After the first day, I’d seen more images of Buddha than in the rest of my entire life. He comes in all sizes, from 10cm to 45 metres, and can be young, old, sitting, reclining, standing, even in party mode.
I’ve never smiled at so many strangers. You only have to catch their eye and they smile. If only the whole world could be like that. I’m trying to keep it up now we’re back in HK.
Bright colours are popular. The majority of Bangkok taxis are fuchsia pink or lurid orange. School uniforms also come in purple, pink, yellow, green…
The Isuzu Pick-up seems to be the most popular vehicle, preferably with a windswept grannie in the back.
At one sacred temple I saw an aged Bhuddist monk reach under his robe and pull out a big wad of cash and start counting it.
We didn’t see anything of the renowned sex industry side of Bangkok, but we did go out for street food in an area called Thong Lo.
Thai films, based on those seen on long distance buses, are either dramas with women wailing the whole time, or comedies with a constant stream of whacky slapstick sound effects.
Sa wat dee is Thai for ‘hello’ but to be more polite, men add the word ‘crap’ on the end. I picked this up very quickly.
At 8am and 6pm in public places, the national anthem plays through loud speakers and everyone stops and stands still.
If you sit on an elephant and tap her on the head with a banana, she’ll lift up her trunk to take it from you.
The weather at Christmas is perfect … 25-30ºC and sunny every day.
We spent Christmas day zip-lining through the rain forest (see the video) and toasted in the New Year on a bridge (not THE bridge, but near) on The River Kwai, watching the fireworks and floating lanterns reflected in the water.
The actual Bridge on The River Kwai was a kilometre away, and given that 100,000 people died building the railway, I felt the pop song ‘Hands up, Baby, Hands up, Give me your heart…’ blaring out nearby intruded somewhat on the solemnity of the place.
I bet Queen Elizabeth is a bit jealous of the Thai King. He’s been on the throne 7 years longer than her (64 years now) and everyone loves him!
I’m sorry, but Thai street musicians and me do not share the same idea of what is melody.
If you like old ruins, some time in your life you have to go to Sukhothai. Wonderful.
I can’t imagine there’s a way to say ‘water shortage’ in Thai. I didn’t see a dry ditch or hole in the ground all holiday.
Thai pronunciation in English tends to be a bit lacking in consonants. We heard some carol singing on the TV. ¨Goo Ki Wenesla loo ou, o the fea o Ste’en.¨
I thought no-one drove on the left apart from the UK. Hong Kong, fair enough, due to recent history, but Thailand does too! (And China apparently!)
Scooter hire is ridiculously cheap. When a taxi ride to a shrine on a hill costs 12 euros, and 24 hours of scooter, including petrol, costs 7 euros, who would get in a taxi? We hired in 4 different places and had great fun.
On hiring a scooter: Me – do you need to see my driving license? Them – nope.
On giving it back: Me – do you want to check if it’s okay? Them – nope.
There’s trust here.
We drove through a town called Ban Pong, and it did smell pretty nice. (Unfortunately I didn’t go anywhere called Ban Pun, sorry.)
Animals we saw included... monkeys – various kinds, water monitors (big big lizards), ghekkos, toads, hornbills, elephants, tarantulas, scorpions (this one on my hand and shoulder) and bats.
More on the bats: At sunset, two million wrinkle-lipped bats pour out of one cave near Khao Yai national park. Two million! The sight and sound as they flew only metres above our heads is the most incredible animal encounter I’ve experienced.
More on the monkeys: Lopburi is a town where the long-tailed macaques live, not only in the trees and on the ruins, but in town too. On the roofs, telephone wires, traffic lights – they’re everywhere!
The food is really, really good, and so cheap! I can’t see why anyone would bother cooking at home. Kao Soi (curried noodles) is a Chiang Mai speciality, and at 90 cents a bowl, I think it’s the best value quality food I’ve ever eaten.
And they have bananas the size of your thumb.