You know, after seeing all these orphans and street urchins in Cambodia, I understand why Angelina Jolie adopted one. I'm not planning to do it myself, I'm just saying it's not as random as I thought.
We left at 7am to take the bus to the border on a road which was not flat. Reportedly, the government purposely leaves the road in bad condition to entice tourists to fly between Siem Reap and Bangkok, because they own a stake in the airline. I felt surprisingly good for 4 Long Islands, but still had a need for sleep, which I couldn't do on account of the bumpiness.
At the border we had to get out for passport control. I saw at least three more kids with John Cena shirts. (I just looked it up--SmackDown airs in Cambodia Saturdays at 9pm, but RAW isn't on.) After we got into Thailand I immediately noticed that the country smells like chicken! Maybe because vendors were cooking it at the border. In any case, Thailand doesn't have the burning smell. After lunch at the border we transferred to two vans for the remainder of the ride to Bangkok. We got to the Viengtai Hotel around 5pm, which was better time than we expected (considering we made a few stops). At the hotel Amy told me my key was supposed to be in the room, but I couldn't find it. I searched for a while because I thought I was missing something obvious (Hansel in Zoolander: "In the computer...it's so simple!). I had to call down to the desk twice before they finally brought me the key, which they still had, a half hour later.
We had our farewell dinner in one of the labyrinths off Khaosan Rd (the backpacker bar street). At a nearby table was a white guy in a Sikh turban and a big beard. I shrieked when I saw bacon fried rice on the menu. A few years ago I was contemplating the perfect food and thought bacon fried rice would be hard to beat. But I considered it a merely theoretical food until tonight. But I didn't order it, because I wanted something more Thai-tasting, and just knowing that my creation had come to life was enough to make me happy. Gwen ordered it and I tried some, and it wasn't spectacular, but that was irrelevant. (I've had an idea for a standup bit that would sound good coming out of somebody like Chris Rock: "Chicken fried rice, shrimp fried rice...you know what I'm waitin' fo'? Pussy fried rice!" But I can hear Carlin doing it too, so maybe it'll work for a white guy.)
After dinner we went to a sidewalk bar across the street from the hotel (which is on the next street up from Khaosan Rd) and had a few. Someone wondered what plant gin is made from. Me: "Cotton. They run it through a cotton gin." There was some discussion about if and when people wanted to have kids. That's what I like about these groups--they enjoy life, then have kids. Too many people try to do it in the opposite order. Leanne, Henrik and Marina officially left the group at that point; these were the only "hard" goodbyes of the night. (Since everyone was staying in Bangkok at least one more night we figured we'd still bump into each other.) From there we went back to Khaosan Rd looking for another bar (half the group split off at this point) and along the way we found a street vendor we'd seen earlier selling bugs. All eyes were on me, thanks to the friedfrog lunch earlier in the tour, but I was actually looking forward to trying bugs and didn't need any coercion. For 5 baht (40 baht = $1) I got 4 crickets and a big grasshopper. The vendor put them in a bag and sprayed them with soy sauce and added salt or some seasoning. Cameras flashed as I ate the cricket appeitizers, then I held up the main course and proclaimed "grasshopper, grasshopper, spit me some tobacco" and consumed it. (Anyone who has photos or video (Kate), please send them my way.) They were actually quite good--crunchy, not much flavor, or maybe whatever there was was masked by the soy sauce. I'd eat them again. Only thing is I had antennae and legs stuck in my teeth after that.
We tried a big bar called Shamrock that was way too crowded and loud, then settled on an outdoor bar in a parking lot. I had a screwdriver, but while perusing the menu I noticed that the back page was blank. I thought it would be a good idea to expand the drink selection and add a page 4 to the menu. Here's the result:
My contributions were the Siamese Surprise and the Happy Ending. You don't see those bees coming!
We left the bar and I carried my drink back to the hotel like a tourist. This was a relatively early night (before 1am) but bedtime was delayed a bit because my key didn't work. I suspected it was because I pushed the button in the doorknob when I closed the door, but that's normally how you lock a door. I guy came up with me and unlocked the door, and I was right about the button, but I confirmed that on my own. Neither he nor any written instructions warned me not to push the button. Of course if the guy told people, his job would no longer be necessary, so it makes sense.