Sensory Overload

Trip Start Feb 08, 2010
Trip End Jul 21, 2010

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Friday, March 12, 2010

After much planning, waiting and anticipation, we are finally in Thailand!

 The journey from plane to airport to hotel was incredibly easy!  
This was probably a good thing.  Emma logged the flight time at 18 hours but, in reality, our travel time started 15 some hours before that and so, two calendar days later and 21 hours flight and airport in which we enjoyed, at best, four hours dozing, we were somewhat frayed. We basically walked from the plane to the taxi which took us to the hotel in a daze.  Even in this somnambulistic state the overload started.

On leaving the airport the sensation was as if a wet warm, no hot, dish rag had been thrown in our faces.  The heat and humidity was so extreme.  The reaction within the our family was also extreme. Emma was delighted and expressed this great delight and Dad was thinking "God, will I ever adapt to this?"

Our next experience that shook us out of our sleepwalking state was the taxi ride to the hotel along the express ways and city streets.  Speed, lane changing, near misses left us all in awe of the Thai driver's dexterity and skill. We are still attempting to ascertain some structure as to the rules of the road but my feeling is that there are only two rules:
(1.)  Don't hit anyone (and that comes down to a matter of centimetres, if not millimetres) and (2.)  Might (or daring) makes right.

The hotel was an oasis that allowed us to all to chill for an hour or so.  To my amazement that was all it took because, in our excitement and eagerness to explore, we were quickly off to search out Khao San Road.  As it turned out, we were about a ten minute walk from this tourist market area. We were to find out that the 10 minutes can be an odyssey. This was not due to difficulty finding our way but in part due to having to cross Bangkok streets.  We quickly learned that pedestrians have no might, so we have to wait for a break in the traffic or risk dodging the myriad of cars, buses, tuk tuks and motorbikes.  This was made more difficult by the fact that this myriad of traffic was coming from the "wrong" way!  

 A second factor in this odyssey was trying to convince all of the tuk tuk drivers that we didn't want a ride - free or not.  They all want to take you on a circle tour of the temples (with stops at friends' jewlery shops) for "only 10 baht!" and it is very difficult to say "no".....or at least they find it difficult to accept "no".  Nick and Emma, standing in the hot sun and traffic fumes, were quite annoyed that it took me so long to free myself from the first tuk tuk driver.....then the 2nd......then the 3rd....    After some 40 minutes of discussions and of holding our breath each time we crossed the road we finally made it to the market area - a mere 3 blocks away.  With barely time to catch our breaths we were plunged into the cacophony of shops, street stalls, and vendors of all descriptions competing with each other for your Baht.  It would be difficult to list the variety of products available but whatever the average Thai person would need in a day can be found there, for cheap!  To purchase anything one must barter and even after getting your best price it's probably still double what a local would pay - and this principle works with everything - massages, t-shirts, food, etc.

The one sense that I have not referred to so far is the sense of smell.  The smells one encounters range from the amazing aromas of Thai food, to the equally amazing aroma of the sewers which run under the sidewalks and are vented upwards.  Usually it's not too bad, but at times it literally takes your breath away.

As you read this, it tends to sound somewhat negative but nothing could be further from the truth.  It's an exciting glimpse into a culture that is far different from ours and the realization that although different,  it is no less valued and, in fact,  the experiencing of these differences is why we travel.  Our senses were awakened!!!

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