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Shopping in Chinatown

November 30, 2002
Bangkok, Thailand

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Uncle Craig led us through the back streets and alleyways of Chinatown today, early, before the heat and crowds arrived. There we saw old wooden two-story buildings crowded together, their upper balconies leaning out above the streets, where men and women sat on the ground breaking apart engines to salvage their parts, which were heaped in piles 6 feet high. We peeked inside the courtyard of a Chinese household in the oldest part of Bangkok, just a few yards from the old Portuguese church on the banks of the Chao Praya, the river that runs through Bangkok. Some of those places look like they've been sitting there for 200 years, and they probably have.

It wasn't easy for our sweating, American selves to keep up with Craig, who's used to this heat and these crowds. He led us from Chinatown to a wat (temple) where the monks care for a few crocodiles there on the grounds, and then out to the Indian section of town where we munched on delicious fresh samosas, hot out of the oil, from a certain street vendor with a global reputation.

After shopping, we stopped in to see the murals at Wat Suthat and then, when we'd had enough, jumped into a cab to return to home base: his and Judi's house. There we found the daughters in their favorite activity, walking their two black standard poodles, Yvonne ("wonnie") and Yvette ("vettie"). Having a home base made everything a lot easier: a place to return to when the imagination ran out, to rest in the air conditioning, where the girls could fall asleep on an antique elephant carriage while watching Cartoon Network, and where we stayed long after dinner, drinking wine and listening to tales of Judi and Craig's globetrotting adventures over the past 30 years.