29 November, 2008

The oddness of Thailand

Bizarre, interesting and unusual things about Thailand:

1) You can't put toilet paper in the toilet. You're supposed to put your yucky, number-two-soiled tissue in a rubbish bin, which is often open at the top. Disgusting.

2)Their traffic lights have countdowns! I don't know if anywhere else in the world does this (maybe it's increasingly normal?) but I loved the idea of being able to see how much longer there is to wait at a red light, or if you can just make the green before it changes. Brilliant and easy concept.

3)Their snacky foods like chips and pot noodles are all flavoured as types of seaweed, pork burger, wontong soup, etc. Not a salt 'n vinegar or tomato chip to be seen anywhere.
Look at this interesting flavour- Winnie the Pooh Seaweed:

I wonder what Winnie the Pooh tastes like?

4)They are in love with Hello Kitty. Here I am in one of the many Hello Kitty stores:
It's Kittyzilla! Having a well-deserved sit-down.

5)The Thai people drive like maniacs. They ALL drive like the worst minibus taxis that we South Africans love to swear at. It's frightening.

6)I have never seen so many stray dogs in my life. They're everywhere. It's very sad.

7)Anything with pineapple or coconut in is served in a hollowed-out pineapple or coconut. Maybe it's just for tourists, but even the little shabby side-of-the-road restaurants did it.
That was some gooood rice. (You saw the coconut drink in my last honeymoon recap). This restaurant had THE best coconut shake I have ever tasted in my life. It was the best overall shake of my life, actually. I need to learn how to make me one of those! (I have no idea why there's no photo of it. I could have sworn we took one).

8)Tourism is everything there, so everyone speaks English. No Thai necessary, which Mr Slippers felt was rather sad. I was just relieved - I had no time even to open a book on Thailand before the wedding!

9)Because all the money is in tourism, everyone is poor. Really poor. The hotels are spectacular, and most other places look like this:
This was a minute up the road from our hotel.

10)You have to barter and bargain for everything, and it killed me. You can't even walk down the road without shopkeepers yelling stuff at you, trying to shake your hand, stepping in front of you so you have to stop, asking where you're from, etc. It's So. Frikkin. Exhausting. And you definitely can't wear anything you bought in the markets if you're going back there, because then they all assume you want more of the same (bizarre assumption, I thought - surely you'd want something different since you HAVE one of whatever it is?) and try to force you to buy it at a "good price". Read as "start at ten times what it's worth and argue down from there". By the time the bargaining's over, you don't even really want the thing anymore, it's such a mission. Thank goodness for supermarkets like 7/11, with actual prices on the goods.

11)Even the icecream has funny flavours. They have Magnums and ordinary flavours like orange, pineapple etc, but then there was this bizarre white one that Mr Slippers bought out of curiosity:
It contained corn and beans sprouts. SERIOUSLY.

12)Continuing on funny flavours, there were some odd colours too. Think of guava juice. In South Africa and the UK (only places I've been) it's pink. But in Phuket it looks like this:

And in Hong Kong (more on that later) it's white:
The Phuket one still tastes the same, though. I didn't buy the white one to try it. The Starbucks lady yelled at me for taking this photo, actually. What? Like I'm going to steal the secret Starbucks bottle shape? Copy the logo which I would NEVER be able to find on the internet or anywhere? Idiots.

More travels soon!


  1. I wish I could get rice ina hollowed out pineapple. hehe WAY cool! :)

  2. In Poland, before the light turns green, it flashes yellow again, so the drivers have time to rev their engines and get ready to go. It's so much better that I can't understand why it's not like that all around the world.

    I remember the first time I read about the no flushing thing and I about vomited. Can you imagine being the poor maid who has to clean that up? So sad.

  3. You also can't flush your toilet paper down in Greece, apparently the pipes aren't big enough... You'd think they'd build bigger ones!

  4. Jenna - In the UK the lights flash yellow before they go green too. I thought it was pretty useful, but the countdown clock was better!

    London Bride - Some of the signs in Phuket said the no paper flushing thing was to save their mangrove forests (where, presumably, the sewage ends up). I have no idea what other countries do to preserve their natural ecosystems & plantlife.

  5. I've seen the countdown at traffic lights before, but I can't remember where. It's fantastic! Also, some (but very few) intersections here (in Canada) have a countdown for the pedestrians. That's helpful for the drivers, too, because you know when the time runs out, your light goes yellow.

  6. Did Mr. Ruby Slippers eat the icecream? I'd be interested in knowing what it tastes like...interesting. When I was in Japan, I had a taste of squid ink icecream. It was a weird experience.
    I hear ya on the whole toilet paper thing!! When I did an exchange in the Dominican Republic, the same rules applied. I was never really comfortable with it. Here's a gross tidbit of info for you: my host father used to wipe with newspaper. Imagine that on the top of the garbage when you walk into the washroom...yikes!!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.