An Intrepid Tour Leader
by Marlo Perry
22. June Jambles
4 June 2006
Sitting in Bangkok where the city is preparing for the celebrations of 60 years of the king - that is 60 years on the throne. Huge celebrations are being organised, the main streets are draped in countless gold fairy lights, so beyond tacky it looks awesome. Locals are doing the rounds in pick ups to go see the lights each evening so there is more traffic than usual in Bangkok city jams. Most people are wearing yellow tops - the birth colour for the king, and street vendors are being battoned off the streets if they sell along the routes that all the foreign dignitaries are passing through from their way from airport -> hotel, hotel ->celebration,. hotel -> dinner, dinner -> celebrations. I tell you that is a lot of street sellers! And again the traffic pile up in town is immense as no one else is allowed on those streets while the dignitaries are out.
I celebrated the king's 60 years by going shopping. Some great sales are on and the new Siam Paragon (have I mentioned this mall yet!). It is like a Disneyland. I got lost in the food court the first time I went there. I was a little evil and even took one of my groups there for final night dinner. They were a young group so it went down well, especially as we could go bowling afterwards. It is possible to walk around and get a full meal without actually buying anything as so many shops are handing out freebies. There are at least a dozen ice cream venues - Yummo! There is also a bookstore similar to Borders, with hundreds of books in English. I sit around on the floor reading, unfortunately most of them are plastic covered up, but whoops, there is a small tear, so I may as well rip the whole thing off - sorry sir!
World Cup fever is beginning. In Thailand it is against the law to gamble, so all the Thais are placing bets. My money is on Argentina. But I was a law abiding citizen and went to Cambodia to put down the money. I have checked my schedule and will fortunately be in a town (Phnom Penh) with a TV for the final. Phew, it was one night off being in the ends of the earth in northern Cambodia in Ratanikiri province. It is a great area - I love getting there as we catch a flight from the capital and land on a dirt airstrip (I never tell the passengers it is dirt and try and freak them out by saying it must be an emergency landing! Evil tour leader!) - but it lacks electricity most of the time.
My Intrepid stint is coming to an end. Two trips to go. Will be sad to no longer be a full timer but I would prefer to have a little bit more of a life than I manage at the moment. I love moving and being in different towns each week, but for two and a half years living out of a backpack in a hotel room has to drive you a little bit crazy. I have picked up some great skills though - can officially pack in 34 seconds. That would look good on a resume!
I have become a little bit of a computer nerd as I have been putting together a booklet of the towns that we visit on trips to hand out to passengers., It required using some cool programs (sold at the market for $3 each RRP around $100), to transform maps that I had ripped off the internet or scanned from guidebooks. Result was that I want to buy my own computer, which I have been saying for at least two years. But the computers I was looking at then are so much cheaper now!
Off for a dim sum lunch. Hope you are all well and good.
About the Author
Marlo Perry is a Group Leader for the Australian based tour operator, Intrepid Travel.
1. The Apprentice... 2. Trip One... 3. Half Way... 4. Tet... 5. Monkey Business... 6. Quick Turnaround... 7. Thai New Year... 8. Angkor... 9. Bangkok... 10. It Depends... 11. A&E... 12. Laos... 13. Routine... 14. Pig Rabies... 15. Burma... 16. Tsunami... 17. Songkran... 18. Sick Note... 19. Cycle Vietnam... 20. Street Kids... 21. My Life. Ideas Needed... 22. June Jambles...