july 15th, Bangkok
I needed a passport photo for my cambodian visa. And getting your pic taken at the border is just another tourist racket. So we decided to get pics in BKK. We went to a place near the guesthouse that advertised "Fujifilm" and walked in. I speak no Thai, but through pointing and fingers we were able to communicate. They sat me down in a little corner and the photographer carefully arranged my hair (damp with sweat and a morning shower), tried to straighten my glasses (ha! its impossible!) and fixed my collar. She took the picture and I paid 50 baht (about $1.25)
N and I went off to the markets for the day and when we returned to the store the girls gave me 15 pictures!
Buddhas and Fashion
Since N and I where embracing our roles as tourists, we decided to visit some of the Most Famous Buddhas. We saw reclining Buddhas with gravity defying earlobes. We saw stupas, monks and tourists galore. We saw the Solid Gold Buddha and the Emerald Buddha. We paid our respects to the King of Thailand. For 250 baht, we visited the Royal Palace. I was wearing capri pants and before I entered the grounds (it was surrounded by an enormous white wall), and old man yelled at me and directed me to a scary curtained off room. I didn't want to go in, but there was no ignoring the men with guns, so I entered. Another old man demanded 100 Baht and while I was fishing around in my wallet, a woman started fitting me with a long thai-waitress skirt. Evidentally I was showing too much calf. It was quite lovely and purple. We continued to the gate and got our tickets and entered through the "foreigner" turnstyle. The spectacle that awaited us was worthy of Disney. Fantastic buildings in wild colors, perfectly manicured lawns, insanely detailed wall murals. The best part was the other tourist women who got fitted with the skirts. Usually the Fashion Police are constantly horrified in tourist areas, between the ugly shorts, the lobster-red white people, the beer guts and the ill-composed ensembles, there is a lot to hate. But just add a pretty skirt, and the whole ambiance changed, tall, elegant blondes, suitably dressed for the evening, men all smartly attired in slacks, the tourists moving with a grace and poise so rarely seen. The Fashion Police give the King of Thailand their Seal of Fashion Approval. If only he could extend his dominion over Flip Flop.
When N and I decided we had had enough, we meandered towards an exit, another guard yelled at me to go back to the clothes closet. We started in that direction and when we found ourselves on the noisy street, lo! What is this beautiful purple skirt doing in my purse! I have No Idea!
N had warned me before we left that SE Asians tend to have a higher standard of modesty, and counselled me not to bring shorts nor little tank tops. And she was right, the King of Thailand isn't the only one who dislikes shorts. In spite of the oppressive 100 degree heat, all the locals were nattily attired in slacks and skirts and crisply ironed shirts. I felt like a slob in comparison, with my wrinkled linen and flip flops.