Kaen Player


“The Kaen is the oldest form of the free reed family, the great great grandaddy of the harmonica and accordion. This type of instrument goes back to at least 1100BC (the harmonica and accordion only go back to the 1830s).”
(read more about the kaen and hear a sample here)
This guy was playing on the street in front of the Shangri La; he played pretty well. The kaen makes such a beautiful sound on the city street. I dropped a 10 baht coin in his bowl and listened for a moment before walking by.

Some Random Memories – Widespread Panic Edition

Note: There is no hope of remembering the whole trip in order, so my travelogue is going to be patterned after the trip itself – wildly chaotic, but hopefully enjoyable.
– The day before we left Bangkok to Nam’s hometown, the door of the safe in our room got stuck and refused to open. Contents: Both of our passports and airplane tickets, most of the dowry in cash and gold jewelry, our wedding bands, my camera, my laptop, my Omega, etc., etc., and just what in the hell do we do now. Several calls down to the front desk only to be assured that “someone was coming up right away” to fix it were not very assuring after a couple hours of no-show and repeated excuses. Nutty saved the day by threatening the pissant on the other end with Vigorous Blows to Cranium, as well as demanding to see the night manager. Five minutes later, the manager, the pissant, and a chubby safecracker dude bearing a bruteforce card-cabled-to-scanner device (just like the one Edward Furlong used to jackpot an ATM in Terminator 2) showed up at our door and got that sucker open. The problem, as described by Mr. Safecracker: “You crammed too much shit in there.” Yeah, well it’s hard choosing which of my pieces of shit (comp, camera, wedding ring display case, or watch) to leave exposed to the jackals, pal. Besides, I’m providing you with work, you little hacker nerd, so shut up.
– The day after the wedding, we chartered a double decker bus to take our group of fifty or so to Khon Kaen airport, where we would all board the same flight back to Bangkok. It was sweet, real sweet – a double decker bus! With an Orientalish Santa Claus airbrushed on the side! – but we encountered a problem that I, noob to the ways of double decker buses, never even considered. The bus was too tall to pass under the ceiling of the terminal building! Panic! Only an hour until our plane leaves! Panic! The great thing about Thailand, though – most everything is for hire if you ask nicely and offer compensation. We parked the bus in a parking lot adjacent to the terminal building and hired a nearby van to shuttle people in, and a pickup truck for the luggage. It took the pickup four or five trips – completely stuffed to the gills – to take all of the luggage to the departures curb (most of our group had never quite taken to the whole “travelling light” concept). I took the last van in, again with loyal friend Nutty by my side, sure we would be left on the runway watching the rest of our group fly off into the bright blue sky… Only to have to sit and wait for an hour because the plane was delayed.
– I made a previous reference to this, but it bears emphasizing: A speedhead taxi driver, in between spurts of almost killing us during his mad dashes between road hazards and battered trucks carrying fermented soy milk packaging, kept touching my forearm and telling me I could be a boxer and how he “like a man.” Panic! Finally, right after he finished telling me how he had two sons at home (note: quite disturbing after the Like a Man confession), tried to grab at my grointifical region! Luckily, I saw it coming a mile away and grabbed his wrist! He made another grab with his other hand! Can you say Runaway Taxi? The cab careened wildly down Soi Ratchada as we battled for possession of my testiculars! Suddenly, Nam came to my rescue and used her sandal straps to strangle the gayhomospeedheadcabbie-freak into unconsciousness, just as we plowed into the back of a tuktuk carrying a family of five from Munich!
Okay, not really.

Random Keitai Thoughts

This is just wrong.
It was very refreshing to carry around a no-nonsense phone for a couple weeks. No camera, no egg-spaceship styling, no blinky blink LED distractions. I bought the cheapest Nokia with plan for unlimited usage from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and it worked just fine except for the interface, which was from like 1972 or something. It took like five presses of various buttons just to see numbers I received calls from!
The best thing about GSM phones, though, are the size. I remember when my Docomo phones were that small! I’m telling you, I’d choose a non-camera phone in a second if it were a viable option for AU…

Photos shall follow

Gotta upload a bunch tonight before my 2GB allotment on flickr for this month runs out…
You know, a ring is a very strange thing to have on your finger all day, if you aren’t accustomed to wearing one. My fingers are constantly playing with it, like little dogs straining at their collar.

Numbers

Some numbers may be just the thing to get my company-controlled brain really working again after two full weeks of respite.
– Rating of the wedding on scale of 1 to 10: 9.7
– Rating of the trip on scale of 1 to 10: 9.5
– Total number of digital photos taken by myself and my brother: Approx. 2500 (8 GB worth)
– Total number of film photos taken just at wedding: 17 rolls
– Total number of edited hours of wedding video taken by T: 3 hours
– Total number of edited hours of wedding video taken by hired videographer: Unknown
– Total number of dancers at our wedding ceremonies: 50? 100? (I have to watch the video)
– Total number of elephants at wedding: 2
– Total number of white suits I wore for the wedding: 2 (morning Thai-style suit/evening tux; both went well with white pimp boots I brought from Japan)
– Total number of monkeys that jumped on my back at the monkey temple: 1
– Total number of boss monkeys that bared their teeth at me and chased me into the ocean: 1
– Total number of beautiful ladyboys involved with our wedding (attending or working with vendors), not including dancers: At least 5
– Total number of times I knocked on my pal’s door (knowing he had a girl in the room), heard the soundtrack to Raiders of the Lost Ark playing at full volume, and was subsequently scarred for life with visions of him standing over the bed with a bullwhip in a Mola Ram pose: 1
– Kilograms of mangosteen consumed by my father over the course of a five days: 3.5
– Average number of fishballs in a standard bowl of noodles in Thailand: 4
– Total number of 600ml bottles of water I consumed over two weeks: A hundred?
– Total number of guards our driver bribed in order to enter beach compound where the King of Siam’s doctor lives in Hua Hin: 1
– Total number of bags of fruit used to bribe said guard: 1
– Total number of average taxi drivers we had in Bangkok: 10
– Total number of good taxi drivers we had in Bangkok: 7
– Total number of bad taxi drivers we had in Bangkok: 3
– Total number of taxi drivers on speed who kept feeling my arm and telling me “I like man” in Bangkok: 1
– Total number of times I had to raise my voice at the Fortune hotel’s front desk to get stuff done: 1
– Total number of suits made in Bangkok: 1
– Total number of times said suit saved my ass when a job interview unexpectedly appeared at the end of the trip: 1
– Total number of girls who remember T’s name on Hua Hin’s bar strip: 20? 30?
– Total number of flowers bought off from cute/pitiful child hawkers during one long night of drinking: Two fistfulls
– Total number of Scandinavians currently vacationing in Hua Hin, Thailand: Approximately half the population of Stockholm
– Total number of times I felt embarrased to look Japanese because of rude/loud/retarded Japanese in the room: 5+
– Total number of times I have smiled at a cop on a street in Bangkok and he smiled back: 4
– Total number of times I have smiled at a cop on a street in Osaka and he smiled back: 0
– Total number of times I have smiled at a cop on a street in Los Angeles and he smiled back: Are you crazy?
– Total number of times (ever) I have seen people peeing on the street in Bangkok: 3
– Total number of times (ever) I have seen people peeing on the street in Los Angeles: 15
– Total number of times (ever) I have seen people peeing on the street in Osaka: The entire working adult male population, plus a few bums and even a prarie woman or two thrown in for variety.
-Total number of times my ass was saved by family/friends during wedding/entire trip: Countless. Seriously. Thank you all.