Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Some final thoughts on Thailand

Arachnophobe Warning: First picture is a big spider picture.

Toilet paper is not de rigueur in Thailand. In a lot of the hotels and restaurants in the more developed areas you don't have to worry about it, but the farther out you get the less likely you are to find A) toilet paper and B) actual toilets. Instead they have a hose hooked up next to the toilet, so it's not like a bidet set-up, it's more like the little sprayer hose that you have on your kitchen sink. This concept of cleaning with water instead of paper is OK, I get that, but then you're still walking around all drippy from the water. Lesson: Carry toilet paper.

If you walk into a ritzy hotel and go to their spa for a bikini wax, and you walk into your treatment room and find two ladies there, don't get excited and think, Hey, this will go fast! Instead, ask, "Is one of you a trainee?" and then send that person out of the room. Lesson: Trainees are OK in some instances, like when you are ordering a burger and fries. Not so much in others, like when you are getting a bikini wax in a nation where nobody has any body hair.

Thailand has some big spiders. Lesson: Pay attention when walking through the jungle.

Beds in Thailand are hard. The beds we slept on in Pattaya actually did not allow us to sleep on our sides because our hips would dig into the mattresses. Lesson: Check the beds before you commit to a hotel.

Haggling is a common practice in Thailand. Lesson: Do not depend on me to get you a good deal in Thailand.

Sometimes food is prepared differently than you are used to. In an attempt to not be rude to your hosts, you should try it. Lesson: This fish was pretty good even though we all felt weird about it looking at us.

We had a fabulous Italian dinner on Koh Chang at a little restaurant called La Dolce Vita. I don't know how they did it, but they had amazingly fresh goat cheese and mozzarella cheese for their salads, and their lasagna was to die for. Cheese dishes are difficult to come by in Thailand (Asians are largely lactose intolerant) so this was quite a find for us. Lesson: If you want good Italian food in Thailand, the trip to Koh Chang is worth it.

We stayed on the western side of Koh Chang, roughly midway down the coast. We rented scooters one day and drove down the coast, toward the southern part of the island. This was one of the best parts of the trip. We got out of the city and started getting into some much prettier, more relaxed areas. There was actually one point on the drive where I physically felt the shift in atmosphere. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but all of a sudden the buzz and the activity and the noise of the city was gone and I could relax and exhale, and it's not like the city is this huge bustling metropolis or anything, but it's just not relaxing. While I liked our hotel, I would have really preferred to be out of town. All the town areas of Thailand that I saw really reminded me of China Town in Honolulu-everything packed close together and claustrophobic and that feeling of not having anywhere that you can really just sit down and relax. I know some people like that, but I don't. I also know it's largely a matter of efficiency and not wasting space, but I like my space. Lesson: Get off my lawn!

If you stay at the Sabai Empress hotel in Pattaya, you can go next door and get a massage at the bowling alley. This is...probably about what you'd expect of a massage at a bowling alley and also probably not as bad as you'd expect for a massage at a bowling alley. Lesson: If you like the soothing sounds of thunder, you just might be lulled to sleep during your massage by the sounds of the bowling alley below.

You know how restaurants always have at least one table that's all wonky, and you spend 10 minutes stuffing matchbook covers or coasters underneath the feet trying to stabilize the table? Forget it. Use an oyster shell. They are highly effective stabilizers. Lesson: Use an oyster shell-that was the lesson.

When you're in a foreign country, and you don't know any of the music that's being played and you're not really sure that you dance the way they dance, get up and dance anyway. Lesson: The bride's family will appreciate that you tried.


Jeanne said...

I love the "lessons," even though I may never use them!

Meryl said...

Totally love this--good for you for having an adventure!

Teresa said...

What fun and thanks for the great tips. Sounds like quite an adventure and I think you look like a great dancer in any country.

Dreamybee said...

Jeanne-Some lessons are universal-it's always a good idea to have toilet paper (or napkins, wet wipes, facial tissue, etc.) on hand. =)

Meryl-It certainly was an adventure.

Teresa-Aw, thanks!

Nymeth said...

You did warn us about the spider, but I had to go and look anyway. Aaargh!

Thank you for letting us experience a bit of Thailand vicariously!

Dreamybee said...

Nymeth-that spider was camped out right above the outdoor toilets at the zip-line place. Luckily, I didn't have to go!