Random walk through Kanchanaburi

I took a random walk through downtown Kanchanaburi today with a notepad and actually made notes of some of the interesting things that I passed.

Im walking along the sidewalk…well, actually sidewalks in Thailand are non-existent – there’s a stoney area where the sidewalk used to be but now it is used for vendor carts, parking motorbikes, driving motorbikes, mangey dogs, and random holes. You spend more time walking in the street which can be a little hairy if you dont watch the driving.

I happen to be walking past a primary school when it let out, and suddenly I was surrounded by hundreds of schoolgirls in uniforms. I was the only farang out and about so they giggled, pointed, waved, etc…I was an extreme object of interest. They all seem to have pink hello-kitty accessories too. When I finally escape the horde, I am directed across the busy street by a policeman wearing a white mask. Many people here wear masks or cover their mouths with cloths because of all the uncontrolled pollution. A motorbike zips past me, its a father and he has his 1 yr old daughter sitting on the front and he’s holding her between his arms as he drives, there are 2 older boys on the back. A total of 4 people on one scooter and no one has a helmet on and he is weaving around traffic like the enlightened Neo or something. The street is clustered with dozens of shops like this one:

I wander down a stretch of market and right in front of me was a 3 story “mall”!!! I had to go inside, at least for the air-con…I havent felt cool air since the bus ride a week ago. The mall is very modern with escalators, etc…a few soldiers standing out front. The inside is almost as busy as the market outside, its hard to walk around the cluttered isles and it seems that just like the market, very little thought went into what went where for display. Thai girls of all ages, but mostly teens, giggle and look as I walk around. Once again, dont know how I do it, Im the only white guy for miles, I seem to stay in “celebrity” mode everywhere that I go and it attracts a lot of attention. I found the kids section and bought my niece a couple Thai kids books that have both Thai and English. I got a taste of the severe bureaucracy here when I paid…the lady took my money, logged the sale in a huge ledger book (no computers), hand filled out a lengthy receipt, stamped the receipt, stamped the book, then stamped my bag. It took 10 minutes for a 20 Baht purchase! Thank goodness they dont have a Christmas season.

I went back outside and wandered some more…ducking to avoid every low hanging object that you can imagine…being 73″ on this sidewalk is tough! I grab some mystery meat on a stick that smelled too good on the grill to pass up (was only 10 baht) and Im off back to the Jolly Frog. This really is a neat town. It is large enough to have some action, but very small and quaint feeling as well.

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