Buddhaís Big

        After dancing between several piers, we finally find a workable way upriver that doesnít feel like too much of a ripoff. Basically a water taxi, itís a ~20-foot canoe with an aged car engine mounted on the back. An ~8-foot drivechain pipe to the propeller and plastic pepsi ad canopy round out the package. Aside from some mist of not-so-nice river water in my mouth and a mysterious ride allocation system that leaves others waiting for a ride when our boat drops us off an leaves empty, itís a fast, windy, interesting ride.
        We see 2 big-deal buddhas with a palace in between. First is the emerald Buddha, inappropriately made of jade. Heís in the biggest, most shiny temple of his complex, high atop a golden mound and dressed in the same shining yellow. But heís Napoleonic: a bigt deal, I think the biggest jade Buddha in the world, with signs saying to take off your shoes and not point your feet at him, but maybe 5 feet tall max. The palace next door is similarly shiny; I might be enjoying this less because I had to buy M.C.-Hammer-esque $3 long bright blue pants with yellow elephants on them to replace my insufficiently-respectful-for-buddha-viewing shorts. Goofy are the guards: full uniform, unmoving, and with fierce guns sans bullets or even magazines. Get rid of the weaponry if itís just for decoration and not for saving us from the evil terrorists lurking behind every corner.
        The reclining Buddha is what youíd expect of supposedly the largest reclining Buddha in the world: not small. His gold-colored headís bigger than even a fatter-than-usual American.
        Probably most remarkable about the day is the lack of remarkability. If you had asked me to guess, I wouldnít have thought multiple bombs had gone off in this city <48 hours ago. They check the trunk of cars pulling up to the Shangri-La Ti Da, look underneath with a mirror, and have some metal tire-popping barrier things that they only sometimes bother blocking the driveway with, but thatís about it. The airport was full, the sights packed, the city seemingly unfazed by bombings. America, are you paying attention?:)
        Dinner involves lighting made of contraceptives: Cabbages and Condoms is one of the best restaurants Iíve ever been to. Run by Thailandís largest NGO (non-governmental organization), the name references how easy the founder wants access to contraceptives to be: available in village markets, just like the cabbage. Not only an idea to help prevent a few extra babies/back-alley abortions, theyíve had a drastic impact on the AIDs rate in Thailand, and, itís cool to eat great Thai next to a Christmas tree covered in condoms. Et tu, America?:)
       

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