I was thinking of what to write next on my blog and nothing really came to mind , just lots of little bits and bods that I found funny, interesting and summed up, for me, Thailand. So, I thought, why not put all these bits of information and observations , write them down and hopefully you will find them , funny, amusing or even informative too. I have put them under headings, and in no particular order or preference. I have put these thoughts on paper and then came back now and then, to add more, as they popped into my head.
THAI’s HATE THE SUN
Well, I do find it amusing when you see a Thai lady riding her scooter, with some of the following things in her hand shading her face from the sun, her hand, a hat, paper, a phone as well anything else that could stop the sun from touching her face. It’s also quite normal to see discarded hats on the road, as they are blown off while riding a scooter. I can only assume it’s the passengers hat, as if it was the rider they would stop to retrieve their lost head piece.
You will also see lots of men and some women, wearing a Ned Kelly type mask, covering the whole of the face, apart from two small slits at the eyes, I am sure it must be very hot under neath that mask.
I did ask once about the dislike of getting a tan and I was told it has to do with status. If someone works outside , outdoors in the sun , their skin would be a lot darker, showing you worked in the sun and this would show a lower status. So they wear as much as they can to stop their skin getting tanned. You will also see a lot of people working outside with a type of chalk on their cheeks and forehead, this again is to stop the sun doing its naughtiness.
Falangs (European) are looked on with a higher status, not just because of their, well supposed, lots of money, but also because of their white skin.
You can see lots of products in the chemists and supermarkets, saying how these products can whiten your skin. Which I find ironic, as I am in the sun, trying to get a tan.
This type of discrimination is called Shadeism. I know shadeism is also very relevant in lots of Caribbean and African countries.
GO GO BARS ARE EVERYWHERE
I got very annoyed once with a comment someone made on my son’s Facebook page. The person stated that because you go to Thailand, you are going there for sex. This I believe shows more of the mind of the person than the comment itself.
Now, I am not saying that there are a lot of people who come to the land of smiles, to get a bit of a leg over, either with a woman, with or without extra bits (called Katoys). Goodness yes, but these places are mainly in Bangkok, Pattaya, & Phuket ( Patong ) being the main areas people think of. There are areas in major cities with have these bars but the main sex tourism are in the places I haver mentioned.
The sex tourism is a big money maker for Thailand, yes , but Thailand is a huge country 198,00 Sq miles, and there are lots of other tourists, who come here for the food, nature, sights and various other reasons. Not to mention lots of people, coming over to search for work as well as enjoy the country and its people, not excluding myself who come over to retire.
I remember walking around Chiang mai city centre and not seeing a Go Go bar or girly bar anywhere. We went to out hotel and hear lots of bars and music everywhere, it was then we saw , those bars pop up, from places that did not cooer to be there during the day.
PROSTITUTION IS ILLEGAL
Yes, its true, regardless of all the bars , massage parlours and soapy massage places that are around. When you live in Thailand for a while, you get to understand the way things are done here, and they way Thai’s think. In essence, it brings in a lot of money into the country, money that the country has grown to need,so the authorities sort of ignore it, live with it, as long as there is a sort of understanding between the bars owners and the police.
Every now and then you will see a raid of a bar or two, or arresting the occasional girl who oversteps the mark. Such as going topless or showing nipples . Nipples are a sexual thing object in Thai law and you can be arrested for showing them. I remember last year during the Thai new year, (Songkran) two men , back packers, were arrested for not wearing a shirt, and showing their nipples. They were kept in custody for a while, and then released without charge. “So why bother”, I hear you mutter. Well, the Police have to make a point, so they can say that they have done something, just unlucky for the two arrested, as I saw lots of shirtless men around.
Its the way things are here, like overstaying your visa, not wearing a helmets on a scooter, and not wearing seat belts, most of the time these are ignored, but now and then there is a clamp down.
You do hear about drugs being available at the Full Moon parties, in the Islands off Thailand, this to is a compromise, as the local dealers will be happy give you what. Then one in every 10 or 20, will be pointed out, by the dealer to the local policeman, and they are arrested and everyone ( Apart from the person arrested ) is happy. Just remember if you are arrested here in Thailand, even for a small amount of drugs, you will spend a lot of time in prison and if dealing in drugs, can face the death penalty. Prison in Thailand is not a nice place, you can starve, unless you have someone who will give you food or money to eat, as food not supplied by the prisons.
You do get the occasional man or woman,( Yes woman ) come over to Thailand for the “Extra curricular activity” and think all Thai women are as outward as the bar girls, and end up being arrested when they touch a normal Thai woman walking the street.
