Bangkok would have to be the absolute least suitable place in the world to go running. Unfortunately, however, that's exactly what I was compelled to do this evening — when I was being led on foot to my next tourist bus, and I suddenly realised that I'd left my small bag on the side of the street near Khao San Road, I had no choice but to sprint back for it. The city's searing heat — and, far more pertinent, its horrendous air pollution — left my lungs feeling somewhere in between a wheezing petrol pump and a burning car tyre. And that was after a mere five minutes.
Marie and Claire are two girls that I met on the bus to Pai this morning, and they're two great examples of encounters that you can't help but feel have something to do with fate. They're also both travelling alone; and like myself, neither of them has any particular plans for what they want to do here in Pai (apart from hanging out and seeing what all the fuss is about). Marie's a real estate agent from England, and Claire's a marketing manager from the USA. I ended up hanging out, riding bikes, and drinking a few nights away with these great ladies — when I think of Pai, I'll think of them.
Once I reached central Palermo this morning, my main task was to find somewhere reasonably cheap — and reasonably comfortable — to clean myself up after roughing it in the highlands, and to relax for the night. I ended up riding pseudo-randomly around the historic tourist centre, and looking for what I hoped would be such a place. And boy, did I score a lucky find! I stumbled across a B&B, where they were asking a price way above what I was prepared to pay, and way above the price of my other accommodation so far in Sicily. That was to be expected, I guess: Palermo's a big city, and things are bound to cost more in a big city. However, when I pressed them for a cheaper option, they offered me a spare apartment around the corner for the night — not sure what the deal was with this place, if it belonged to a friend who was away for the weekend, or if it was a vacant holiday apartment, or whatever. But I didn't care: not only did they give me this gorgeous apartment for the night; they gave it to me for a very reasonable price, and they threw in breakfast at the B&B to boot! So as far as a night in Palermo went, I didn't do too badly at all.
Our friends and hosts Tara and Ashki were very lucky today: they managed to score two free tickets to tonight's Red Sox baseball game, here in Boston's Fenway Park! Normally, Red Sox tickets are virtually impossible to obtain unless you're a club member with a season pass — and even then, you're looking at a minimum of $200 a pop. However, they happen to be best friends with another couple, who are club members, and who do have season passes, but who realised at the last minute that they wouldn't be able to make it to tonight's game. So their friends were kind enough to donate their tickets to them. Not a bad deal at all.