Portrait of Thailand: items of note in ‘The Land of Smiles’

More random observations from your’s truly –

  • “There’s a drink for that!” – the city trains in Bangkok have a loop of TV commercials using myriad stereotyped actors to advertise a variety of drinks that come in containers the size of baby food jars. Not sure what each drink does, but it all seems very exciting.

  • Waitress uniforms at popular restaurants involve short, one-shoulder dresses that would be beautiful if they weren’t colored to mimic and covered in logos from beer cans.

  • A pad thai street vendor

    It surprising, with food available every three steps, that the Thai aren’t more corpulent. Within a block, I saw carts selling crepes, pad thai, cut fruit, kebabs (meat), corn, coconuts, mango sticky rice, papaya salad, sausages, and noodle soup. And I saw two sidewalk curry shops.

  • Extra keratin = a free tool? I find the long pinky fingernails practical, but mildly disgusting. Every Thai person I see has a pinky nail at least a half-inch long.
  • Good luck buckling up in the backseat. In cabs, passengers up front are required by law to buckle. In the back, the belts are still there, but the pesky receiving end has been removed.
  • Why I may never make money as a writer: I buy ‘fake’ books! A practice that originally started in Cambodia and has since flowed over the border, photocopied books are the norm available in English-language “used” bookstores.
  • Left-hand traffic is the official rule, but in smaller towns it becomes more of a suggestion. Only going half a mile to the right? Why bother crossing traffic twice? Just go against it.
  • Awesome collage of the rainbow of transport

    Bangkok’s Taxi fleet is truly something to be admired. It consists of thousands of new-looking Toyota Corollas painted in flash, eye-catching colors: cherry red, neon orange, lemon yellow (no mustard here!), lime green, blue raspberry, even two-tone candy pink and white. It turns the metropolis into a wannabe Candyland.

  • Also evidence of Bangkok’s (and Thailand’s) beauty priorities are the gorgeous public buildings — always festooned with an ornate picture of The King. Even the ‘anti-money laundering’ office, the lottery office, and the highway department.

  • When it rains… well, yes it pours, but more importantly — the cockroaches come RUNNING out of the streets and into the buildings. I’ve witnessed this several times trapped under a sidewalk awning during a downpour. You get used to it.

  • Just like you get used to seeing rats everywhere. Even in nice restaurants. In the same vein, I now think it’s normal to get a small amount of pee on my legs each time I use the bathroom. That’s right. I pee on myself.

  • The gorgeous Nelienne a few hours before a local woman asked her if she was a Filipina.

    Skin color, specifically white skin color really matters in SE Asia. It’s shocking. When traveling with the beautifully tanned, blue-eyed, dark-haired, Dutch-descended Nelienne in the Philippines, locals often welcomed her as one of their own! Any cream or lotion — even deodorant here — has “whitening power.” As proof of just how subconscious culture really is: I discovered I’d unknowingly and unintentionally adopted these values. When daydreaming about future travel plans in Bali, I physically recoiled at the idea of exposing my skin to the browning power of the sun. And then I felt sick to my stomach. Just seven months ago, I used a kitchen-timer to track fifteen minute tanning intervals under the afternoon sun. Suddenly I discover to my horror that I’ve bought in to “white skin is better and pretty.”

  • While it doesn’t specify no Thai guests, many places clearly state that even Thai passports are not accepted as customers.

    Speaking of issues that lead to discrimination, if you’re one of those icky old western men “playing out boyhood fantasies that would be completely unachievable at home,” I have some advice for you. Don’t choose a new lady-friend in Thailand! Many of the hotels are for foreigners only, and are plastered with signs that no one with Thai identification is allowed. Seriously!

The End. ♣

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