I have too many pictures to go through for an album edit, so I’ll have to do that when I return home most likely.  Summarizing my next two days in Bangkok, Thailand.  Day two was consumed somewhat, trying to rendezvous with a Thai friend I met and travelled with in 2013.  He has a coconut business and other work that happens in several parts of the world and Thailand.  So yesterday he was commuting back to town and was several hours late.  I went to what is listed as Lee Jae Veg on HappyCow for breakfast and dinner.  It’s actually called Lae Lee Vegetarian in translation on the menu.  Regardless it’s quick, quality food on a calm, outdoor alleyway in what can be a hectic area of Chinatown.  I was surprised by how “at home” I felt here and could go here regularly.  I did So Vegan for lunch in the I’m Chinatown Mall and got a fried appetizer and vegan burger.  That did the trick, but I left thinking this wouldn’t be my daily fix.  I did return for dinner tonight.  They have a purple rice which one can add “toppings” to from the prepared window.  This is a better deal, healthier and more Thai to me.  So although they run out of stuff on the menu, closer to closing time, it’s possible to still see what’s left to fill up on.  Tofu with green and red curry variations prepared in different styles got me thinking I planned my trip well since the other place closes earlier.  Anyways after breakfast and lunch I gave up waiting and headed towards the sightseeing.  The Grand Palace has a dress code and pants salespeople warned me, one young man stripping me of my confidence.  I pointed to my leg tattoo as pants in reaction and thought of a Christian rule – don’t worry about what you will wear.  How can we have Christian Buddhism?  I was bouncing ideas around in my head and feeling outrageous with a battle of government, religion and peace.  What sort of establishment is Grand Palace anyways?  I walked past the security, timidly following two women wearing shorts.  Surely enough I saw the same sign salespersons were holding, “No shorts, no tank tops” etc.  I decided to respect this and not risk “trouble”.  Disappointed I continued on the sightseeing plan, wondering what happened to my friend!  I found a CD store and record shop towards the National Museum.  Inside the owners started playing music for me to find what I was thinking about in my head as a purchase.  After filling the counter with Thai artists and the shop’s speakers with 30 second clips of songs like my old-time, bi-polar friend would do in his stick-shift Honda stereo, I fell out the door with two compact discs.  Following I continued to The National Museum.  What an amazing selection of Thai culture!  The writers of DK Eyewitness’ Top 10 Bangkok really know their “Top 10’s”.  Some of my favorites within were Four-armed Ganesha, the room of Bronze Sukothai art with Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Uma and Hariharan; and the Royal Funeral Chariots Gallery.

     My friend gave me an ETA and I caught a minibus back to the hotel in Chinatown.  Thai music and open windows on a bus is a great middle ground between bus and more personal options they have here.  We met with some of my Thai friend’s colleagues in Shanghai Mansion’s Red Rose. The entrance to this place is astounding and at first I walked right by it before check-in on my first afternoon.  Returning I couldn’t believe I was staying beyond the bridge of red lanterns after the bar, restaurant and venue.  Also recommended by the small travel book I mentioned above, I can’t imagine a better choice to stay this visit.

There were jazz standards being played last night.  Front man was a somewhat flamboyant, talkative, blonde-dyed hair guy accompanied by an electric violin and a keyboard.  How interesting to catch up with my old pal to this quirky, somewhat traditional scene.  The place got busy.  The band even took requests.  I asked the band to do Norah Jones’ Don’t Know Why after the lead singer became nervous admittedly because of the crowd, but I think he was joshing us about the reason.  All I could think of is, he would show them all with this song.  I approached the stage which had been calling me as it used to when I was a performer, most of the night.  He said, “We can do that one” and stole the show back.  Overall a fun, dynamic night.

This morning I was feeling stuck, however I knew I’d be happy changing gears.  I exchanged money for today’s budget and headed towards King Power Mahanakorn.  Thailand’s tallest skyscraper and a nearby vegan food joint, Bonita Café and Social Club.  I arrived to the place early and a couple was already there too.  We chatted at one point and I couldn’t believe it.  Vegan Germans!  A foreshadowing of the Christmas trip later in this year.  They admitted being power users on HappyCow and I confessed my gratefulness.  Actually I’ve been noticing many Europeans in Bangkok so far and several around these vegan places.  So different for me to see and hear new people.  I continued to Mahanakorn and it was amazing.  We (customers in general) can walk on a glass floor, which is totally freaky.  I took so many pictures with both cameras of the views.  I had the macro lens on the Panasonic, so I wasn’t sure if that was going to be the best choice for today, but I had to try.

For lunch I found Broccoli Revolution from my initial research over six months ago, I recall.  It was going to be that place I’d go to everyday, staying nearby for most of the trip.  The trip extended into four countries since that first plan and I barely held on to alot of the research.  This place looks nicer in person and put a tear in my eye when I left  with a smoothie and spicy, sour Thai soup in my belly.  My legs started to ache, but I kept going.  What about the area of town that first welcomed me to Thailand, before I knew anything about the place?  Lumphini which was home to the Muay Thai boxing hall originally.  I saw the only boxing match in my life there and was stunned.  Bone-cracking, rock-abs, dead-serious stares from the fighters.  I had a photo I held on to for a long time, until I felt the boxer was angry at me!  I rarely photographed people in public those days.  Now I feel differently without anyone there and think I should include more living subjects with discretion.  S1 Hostel is still there and I picked up a green tea and some sweet mango slices at the 711 nearby.

After returning to Shanghai Mansion and dinner as mentioned, I walked back towards the water to hopefully cross and photograph Wat Arun.

I got some pictures of Grand Palace on the way and Wat Arun from the dock.   The boats weren’t crossing at that time, still these lighted buildings are intriguing at night.

Turning around I found Began Vegan (closed of course for the night) and a fancy subway station, fit for the King.