“Wow, would you look at this? It’s the library and housing,” I said — I thought — to Manfriend. A confused Chinese tourist stared back at me.
I started scanning the shaded areas. It was a hot day, humid and hovering around 100 degrees. As expected, there was Manfriend, among the throngs of other beleaguered tourists vying for shade inside Bangkok’s Grand Palace.
Creature of the shadows, indeed.
I rolled my eyes and went over to him. Sure, it was hot, but with so much to see, I was compartmentalizing well. I couldn’t bear missing the sites just for a few moments out of the sun.
This was no surprise to me, though. Manfriend has never exactly loved traveling in these soaring temperatures.
Whether Macau or Vietnam, he would find ways to beat the heat. We would linger in doorways where air conditioning poured out or take long coffee breaks when we found a (literally) cool cafe.
On this trip alone, he had tricked me twice by seeming keen on a particular vantage point for a photo or a view. I would join him, but then get confused — what was so great about this spot behind a pillar? Only then would I realize he was blocking a huge fan placed along the wall.
All the while, I would seem the more calm and collected travel partner.
That is, until I would get hungry.
I’m definitely one of those “live to eat” folks rather than the other way around. And once you get me hot and exceedingly hungry, it was I who would unravel in the Southeast Asian sun.
After hours of exploring the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya, one of the kingdoms of Siam dating as far back as 1350, I was fading. We had stood in awe of some incredible structures, pagodas and temples that, though destroyed, still held immense beauty. I’d kept my cool, focusing on each new collection of ruins.
But now it was time for lunch.
Outside our last stop, I crouched to tie my shoes. They weren’t allowed inside any of the sites, and my sneakers weren’t the “slip on and off” variety. Tying them up for what felt the hundredth time, I was definitely getting grumpy.
“OK,” Manfriend said to our driver, “I think it’s time for lunch!” He had seen my look; it was time to feed me.
“But just here, one more Buddha,” our driver said with a smile in broken English. Manfriend worriedly brought me the news. “He says there’s one more Buddha around the back …” he began.
I felt my cool slip away. Looking up with what I assume was only impatience and sweat, I cocked an eyebrow their way. “Oh yeah?” I asked. “And what’s he doing?”
“Honestly, he better be cooking,” Manfriend mumbled back, already cracking up at our exchange.
I smiled, too. One more Buddha, indeed.
But then, it had better be lunch.
Read more Sieh: coloradodaily.com/columnists. Stalk her: wildeyedandwandering.