Well we did it, we're here in Bangkok! We stayed the first 2 nights at a hotel right by the airport and after trying to get a little sleep I was ready to head out for our first walk with the kids. After living in Costa Rica, we are quite used to the differences between a developing nation and the U.S. so we were curious to see what things stood out here!
First of all, I have to say that everyone on the street is very kind and although most do not speak a lot of English, they try to help and when there is just no understanding each other they just giggle and smile sweetly like I did for so many of those first months in Costa Rica. We just keep trying to speak Spanish which really doesn't translate at all! They adore my little guy and with his cute Thai phrases (basically hello and thank you is all any of us have) they just seem to melt.
Street food is abundant and varied. One woman had the most delicious corn on the cob that we have had in years! We went back over and over. Then there are the guys selling pork balls, not sure if we are talking literal balls or what, but I do know I will not be trying those out anytime soon! Good and bad, we'll take it all in as an experience -- except for pork testicles.
One of the first things we noticed was the fact that they drive on the opposite side of the street. I tried this once in London and lets just say it did NOT go well. I don't think renting a car will be happening here in Bangkok for us, but maybe we'll gather the nerve to rent some scooters when in Chiang Mai. The hardest part for us with this though is walking! When we walk on the side of the street it is an entirely different way of looking to keep yourself safe. I am no better at it than the kids, so we try and go slowly and pay attention. A tall order for an 8 and 4 year old, or for a mom hell bent on capturing every moment in pictures.
The other thing that was immediately apparent was the flood water! There's evidence of this historic flood everywhere. Just to leave our hotel parking lot, we need to walk over a make shift bridge to avoid the foul smelling water. The TV is full of reports and video of all the wide spread damage with many people still living under water. Although, I do have to note that here in central Bangkok all we see is walls of sand bags, yet no actual water at all.
Then there is the actual drinking water. It must be purchased at the store as the faucet water is NOT potable. You can cook and wash with it, and even brush your teeth, so it could be far more complicated. This seems like it would be a hassle but with the abundance of 7-11's (yeah, the real 7-11. I was shocked too, I mean they are every 100 feet it seems). It is quick and easy to stock up on water and other swag. The best part is that water in the bottle only cost 7 baht, roughly 23 cents. Not a bad deal at all! It is filtered by UV and reverse osmosis and NOT fluoridated. Also of note while talking about no fluoride, I already found several toothpastes here that contain no fluoride. I am thrilled to report that. Guess I should stock up before moving on.
The final thing we noticed right away were these cute little houses at almost every property, including at the hotel and every restaurant big or small that we have visited. Being the type of person who can't stand not knowing something, I looked it up. Thank goodness for the internet! How did anyone know anything before? Anyway that is another post entirely.
I found that they are called spirit houses. These are shrines set up to provide shelter for spirits that may cause problems for the new owners if they are not appeased. Thais set up food and drink each morning and evening and even set up vehicles for spirits transportation or statues of people or animals to keep the spirits company. They are all unique and all beautiful in their own way. I find it impossible to not snap a photo when I see them. I have tons already and I may just need a bigger hard drive for photo storage because of it. Thailand is officially a Buddhist country which is part of what I find so fascinating. I really look forward to learning more about their practices and beliefs.
Until our next observations (or when I get some time to post about it anyway).....
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