When asked why you'd want to go to Thailand (instead of to Bonnie Doon), Con replied: "it's the culture, Mr. Kerrigan." And he's right: Thailand does have an amazing culture. And that's exactly why I had to purchase a few souvenirs of that culture, to bring back to my loudly and proudly uncultured homeland. An absolutely essential purchase was the elephant — so essential was it, in fact, that I decided to take two — because as we all know: "When an elephant's trunk is up it means good luck(?). And this one's trunk was up(?)." Also scored a little mantlepiece plate, and a Kung Fu dude picking his ear. These are all such precious, adorable souvenirs, that there can be only one possible home for them: "these are going straight to the pool room."
Cute little fella, innee? He's got little velcro dots sewn into his hands, so that you can wrap his arms around your neck, and let him "hold on" and dangle there for a while. He also makes a horrible screeching monkey noise, if you squeeze him hard enough — this will be sure to induce plenty of headaches upon all who hear it. Picked the monkey up in Khao San Road today, although there is (naturally) nothing Thai about him — but a quick snip of the 'ol label, and nobody ever need know his humble "made in China" origins. As well as being a cuddly teddy, I believe this monkey would also serve well as a long-hanging wall decoration.
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.
While Marie, Claire and myself were perusing the Pai night market this evening, I couldn't help but notice these little fellas. Sitting in neat rows in one of the souvenir stalls, they smiled back up at me with their jet-black knitted faces, all garbed in the African colours of red, yellow and green. When I saw them, I couldn't help but smile back, and think: "holy crap, it's a bunch of Starvin' Marvins!" Sweeeet.
Today I took a whole lot of the souvenirs that I bought last weekend in Otavalo to the Santiago central post office, and I mailed them back to Oz. I lugged the souvenirs down from Ecuador, becuase I was hoping that unlike PEB (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia), Chile would have surface mail available to Australia. Sadly, no luck here either: Chile also offers airmail service only. So mailing stuff home from here is just as expensive as it is further north. Ah, well: at least they're more professional down here, and they put your items in a box and seal them up for you, if you need them to.
The Mérida area is famous for being the best place in Mexico to buy hammocks. The good Mexican hammocks are the ones that hark back to an ancient Mayan tradition: hand-made; dyed with natural, local plant products; and woven from the sisal fibres that are easily obtained from the native cactus plants. A local pointed me to one of the top hammock outlets in Mérida, and I picked myself up a beauty of a genuine Yucatán hammock.