If recent entries seem more random than normal, it’s because they are. Windows 7 randomly selects one of the tens of thousands of pictures on my hard drive to use as my desktop background. Every few hours the image changes. Sometimes an image would pop up that I wanted to edit, but there was no way to find out the name or location of the photo. Then I found WPTargetDir on the net, installed it, and now I can quickly open and edit the image down to blog size with a quick Shift + Click. So the past week I’ve been doing just that.
Today this photo of The Grand Palace in Bangkok was selected by Windows 7 as my desktop background. We had the most beautiful of skies that day in Thailand last December.
Upon arriving in Japan nearly nine months ago and seeing the countless, cheap restaurants in the neighborhood I vowed to never visit one twice (in order to experience a larger percentage of them). I have not been able to stick to my goal however and have frequented about four or five places more than once.
One place that I’ve been to, three times now, is Kao Tai near Takadanobaba Station. The selection (and quality) have been different each time ranging from good to great. It’s the only place I’ve been to that always has foreigners inside. Sometimes as many as half the customers will be non-Japanese.
The food is better than the above photo may indicate. On any given day there are seven or eight different dishes to choose from.
The price can’t be beat. Only 780 yen for an all-you-can eat lunch. The address is 高田馬場 2-14-6, which is east of the station, just off of Waseda Dori on the north side. Look for a Thai Viking Lunch sign (not the one above which is right in front of the restaurant–not on Waseda Street) pointing you down the correct alley. I don’t remember if the sign is in English or katakana–probably a bit of both.
After Phuket’s Big Buddha, our next stop on the way to the airport was a store called SuperCheap. It was a huge mistake to go here in the middle of the day as there is no air conditioning. The place felt like it was over 90 degrees and humid, not exactly a pleasurable shopping experience.
The inside was sort of like a Costco in the states…
…only it was much bigger…
…and the selection was different…
…and included a carcass of something which you could order a piece of if you like.
We didn’t actually buy a thing. Instead, we looked and looked. When we could stand the heat no longer we went to a nearby restaurant for smoothies and shakes to wait for our cab driver to come back.
Given the hustling and outright scams in Thailand, we couldn’t fully enjoy this day with our cab driver. Not only did he try to drive us to a bunch of places we didn’t want to go (so that he could get a commission if we purchased anything at these places), but he had all our luggage in the trunk of his car. Until we made it to the airport my heart couldn’t rest easy.
We did eventually make it to the airport, with luggage too, so we did finally relax. The sunset out the plane’s window was fantastic.
We pulled into Tokyo the next morning to a glorious sunrise. Even though we had some great times in Thailand, and Tokyo is far too cold at the end of December compared to Thailand, I was happy to be “home” in Tokyo. I like living somewhere with a decent infrastructure, where you aren’t asked every two seconds to buy something, and where you don’t have to worry about your safety and security as you walk the streets. The streets of Shinjuku, when we returned on December 29, were very peaceful compared to what we experienced the prior nine days. Actually, they were peaceful compared to most places in the world as most businesses were closed (for the New Year holiday which lasts about a week to 10 days beginning the 29th), many people had left town, and those Tokyoites that were still around stayed warm by staying inside.
The Big Buddha of Phuket is big, giant even. If you have seen the Daibutsu of Kamakura, imagine one more than three times as large on a hilltop. Personally, the Kamakura Daibutsu is more awe inspiring to me, but it had 750+ years to get that way. The scaffolding doesn’t help Phuket’s Big Buddha win this comparison at the moment either.
It’s a bit of a pilgramage to get to the Buddha’s base. The road leading to the parking lot includes at least a dozen speed bumps (and we scraped across each one in our driver’s Toyota loaded down with five people and luggage). Then there are the stairs up in the heat and humidity.
The views from the top, of the Buddha and of the surrounding area, are well worth the effort.
Our flight back to Japan, from Phuket through Bangkok, was a “red eye” so we didn’t need to arrive at the airport until late afternoon. We hired a taxi to take us to a few places before dropping us off at the airport. The first place we went was to the south, to the top of Mount Nagakerd, where Phuket’s Big Buddha is being constructed.
The bronze Buddha on the left is dedicated to the queen of Thailand. The Big Buddha is, you guessed it, dedicated to the king.
This is what the grounds are supposed to look like when everything is finished. Like most things we encountered in Thailand, I’m guessing this place will be partially finished for years to come.
Ellie, once again, couldn’t enter without covering up.