Thursday, April 24, 2008

What I liked about Thailand

Thailand was really an amazing experience. There were a whole bunch of things that were difficult to handle (food experience, smells that made you gag.. literally gag)
So, I thought I would list some things that were cool.

Insane drivers. 
However.. not really... It is just a different game. When you are driving, people just pretty much take the path of least resistance. This makes the lines on the road "Guidelines" and if you want to take your motorcycle or scooter down the opposite side of the road to get around some traffic, then.. thats what you do. 
What was really amazing to me, was that whole families of people ride around on a 2 seat scooter. Here is a photo of a man and a woman with their two kids all squished onto a scooter.

You can also see in this photo that the traffic patterns don't make a whole lot of sense.. people driving every which way. The Scooter on the right has three people on it.

Tuk Tuks (pronounced took took)
My friend described them as a motorcycle with a wheelbarrow attached to the back of it.
These are motorcycle taxi's. It is a crazy experience! There are no seat belts, and the drivers are really hardcore. so you are hanging on for dear life, and flying across traffic with a totally exposed feeling. You are inhaling all sorts of pollution, and who knows what, but it is fun thing to do as a tourist. I am sure if you lived there, you wouldn't be so eager to use them. However, they are everywhere!
Here is a photo of our Tuk Tuk driver.
The Markets
We went to Pat Pong Night Market, Chatuchak Weekend Market, and San Luam Night Plaza
So much more.. but I have to take a break for food!

Pat Pong Night Market is filled with  super high energy, and any kind of knock off product that you want. In order to experience these markets successfully, you have to be prepared to bargain like never before. My advantage was that I saw some expert bargaining happen in Beijing last month. Tamara was tremendous at being persistent and pushing the vendors really hard with no guilt. 

So, you see a watch that you want, and ask for the price. They pull out a calculator and punch in 3000 Baht. you immediately have to react like they are trying to steal your first child. You explode with a "No WAY" reaction and ask for a better price. They will right away punch in 2200 Baht. You can then calm down just a bit, and say "Nah" and then they will hand you the calculator and tell you to make them an offer. Now, the key here is to keep the price moving down. So, I refuse the calculator and ask them for the "best price"  This will bring the price down to somewhere around 2000 Baht or 1800. Instantly... in two sentences, you went from 3000 Baht to 1800. Now the fun begins. So, it is your turn... you say no to the 1800 and they hand you the calculator and ask how much you want to pay. You punch into the calculator 800
and they yell at you... no no no! They punch in 1700, and you have to return 1000. They will eventually come down to around 1500. Here is where you throw them a curve ball. You have been eyeing a second watch that you like, and when you get them close to their lowest price on one, you ask them how much for two. They will respond with 2800 and you come back with 2000. Back and forth... you finally settle on 2400 and walk away with each watch for about 1200 Baht. So, you pay $40.00 for a very nice watch. Better than you get for $40.00 anywhere in the states, and yours just happens to look exactly like a Rolex or Breitling. It is very difficult to tell the difference unless you have both the real and the fake side by side. The knock offs are really incredible. 
The Chatuchak Weekend Market has a totally different vibe. The bargaining works the same.
But instead of an alley full of booths, there is a whole complex about 35 acres with over 15000 booths and stalls. It is a total mad house! They other factor that makes the experience totally different, is that the weekend market runs during the day. So, now you are shopping around in the 97 degree heat with humidity that is suffocating! In the weekend market you can get anything you want, from clothes to jewelry, home furnishings, and artwork. It really is a pleasant experience to just wander around and really have no agenda. There are so many tourists as well as locals there, that you get to see an assortment of culture right in front of you!

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