We are still hanging out in Bangkok waiting for all our visas to be processed. Songkran, the Thai New Year, ended on Monday so we applied for our Laos and Vietnam visas on Tuesday morning. They were submitted to the embassies on Wednesday morning and will take two days each. Once we get our passports back we’ll make another trip back to the Chinese embassy and try our luck one more time on the three month visa. We were turned away on our first try because we’d written on our application that we planned to travel through the country via bicycle. It isn’t illegal to travel through China via bicycle, but we’ve since found out that because we are applying for the visas outside of our country of residence it is most likely our host country (Thailand) that is doesn’t like the idea of cyclists. So, this time we just won’t specifically state that we’ll be traveling by bicycle.
Other than running around to apply for visas, we’ve been laying pretty low. The temperatures have been very high here over the past week, averaging around 37 degrees Celsius. As soon as we step outside we instantly feel swampy and sweaty. The humidity is also very high - I feel like I can’t quite take a full breath outside - it is a lot like being in a sauna. Much of the afternoon is spent reading directly under the fan in our tiny guesthouse room. Any part of you facing towards the bed & thus away from the fan gets very sweaty very quickly. We create damp spots on the sheets and are always trying to shift around to keep cool. We’ve been brainstorming places with air-conditioning that we can hang out in - yesterday we spent the day at the mall. We browsed at the English language bookstore, then fawned over the delicious looking bakery in the food court area. We don’t often see real western-style baked goods here in Thailand, so we treated ourselves to some croissants.
The other day we rode our bikes through the swirls of exhaust fumes and crazy drivers to a bike shop where we left the bikes for a tune-up and general cleaning/lubing - all for less than $10!
One day for lunch we tried out an Indian restaurant listed in our guidebook. My curry seemed lukewarm which worried me…sure enough, that night I got sick. This is the third time I’ve had stomach issues on the trip, if you’re keeping track. I’ve had the bug for three days now and, as I’m sure you can guess, Jamie is still healthy as a horse. These Welles seem to be a hardy folk!
In the evening when the heat starts to dissipate a bit we stroll over to a nice park on the river. A large group of people take over one corner of the park to do very energetic bouncy type aerobics to this great Thai pop music. It is so fun to watch them! Their instructor is a super hyper little guy. He is so bouncy that he is almost never actually touching the ground - the very tips of his toes touch down but that’s it. He’s practically hovering over the ground for most of the aerobics class - his pupils look very sluggish next to him.
This is the park’s pagoda at sunset:
Another corner of the park is used by a group of teenage boys practicing their breakdance moves. They’re really fun to watch too - one guy is practicing a move where he dances around like a robot and then falls towards the ground, lands with one hand, and balances his entire body in mid-air with that one hand. Another kid is practicing a spinning headstand move where his legs kick out to one side and freeze there for a second. I wish they’d get together and do a full performance of all their best moves - we mostly just get to see them practice the same thing over and over and over.
This is the Rama IV Bridge, which is visible from the park as well:
Finally the center of the park is taken up by dirty hippie backpacker types. They are usually practicing juggling or the art of spinning around these balls attached to the end of a long piece of string. Sometimes it seems like these folks are on drugs because they just stand there, almost motionless, spinning the balls around and around in a very repetitious and trance-like manner.