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Amazing Thailand – The Land of Smiles

Disclaimer: Apologies for the quality of the photos. I understand they are not great but I’d rather post true-ugly looking photos that are mine than to use others’. These photos were taken by my Sony digicam and during that time I didn’t know how to take photos yet. I was just after the memory, not the quality of the photo. Besides, who would have thought I would set up a travel blog someday? Thank you for your kind understanding. 😀

I arrived in Thailand in May 2001 on a tourist visa but with the prospect of finding a teaching job. It wasn’t easy for me to find one being a Filipino with a very strong Tagalog accent when speaking in English. They always looked for “Native English Speaker” from America, Australia and Europe. So one doesn’t have to be a British as long as s/he is European s/he is considered “Native English Speaker”. But that’s not the subject of my post. I just like to babble. 😀

Seven years of living and working in Thailand have garnered me a boatload of experiences both pleasant and unpleasant ones, exhilarating and death-defying, of scarcity and abundance, heart-breaking and romantic stories, of winning and losing.

But then, again, they’re not the main topic of this post. I just get sidetracked all the time.

Amazing Thailand – The Land of Smiles is their tourism slogan. If you ever get into trouble, just smile and they will smile back to you and sort things out for you. But if you fuss, they’ll call the police for you even if it’s not your fault to begin with. No, I kid. But, seriously, if you show any irritation they will start to withdraw from you, put all the blame on you, and leave you to sort things out yourself. So remember to always smile. You can win an argument with a smile and you can go a long way with a smile.

Real name of Bangkok

Temple of dawn sky blue

Along Chao Phraya River with Temple of the Dawn in the background

Did you know that the real name of Bangkok is the longest name in the world?It’s “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”.

Try to read it in 30 seconds or less. 😀

I was challenged to memorize it when one boring day during my class, I asked my group of students, 2 Thais, 2 Koreans, 1 Chinese, 1 Taiwanese, who were between 8-10 years old, “What is the real name of Bangkok?” not expecting anyone to answer but I just wanted to break the monotony of the class. But no sooner had I said it than the Thai girl started mumbling and we all turned our heads to the direction where she was seated and effortlessly reciting it. We were all gobsmacked and the day turned into an interesting one because we asked her again and again to say it. We just loved the tone of her voice, as if she was singing or chanting, while reciting it.  It really amused us all.

More surprisingly, when I asked her what it means, she said she didn’t know. Neither did any of the Thai teachers in the school. But I heard from hearsay that it means “City of angels”. I didn’t think it was true. I asked nearly every Thai I knew but they couldn’t tell me. I searched high and low and it all ended in vain. But a few days ago I googled for it and found that it was true.

Shopping wisely

When shopping in Thailand, haggling is the rule of the game. Though I look like them, my accent gives it away, and they would give me an exclusive tourist price (ripoff). But after a couple of years in Thailand, I have soon learned how to get the more coveted Thai price (discounted price)–by smiling while haggling. 😀

Where I shop in Bangkok

      • Bobae Market – it’s best to go there early morning because that’s when the wholesalers sell. By around 6AM the retailers come and obviously, their prices are much higher.
      • Pratunam Market – Again, it’s best to come here very early in the morning to avoid the crowd. This place can get very congested.
      • Chinatown – You can go anytime but if you want a real bargain, find the auction site which goes every night starting at 10. This is good if you want to buy multiple items to be retailed.
      • Chatuchak – This is where to buy crafts, souvenirs and all that stuff.
      • Silom Road and Khao San Road – Aside from being “red districts” these are two places where you can buy real and synthetic leathers, imitation Rolex, Luis Vuitton bags and that kind of stuff and they are only open at night.
      • Sidewalk vendors or Night Markets – These are the places I love to frequent because they are closer where I live although the prices are much higher. Also the big supermarkets allow vendors to sell at their front carparks in the evenings.

My Favorite Activities in Bangkok

Ancient City

Ancient City, Samut Prakhan, Bangkok

On normal days, I would chill at my room after work and get out to dine or window shop in the night markets or sometimes or in the shopping centers.  Taking a walk in one of the parks like the King’s Park, The Queen’s park,or  the Lumpini Park was a nice recreation during weekends. Eating at a buffet restaurants was also a good treat from time to time.

During long weekends, I and my friends go jetskiing at Pattaya Beach and seeing around the city as well. Another place I loved to hang out was Bangsaen beach which is not very popular to foreigners but with the locals. Sometimes I would get on the river taxi boat and get to the end of the stops which is near the China Town and go around by myself looking for cheap stuff, pirated DVDs and that kind of stuff. I prefer being alone because I don’t have to wait for someone. I am pretty much of a solo adventurer than going with a group.

A couple of years before left Bangkok, Thailand shopping centers, including the new airport, Suvanabhumi, started displaying gigantic Christmas trees. Me and my so-called friends would go there on weekend nights and take pictures at their mocked winter Christmas set-up. It was a good fun!

Part of the things that I miss in Bangkok is buying sacks of fruits in season, sit like a Buddha, and feast on them.

Places I’ve seen

Phuket

On a vista overlooking Phuket City. Notice the date. In my upcoming post I will write how my group escaped the devastating tsunami that hit Phuket.

Around Bangkok

  • Wat Phra Kaew – The Grand Palace – you must be dressed modestly to be allowed entrance to the temple of the Emerald Buddha
  • Ancient City – a miniature of Thailand featuring all dynasties  in different periods that ruled the country.
  • Crocodile Farm – Elephant shows, crocodile shows and other entertainment
  • Floating Market – nice one but they’re absolute ripoff to tourists
  • Safari World – a mini safari, you can go around it in about 2-3 hours.
  • Dream World – an entertainment park
  • Temples

Beyond Bangkok

  • Hua Hin
  • Pattaya
  • Prachuap Kirikhan
  • Phuket
  • Koh Samed Island

In my upcoming posts I will write my experiences in Thailand in a detailed fashion and I hope you stay tune.

Cheers!

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