I was worried when I went to Laos that I had gone to the most laid back and friendly country first and loved it. If every other country was pushier and more full of scams, would I find lazy Southeast Asia too stressful? Rushing head first into Bangkok did nothing to alleviate these thoughts and I hated my first two days full of touristy mediocrity and crowds. However as I settled in, I learned to appreciate Thailand. It is the richer, more developed neighbor of Laos and it shows in the complexity and busy nature of the cities and food. Much like how people feel about children, I love them both just in very different ways. I am glad both are full of smiling, friendly people.
My retreat into the hills of the north ended and I returned back to Bangkok. I was warmly received by another friend I had met at the Chinese village wedding. We journeyed out to Pattaya, the Miami of Thailand full of resorts, brights colors and prostitution. I stuck to eating delicious fresh seafood on the water and enjoying the pleasantly cool ocean breeze. It has been too long since I’ve been at the beach and I’ll be making a point to return to another one soon.
I really only spent one full day in Bangkok which meant I headed out to another floating market. This time heading there with more people, and fortunately local Thais, meant I ate even more extravagantly. We also took a longboat tour of the nearby temples and enjoyed the variations of the closely packed venues. My favorite is split between wood carving temple and tree covered temple with statues of how violent Thai people beat Burma in an old war.
After a day full of delicious durian and other fruits drifting by in canals, I was heading out on an early morning flight.
I often don’t visit the large tourist destinations of a place and enjoy the weird little things you observe. There were quite a few of those things in Thailand. I loved meeting the Thai family where the mom wore sweatpants that said “BIG ASS” and her daughter proudly told me it ran in the family. I laughed at the billboard on the highway that claimed a nearby city was the Detroit of Thailand. I really hope it was more pleasant than current Detroit. The traditional Thai dresses look so elegant and make the Thai women walk in dainty tiny steps. The opulence and refinement of culture not ravaged endlessly by wars could be seen in every aspect of life.
Some of the quirks can be found all over Southeast Asia but they were my first hilarious encounters. I witnessed the entire families cramming onto motorbikes complete with baby and dog. Everyone is somehow hanging on in their flip flops and with multiple bags everywhere. Taste and fashion includes bright neon colored lights everywhere and an abundance of sparkly bits and leopard print. There were Engrish signs everywhere. Some are just translated poorly, as Thai people use “porn” and “kok” a lot. I wish I knew what those words meant in Thai. The grammar is different as there appears to be no conjugation of verbs and the subject and object of sentences are gone. I found myself speaking like this to be understood more easily. After being in Thailand for weeks you can find me exclaiming just like the locals “cannot!” or “do not have!” I learned to somehow drink out of plastic bags without spilling them as I walked. It’s normal to have locals pour out glass bottles of soda into plastic bags full of ice to keep the bottle. Even as I headed out I couldn’t help but laugh that the monitors had a notice about informing staff if you wanted to bring durian into the airport. That is, perhaps indicative of how I felt about this whole area. Yes, this is so delicious nothing else matters.
My round the world plane ticket leaves from Bangkok to Helsinki en route to Budapest next, so I will quite likely see you again Thailand. So until next time, thank you for being so delicious and friendly.