Here are more pics of the doggy friends we made and a couple of the videos my dad sent. I wish they were closer.
Okay, I didn’t quite know how to categorize this information that I was able to garner from different conversations I had while we were in Thailand and general observations. It’s just a mishmash of random information, some of it is a little risque and most of it is not meant to be generalizations of entire groups of people. So please don’t think I’m racist and/or intolerant.
Toilet Tissue – Many people use toilet paper for every day cleaning, instead of napkins, because they’re easier to transport and cheaper.
Showers – Some of the hotels and most of the homes don’t have a separate space for the shower stall. When you walk in the bathroom you don’t walk into another area to take a shower, there is just a shower spigot next to the toilet. Everything gets wet.
Indians – People from India: There are a lot of people from India in Thailand. And they do have quite a few tailor shops, indian food, and knock-off stores run by them. I was kind of surprised when I went there and I saw as many of them as I did all throughout Thailand. I asked my dad why there are so many indians in Thailand and he said it is probably because they have more opportunities for work but it is also a place where many indian men can get access to boys for sex. One man that he had talked to admitted that he liked boys and preferred them over women because indian women are completely covered up and you don’t know what you’re getting, but with the boys, they do.
Russian Mafia – The Russian mafia is the crime syndicate that runs most of Thailand. They may have been one of the first groups to get into Thailand and because of that have the strongest foothold in the country. They do some very sad things to the Thai people. When boys are young, they’ll kidnap them, break or cut off their limbs and then put them on the street all day to beg for money. They drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the night. With the women, they’ll kidnap babies and put the two together to beg for money as well. It’s something to think about when people are begging and you give them money, there is a chance you could be supporting the Russian mafia.
Karaoke and Massage parlors – Both are synonymous with sex bars. I do mean sex bars because you are pretty much guaranteed sex. They do have legitimate karaoke in family restaurants and legitimate massage parlors (look for the older women, not the young women scantily clad). I was really sad about the Karaoke information because I would have been the person that walks into the place and then has to walk out because it’s too awkward and I’m a dummy.
Sex – Prostitution is legal in Thailand, they have a red light area that is beautiful, you can tell that there is a lot of money put in to that profession and district. One of the disturbing aspects of the sex trade in Thailand is the age of the prostitutes. They range from older to very young, and when I say very young, I do mean young. They have these places called “fishbowls” where the men can come in and behind a glass window there would be a selection of women, girls, and boys, distinguishable by the numbers in front of them. You pick a number and they are yours to have sex with.
Shopping – Obviously you can buy anything in Thailand. Shopping is the national hobby and as long as it looks like a brand name people will buy it. You can go to the store and get whitening treatments, scar removals, and even plastic surgery at the malls. Antibiotics are also over-the-counter and if you can, you can do your own IV lines.
Working – Everyone in Thailand seems to have more than one job. To be a teacher is to have the most highly respected job in Thailand (Buddha was a teacher) even more so than a lawyer or doctor.
AND TO END . . .
Toilets – I had the hardest time figuring out the bathroom situation in Thailand. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom stall staring at the things in front of me trying to figure it out. I finally had to ask my dad. They have what I think of as regular toilets (seat and cover), toilets without a seat and cover, and things they call squatters. Squatters look like shorter toilets, no seat and cover, and with ridges on both sides of the bowl, for your feet. They also had rubbish cans in each stall filled with toilet tissue and a hose or a bin with a bucket and water. I had no idea what to do in there. I thought the bucket was to put water down the toilet instead of flushing (to save water), I couldn’t figure out the toilet paper in the trash can but felt that I could flush my toilet paper because not many people were doing it. After I told my dad, that I was having problems in the bathroom, he told me what most of it was about and Squire, me and him, had a great laugh about it. Squire was glad that he was a man. But in short, this is what I gathered all those things in the bathroom actually were supposed to be used for, the bucket and water was either to flush (if there was no running water) or to clean yourself after you use the bathroom (if there isn’t the hose nearby), the tissue paper in the trash can is because most people just dry after they do the wash. I admit that my logic didn’t work in this situation, more than once I used the hose to hose down the toilet and wet the whole bathroom. Though as my dad says, “no one wants to put their ass where other people have, they already think their feet are dirty so that is okay,” (and what the ridges on the side of the toilet are for).
I’m sure there are more things I could write about but for now I‘ll leave on toilets.
Okay, this is no ordinary museum, you can easily spot this three-headed elephant, “Erawan” from the freeway, it weighs 150 tons (100 tons for the head alone) and is 95 feet in height.
