|REPORT #2: September 29, 1999, Bangkok Thailand|
$1 = 40 bahts, down a little
Well we've been in Bangkok for almost a week now and so far so good. food unbelievable, beer only ok...before we leave Bangkok I thought I would just provide an assortment of observations and suggestions that may be helpful for anyone coming to the land of smiles
Dress: here the bottom line people, if you want your life to go as smooth as possible in Thailand, you have got to respect the Thai norms for dress! I have spoken with several Thais who eventually get around to telling me how "impolite" most westerners dress. If you were to ask them they would never tell you to your face that you are dressing way out of bounds but behind your back they believe it. One Thai even told me that they will very subtly try to sabotage your efforts, whether to get a visa or bargain down an items, if you flaunt there norms with regard to dress. So here is my suggestion...take it for what it is worth but believe me, it's coming directly from several Thais...
Make yourself a pair of shorts that extend below the knee. Shorts that just cover your butt is considered "impolite"...At the Grand palace and other "royal properties" you will not be permitted in wearing shorts etc.
Forget the spaghetti straps and sleeveless shirts and dresses. get a shirt that at least comes part way down your arms. That's it not difficult, but I am dumbfounded at the number of travelers who want to think of themselves as savvy who disregard these cultural norms. Disregard for this advice will no make life any easier. Basically as one Thai put it...they way you dress and also how clean you are is a reflection of the amount of respect you have for the people (Thais) you interact with. Inappropriate dress is really a way of showing disrespect. I think most of you with a brain will get the picture.
Laos Visa...on Khaosan road and many places there
are many offers to secure your visa to Laos and other countries.
For Laos, most places want 1000 bahts, about twenty bucks on
top of the cost of the visa...this is really an expense you don't
have to bear. Get in a metered taxi go directly to the embassy
fill out the forms and come back in two days to pick it up. Currently
a Laos visa cost 1080 bahts. The embassy of Laos has moved so
it is located differently than it shows on the map. I left the
new address at the hotel but if you really need it you can find
the information somewhere in
Massage Parlors: now as you know Bangkok can package and sell sex in ways you didn't even now existed. I am not going into that here, you can experience that for your self by going to Patpong area or Soi Cowboy off the Sukhumvit area. However, if you want a legitimate massage I would suggest the following place where an excellent two hour full body massage cost 800 bahts. A little expensive for the budget but definitely worth it at least once. if your are in the Sukhumvit area I suggest the following as a legitimate, clean respectable place:
3rd Floor Ruamchitt Plaza,
199 Sukhumvit Rd. near Soi 15
Mosquito Netting Co.:
15 Sukhumvit Road Soi 33
This place is easy to find and looks more like a nice house than a business. I purchased a "impregnated" net that will cover up to a king size bed for 400 bahts, That's $10 folks, hard to beat the price for the quality. Bottom line, wait to buy your net when you get here.
Highlight so far for me: I gave 20 bahts at Wat Po for restoration of the Wat. Next thing I know i am being hauled in front of a Buddhist monk who has me kneel before him while he gives me blessing for good luck and safety in travel...the holy water he sprinkled over my head was cool in the mid-day heat...he also tied an amulet on my wrist with instructions to let it just wear off...so cool...he was also pumping me for information on America...he was probably 18.
Well enough for now... we soon plan to leave Bangkok and head into Issan, the least tourist area in Thailand. Will keep you posted...thanks for tuning in...
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