National Geographic Photo of the Day

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thirteen Days in Thailand - General Impressions

Spent two weeks during my vacation in Thailand (Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket). I'll be posting a day-to-day description of the places I saw there and everything I did. With pictures. These posts will come over the following weeks.

For now here's some stuff I observed in Thailand. These are just observations, so don't take them as facts written in stone.

  • POINTS TO REMEMBER: I'm a college-going guy, so my views might at times (in this post and the travelogues that follow) be politically incorrect or socially less conservative. At times only, not always, don't worry. Eg. The following 5 points, after that it becomes alright. So cut me some slack please.

  • Thai women seem to be more dominant when compared to men, they run most of the businesses while the men take more of a back seat.

  • Thai women (all the younger ones atleast) never seem to wear anything more than a short little pair of trousers (really really short) and a tight t-shirt. Rejoice ye testosterone-filled men :D.

  • The Americans and Europeans are consipcuous by their absence. The effects of the recession have thus been made obvious. Its the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Russians and Indians who form the bulk of tourists here. Lesson: Earn what you want to spend BEFORE you spend it.

  • The general impression about single foreigner men, especially westerners, who come here is that they need an escort for the day, and from all I've seen it definitely seems so. There was this American man in our group when we took a trip to Coral Island who didn't know much about his Thai female companion (from all that he kept asking her) but was “really close” with her.

  • Yeah. Prostitution is *unofficially* legal here (cos the laws against it are not enforced), and its big business.

  • Thais are polite to you as long as you have money. They are verrrrrry polite to tourists, but can get nasty if they try to cheat you and you get wise and stand your ground (happens sometimes with owners of small roadside shops and taxi drivers).

  • The common man almost never knows any English. All they know is Thai, not even most Taxi drivers. Thats bad. If you need to explain something quickly in English to a Thai, you'e in trouble. Of course, guides and a few hotel receptionists do know enough English. Still, India is much better than Thailand in this aspect, we're really good at English.

  • People have a very light skin tone here and the younger Thais are pretty slim. The older ones are sometimes a bit fatter.

  • The Thais revere the Buddha and their King. Insulte either one and you will go to jail.

  • In Pattaya, Taxis are a bit scarce, and the major form of transport here is the minivan. There are lots of these converted pickup trucks with the rear section having seating sufficient for 6-8 people. These are supposed to charge about 10 Baht per person within the town, but when they see you're a foreigner, they will rip you off. Even so, you should bargain and argue and walk away from them, until you get near the price you want to pay.

  • The local currency is the Baht, and its around 1 USD = 33 Baht or Rs1.5-1.6 = 1 Baht.

  • Unlike the UK, Singapore or the USA, internet via wi-fi is not free at restaurants and cafes, you have to pay a premium.

  • Roads are very neat. Even if the house or shops on either side are or aren't, they never ever dirty the roads or litter on it.

  • We hear stereotypes of Thais being terrible drivers. It's all bullshit. They drive pretty fast, but they'll wait even if there's no on else at the signals.

  • Toyota Hiluxes and Isuzu and Ford and Chevy pickups abound in Pattaya. They are far more numerous than regular family cars.

  • There are lots more women than there are men.

  • Getting by as a total vegetarian here would be quite difficult.

  • Thais greet you with “Suwatdee Khaa (female speaker) / Suwatdee Krup (male)” wherever you go and thank you with “Kob Koon”. Sometimes all the girls in some shop will go Suwatdee Khaaaaaaa in unison and it'll sound like a bunch of crows making noise.

  • They don't miss many opportunities to make a profit here, they'll find ways to extract money that you'd think you'd be immune to.

  • Don't go into some shady parlour in some corner of some vague street in Thailand lured by the promise of a massage. You might end up left there lying with just a sheet waiting for the massage while your prospective masseurs would have decamped with your prized posessions :D. Go to the more reputable places.

  • Elephants are ubiquitous at shows and parks here, they're almost as common as they are in Kerala.

  • Keep in mind that safety standards at several attractions (especially water related stuff like jet-skiing and underwater walks and parasailing) isn't exactly up to what Americans would expect. So use your brain and don't get yourself into a position where you have to do something you weren't really sure about just because you paid for it without thinking twice. And Thais will make you get your money's worth, they'll not listen to your protests, which they'll dismiss with a “No wolly, you go you go” (primarily cos they can't understand what you're on about).

  • If you want to get laid, this is the place to be, but unless you don't mind catching something, do be careful ;).

  • Thai electrical sockets are almost always 2-pin. They seem supremely confdent that they don't need any grounding/earthing. Only a few places (like hotels that generally serve internatonaltourists) have 3 pin plugs. Even then all 3-pins won't necessarily go into these.

  • They keep revving upto 3000-4000 rpm even on petrol vehicles here before they shift up. And many cars here are automatics, not manual shifts.

  • Most taxis in Bangkok are Toyota Soluna's or Corolla's and Corolla Altises. They come in a wide variety of colours – pink, blue, yellow, red, white, green - and snapping photos of the different ones became a bit of an obsession for me. I'll put up the taxi colour photos in a separate post.

  • The temples in Thailand are not just neat, they are so calm to be in. Not much noise (and that's amazing considering the Thais talk a lot among themselves too) unlike our temples. I like silence.


Rajarshi said...

Ha Ha.. well written !!
These non-english speaking people are a real pain .We had been picked up by a wrong guy at our hotel in Bangkok - the guy knew only one word in english -"yeah" . Whatevr I asked, he would answer in an affirmative.
Btw, have u seen Bangkok Dangerous ??

The Lone Wolf said...

Rajarshi, 'yeah' seems to be part of everyone's vocabulary there.... no matter what you ask them they'll say "Yeah" first before anything else. Our driver in Phuket knew much more English, but the guy who picked us up from Bangkok airport (to go to Pattaya), he was pathetic. We spent 10minutes trying to get him to tell us the time. All we got was "yeeeeaaaaahhhhh".

Yes, I've seen Bangkok Dangerous.

Anonymous said...

How was the food like in thailand ?

The Lone Wolf said...

The food in Thailand is pretty good. Much easier if you're a non vegetarian though. ... If you don't like Thai food, there's always every kind of Fast Food joint you'd see in the US --- McDonalds, Burger King, KFC.... anything you want. And even regular food joints (the non-fast food kind) are found all over the place.

You'll never go wanting for choice.

Post a Comment