Erawan holds a special significance in the Thai culture because it is seen as the savior of Thailand during times past and elephants are revered in general in the culture as a symbol of thai royalty
The museum was founded by Lek Viriyaphant and was completed in 1997. Lek’s wish for the museum was that it showcase the spirit of Asian arts, culture, and the four major eastern religions.
The bottom floor of the museum is filled with antiquities of the royal family and a brief history of the thai culture through a collection of art pieces (we couldn’t take pictures there), the ground floor holds a majestic staircase that leads to an elevator and set of stairs that takes you to the head of the elephant so you can look out.
The body of the elephant is a beautiful piece of artwork and temple.
Outside the Erawan Museum you can also take part in the religious trappings. When we first went into the museum park, we stopped by the different deities. Each deity stands for a different day. Each person’s date of birth holds a special significance and that would be the deity that you would pray to and make offerings to. Squire and I used the little bowls with the blessed water (by the monks) and poured them into the cups in front of the deity of our day.
Here’s a picture of the Buddha’s footprint. It’s big.
We then did a few things that involved making a wish and trying to pick up an elephant with one finger (I used my ring finger – female, and Squire used his pinky on his dominant hand). We then had to re-say the wish and try to pick up the elephant again. If we could the wish wouldn’t come true but if we couldn’t the wish would come true. They also have fortune sticks. You shake the container and eventually one stick will fall out. The stick has a number on it and somewhere close by there should be a bunch of drawers with numbers on it, you pick out the subsequent number and that’s your fortune and depending on the fortune you can either leave it or take it with you. If it’s bad, most people will leave it. My dad’s fortune stick told him he had to refill the oil in the candles that were used to light the incense. Most of the things that we did were to earn merit for ourselves in future lives. To do this we also had bought flowers to use as an offering and incense sticks that we put into the bowls.
After the wai, we went to float lotus flowers. It was another wishing opportunity, so we made another wish and then floated the lotus into the water.
On the way out we rang the bells, to tell the gods our names, and put gold leaf on the erawan to show respect and earn merit from the deity.
I got some gold on my fingers from the gold leaf, but I think I left most of it with the Erawan.
It’s nice to participate in many different types of things and this is definitely one of those things that I’m glad I got to try and show respect for. The Erawan is definitely something you will see a lot of throughout Thailand. Remember the Ayutthaya Floating Market? Going there we past a street that was lined with streetlights that had a very familiar figure on them.
You’ll see elephants everywhere.
We mostly chilled out in Bangkok because we were staying at my dad’s house, they had to work, and we were babysitting Lichy. But every once in a while, when my dad’s class got cancelled and he was unexpectedly off, they’d take us somewhere.
One of the stops that we were able to take were the Ayutthaya Floating Market. Ayutthaya is considered one of the oldest towns in Thailand.
Thai people love to shop and everywhere you go there is an opportunity to buy something. This was no exception and another crowded place to weave in and out of other people. The food here was plentiful and we had lots to choose from. I think the below picture is the only picture Squire and I have with the both of us in it up until this point.
The below picture was in a little island in the middle of the market, people would take their shoes off and order food off of the little boats that sailed through the center.
More people and more opportunities to eat.
Some different things I saw that I wanted to take pictures of for no apparent reason.
What a fun place to have been. I’m glad we visited Thailand when we did though. Being at an outdoor market with manageable weather and we didn’t have that much of the sun’s direct rays is the only way to do this. I can’t imagine it being any hotter or me any stickier. Gross.
As a precursor, I actually don’t like to walk around a mall to walk around the mall and shop heedlessly. I usually need to know what I’m looking for and make a bee-line for that location, unless it’s electronic. I don’t like crowds and every mall and place to shop in Thailand seemed to be crowded. We only ended up at this mall because it was right next door to the Hard Rock Café Bangkok and I could get a couple of pins for my collection. None of us wanted to shop but my dad remembered walking past this aquarium so we decided to check it out. —
The Siam mall is not one mall but 4 different malls that meet at one intersection.
I’m going to say up front that I’m not happy with the pictures that I took here because I left my camera at home. I figured we were going to go to the mall so I didn’t need to bring it. I mean, who brings a camera when they know they’re going to the mall. And I’m sad to say, I should have.
The Siam Paragon is the mall that we spent the most amount of time because they had an aquarium at basement level. Yep, the mall had an aquarium in it and it was a great aquarium.
It was amazing. They had shark-feeding, penguin-feeding, diving with the sharks, glass-bottom boat rides, and environmental education. I’ve also seen fish there I haven’t seen anywhere else.
There was something called a pineapple fish that reminded me of Hawaii.
Rock fish, like those in the picture below. One is in the front and the other one is facing upward next to the white rock at the center back of this picture.