The Thai’s are very conservative, and its rare to see any form of affection in public. I am use to it now, but the holding of hands, kissing on the cheek, kissing of the lips etc, may be the norm in Europe, but it is not here. This is a complete contrast too the activity of the women in the bars at night.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Health and ssssss. , no let me try again , health and ssssss, sssssss. nope , no such thing here. I have seen people hanging from electric wires, from trees, unbelievable loads on pickups, and up to 5 people on a scooter. Nope, does not exist here. It’s simple, being Buddhists they believe in karma, if it will happen, it will happen, if it’s your day, so it’s your day, why worry.
In one hand its a great attitude, on the other hand it’s bloody scary. I remember visiting the “Grand Canyon” in Pai , you get thin paths with 100 foot drops on either side, and not a warning sign, fence or rope in sight to stop a fall. One path goes from one area to another, and its about 2 foot wide, and a 100 foot drop on either side. If you fall, karma, your fault, and no one to sue. A few years ago a backpacker fell to her death there, did anything chance, no. Karma, it was her time to go.
It’s easy. Park in the shade.
Or with the handbrake off. ( I will explain.)
I remember going to a large Mall and we had parked in the large underground car park. It was good because it was in the shade. So, after a few hours, we came back, and to my surprise, there was a large car parked sideways in front of our car, blocking us in. We had parked correctly, in the parking space, but this car was parked across us as well as several other cars. I could feel the annoyance begin to rise inside me, thinking, “How can we get out” “What an inconsiderate ass” “How long will be be here until this guy get back and we can get out”.
It was then Nui and her friend, whet to the car, and started to pushed it, I stood and looked in amazement, as they pushed this car, slowly away from our parking spot. I was shocked, and to be honest confused. I was then informed that as parking spaces are in short supply, it is normal practice to leave your car in front of other parked cars, with the handbrake off, so the car can be moved and let you drive out.
This is amazing, clever and to be honest in my view , trusting , as if this was done in the UK the car would most likely be imbedded into a wall by some idiots. So I then started to notice these cars and the way they were parked this all the time, but honestly, I would not do this myself, as have a distrusting nature, well you can blame my precious occupations for that .
I asked for a nice cool milkshake when we had stopped at a restaurant, on the way to Samoeng. I saw them advertised, so I asked Nui, who was ordering some food, if they had any. So Nui went to get one, and I waited for her to return and tell me what choices I had, strawberry etc. So there I was, waiting for my cool, milky beverage when she arrived, and in her hand was a white coloured drink. I said, “What flavour? Nui replied “Milk, its a milk shake?”
So a milk shake here is crushed ice and condensed milk. A shake is crushed ice and whatever, fruit of flavouring advertised. A strawberry shake is crushed ice and fresh strawberries. Don’t get me wrong it was once and cooling
THAI LADIES 5 MOST FAVOURITE THINGS TO DO
1). Eating and Talking
2). Talking and Eating
4). Talking ( 3 & 4 are interchangeable )
5). All of the above
RIDING A SCOOTER
If you are in a hurry, you can ride your scooter on the footpath, or ride against traffic in the inside lane.
Turn left on a red light.
Ride off a second or two before the light turns green, as you are so use to the lights.
Ride side saddle as pillion, as you are wearing a skirt.
Ride pillion and text.
Ride your scooter and text, or read, or hide your face from the sun. Never use your horn.
Have 20 or more scooters filter in front of you, at traffic lights
Carry anything that is conceivable or physically possible on a scooter. I have even seen a scooter on the back of a scooter ??? Indicators on can mean a number of things over here, for example , the left indicator on can mean any of the following :- 1) Turning left 2) You have turned left 3) You are turning right 4) You are going straight 5) Your indicator is broken 6) You are turning left in three miles. 7) What indicator???
BUDDHISM IS NOT A RELIGION PER SAY
Buddhism is not a religion in the sense in which is commonly understood, it is not a system of faith and worship, owing any allegiance to a supernatural being or a god. It does not demand blind faith and the monks have sworn, as part of their vows, not to convert people to Buddhism . Many people are Buddhists, and I include myself in this category , as a way of life or life style and do not believe in any god.
