We walk for hours through Chinatown and then blocks and blocks of the flower market. In preparation for Loy Krathong there are orchids, mums, roses, peonies, fragrant tuberoses, and without exaggeration, billions of marigolds.
Alan and I decide to make a pilgrimage of sorts to the Erawan shrine. It’s a small, favorite shrine in what we remember as being a rather sterile business district. It is so popular that there’s a guy whose job it is is to continually circle the alter and remove the bottom layers of marigold wreaths as the offerings pile up quickly. We take the metro and skytrain there – neither of which existed 20+ years ago – and find the little shrine as it was, but now completely dwarfed by ultra high-end shopping malls, the Inter-Continental Hotel, and skyscrapers. Just half a block away, at the base of the Louis Vuitton store, in one of Bangkok’s most important intersections, thousands of red-shirted, peaceful demonstrators gather for “Truth Day,” the six-month anniversary of the deadly military crackdown.
To see more flowers and demonstrators, click on the Red Shirt photo.To learn more about the political climate and Day of Truth, check out the New York Times article. (http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/11/19/world/asia/international-us-thailand-politics.html?emc=eta1)
Rep, Eung and Pink have gone to great lengths to entertain us, (over)feed us, buy us gifts, take us to places only a local of 70 years would know (remind us to tell you about the Thai Sophie Tucker at the German beer garden), show us a Bangkok few farangs have seen, and make this one of our most memorable trips. The name they’ve given me, Alee, should instead be given to them for it means, “giving and generous.”
Click on the photo at right to see lots of more from the markets, the Loy Krathong festival, an eco-Ploject Wunway fashion show, Wat Pho, food (of course), and other random shots from Bangkok.