And then there was the aquarium itself. You could walk through it and the sharks were plentiful.
This place was great and then you remembered you where in the mall and couldn’t believe it!
I should have brought my camera!
Squire and I are waiting in the Manila airport for our last leg home. We stayed overnight next to the Mall of Asia and can now say we were in the 3rd biggest mall in Asia. I don’t know what that quite means, but it was very big and full of places that were very American to us. All the name brands and probably the least amount of Asian food we’ve seen since we began our trip (lots of American fast food and French bistros as a matter of fact).
It was kind of neat having the opportunity to stay overnight in the Philippines. Thailand and the Philippines are very different in certain respects to what I consider normal being from Hawaii, technology and American brand names have been useful dividers of the two.
In the Philippines, I hardly see anyone with a phone, no one is checking in on their social media sites or taking pictures with them. If someone is snapping a picture it’s with a little camera and isn’t of food. And when we went to the mall, if people were waiting at tables, they were just waiting and not surfing the web.
Thailand was the exact opposite, they love branding and smart phones. My dad’s girlfriend had a radio in her car with a tv and was able to get a satellite connection for music videos. There are a lot of knock offs and piracy but when it comes to technology, they know their stuff and apple is the brand to have, just because of the prestige behind it, people can be dirt poor and still find money to own it. Although the top brands for pc (and the least affordable) are Sony and Toshiba. Most people have the Asus brand and HDMI is not big, although every hotel we went into had a Samsung tv. That being said, if you lose an apple product in Thailand and it’s been over ten minutes, you might as well not go back for it, it’s not going to be there or at lost and found.
Philippines felt way more American when you walked into the mall though. All the stores I saw there were the same ones that I would find in any shopping mall in Hawaii. Although in their favor, they also had a skating rink. So what they lack in technology they make up for in brand names and Thailand is the opposite.
One thing I found similar was the way both cultures dealt with traffic. Lanes are indeed arbitrary, in Thailand they honked the horn less and had more motorscooters making them seem like they were more laid back about the process. Also, U-turns are a normal way to get from point a to point b, when we were in Thailand at first, I thought we were hopelessly lost, but I came to find out that it was actually a must. There weren’t too many opportunities to make left turns or right turns, you just had to go past it and make a u-turn to get to your exit or turn.
Since my dad has lived in Bangkok for the past two and a half years, he knew all the spots that we and he would want to check out now that he could and we were there to do so.
The day we rode in on the train, he and Preaw picked us up from the train station and we drove directly from there to Tiger Temple, about three hours away from Bangkok. It was a long drive after a night of train riding and I wasn’t feeling too well but getting another opportunity to pet tigers . . . well we were all for it. Squire and I got to pet tigers in Bangkok and in Chiang Mai and are proud to boast about that.
The Tiger Temple was very different. It felt like an open zoo. There were horses, bison, pigs, deer, and goats roaming freely.
We saw a huge bear family (the only caged animals) and tigers were walking around with monks (the tigers were on leashes made of chain).
Considering they were walking around with us, the chains made sense and made you feel a little safer, but it was still a little sad to see. They had an area where there were a bunch of tigers chained to different spots and they would walk you to a few of the areas by hand so you could have a few minutes petting the different tigers.
For all intents and purposes this is a temple and has the distinction of being the only temple that allows for people to walk around with the tigers. There were a lot of rules because we were in a temple environment, but not too many people abiding them, which was a pity, although they all seemed to be very logical. For instance you aren’t to wear bright colors, like orange, red, and shades thereof, because the monks are normally in that color and the familiarity they have with them may not be the same comfort level you’d want them to have with you. Don’t run, as much as the tigers are domesticated in many ways, they are still by nature, hunters, so keep the kids close if you choose to bring them here and don’t let their excitement make them run around.
Although these tigers are probably the closest to domesticated as you may get, they are still larger and heavier then most humans and I really don’t relish the idea of playing with a cat of this size.
I’m so glad we got to visit another tiger petting place. It’s not like there are many opportunities to do this. I think it’s definitely worth the visit if you are in Thailand, and so inclined.
As an added bonus we were able to stop by the River Kwai Bridge. You may wonder how they got the army across it in the movie, but maybe not since Hollywood has a way of working it’s magic.
Just got back today so expect a lot of catch up blogging on the rest of the trip and some broad generalizations of our time spent toward the end and our brief stay in the Philippines.
Have to say it’s nice to be back and jet lag is going to be a doozy. Going back in time has a weird affect on sleep patterns and the way the world looks, but to look at the bright side at least I’m not a time traveller, they must have serious jet lag.
Okay, obviously tired and loopy, so I hope to post at least one of my half-written trip write-ups tomorrow.