The Boys Are Lovin’ Thailand!
Hello dearest Earth Stringband followers, on Thursday we bid adieu to the beautiful city of Vientiane and the great people of Laos and hopped on a plane to Bangkok! So far we have been hitting the jackpot with the help we are receiving from U.S embassies (Pam, Saeng, Mike, Kaman, and Poung in Laos, and Izaak, Kelly, and Simon here in Thailand) and we were whisked through both airports by expeditors! Once we arrived in Thailand we crept slowly through the infamous Bangkok traffic towards our ludicrously luxurious hotel, the Bangkok four seasons. It is safe to say that all the boys felt pretty out of place in a five star hotel, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t make the most of it (I’ve got all the stationary tucked away somewhere in my bag, and I spent the better part of Thursday night in a bathrobe and slippers!). After we unloaded our gear we all went to the famous MBK mall for what have got to be some of the best food-court vittles known to man (both the green and red curries were to die for). The MBK was a complete sensory overload, we each had a few items on our list but it’s not so easy to decide where to shop when there’s an entire floor devoted to each thing you are looking for. We walked past what seemed like a quarter-mile of Camera shops before we found stash the right battery, and another quarter-mile of clothing stores before I could decide on some socks to buy!
Yesterday was another travel day and then we had our first performance here in Thailand. We flew to Phitsanulok on a prop-plane painted like a bird, and were greeted with wonderfully fragrant garlands by Dang, one of the department heads at the Pibulsongkram Rajabhat University where our performance was. Dang took us to a wonderful little noodle house right on the river where we all dangled our feet off of the edge of a pagoda and scarfed down some of the best pork noodles we’ve ever encountered (this wasn’t the only incredible meal Dang would treat us to that day). After lunch we dropped off suitcases in the hotel and headed to the University for soundcheck and a concert. The concert was in honor of His Majesty’s 84th Birthday and I asked Dang to help me say “we would like to take this opportunity to wish His Majesty the King a happy birthday” in Thai. Stash deemed my little oration “the king’s speech” and it was received with an uproar and a few hundred smiling Thai faces.
Although we didn’t know what to expect as far as audience reaction, people really enjoyed the music and the energy of the band and by the end of the concert people were hootin’ and hollerin’ and the Vice president of the university got up out of his chair and started dancing (I think this thoroughly impressed all of the students). The show was followed by a meet a greet the likes of which none of us had ever experienced before. We rushed off stage to put our instruments in the green room and as soon as we stepped out we were met by a mob of ecstatic college kids and an out-pour of adoration that none of us knew exactly how to handle. We spent a half an hour surrounded by the students signing autographs and taking pictures until there were spasms in our cheek muscles but we loved every minute of it (stay tuned for pictures), it was our own mini-Beatlemania.
After the concert Dang took us out for the most incredible Thai meal any of us have ever had at one of the best restaurants in town. He did all of the ordering and all of us were thoroughly impressed not only by all the food but by all of the knowledge that the Thai people have of what goes into the food and also what to goes well with everything. I think we will delegate the rest of the ordering on the tour to Kelly Jitjang the Cultural Affairs specialist who is traveling with us and any other Thais who we meet along the way! The highlights of the meal for me were the bean salad with shrimp, the pork leg, and the green curry but I heard from the rest of the boys that the serpent-head fish and coconut soup with fish balls were also to die for. The Thai food here is so delicious and vibrant I don’t know how I’ll ever go back to eating it in the states but I’m sure life will go on. After dinner Eric and I went back to the hotel and each got a 2 hour Thai massage! We were both so relaxed after the meal and massage that we had no further recourse but to pass out (explaining the tardiness of this blog). We are all loving Thailand and the Thai people and we can’t wait to see a lot more of this incredible country this week! That’s all for now. Stay posted for more pictures. Thanks for reading!