Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 2: Bangkok Bicycle

I woke up in time for breakfast.  I stopped in at the first place that advertised “American Breakfast.”  I later found out there are many places that serve bacon, eggs, toast, with orange juice and call it American Breakfast.  I realized when I got the bill that it was horribly overpriced.

I then moved my stuff over to the Lamphu House, which was just next to my hostel of last night.  The place was much better.  I got a cheap room that had its own bathroom.  I still liked this place a lot.  In fact, I probably liked it the most of all the places I stayed.  The room only had a fan, but with a window that faced the nearby river, it was nice a cool.  Here’s a picture I grabbed from the website that is the same as my room:

lamphu house room

After dropping off my things, I decided to explore the area.  I grabbed a tourist map and headed toward the nearby National Museum.  On the way, I came upon a bicycle stand.  This booth had a big sign that said, “Green Bangkok Bicycle.”

Its a free service for tourists providing free bicycle rentals to tour central Bangkok.  I filled out the paperwork, got the booklet, and set off.  The funny thing is that the program requires riders to travel clockwise around a circular bike path around the area.  So, in order to go to the museum, I had to travel the long-way around.

But, I had all day so I didn’t mind.  I made the first few stops suggested on the pamphlet.  then, I realized that you get what you pay for.  The chain fell off the gear.  I tried to get it back on, but without a wrench, it was impossible.  By this time, I was soaked in sweat—like completely through.   So, I walked it to the next bike station to see if I could exchange it.  The people at the stand made a call, and decided to do the switch.  So, I got a new, free bike to borrow.


Along the way, I passed this utility worker.  In the middle of traffic, he leaned a ladder against the wire itself to do work.  In retrospect it reminds me of the woman mopping a light socket in The Beach.  The main character tries to warn the lady about the dangers of electricity, and the woman just responds, “No worry.”

With the second bike, I again got what I paid for.  About a kilometer down the road, I made a hard push on one of the pedals and bent it way out of shape—like beyond use.  I pushed the pedal up against a wall to try to bend it back into shape.  I was careful not to push too hard because I was afraid of breaking the plastic pedal.  I got it back mostly where I should have been and continued on my way.

After the long ride, I was so tired I skipped the museum.  The people at the last bike stand just shrugged when I showed them the bent pedal.  As I see it, the Bangkok Bicycle program has two big drawbacks:  (1) the bikes are low-quaility and (2) it is damn hot in Bangkok.  But, at least the price is right.

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