Monday, 7 January 2013

Silk, shopping and suffering!

Today we decided to play it safe and got a taxi as opposed to a Tuk-Tuk down to Jim Thompson's house.

Thompson was an American architect before World War Two, he volunteered for the US Army, was later sent to Bangkok after the war and fell in love with Thailand, where he decided to stay once his military service was over.

He became a legendary adventurer and art collector. He brought together six stunning classic Thai houses made out of teak from all over the country, most of which were over two centuries old.

Each house was made out of large panels with wooden pegs instead of nails to keep them together and making them easy to dismantle and flat pack - a bit like Ikea?!

One of the unique features in the main house is the Chinese pawnshop wall, elaborately carved and placed between the bedroom and drawing room. All the beautifully carved panels under each window was turned inwards, so that the carvings could be admired whilst sitting in the room and thus preserving them from outside elements.

The property was finally finished in 1959 and Thompson spent a few years living there, entertaining many celebrities in between his various explorations around South East Asia where he brought back more Asian artefacts to add to his growing collection.

Then in 1967, whilst exploring through Malaysia, he disappeared and was never seen or heard of again!

Thompson created a haven if tranquility, now open to the public to come and admire.

As well as the mystery of his disappearance he is also renowned for re-building Thailand's dying silk industry and is founder of the highly successful Jim Thompson Silk Industry chain.

Silk worms do their thing!

The Spirit House found in the gardens, to placate and honour the Spirit in the main building.

After spending a few hours in this quiet and serene habitat we climbed on board another taxi and headed off to the infamous Chatuchak Weekend Market also called JJ! Think of Portabello and Spitalfields markets pushed together on a narrow pavement leading into the bowels of more markets through a labyrinth of alleys!

Not good for the claustrophobic and not good for the animal lovers like myself!

The first section we walked in on was the pet section! Karen was happily taking photos, whilst I was desperately trying not to have an anxiety attack and rush through screaming "Set them free you bastards, set them free", whilst ripping open every tiny cage containing huddles of puppies or kittens or chipmunks or rabbits or guinea pigs or gerbils! "This is not good" was all I could muster as I stormed through, whilst leaving Karen looking a bit bewildered and trying to keep up with me.

Finally we reached the section I would describe as household items and brick a brack, where I bought a lovely pair of chopsticks - hmm I have a fair idea where I would like to shove them!

By this point we were lost within the depths of the market place, I had a headache and Karen had blisters on her feet and so it was agreed to give up on the idea of doing a big shop. We stopped off for a light refreshment at a cute little shop that we happened upon at the edge of the market. It seemed like a quaint little cafe. Once seated, I noticed the glass cabinet stood by the side of our table, filled with some very macabre looking dolls. Each had a tiny body and huge head, with enormous eyes staring out at us. They were wearing gothic style dress but each one was clutching a very classy designer styled handbag!? And, sitting on the shelf below them, glaring out at us was a dinosaur.

That was enough for the day and we made our way back to the hotel ready to meet the rest of the group we were going to be to touring with.

They all seemed very nice, an assortment of nationalities and ages: Bob and Marie from Australia, Andrea from New Zealand, Sergio from Chile, Caroline from France, Jamilla from Germany, Caroline from England and Liz from Manchester (sorry that was just a little joke with my northern friends;)).

Our tour guide is a Cambodian man called Sambo! Though he informed us that he has shortened it to Sam as he realises that those of us from the English speaking Nations may find it a bit uncomfortable to call him that!!

We were given the full itinerary for the 29 day tour and then he 'educated' us on various forms of etiquette to adhere to, such as; never touch a mans head as it is the holiest part of his body, never point your feet towards a Buddha and try not to complain when out at small local restaurants, if served the wrong order, because the staff are normally very shy and nervous and will probably have the money deducted from their meagre wages.

Well he obviously doesn't know the English that well! Most of us would never complain, just smile politely and say "No, no that's fine, really it's not a problem, thank you" and then suffer in silence!

After the meeting, Karen and I decided to treat ourselves to a massage. Well we did deserve it, it had after all been a full 24 hours since our last one.

This time, just for a change we both chose to have head, neck and back, as opposed to a foot massage.

Bloody hell! I have never in my life, experienced so much pain through a 'relaxing' treatment! I was shown into a quiet room, where the floor was covered with mattresses, on top of each mattress was a client having a massage. Very serene.

I was shown over to my mattress and asked to lie on my stomach. Fair enough? Then next thing I knew, the therapist was sitting on me pummeling me with her elbows, her fists, the tips of her fingers, pressing down my spine releasing cracking sounds between each vertebrae! Unaware of the contortions my face was pulling from the pain going through each muscle as she worked on its pressure points.

Then I was told to turn over, which I duly did and she continued working on the tops of my shoulders, my neck and head. Pummeling and pushing, rolling and stretching each muscle. Obviously unaware of the discomfort I was feeling. Finally, she sat me up, pulled my arms across my chest and behind my back, stuck one of her legs across the front of my body whilst balancing in a kneeling position behind me and then she twisted my spine until it popped again.

At this point I thought I was going to bring up my Pad Thai, but before I had time to think about it, she bent me forwards, placed a cushion on my back and knelt on me!

At last, she helped me to my feet and asked if I was ok. I smiled at her and said 'Yes I'm fine, thank you, that was lovely, wonderful' and hobbled off breathing deeply through the pain!

Tomorrow, if I can manage to move, we begin the first official part of the great Indochina loop.

1 comment:

  1. wrll that really made me smile....the thought of the back massage and your very vivid descrption has made me take double dose of voltarol! Can't wait for the next installment...have fun xxx