Letter 39: Night Market, Tuk-Tuks and a Squirrel

Dear Elizabeth
            That first night we went to the night market, an amazing carnival of stalls.  Most of the men working in the night market were deaf, so we bartered using their calculators.  I’d point out something, then use the calculator to punch in the price I wanted to pay.  The vendor would look at it, shake his head, then punch in his price.  This went on until we were both satisfied.  It was really fun.
            And Teena emerged with a hidden talent.  She knew sign language.  She stood “talking” to one man for quite some time, and we were so excited to find out he was a believer! 
            The next day we all decided to go to lunch via Tuk-Tuk, which is a little bigger than a baby taxi, but not much.  I believe it would comfortably seat 3 or 4.  We were 8, if you recall. 
            The driver, and just about everyone we passed on the streets, was quite shocked at the sight of all eight of us Americans piled into one Tuk-Tuk.  We seemed to be popping out in every direction.  They just didn’t know that we had lived in Bangladesh, and given up most of our ideals about personal space.
            We all got very excited to see shops with real shopping carts.  And we went to the zoo, and instead of getting excited about seeing all the exotic animals, we all were really happy to see squirrels!
            One day we walked through an open food market and I saw a huge batch of fried grasshoppers, and fried larvae too.  Who ever thought of frying up larvae to eat?  They also had horseshoe crabs and huge lobsters for sale.

            I kept trying to work up the nerve to try the fried grasshoppers, but by the time I did and went to buy some, the batch was gone.  I was mostly disappointed, but slightly relieved.  Instead I got to buy a coconut drink that was still inside the coconut.
            At one shop, Teena bought a blueberry muffin, but it tasted funny.  Come to find out, the blueberries were actually raisins.  She decided for a raisin muffin it wasn’t bad.
            One of the days after lunch, Teena and I took the girls to the World Trade Center because we heard there was an ice-skating rink there.  We went up to the eighth floor and found the rink, but it was $4 per person to get in and we only had an hour. So we left there and went back to the ground floor and got an ice cream sundae instead. 
            As we had bought socks for ice skating and were disappointed about not getting to go, we instead went back to one of our hotel rooms and sock-skated on the tile floors.  We had a blast.
            Eventually that trip, we did end up getting to go ice skating, but my happiest memories were of us improvising and making a fun day out of what was originally a disappointment.
            Life Lesson:  Things will not always go the way you want.  You can either pout and whine about it, or get creative and make the situation into something better.
            I had noticed that a lot of taxis in Thailand were motorcycles, with the driver sitting in the front, and the rider sitting side-saddle on back.  It looked really scary.
            I wanted to try it.
            I did, and I found out there are a lot more muscles in your rear end than you’d think.  I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to hold on the driver or if that would be inappropriate, so I just held on as best I could with one hand on the back of the motorcycle and every muscle in my back end that would cooperate with me. 
            At red lights, the cars would line up within their lanes, then the motorcycle would swoosh right down in between the lines of cars right up to the front.  I kept thinking my knees were going to hit some car’s side mirror.
            That was an experience I’ll enjoy remembering, but would not want to repeat!
            All in all, we had a great time, and I’m sure we gave the Thai people plenty to talk about after we left.  I would bet that somewhere, someone is still telling people about the strange white tourists who got excited about a squirrel!

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