Khao San t-shirts
Khao San Road is absolutely chock-full of little stalls selling cheesy t-shirts. And since this is my last full day in Thailand, I couldn't resist picking up a few of them as souvenirs. As their brand name suggests, they are all pretty much "same same... but different". I especially like the "iPood" one, which is a not-at-all-subtle satire on that overpriced fashion accessory which I've avoided owning for so many years. Also good is the one with the picture of cave man evolving into upright man, and then ultimately devolving into man hunched over a computer screen, with the inscription: "something somewhere went terrible wrong." Geek power! The tuk-tuk one is cute, too. It was tough to pick out a mere three, since they're all so funny and so wearable — but sadly, I can't take the entire contents of Khao San Road back home with me.
Apart from the classic entertainment stock-up, Bangkok is also a great place to expand the ol' wardrobe for a bargain. This afternoon, I wandered over to Pratunam Market, where I came across the wholesale outlet of "Nobody Jeans". Their stock is a bit pricey (by Thai standards), and their policy of "no trying on" is absurd (even after you've bought it — I tried changing clothes in the shop after I'd paid them, and they threatened to hand my money back!); but they do sell very nice jeans. Since my traveller jeans are threatening to vaporise into thin air, if worn for too much longer, I figured it was time to invest in a new pair. Luckily, the new jeans do fit (despite the complications in trying them on).
Ko Tao shmutters
After 10 nights here, I couldn't just leave Ko Tao empty-handed — I had to walk away with at least something to remember it by. Found these souvenir t-shirts this evening, while perusing the souvenir shops and knock-off boutique stores that line the streets of Mae Hat. Cute little reminders of this wonderful place. And no, neither of them is for me: I'm generally not a big fan of either pink or of aqua! I think they'll make good presents for the folks back home, when I return in a few weeks' time.
I bought it because I'm going to be lying on the beach for the next three weeks, and because I need a nice big hat to shade myself while in the sun. But it's a cowboy hat: and so, despite my intentions, it does plenty more than just give me some extra UV protection. A cowboy hat is a fashion statement. People see me wearing it, and they know I'm an Aussie (if only they could witness me wrestling with some croccies :P). They see me wearing it, and they know I'm a seasoned traveller. They see me wearing it, and they know I'm tough and ready for anything. And all that, just from a little piece-of-junk shmontse, that I picked up at a market stall today in Khao San Road. Oy, how people think!
Apron and chef's hat
Picked up this cheesy pair of chef's fashion accessories at the San Telmo market this afternoon. The apron has a little boy-and-girl cartoon couple drawn on it. The hat has "Argentina" proudly embossed on its brim, and is about ½ a foot high when puffed up fully. This purchase may not make me a better cook; but at least I'll now look the part. Will be mandatory uniform, for next time I'm cooking the steaks at a Sunday BBQ. Now, who ordered medium-rare? :P
Emergency New Year shirt
At about 5:30pm this afternoon, I realised that Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) was starting in about an hour's time, and that I had no decent shirt to wear for it. I had a half-decent shirt — but even that was off getting washed. So I madly rushed around town, looking for a clothes shop and a nice white shirt. Managed to find myself something: not exactly my style, but it fits OK, and it's white, and it'll do for celebrating the New Year in.
This big, furry, Russian-style gorro (lit: "beanie") was purchased this morning, due to my previous beanie's whereabouts being unknown. I tried it on the slopes today, for my final day of snowboarding, and I can attest that it is very warm. Quite stylish, as well. The emblem on the front reads: "Patagonia Argentina" (Patagonia is the name of the region encompassing southern and Andean Argentina).
Filth of the Potosí mines
I really did get absolutely filthy from my tour of the Potosí mines today. They gave us special protective clothing, which we wore over our own, and then gave back to them at the end of the tour. I had a long and thorough hot shower, when I got back to the Koala Den this afternoon. And I took all my clothes to the lavanderia this evening, for an emergency laundry wash (making a special exception to Jaza's law of washing). And even with all that, I still can't get the nauseating smell of the mines off my person, or the taste of the mines out of my mouth. Really, really filthy place.
Hats from Taquile
While in Taquile this morning, I went shopping in the handicraft centre there, and picked myself up some beautiful local hats. Taquile is very famous for its woollen hats, which are hand-knitted exclusively by the men of the island, and which are of excellent design and quality. I liked them so much, I decided to buy three! The other two will have to become presents for some people. Quite stylish, and quite protective when it comes to that harsh altiplano sunlight.
Rugging up for the altiplano
Cusco was cold when I got here (almost 8 weeks ago!), and it's been getting progressively colder ever since; but everyone warns me that my next destinations, Puno and La Paz, are even colder. In preparation for this, I visited El Molino this afternoon, and bought myself a new jacket. Warm, waterproof, and reasonably stylish: and all for just s/40!