- The Thai are annoyingly xenophobic, the only difference between them and the rest of the world is they're xenophobic with a smile. Sometimes I think the average Thai person looks and immediately stereotypes tourists into cadres depending on how much money they can spend. The big-spender is the Arab after which comes your average white-skinned Australian-European-American types. Indians (and by extension Pakistanis also) are notoriously cheap and therefore not much liked-at-all.
- Bangkok is so-deliciously-skanky. And there are no double meanings. If you're roaming around the city at night you will be approached about 20 times (on average) by people inviting you to see sex-shows galore. I haven't had a chance to actually see any of them - despite a genuine curiosity to see what all goes on there - because my (Pakistani-male) travel companions turn many shades of pink at the thought of it. Also, they contend that I'm going to run out screaming within the first 5 minutes of the show. They may be right, I suppose, but as I keep telling them every time a sleazy Thai sex-show-vendor appears out of the shadows, how will I know, until I try?
- Speaking of trying, something absolutely awesome happened to me yesterday. I must mention here that me is a person who is very skittish around animals. Cats skulking around me will bother me unless I can see where they are. Dogs genuinely scare me. The bigger they are, the scarier they will be. But yesterday we made our way to the tiger temple (outside of Bangkok) and I fell in love. My companion (who is not in the least bit afraid of anything animalistic) was more wary of the big cats than I was. I played with them, I stroked their fur (incidentally, I discover that baby cheetahs - who I also played with) have much softer fur than baby tigers or full grown tigers - tiger fur is sleeker and not very hairy) and held their tails. I stood completely unafraid behind a wire mesh as tigers jumped around and climbed trees on top of my head. And at the end of it, I'm convinced that I should not try to get over my fear of dogs in order to get a scary pet (to ward of sleazy landlords). I should just invest in a tiger! *bus*
- Bangkok is the city of bazaars. And I'm not talking about the giant sized malls (which I've been staying clear off because they seem so sterile and comparatively unexciting) but the tiny little street bazaars comprising of many many vendors. This country is filled with entrepreneurs. Some sell cheap souvenirs (I've bought a lot of cheap souvenirs), some clothes, jewelry, household items, what-have-you's and all of them beautifully arranged, colorful and quite irresistible for a magpie like me.
- What I don't quite like is the incessant bargaining. When the Thai's see a tourist, they think in their head *sucker* and promptly charge you 4 times what the product is worth. You see through their evil schemes (its a little difficult not to when they say 1500 baht - you walk away - they call after you 'okay, 1000' - you keep walking then they say 500, and you turn around and say 200 - and THEN you start negotiating) and you give them a low-ish counteroffer. If your offer is too low (and it often is) they turn rude. I've been told to 'get-out' of a stall on more than one occasion and let me tell you that Pakistani-princess does NOT take well to being dismissed by streetside vendors. I'd throw something at them, if I could - but I suspect that a bunch of them would just beat me up and self-preservation outweighs the joys of a temper tantrum. Anyhow, coming back to the point you bargain, and you get things for far cheaper than the price you've been quoted but I realize that not only am I now unused to bargaining, I also don't enjoy it very much. No matter how cheap you bring the product down, you still feel somewhat vary and you wonder if you still ended up getting ripped off somehow.
- One of the most fascinating things about Thailand is the fluidity between gender roles. A fabulously flamboyant demonstration of that is the infamous 'lady-boys'. We've been encountering them regularly on the streets and the stage (we went for the Calypso Cabaret at The Asia Hotel), and let me tell you they are so much hotter than any woman I know. Seriously, with their perfectly sculpted, artificial bodies they look better than I do any day - so much that I'm seriously considering the merits of implants just so I can compete :P. Interestingly, nearly every time we come across a woman who is a total head-turner, 9 times out of ten she turns out to be a, well, once-upon-a-time he. From what we've discovered the only way to tell them apart is to pay attention to their hands and their feet which are much larger than average.
June 16, 2011
Thailand is utterly lovely, and I've been too busy playing goggle-eyed tourist and exploring the city (and assorted tourist attractions) to bother with the PC too much. For those of you who want them, here's an assorted collection of my two-cents (which, when you add it all up, comes to many cents - and who said wisdom didn't come with price tag? :P)