Friday, September 9, 2011

Impressions from Thailand

1. Thai spicy trumps American spicy. Our first night in Thailand, Greg and Mary took us to a local (non-touristy) Thai restaurant. They told us there would be spicy food. We thought we understood. David decided to try one of the small chilies since he likes spicy food. After he swallowed it he realized it was a bit hotter than anticipated. A few seconds later he had tears streaming down his cheeks and started
eating rice like his life depended on it. Later while in Koh Chang, Emily requested a dish
with “no spicy.” The server pointed to one of the choices and said, “Only sweet, no spice.” False, it was still spicy.

2.When it rains, it pours. From Greg and Mary’s 22nd floor apartment we had a great view of the city. We could watch where rain storms occurred around the city and see the sheets of rain moving toward us. When out at a restaurant in the evening, the pounding of rain on the roof would almost drown out conversation.

3. You can afford just about anything. You want to ride an elephant for an hour? $15. One hour massage? $7. A three liter tower of Heineken? That’s within your budget. A gorgeous bungalow at a five star hotel on the beach? $30 a night. And that includes breakfast and a ride on the back of pick-up into town, plus free on-demand movies. Enough said.

4. Red fanta is the preferred “blood” sacrifice. Spirit houses are everywhere. These are personal Buddhist temples and pretty much every building has one. People leave offerings at them such as flowers, coins, food, and especially red fanta. We asked our Thai tour guide Pam why people left red fanta and she explained that it was a substitute for animal sacrifices. The red fanta represents the blood from the animal sacrifice.

5. Don’t expect anyone to comment on your sneeze. David sneezes when he sees the sun. We didn’t see a lot of sun in Thailand since it was the rainy season, but the sun peeked out while we were with Pam. Emily blessed David after his sneeze and noticed Pam smiling. So she asked Pam what Thai people say after a sneeze? The response, “We don’t say anything.”

6. Want to get there fast? Take a motor bike. Want to get there alive? Maybe don’t take a motor bike. You’ve never seen traffic like Bangkok traffic. So riding on a motorbike allows you to weave in between stopped cars and go on the sidewalk if need be. At red lights you’ll see a cluster of motorbikes at the front of the light ahead of the cars and more motorbikes arrive constantly seeming to come out of nowhere. Hence, the risk inherent in this speedy transportation. Luckily for us there were many other ways to get around the city: taxi, tuk-tuk, subway, skytrain, ferry, river taxi, and the ever popular walking.

7. Thai people are very proud of their country and culture. Their home is a wonderful place, full of history and beauty. We were privileged to visit southeast Thailand (Koh Chang), and many sites around Bangkok - Wat Po, Wat Arun, the Grand Palace, the flower market, the Emerald Buddha, and the ruins of Ayutthaya. The Thai people we met were pleased to show us these artifacts of their culture, and we were honored to view them.