Sa Wat Dee Ka from Thailand!

Friday, September 6, 2002
Cooking classes, temples (wats), traditional messages, hilltribe trekking, and an elephant ride are some of the things we've done since we arrived in Thailand! We spent a few days in Bangkok before heading off to Cambodia, then we went up north about 800 kilometers to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is great! We stayed in this funny little place called the Banana Guest House. They organized our trek, too. The place is owned by this couple and the wife is Japanese.... and there are tons of Japanese tourists here in Thailand, and at our guesthouse. We were practically the only English speakers in the whole place... which seems to be rare nowadays. On the trek we took too - everyone single one of the other participants was Japanese AND they were all boys about age 20. An interesting mix! Who knew I'd be learning Japanese phrases while spending the night in a hut in a remote Thai village?!

The best part of the trek happened a mere 10 minutes into the 2 day journey... Carla fell into the rice paddy! She somehow lost her balance, and the next thing I knew she was no longer in front of me. She was gone. I heard her screaming, "HELP!!" from the depths of the paddy. From then on we called her Carla Croft. She lost the game at Level 1, please play again. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen. She was holding on for dear life to some reeds so she didn't fall into the water. Instead of helping her out... I just took a photo. Nice friend I am! She was trying to avoid getting wet so early in the day, but as it turns out, the monsoon season started just as WE started. It pours practically from the second we started and never really stopped until we left Chiang Mai last night. It didn't really matter too much though, it would downpour for 20 minutes, stop for an hour and then start again so at least we had some reprieve.

Like I said, it rained a LOT on the trek, and in the morning we woke up in the village our guide stepped outside and pronounced, "PUCKIN LEN!" (fucking rain!). We've been saying that ever since and it gets funnier and funnier every time. Neung also found it funny to imitate the English expression, "Oh my God", but being Buddhist he would insert Buddha for God.... Oh my Buddha! He learned English just by listening to tourists, and like most Thai people he can not differentiate between the letter R and the letter L. With that in mind, some words they say really crack me up. Quick quiz, try to figure these out, answers at the end: Plice List, Srippily, Riry Pads, and Celemonies.

Another interesting thing to do in Chiang Mai is go to the Night Bazaar. It's very popular, and it's where they sell tacky souvenirs side by side the Thai handicrafts. It's really cool and pretty fun, too. But if any of you remember my history with markets and large crowds, I tend to get lost. Often. I don't know what it is, but it always seems to happen! I got lost in Spain at that weekend market and had to take the train all the back to Valencia before I found my friends, I got lost on Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras and had to go to the hotel to reunite with the girls, and just the same at the Night Bazaar. Five minutes after arrival at the bazaar, IMeric and Carla were never to be seen again. Or, perhaps it was ME that was never to be seen again?! Oh well, Carla knows the drill by now and we just met back at the guesthouse a few hours later after our shopping was done!

One of things people warn you about here is about the tuk-tuks (the golf cart-like taxis). We heard that sometimes when you take a tuk-tuk the driver ignores your destination and takes you to a store where he gets a huge commission. We've been here for 2 weeks and managed to avoid it, but it happened yesterday. Carla and I wanted to go to the street full of tribal crafts, but he had other ideas. Soon enough we were at some tacky umbrella store. We thought it was funny enough and we humored him. Then we went to ANOTHER commission store... we'd had enough. In our sternest faces we insisted that he take us where we wanted to go; and miraculously, he listened and the saga had ended.

Some random facts about Thailand:
  1. You say hello by saying, "Sa Wat Dee Ka". To be really polite you hold your hands up so it looks like you are praying. In fact, it is supposed to look like a Lotus Flower which is what Buddhists give as an offer to Buddha. Buddhists do not smell the flower, they claim they are not worthy, only Buddha is worthy of it's smell.
  2. According to the Thai calender the year is 2545. Buddha died at Year Zero.
  3. In Bangkok we are staying on a street called Khao San Road. It's the place where Leonardo Dicaprio stayed when he found out about the utopia beach in the movie, "The Beach".
  4. There's a gekko in every shower in every place we stay in! We should really name him one of these days.
  5. In the Karen hilltribe language there is one word for hello, goodbye, thank you and please. You say, "Da Boot".
The L & R Quiz Answers: Price List, Slippery, Lily Pads, and Ceremonies.

Until next time, Sayonara!


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