Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thailand Odds and Ends

There are a few more items I want to share about Thailand.
These are mostly catfish in a pond in a wonderful and strange monument park.

These surprisingly large sculptures are scattered through a garden park-like setting.  The story goes that the man who spent his whole life creating it did so in devotion to Buddhism because he wanted to be a monk and was rejected for something heinous in his past.  It is never divulged why he was rejected, but all his possessions from life are on display in the park museum, even bloody compresses and medical equipment used during the end of his life.  His body is displayed under glass with gads of fake flowers in funeral fashion.  Very strange.

On my moto excursions I often came across unusual sights like this man harvesting long bamboo poles from the roadside.  He tied one end to this moto and will drag them back to a construction site where they will be dried and used for scaffolding or perhaps even house construction.  Some of the back country houses are pretty minimal.

Traveling far into the mountains gas was sold out of 55 gallon barrels.

These boy scouts were hiking on a 3-day campout in the forest.  I saw girl scouts with the same black face makeup.  The reason is that Thai people do not want to get tan.  Light skin is the desirable look and apparently sunblock isn't good enough.  I wondered about all the "skin lightening" products I saw in pharmacies before I saw this.

Rubber is a major product of Thailand and the harvesting looks like this.  Sap was not flowing so it must be the wrong time of year, but the tree bark is slashed as you see, then when the sap stops running, the wound is painted over and a new slash is made.  There are whole plantations in reclaimed forest plots.  Most of the agriculture is slash-and-burn here and Thailand has lost a huge amount of natural jungle starting back when teak wood was indiscriminately harvested.

In order to make one of my trips a loop I had to cross this "moto bridge" which I rode across.  Many of the slats were missing making it a bumpy and somewhat scary crossing.

It felt inappropriate to "steal" any pictures of monks, so I asked these guys and they politely agreed to the photo.  Monks are everywhere and seem to go about business just like everybody else.  Very early in the mornings they can be seen going out of their wats with metal bowls to collect alms from restaurants and homes which they take back to eat one meal a day.

There are natural thermal springs scattered through the countryside.  I had a leisurely afternoon soaking in this one, but not in this really hot pool where people are actually cooking eggs.  The baskets of eggs hang on hooks.  3 minutes for soft; 5 minutes for medium; 7 minutes for hard boiled.  It is a popular activity for school groups who then picnicked on the grounds.

A trip to the Bangkok flower market was initially intended to pick up roses for the room at the guesthouse.  There were few roses to be had and were expensive (by Thai standards), so we picked up orchids instead.  This bouquet cost about a buck and a quarter and lasted my entire stay in Bangkok.


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