Last day in Bangkok. After my now, standard breakfast of banana pancake and Nescafe, I pull out the “must see list” made for me by the lovely man at the Mae Thorani shrine. I decide to go to Watin temple.
At the end of Koa San Road there is a line of Auto rickshaws. Each one offering to drive me at a different price; $600 baht, $800 baht, and finally the last one tells me $400 baht and all I need to do is go to one shop so the driver can get the gas money. I’m familiar with the deal, it’s common in Delhi. A driver bring clients to tourist shops and get special cards to buy gas. I’m feeling frugal and it even seems kind of fun to go to one shop for the driver.
I say “one shop right” holding up my index finger.
I got in the rickshaw but I felt a bit nervous since the rickshaw driver was acting crazy happy. He was yelling out the window, “LUCKY BUDDHA DAY” and laughing like a madman, like he hit the jackpot.
Since I had concerns for the sanity of my driver, I was happy when we got to Watin. The Watin temple was beautiful and alive, the main statue is a Buddha that is 32 meters tall. At the Watin temple the Devotes placed pieces of gold leaf on the feet of the large Buddha as an offering. Actually all the statues in the Watin complex are covered with a patina of gold leaf squares.
I meandered through the complex; I purchased a cage of birds to release for luck. Clearly the birds were in the luck business, as they seem to spend their days being caught and released. I met a Mor Doo woman who read my tarot cards (See Mor Doo section) and then finally headed back to the rickshaw.
Unlike the Watin complex the Lucky Buddha Temple is tiny and the Buddhas look like cartoon characters, I take off my shoes, my feet stick to the floor, as small flies light on my ankles. As I approach the Buddhas I notice the distinct smell of urine. I light a candle and some incense and say a prayer for luck. (When in Rome…)
In the corner I notice a man sitting. He starts to talk to me, mostly about his life history as a chef in Singapore, and about how long it takes his wife to go shopping.
Then he asks “How come you are here? Who brought you?
“My rickshaw driver”
“Oh, lucky Buddha for him, He brings people here and Buddha gives him luck”
I return to the rickshaw and we head to a tailor shop.
I said slowly, holding up my one fingers, “this is our one stop then we go back right?”
The crazy rickshaw driver nods and smiles
The tailor shop was awful, 5 bored men sat 1/2 asleep in the hot stuffy store.
As I walked in the lights and fan were turned on and a sleepy yet eager man says to me “We can make many things madam, evening gown, cashmere coat, you name it, all designer”
We talk about my year trip to India and how I didn’t’ think a cashmere coat or evening gown was going to work for me. I took his card and left.
“Now we go back,” I said to the Rickshaw driver, My head was beginning to hurt and I was cranky from the store, and from the heat,
In the rear view mirror I see the driver’s eyebrows do that mad thing. He no longer seems crazy happy, just crazed. We drive for a few blocks and pull into the parking lot of an expensive gem shop, and he motions for me to get out.
“I don’t want to go here, you said no more stops”
“No madams Many shops, go, go, just go in” he demanded
“No! I want to go back now” I insisted
“ Just go in” He said firmly, he grabbed my arm to pull me out the rickshaw.
I got out, and I walked to the corner and hailed a bright pink cab while the rickshaw driver was yelling for me to come back.
The driver was listening to popular Thai love songs, after a few moments he put on a Bee Gees CD just for me, clearly out of kindness. As I was listening to the Bee Gees sing Night Fever I ponder if this was what Mr Thanasukolwit the Mor Doo, meant by people trying to trick me. To me, it seemed par for the course, not a big deal really. If I had been in better spirits I would of gone in to the Gem Shop for him. I probable should of.
Back on Koa San, I succumb to gin and tonic and seafood cooked in young coconut milk. Every few minutes a woman in a traditional costume begs me to buy a frog noise maker.
I’m looking forward to Nepal.