I remember having a chance to ask a few questions at a Buddhist Temple in Cornwall, were the monks were all European. I have gone to several Thai Monks to ask questions but as couldn’t speak english well enough to explain what I want to as, I found it frustrating, so i thought this was a great chance to talk to a Monk who could understand and explain to me a few questions I had on my mind.So I went to the same monk, three times with a question and he avoided the question politely, then on the third attempt he answered my question, and it was then he explained to me that if someone asked three times about Buddhism, they must really want to know, so he will answer them, the reason for this is simple, Monks are not allowed to convert anyone to Buddhism. I thought a great philosophy.
Buddha is not a good, he was a man. He never said he was a god, and told others he was just a man. He also said “Do not believe what I have said, just because I have said it, find out for yourself” Buddhists bow to a figure of the Buddha as a sign of respect. You will also see thais snow in the same way to parents and other s who they respect deeply.
THAI’s ARE NOT GREAT GARDEN LOVERS
You will see lots of houses in Thailand with small and unkept gardens. I love my garden and one of the reasons it was not sold, was because of the garden. Thai’s however love to grow things, and when I walk around our Moo Baan ( Housing complex ) I see lots of Banana trees, coconut trees, Papaya and jackfruit trees, planted on bits of land outside their garden walls. Any piece of vacant land is used to grow something. It’s great to see. You see a piece of land , unused beside a house, and before long, it’s being cleared and trees and plants being planted there. No one steals the fruit and there is respect for this type of growing. I remember when I was at my mums in Samoeng, someone came over to mum and handed over some money, and told here she saw some bananas on her land , about a mile or so away and took them, and then gave her some money for what she took. It’s great to see. So you will see the same people cultivation a piece of land and their own garden is in a bit of a mess and the hedges are all over the place.
THAI’s HATE WASTE
If you are growing some stuff, live I do in my garden, I grow some runner beans, and they are growing well and you cant eat them all, Nui will get them and give them to a neighbour or the security man at the front gate. They don’t expect anything in return , but they would rather give it away than it go to waste. Sometimes the neighbour will give us something as well, so as the Thai’s say “What goes around come around” ( Or in a simpler form, Nui said “Back on you”)
Nui collects, empty beer bottles, polystyrene, paper, plastic bags and cardboard and brings it to a shop and gets money for it. It may not be much , say Bht 30 , but its something, as Bht 30 is a meal.
THE LAND OF SMILES
This is so true, even if you cannot speak one word or Thai, (Even though most Thais can speak a little english) as long as you smile and are polite, have manners and respect, you will go far. Smiling is a great asset in Thailand, if you don’t smile or be happy, the Thais notice. I am told regularly that in my mums village in Samoeng, they love me, (Yep its hard to imagine ) as I am always smiling and look happy. This as well as getting completely drunk at one ceremony / party at a neighbours were most of the village attended. I was later told they had never seen a Falang ( a westerner ) drunk before. So now, when I walk around the village , were most of the people cannot speak english, I get asked “Whisky” lol and I decline, well it’s nice to be famous, even if its just for getting drunk . I now know the Thai word for drunk lol “Maw” and very drunk “Maw mak mak”
NOT ALL THAI FOOD IS SPICY
Like a lot of countries, depending on what part of the country you go to, they cook different food with different ingredients. When you go to the east and South of Thailand, you will find the food a lot spicier than the rest of the country. In the centre of Thailand its not too spicy at all, and in Chiang Mai, Pork is king. In Chiang Mai , you can get friend fish etc but not like the choice you would get in Bangkok or any place near the sea. You can get dishes unique to that area of Thailand, for example, Coy Soy, or Nam Pik One are Chiang mai dishes and the chances are you will not get these dishes in other parts of Thailand .
THE THAI CALENDAR
The Thai calendar is 543 years ahead of the Christian Gregorian calendar. So in the year of 2017 CE (Christian/common Era) in the Gregorian calendar, it will be 2560 BE ( Buddhist Era) in Thailand . The years started on the death of the first Buddha , Gautama Buddha . The Thai new year, is based on the Luna cycle and the Thai new year ( called Songkran ) will be different every year, around the 13 – 15 April. To complicate matters more, Burmese Chinese and other countries New Years are also different. So don’t assume that they are all on the same date. However the Thais do believe in the Chinese Zodiac characters, the goat, of chicken etc. You will often see small statues of these characters in shops, gardens and Buddhist Temples.
The Thais will have calendars with both BE and CE, and you will see birth displayed, but when it comes to official documents it will be in the BE. So, be warned , if you decide to enjoy the comforts of a thai lady in a bar, and you want to look at her ID card, as you want to make sure she is of age, remember to deduct 543 from the date . Or she is from the future . ( The moments are the same for convenience, ie. 05/10/2540 )