I was working on this post while we were on the ship and I was missing Thailand. The ship was docked near-ish (about 2-3 hours away from) Bangkok, and so I found some paid wifi and thought I could get a post done no problem (while also trying to upload some photos – that was dumb of me). The wifi was so pitiful that I didn’t get this finished, and the photos never got uploaded either. The wifi in Hong Kong has been good so far, so I will try to finish this post finally, and get some pictures uploaded as well!
On Samui since most people ride motorbikes, ‘gas stations’ are everywhere. They are usually a metal rack with bottles of liquid, and you can gas up for about 80 baht (under $3 CAD)
Sidewalks are pretty much non-existent, or are for single file walking only; care should be taken not to disrupt any offerings (small bowls or plates with food and/or incense) outside of stores as well.
7-Eleven stores are where you will do most of your shopping. You can buy everything you need there – I’ve bought booze, food and food-like products, crayons and crafts, but you can also get sim cards, makeup or toiletries, pretty much anything you’d need. Be careful with the toiletries though – most of them contain whitening chemicals (sunscreens and deodorant included).
Also, for some reason there are scales outside most stores and for 1 baht ,you can weigh yourself and I guess then decide if you deserve that salty or sugary treat LOL I’ve also seen scales in shopping malls too. Perhaps that’s how they stay so slim?
Dogs and chickens are everywhere. In the morning it’s a beautiful symphony of birds and roosters (and bugs too I think?) As you walk down almost any street, you can see chickens in backyards or on the roads, and dogs will happily wonder along side with you – there are plenty of cats too, but you don’t see them as much. I did however spot a kitty playing with a cockroach one evening – it looked like the cat was having fun batting it around – not so much fun for the cockroach I don’t suppose.
Authentic Pad Thai looks different that what we are served in North America – but it’s still delicious! I tried it in a few different places, and each was a bit different. Perhaps it varies even locally? Each time I ordered it, it had crushed peanuts on the side, and not much peanut sauce on it. The one in the picture was wrapped in egg, so that was different too.
On the topic of peanut sauce – we tried a lot of chicken satay and the peanut sauce was always good. The chicken satay usually came with a side of pickled stuff – cucumbers and onions and chilies I think – I am hooked on it whatever it is!
Thai beer (Chang, Singha) has 5-6% alcohol and is amazing while sitting out on the beach or by the pool. Chang does mess me up though! I think it’s the 6% alcohol because in the States I usually drink their light watery beers. LOL It could have also been that Steve and I were drinking a tower (4 litres) of draft Chang that night – fun at the time, shitty the next day. As a side note, chang means elephant – which explains the label with the elephants
A trip to a restaurant is an interesting experience and took getting used to. The restaurant staff will eagerly greet and seat you and hand you menus, and then stand there until you order. I thought that I could order my drink and they’d go get it while I took time to review the menu, but no, they waited and watched me read. Sometimes they will suggest and point to things on the page you are looking at too. After your order is placed, however, things change. They will bring the food out as it’s ready, so sometimes, one person eats while the other still waits (at least the food is always hot and fresh!) But once all the food is out, the waiter or waitress will leave you alone, and they don’t usually come and check on you, or see if you would like another drink. It seems a bit odd at first, but don’t be fooled; if you need them they will come running, they just wait in the background for you to call them over. We did have one experience where the waiter did stand a bit too close; but he was just helping by waiving/shooing flies away as we ate. LOL
Shopping from your lounger on the beach is the best thing ever! Do you need a bikini or hat or shirt or jewelry or ice cream or spring rolls? No? Illegal fireworks? How about your photo with a monkey? LOL it’s all there for you if you want it – and you don’t even have to leave your beach chair.
When you go to the movie theatre or to a show (like Muay Thai boxing) they will play the national anthem and you must stand – it doesn’t matter if you are a foreigner or local – and if you do not stand, you can be arrested.
On the topic of movie theatres, they are pretty darn great, and an amazing value!
The movie theatre at the mall in Chiang Mai was lovely and a bit swanky like a nightclub. The staff is all dressed in uniforms – suits and skirts for the women. The cost of a movie was 100 baht – so $3 CAD to see a new release (we saw the third hunger games movie) They have three types of popcorn to choose from, and the cheese popcorn I got was warm and SO good! The drinks are served in a nice plastic cup with a solid lid that doesn’t leak. Snacks were cheap too, and I think the entire night out cost us less than $10 CAD for the both of us for everything. Before the movie starts there are 25 minutes of previews, which was great since we arrived about 15 minutes into what we thought was the start of the movie. So it was an amazing value for our money for sure!
As an aside and in contrast, we did the Platinum VIP experience in super expensive Singapore, and paid about 10 times that! It was totally worth it, but still, interesting to compare just how inexpensive Thailand really is.
We were fortunate enough to be in Chiang Mai for the Kings birthday on December 5. In Thailand the King has a God-like status. They LOVE the King, and there are numerous shrines and alters with the King’s image. Leading up to the actual day, it seemed like there were additional and larger shrines and alters with the King’s photo surrounded by offerings, flower, incense, etc. The city was busy making things perfect for the celebration.
On his actual birthday, most Thais were dressed in yellow – the King’s colour – and a lot of the shirts said “I love the King”. We were near the square where the festivities were taking place, so we walked over to check it out. It was a lovely celebration and although I didn’t understand much of what was happening, it was special to be a part of something so important. Most Thais also had yellow candles with them, which were lit during part of the ceremonies. A very nice lady noticed that we didn’t have a candle, so she shared hers with us. It was yet another example of how wonderful and kind Thai people are. At the end of the ceremony, they had a fireworks display which was cool to be standing right under. (check out Steve’s photos from the King’s birthday celebration)
One thing to note if you do plan to be in Thailand for the King’s birthday and would like a drink, buy your booze the day before because it is illegal to sell alcohol on his birthday, and all the usual fun bars will be closed. There is a slight loophole we discovered, and the restaurant/bar at our hotel was still able to sell alcohol – I guess they are considered a private residence or something?
Thailand has so much to offer, and I’m looking forward to discovering more when we head back there in March!