Sorry for the delayed correspondence – this post will be short and the grand debrief will have to wait until I return and the internet isn't so shoddy.
"Gobsmacked" is the best description for the trip. The flight was brutal but the layover in Tokyo was worth with it and I caught a view of the sun setting behind Mt. Fuji. On the connect to Bangkok, another eight hours filled with noisy Brits and Deutsch ready to party, the descent to Bangkok reminded me of San Francisco as you feel like you're going to land in the bay – except I thought we we're going to land in a sea of rice patties. We exited on the tarmac and it felt like I entered a sauna. It was 87 degrees, very humid even though it's the dry season, and the air smelled like ginger.
I've been staying at the Hotel Du Moc, surrounded by the canal system in central Bangkok. I've never been to Venice but Bangkok is known as the "Venice Of The East." Kind of cheap but it's true except I doubt Venice has floating markets. There are countless vendors on boats, offering an assortment of delicious meats and fruits – papaya, mango, bananas.
I took the water taxi to dinner the other night across the Chao Phraya, the main river, and it's an overwhelmingly beautiful sight with luminously lit golden temples along the shore. The life of Bangkok is in its waters and Buddhism is everywhere. It is illegal to insult any religion here so it isn't inaccessible to non-Buddhists. (The city is filled with Muslim prayer rooms, Hindu shrines, and I've spotted one out of place Catholic church.) That said, almost every male spends time as a monk and in the chaos of the crowded streets you will see many men donning the saffron robe, walking slowly, with people offering them food.
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