Sunday, December 26, 2010

ABCs of Thailand

**Disclaimer: The idea for this clever little blog did NOT, in fact, spring from my own brain, but from here**

Here's a little list (I'm slightly addicted to lists) of random observations I made during our adventures in Thailand, starting with "A" and moving on down the list. Some letters I was more enthusiastic about; others, I just could not think of ANYTHING, such as with "q," predictably. I hope you enjoy, I certainly enjoyed writing it!

ANIMALS: the stray animals will break your heart.

BIRTHDAYS, BUCKET SHOWERS, and BAI NAI: the day you were
born is much more important than the date, i.e. they celebrate on the day of the week you were born at that particular time of year, like the second Tuesday in November and whatnot. we experienced the infamous bucket showers while staying with Liz...not bad, especially on hot days! But definitely gave an involuntary squeal every time the first bucket was poured over the head. finally, as a greeting, Tha
is will say, "Bai nai?" meaning, "where are you going?" It's kind of like our, "what's up?"

COLOR-CODES: every day of the week has a different color. at some schools, the kid's uniform shirt must match the day of the week that color happens to be!

DIVING, DRAGONFLIES and DANCING: aw, I love diving. The dragonflies are red. And traditional dancing is awesome, and so hard! My hands do not bend that far--when the girls are babies, they will have their hands soaked in warm water and pushed back, and then when they're in lessons, the hands are taped back to achieve the best curve.

ELEPHANTS and EGGS: I love elephants, they are SO CUTE, and we finally saw a baby one on our last day in Chiang Mai! As for eggs, in our friend Megan's village, a group of Christian missionaries live nearby, and on Easter, they went around handing out Easter eggs. In Thailand, if someone hands you an entire egg, it means they never want to see you again. Hence, the Christians had a lot of apologizing to do!

FANTA, and FIELD TRIPS: Orange Fanta is somehow better when you're abroad. Field trips are not the to-do they are in the states; the teacher merely grabs the kids and you can wander around for as long as you wish. No permission slips, no nothing!

GENEROSITY and GEEKS: The Thais are some of the most generous people on the planet. Although they do have this weird custom of geeks: every married person probably has a geek, i.e. mistress, on the side, and this is perfectly acceptable and the entire village will know, although it's not completely advertised.

HITCHHIKING, HAIR and HUMIDITY: Hitchhiking, will not encouraged when you're alone, is fun in a group; and as previously discussed, the generous nature of the Thais always had them rearranging their truck for us and refusing any sort of compensation! My hair, as you can imagine, reacted very badly to the humidity, as did my skin...I loved Thailand and most of SE Asia, but I honestly don't know how people survive the humidity!!

INDIGO: As in dye. It's beautiful! We were given the opportunity to try it out, and it smells super funky, but kind of good. It's made of a local plant, so it's all organic. The fabric ends up any shade between dark green and deep blue!

JANKY: A word I say all the time now, thanks to my cuz.

KING, KHANOMS, and KARAOKE: Everyone in Thailand loves their king. Every day, in public places, his anthem is played, and every house has a least one picture of the king inside, if not multiple. Even when you go to the movies, you'll watch a short film and hear the anthem prior. Khanoms are any kind of snack, usually something sweet, that is customarily brought when you visit anyone, like a hostess gift. And finally, karaoke is a huge pastime and you will do it everywhere: parties, camping, etc.

LANGUAGES and LA: Within Thailand, they have several dialects of Thai, as mentioned, my Thai name was in the northern dialect. Everyone in the north speaks this dialect, as well as the national version of Thai. "La" means handsome, and I used it all the time as it's accompanied with a fun hand gesture.

MONKS, MILKING OUT, MASSAGES, MOLES and MAI BEN RAI: Monks, wearing their customary bright orange outfits, are everywhere and I love them! Breasts in Thailand are called "mountains of milk," I got told often that I was "milking out." In addition to our sketchy massage in Pai, we got a much nicer on in Chiang Mai, although I'm still not exactly flexible, and it was occasionally excruciating. The back-cracking and usage of tiger balm is quite nice, though. We also got a foot massage from fishys...our feet were so soft afterwards although it tickled so much!! Moles, especially with long, nasty hair growing out of them, are a status symbol, a sign of wisdom, so the old men especially prize them. They are nothing but GROSS in my mind. Finally, "mai ben rai" is the Thai equivalent of "no worries!" and can be an answer to anything.

