Mangosteins and Purple Monster Shoes

Croc Shop Bangkok Yesterday morning we went back to the Pratunam market, in case we missed buying everything in sight last time. First, onto the Skytrain, smugly clasping our all day passes, then through the Zen Mall – apparently one of the biggest malls in the world, where we went looking for the ahem, facilities. After admiring the enthusiasm of the flushing toilets (comparable to those on airplanes in their keenness to suck you into the Bangkok sewer system) and the rather splendid marble bowls in said facilities, we wandered back out, looked about us like yer average awestruck goldfish. Then we heard voices and cheering. Down on the ground floor (we were on the 3rd) there were a whole lot of young people dancing. At first we thought it was a flash mob, but it turned out to be more like a class being held by an obviously experienced male choreographer. It was great fun to watch and kept us amused and away from our shopping expedition for all of 10 minutes. A veritable miracle. Then we saw the Croc shop…
Ayla – there is now an entire shop dedicated to Croc shoes. I took photos for you – I knew you’d be pleased. Heh heh…(ebil chuckle) They even sell accessories to attach to your crocs…
We finally made it out of the mall and onto the street, where we came across the Jade Buddha that is making the rounds of the world, representing World Peace. Rather a nice thing…
Through the road side stalls, where I came across some mock-Crocs – I am now the proud owner of a pair of purple, monster-toed shoes. They’re so light to wear after my clunky great leather sandals, and darned gosh-darned, delightfully immature. Ayla, you will be consumed with envy I tells ya…
Onto the market (after Ursula posed for a photo by the Ronald MacDonald doing a Thai Greeting) where we finally found the mangostein fruit a friend vowed and declared we must try before leaving Thailand. Mangosteens are a purple fruit, with an exterior that reminds me of round kumera, and if you dig into them far enough, you find delicious white sections of fruit to tantalize your tongue… A dear little old lady, about as soft as your average steel hammer, made us buy a whole kilo of them. So we did, hoping like crazy that we actually liked the darned things after we had finished carting them about in our shopping all day. We then dived into the market proper, surfacing hear and there to proffer our wallet to those whose fare we liked best. It’s such a maze of stalls that you could probably get lost in there for days. Wonderful!
I wandered (well, staggered if I’m being really honest) back to the hotel while Ursula bravely soldiered forth to visit more temples and Wats and other things of wonder. I alternated between unpacking and repacking the springloaded potential explosion I refer to as my luggage, and flopping about in the lounge downstairs, steadfastly ignoring the scary chore of organizing said explosion into fairly distributed shapes and underweightedness ongoingly awaiting me in the room. I chatted with several Russians, and Iranian, some Koreans, a Kiwi, Malaysians, etc, and still my luggage lurked, stubbornly refusing to organise itself…Sigh.
Meanwhile, Bangkok roared by outside the hotel gate. the occasional Skytrain honking as it slid past, cars and many, many motorbikes whizzing by.
In hotel and guesthouse lounges all over the world, people come and go in steady streams. These lounges are the meeting places and crossroads of many journeys, beginning and ending. Those that have been smile indulgently at those who are going, enjoying their excitement, generously sharing their knowledge, gifting hints and tips of places to go, traps to be avoided, homes away from home, cuisines to indulge in. An inheritance that soon will be passed on by the receivers in an equally indulging way.
Travellers and trekkers plod by, stooped under bulging backpacks, dusty and tired. Yet another oasis has been reached, attained. Perhaps a day, perhaps more, of washing the sweat and grime from their bodies, watching some t.v., swapping tales, briefly connecting with their families by email to let them know they are alive and well and have made it thus far…
Others sit around reading guide books from the ever revolving libraries found in guesthouse lounges everywhere, shedding the ones they no longer require, leaving them for the next folk beginning the journey that for them is now over.
Washing machines hum with hastily-gathered clothing, currency is counted optimistically – fingers pushing calculator buttons, in the hope of making sense of the piles of notes foreign to most, notes that inevitably gain familiarity with experience.
Opinions are swapped here – ‘Go here, don’t go there, don’t pay more than…’ Rip-offs and scams, surprise pleasures and treasures.  Quickfire conversations, moments grabbed during rushed pockets of rest. Hurry up and relax.
Friendships are quickly formed, yet each one knows they’ll probably never meet again and therefore often don’t get around to exchanging names. ‘Hail brother, hail sister. Fair thee well and sweet journeys…’
The usual questions do the rounds – ‘Where from? How long? Where been? Where going? Talk of new places opening, recently discovered, soon to be flooded. How far will some go to seem like a traveller, not just another tourist? ‘Yeah, I was there in 19-something. It was much better then…’

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