What can you buy with 130 baht?
It’s March 18th, 2016. It is the time to leave Bangkok, it’s time to leave Thailand.
And its time to see how much our last 130 baht can buy us.
We take our 130 baht ($3.75), out for breakfast. Breakfast is just down the busy side street we are staying on at Shanti Lodge. The restaurant is a small room with one side open to the world, a coffee stand outside serving any drink you might want, as long as it’s iced, and if it’s made from instant powders and canned condensed milk.
Inside our restaurant, there is a menu in Thai, and a few items in english. But I don’t need to look at the menu, I know what I want.
“Tom Gow Tohu song” I say.
“Two rice soups with tofu”. Being able to say it in Thai gives me an indordinate amount of pleasure.
Erik and I wait at our small stainless steel table with it’s stainless steel stools, and soon two hot bowls of rice soup with tofu, celery, ginger, and black pepper arrive. It’s a simple breakfast that I discovered after having a wisdom tooth pulled several weeks earlier, when I was only able to eat soft foods.
While we eat, the most quintessentially Thai thing is happening behind Erik at the back of the shop.
There is a small red altar set on the floor in the back of the ‘restaurant’ with christmas lights illuminating it, and on the wall is a picture of the King and Queen, a photo of an ancestor, and wooden clock.
The owner, a small plump Thai woman in her early 30’s, is lighting a bundle of inscence, and holding it before her, palms pressed together in prayer. The insence is placed in a bowl of dry rice high on a shelf and left to waft throughout the room, while she goes to the beverage fridge, pulls out a orange soda, pops the top off, and climbs up on a chair to put it in place of a red soda from the day before. A straw is added as a final touch.
The spirits can now enjoy a soda.
We finish our soup and pay “ Bet sip baht”, 80 baht, about $2.30.
With the last 50 baht burning in our pocket we visit two street vendors, buy a guava, sliced, and a bag of tempura battered fried bananas for the road.
Our taxi arrives in front of our guesthouse and we load our bicycles and gear, and Bangkok melts past in flashes of color and sound, and waves of heat. Our taxi driver speaks of better times before the military took control of the government, and how soon, his beloved Thai King will die. He says there will be no more Kings, no more Rama IV’s or Rama VIIII’s. As Myanmar opens up after decades of oppressive military regimes, our taxi driver says Thailand is closing down.
And so we leave Thailand, and I pray for the people that they can have peace, and be safe in their home country.
Thank you, Thailand, for holding us for so many months.