NIGHT MARKETS and NICKNAMES: Night markets in Thailand are the best! The best stuff, the best haggling, the best atmosphere. Everyone has a nickname in Thailand that usually sounds nothing like their five-syllable-long given name. For example, Liz's roommate's full name is Haittaratt, and her nickname is Lyette. I guess they both have "t's"...

OVALTINE: iced. it's the best.

PANTS, PAD THAI, PAYING and POMEGRANATES: fisherman pants, which I always thought were weird, are ubiquitous and quite comfy, and are cute! Pad thai is AMAZING, and I love that it never tastes quite the same. Old people always pay--wahoo, and pomegranates rock here: they're white-pink on the outside and sweet on the inside.

RICE and ROACHES: SO MANY KINDS OF RICE!!! Sticky rice, purple rice, plain white rice, dessert rice...the list goes on. Can't say I'm a huge fan of rice, but sticky rice is pretty good! Especially when mixed with coconut milk. And Thailand, unfortunately, introduced me to cockroaches. The most memorable experience was an overnight bus infested with them...somehow Court and I both slept on that bus. But, EW.

SUGAR, SNAILS, SUWAI, STREET FOOD, SPIRIT HOUSES and SCAMS: Even my sweet tooth could not handle the excessive sweetness present in many Thai dishes and snacks. At one point, Liz's bathroom was overrun by the BIGGEST snails I have ever seen. "Suwai" means beautiful, and it was definitely one of my ten go-to words, although I figured out near the end of our trip that using it in a different tone means something like fu-ugly...street food can be delicious and terrifying and disgusting, and we had all of those experiences and more with street food. Spirit houses are one of my favorite Buddhist traditions. You build someone a spirit house when they die, and every day for a year you light the incense on the house and give them offerings, to ease their transition between lives. Finally, scamming is an unfortunate part of life in Southeast Asia, and it's not always easy to catch--the borders are the worst!!

TUK-TUKS, THAI-NAPPING, and TRAFFIC: tuk-tuks are ubiquitous and can be cool but are mostly annoying. but hey, when you're in need of a ride at 4 a.m., they rock. As previously discussed in the blog, Thai-napping is rampant and is always crazy! We also got 'Nam-napped (more on that later). And TRAFFIC in Asia is a WHOLE different organism than traffic anywhere else. I thought South America was crazy, but Asia was a whole different ball game. Unlike in the states, it's better to NOT look both ways. Never let 'em see you sweat!

WAI-ING, WHITENESS and WATS: By far my favorite Thai custom is wai-ing, where you fold your hands like you're praying and bow your head to people. Different placement of the hands is required for monks, elders, etc, but I pretty much wai-ed everyone like a monk. Whiteness is sort of like tanning here: everyone wants to be paler, and they have tons of whitening products (even for the armpits, as I made the mistake of buying whitening deoderant...). Although unlike most of our tanning products (except actual tanning and maybe the chemicals in spray-tanning) the whitening products contain bleach. So if you use them continually, you end up a funny grey color. everyone called us beautiful, mostly because of our skin, but hey, I wasn't complaining! FINALLY, wats. Wats--temples--are everywhere and are crazy decadent. All are curly-cued and gold-tinged and some are insane, but either way, you'll find one on every other corner!

YEARS: Last notice: years. The Thais go by the Buddhist timeline, beginning with the year that Buddha achieved enlightenment (I think, although I've had several different bits of information about this) and therefore the year is 2553.

WELL. Wasn't this fun? Wishing you all a fantastic New Year and Christmas!!!! xxx

1 comment:

Kate said...

Amy!! Holy cow, look at us go with our travel blogs! I love that you went for the alphabet idea and I love that you are out & about in the great big world, having great big adventures. Awesome. Adventure on, sister. Happy travels and I look forward to following your adventures!!