 2:30pm New York time, two hours past take off and consisted of some mediocre rice and beef dish.  Since then it’s been a battle to stay entertained.  The map channel at least has a soundtrack that’s been serving as my personal “rock-a-bye baby.”  The problem is, I can only fall asleep for minutes at a time and every time I wake up we still have the Beaufort Sea in our sights, as if we’re careening through the atmosphere at great speeds but not going anywhere.

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The Icy View From Above

Oh well, 5935 miles traveled and 3687 more ’til Tokyo.  That’s seven hours and twenty-two minutes  until we reach Tokyo, which is seven hours and twenty-two minutes next to this strangely silent Japanese girl wearing a medical mask and playing Tetris with abandon.

Perhaps it’s movie time.  I guess I’ll watch Bottle Shock, since it’s the only halfway decent option.

Posted in Travel, vacation | 1 Comment »

The Night Before Christmas

Posted by evankessler on December 24, 2008

SleighSanta

‘Twas the night before Christmas, there I sat on a plane

En route to Thailand, I was sipping champagne

I looked out the window and what did I see?

Some Reindeer and Santa pulled even with me.

I stared in amazement and gave him a wave.

He gave me the finger and began to rant and rave,

“Get out of my way with your big hunk of jet..

I’ve got tons of presents I haven’t delivered yet!”

I mouthed the words,”you shouldn’t have started so late.”

St Nick’s face turned beet red, he had got quite irate.

On dasher, on prancer he crashed into our wing.

But nature vs. reinforced steel, just ain’t no thing.

Santa’s Sleigh tipped over and Rudolph was lost.

Blitzen and Donner took over, but paid quite the cost.

Their hooves and their antler’s hung on by a thread.

Carried on with their mission, the flying undead.

At first I felt bad all those kids without cheer.

Then I remembered I light candles this time of year.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!  SEE EVERYONE IN ’09!

Posted in holiday, Poetry | Leave a Comment »

Guess Where I’m Going!

Posted by evankessler on December 23, 2008

I’m leaving for a big trip tomorrow.  Can you guess where I’m going?  I’ll give you a hint.

kicknut

Posted in Travel, vacation | Leave a Comment »

Cover Me

Posted by evankessler on December 12, 2008

opensaloncoverpage

As anyone who reads this site on a regular basis knows, this is not my only address on the world wide web.  In fact, I probably have at least six other blogs floating around the digital ether.  I recently added another wrinkle to my more than ample web presence as I started a blog on Salon.com‘s user generated content site Open.Salon.com.

The main focus of the new blog is to be place where all of my random humorous essays can live and breathe and actually have an audience.  As someone who is trying to get a writing career going, I find the built in audience element and regular feedback to be an encouraging aspect that more or less forces me to be self promotional in a way that I haven’t really attempted before, by thrusting my words before a community of strangers.  I’ve taken this move as an exercise in boldness and  facing my slightly crippling fear of being judged.  So far my not-so-much- of a gamble has paid off as three of the four pieces I’ve written have been chosen as Editor’s picks.  The most recent, a piece on the interpretation of my online persona aimed at potential employers, even made the site’s cover page yesterday.

Anyway, I encourage you all to check it out and try to keep up with it.  I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting on there, but I think it’ll be kind of often as I frequently get oddly humorous whims that I feel the urge to act on and have somebody react to.

Posted in blogging | 1 Comment »

Doctor Who?

Posted by evankessler on December 5, 2008

rhps-franksmockglovel

My Christmas/New Year’s vacation to Thailand and Cambodia creeping up on me, I’ve been forced to tackle many pressing issues that one has to take care of just before going on a trip of this magnitude.  Arguably the most important necessary evil that one must knock of their to do list when visiting a distant foreign land, next to getting a passport, is to make sure you are up to date on all of your  immunizations.

In a state of panic the past few days, as to when I could get this done despite not being very busy, I finally got around to making an appointment with a travel clinic in Brooklyn to get myself injected with the necessary vaccinations.  I had previously spent a great deal of time obsessing over which necessary pains to take in terms of what would be entering my bloodstream at the hands of a specialist wielding a loaded syringe.  Did I need Hepatiis A, B, C, Polio, Typhoid, Meningococcal, Pneumoccoccal, and Gonorrhea vaccines?  If so, how much would that cost me?

So, as I left the apartment on Thursday morning, I started to relax realizing that all of my questions would be answered by the doctor in just a matter of minutes.  As I walked out of my house pondering the amount of needles that would neeed to enter my body, I realized that I had absent mindedly left my keys in the house and that I was locked out.  Not such a promising start to the day I should say.

I made it to the clinic eight minutes before my appointment.  I would’ve been there sooner, but my eyes were scanning the storefronts for locksmiths and the ground for locksmith cards.  I arrived at the office of Dr. Harold J. Klein (not the actual name, protecting the names of the innocent) and notified the receptionist of my appointment before promptly signing in.  While I was filling out the usual forms a doctor entered the receptionist area playfully ribbing his nurses and assistants.  By the decidedly jew-y manner of the man, I took him to be Dr. Harold J. Klein.  When I say Jew-y manner I don’t mean it in a derogatory sense.  It’s more of an endearing term.  As someone of Jewish lineage I grew up around a lot of humorous older Jewish men with a similar comedic bent.  I looked upon this demeanor  fondly as it was reminiscent of  those in my past and some in my present.

I was soon called into the office of one Dr. Harold J. Klein and sat down for about one minute, fully expecting the next person through the door to be he who I recognized as Dr. Harold J. Klein or one of the nurses.  When the door opened, however, I was in for quite a surprise. I was greeted by Dr. Harold J. Klein, but he was not the Harold J. Klein I expected.  He was no nebbish mensch of a character.  He who stood before me was a svelte almost James Carville-looking bald man with thin lips seemingly adorned with dark red lipstick and earlobes that featured a rather feminine set of earrings hanging from them.

Despite, my initial shock, I didn’t show any discomfort.  I wasn’t actually uncomfortable with the situation, I think I was just more confused that this was not the doctor I thought I’d be having and also that I generally thought that cross-dressing was not something that made frequent appearances in professional settings let alone a Doctor’s office, moreso in the privacy of one’s own home or places of leisure activity.  I mean it’s always a little nerve wracking going to a new physician, this was just an unexpected wrinkle that made the event entirely more interesting. Dr. Klein certainly displayed a certain affability and knowledge that immediately put me at ease, but I also couldn’t stop looking at the color of his/her lips and the heels of his/her shoes as he/she sat reviewing which vaccines were recommended for visitors to both Thailand and Cambodia.

After a little bit of discussion, it took what seemed like less than 5 minutes to administer my Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Tetanus shots.  He then recommended that I go downstairs and be tested for immunity to Hepatitis B.  And with that I thanked him/her and we shook hands before I went to get some blood extracted from the lab downstairs.

I’ve never been the type to be afraid of needles, so the original thought and actual process of needles injecting chemicals through skin was none too daunting or even interesting.  However, having gone through this specific experience with this specific Doctor, I can’t say it wasn’t interesting this time around.  It probably prepared me a little bit for the onslaught of ladyboy’s that I’ll undoubtedly be surrounded by on vacation.

Posted in Brooklyn, doctor visits, Travel, vacation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »