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First Landing in Bangkok

Doing research on Thailand and getting recommendations from friends led me to the following tidbits of info/thoughts prior to arriving in Thailand:

  • It’s hot and humid, pretty much year-round. According to my Lonely Planet guidebook, Bangkok is one of the hottest cities in the world!
  • Feet are considered dirty. Taking off shoes when entering the home or a temple is a MUST.
  • They take Buddha worship seriously. On the same note as the above, when seated near Buddha, you must make sure your feet are pointing away from him.
  • The King is highly revered, so much so it’s an actual crime to speak badly or out against him.
  • As a salutation, Thai people wai, where they put their hands together, palms and fingers flat against each other as you give a head nod/bow. Apparently the higher the hand placement (chest, face, forehead, etc.), the higher the social status—a monk will always get a very high wai.
  • Thailand is cheap.
  • The food. MUST EAT ALL THE FOOD.

24 hours later, here’s how research matched with our first, and limited, experiences:

  • Definitely hot. But not unbearable. Perhaps our experiences in Tampa, FL in the middle of July made us brace for the absolute worst.
  • Custom of taking off shoes confirmed. Our Airbnb host took his shoes off when showing us our apartment. When visiting the Jim Thomson museum/house, all were required to remove shoes before touring the interior as well.
  • There are signs at the airport’s border control calling Thailand “Buddha Land,” which they describe as meaning no tattoos of the Buddha or purchase of souvenir statues depicting the Buddha allowed (that are not for worship).
  • Seems service industry people wai at the end of transactions too. At the nearby mini-mart, the cashier gave us a wai after we made our purchase.
These are the images/billboards ALL over the city. Top Left: in front of a building on the sidewalk. Top Middle: Billboard (and fun tuk-tuk and over-packed moto-riders). Bottom Left: Boys choir singing and honoring the late King. Bottom Center: Even websites honor him–this is a landing page and the tiny yellow link at the top is how to exit move beyond the King’s landing page. Far Right: Image and shrine(?) in the lobby of our condominium.
  • The King passed away last October and we are still within the year-long period of mourning. There are billboards, signs, and general RIP messages and offerings to his framed image EVERYWHERE. One of the biggest billboards I’ve seen in my life, which spanned the width of at least 15 regular billboards was what welcomed us on the way from the airport to city center. I’d read somewhere that if you drop money on the ground, you don’t want to step on it to keep it from blowing away because it has a picture of the king on it. Respecting the money is a real thing; while eating at a local noodle shop our first night here, we saw the customers to our right clean their money that accidentally had gotten sauce on it before using it to pay the bill. He gently dropped a few drops of water on it using a straw and tenderly wiped it off, making sure it was completely clean.
Left: Thai style noodles. Center: Green curry and rice. Right: Pad Thai. All of the above, plus two bottles of water costed less than $5 USD. Portions are much smaller than in the US (the noodles on the left and right are maybe two fists full), but probably reflect an actual portion size.
  • 1 USD = 35 Baht right now.
  • By US standards, price of labor is ridiculously low, making everything cheap. Food is just the beginning. Our Airbnb host drove us by what he said is one of the best massage parlors in the city. For $15 USD, you can get 2 hours of Thai massage! Must try this one out before leaving Bangkok.

Here’s some more from our first 24 hours here:

Crossing the river. 5 baht per person for the crossing, which takes maybe 2 minutes once the boat starts.

Lots of larger-than-life sculptures are photo ops by the entrances to the air conditioned malls. Top: Hearts in the colors of the Thai flag. Bottom: Not too sure what this means…those are tongues sticking out though.

Making egg wraps (see right). Note the hipster mustache =)
Left: I’ve never seen such adorable baby pineapples. Right: Mango + Sticky rice!!
Preview of the Jim Thompson house museum, more to come later 😉

6 Comments

  1. red red

    So exciting to read your post and see the great photos! Never been, so another vicarious tour! (Thank you!! <3)

    • No problem. We’re so excited to be here – more posts coming soon!

  2. Barbara Crowe Barbara Crowe

    So glad your hosts are willing to show you around. Lots of photos please.

  3. Emily C Emily C

    Thailand!!!! 🇹🇭

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