Trip Start Aug 06, 2007
Trip End Nov 17, 2007

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Thursday, October 11, 2007


We arrived in Bangkok after a very short (3 hour) flight from Hong Kong, and again I am impressed at the flight, how on Thai Air the beautiful flight attendants dressed in their pretty purple traditional costume greet us with their bows and warm smiles, and not to mention the free unlimited booze and good food on the plane.  Asian airlines really do kick some serious butt compared to some North American airlines out there.
Thailand and the world of Siamese people who are as beautiful as they are warm and friendly.   Most places you go in Thailand you will find Buddhist monks walking around with their shaved heads and orange outfits.  All Thai men must be a monk for at least one year.  Thailand, although technically "3rd world" is a beautiful country with very nice people, good food and cheap shopping everywhere.  Virtually everywhere you go there are outdoor markets for shopping, and food, not to mention the many night bazaars which are present in most cities that are buzzing with food, drinks, music, people, stray dogs, foot massage huts, elephants (ok well one elephant - we saw in Chiang Mai's night bazaar) and of course SHOPPING.  There are not too many places where you have to even go indoors - all the action is outside which is really cool. Despite what our guide books say, OCTOBER is a great month to be in Thailand where it technically is the rainy season and flash floods and some wicked thunder storms we have witnessed already, but it is much more bearable in terms of heat.  Most days it is around 28 or 29 degrees, and believe me... the difference between 28 and 32 is significant here.  Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai) is about 2 degrees cooler which is just right, temperature wise.
 Tuk Tuks are the basic mode of transportation around the city and they normally consist of 3 wheel motorized vehicles which you sit under a roof on a bolted down seat behind the driver and there are no doors or windows so you get the fresh breeze and can see and hear everything around you.  Aside from smelling like gas and getting a bit wet if it raining out, tuk tuks are actually very fun to ride in and I quite like them.  I feel like we see more of Thailand this way, and taxi's cost more.  They should have Tuk Tuks in Bermuda and North America.  Why don't they?
The best past of Thailand so far is the Thai massage.  Again, everywhere you turn there are parlors for cheap feet massages and Thai massages.  There are probably more shops for this service in Thailand than anything else so far that I have seen.  Nothing is off limits with the thai massage.  It seems to be a mixture of yoga whereby the masseuse (or masseur) manipulates your body into some irregular and unusual positions, and then a massage where the masseuse uses her hands, elbows, knees and feet to massage your entire body - they stretch and massage parts of your body you would never know existed.  Both of us have had a few of these massages so far, and they are dirt cheap (about $9 Canadian dollars for an hour) and wonderful.  The massages are very different from what I have had before.  The masseuse walks on her hands over your legs, she gets underneath your legs to properly use both hands and elbows on your legs.  They massage your stomach and butt (which is not something I am used to and takes getting used to if one is squeamish or shy with these things) and most of the massage takes place while the masseuse is inside of your legs on on top of you.  They use their feet to climb onto your legs and back and bum and press on pressure points to relieve tension.  They do pretty much anything one could ever imagine in a massage. They also usually end off the massage with a traditional Indian head and face massage. It is both crazy and unusual, but in a good way.
There is no shortage of young, pretty Thai girls hooking up with older (not as pretty) white men in the evenings all can see it everywhere which I was really surprised at how "out in the open" it all is.  Thailand has a lot of visible red light districts as well and no one is shy about it. One tuk tuk driver presented us with a card which was clearly for the red light district that caters to men, and it has some various activities that a person may want to engage in.  The tuk tuk driver asked if we were interested and he could take us to go see the ladies.  I will not go into too much detail here, but lets just say, the card did not leave too much to the imagination in terms of what specifically you could go and do/see.  There are both red light districts with women (I should really say girls since most are under 20) and with boys (again, very young guys - all seemed under 20).  We just walked through one block and that was enough.  You got plenty to see just from walking on the streets.  Kind of like Amsterdam I imagine except all Thai girls and boys we saw were very beautiful and very young.
One of the best experiences in Bangkok is the night we went to see some real Thai Kickboxing.  We paid about 2,000 Thai Baht (about $70 per person) to have ring side, front row center seats at the most brutal Thai boxing stadium in Bangkok and it was well worth the money.  Thai kick boxing is considerably more brutal and intense than the boxing I have ever seen.  Certainly a lot worse than "fight night" in Bermuda, where Jeff and I met many years ago.  A good blow from one of these guys is very intense and you can see, hear and almost feel the impact of these kicks when having seats so close like we did.  One of the boxers was bleeding from his eye at one point, and this was quite visually alarming, but he kept fighting.   I did get some good pictures but the pictures in no way captured the pure action going on.  The boxers themselves were all very young looking Thai boys.  None looked older than about 19 and they all weighed less than 130 pounds.  Some small guys but very powerful.  They all did major praying rituals before, during and after their rounds and it was an art in itself to see these prayers.  
A funny thing happened on our way ack from the airport from our Chiang Mai back to Bangkok.  Most taxi's in Thailand have meters but the taxi drivers do not use them because they make way more money by setting a price with the customers than the meter would end up being because most tourists are stupid and don't know better - so we became quite careful of this. Anyway, for 50 baht you can pay for a permit to get a taxi that will use his meter. This may seem ridiculous to pay just to get them to use their meter, but in the end you will save a lot of money.  Anyway, we paid our money and got an "English speaking" taxi - there are certain taxi's that put stickers on their windows to state that they speak English, which can often be quite helpful.  After a few minutes being in the taxi on Bangkok's rather busy, very fast roads, we noticed that our taxi driver was driving abnormally slow.  It was getting to the point that we were getting nervous as he was going way to slow and we did not know what was going on.  The driver was becoming increasingly upset and mad and yelling in Thai.  We could not understand what he was saying, since we do not speak Thai.  He did speak a few English words and we were able to figure out that what he was saying to us was "break no work".  "Oh that is just fantastic" I was thinking.  We are in Bangkok at about 11pm, tired from our flight, trying to get to our hotel and the taxi driver is yelling "brake no work...brake no work". So after another 20 to 30 minutes of him trying to test the brakes, he just stopped the car in the middle of a super busy highway, and communicates to us with hand signals that we have to get out of the taxi with our luggage.  So we do this, and now are standing on the side of the super busy highway in Bangkok with 4 suitcases and a Thai taxi driver who speaks no English but is wildly flailing his hands to try to communicate something to us.  The driver finally called a buddy on his cell phone (we assume) to come pick us up and we eventually got into another cab that took us to our hotel, but this fiasco took over 2 hours and of course the second taxi driver had to go to several friends and stop to ask people directions on how to get to our hotel.  This is common in Thailand.  You hail a tuk tuk or taxi, tell them where you are going, they give you a price, you negotiate and come to an agreement, but then instead of just driving you there, they drive to their brothers shop, or stop people in the street to ask for directions, call people on their cell phone and so on.  It is crazy.  We just had to laugh at this though.  It really was quite funny most of the time.
One of the best parts of Bangkok is the "tourist street" of Kao San Road.  It is like being in the early 70's with all the hippy people with their dirty clothes and dreadlocks and huge massive backpacks, the outdoor café's with people drinking beer and smoking, the floating pad thai stands that offer the absolute best pad thai imaginable for 20 baht (less 50 cents).  I could spend a whole week touring this one small road.  It was great.
We both want to return to Thailand, but focus more on the beaches in the south part like Krabi, Phuket, Ko Samai or Ko Samet.  Thailand is a great place to see a lot of beautiful sites, relax, get some cheap massages and spend very little money.
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