Thailand update

5 comments

We arrived in Thailand safe and sound almost exactly three weeks ago. Amazing how time flies! We spent our first week in Bangkok shopping for clothes (since we brought almost nothing here) and seeing parts of the city that we hadn't explored last time we were here. Bangkok is really an amazing city, insanely busy, with delicious street food everywhere, and amazing (and quite clean) public transport.

After an awesome, action-packed week with barely any time to breathe in Bangkok we made the almost 18h journey to Koh Samui by land. Of course it was supposed to be 11h, but you know, we were taking our time. Koh Samui is the island where we'll be spending the vast majority of our trip and our home base for side trips around the country. Our friend Duane is also staying here for a little while and we've all been having a great time so far.

Scooters

Though metered taxis are ridiculously cheap in Thailand (about $3 for a 30 minute cab ride), the taxis on this island have colluded to inflate prices to at least as high as, if not higher than, even North American standards. It costs approximately $6 for a ride less than 10 minutes. Because of this we've been renting scooters the whole time. Scooter rentals cost anywhere from $5-8/day. We've rented one on a monthly basis which worked out to about $4/day. The downside is that driving here is a bit hectic and safety gear is limited at best. Pretty much all we've got for protection are helmets and our skin, which I think is probably the standard for scooters in this part of the world. Though we're quite safe it's not uncommon to see someone weave in and out of traffic and drive into oncoming traffic wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and sandals. I have to say I'm quite concerned that we'll be witness to a severe accident while we're in the country.

The road rules here appear to mostly be just suggestions, rather than law. Fortunately, not too many people seem to speed... but they do drive the wrong way up one-way roads, drive on side walks and park anywhere. It's all good fun ;-).

Learning Thai

I have to admit, so far my attempt at learning Thai has been pretty underwhelming. Though I can pronounce all of the characters, I can't read anything longer than a few syllables. Because there are no spaces between words in Thai, you need to be able to identify all of the syllables and words as they run together. In addition, different fonts make reading a huge challenge. I had no idea how much of a difference font could make, and with so many characters looking so similar a slight variation in the look due to the font makes it impossible to identify without being familiar with the context of the sign.

In terms of speaking Thai I can say most greetings and, believe it or not, in my first week in Thailand I was able to do very basic negotiating over a shirt I bought in Bangkok, all in Thai. I have the basics now, and am mostly just memorizing vocabulary so that I can say a little more than just greetings. Since I can more or less negotiate purchases now, being able to do a full restaurant experience in Thai is my next mini-goal. By the end of the trip I'd like to be able to do a short video update all in Thai.

Next week I'll be heading up to Chiang Mai, where I believe even less English is spoken, so this will give me even more pressure to get into the language.

Peanut Gallery

You're awesome - I'm looking

Anonymous

You're awesome - I'm looking forward to that video update in Thai.

Are you serious?

Mrs. Kepper

You are actually trying to speak Thai? For real! Wow! And here I thought you were just a pretty face! ;O) Hugs and love to you both! xx

สวัสดีครับ

Welcome to Thailand.

I've been living here for several years and love it, though there isn't much of a Drupal community here (just this: http://drupal.in.th/), at least not one that speaks good English and even though I've been taking Thai lessons twice a week for the last 4 months, it will realistically be years before I can say "<?php $filepath = db_result(db_query("SELECT filepath FROM {files} WHERE fid = %d", $fid));?>" in Thai. This site is a great help in learning the language: http://www.thai-language.com

Just finished my first large Drupal D6 based site, www.bigmangoproperties.com, a two year effort starting from scratch - retired electrical engineer with only a rudimentary knowledge of HTML, and knowing zilch about CSS, PHP, JS, SEO, server management, etc. Just shows to go you what you can accomplish with Drupal once you are sufficiently up the learning curve, though it seems that you can never really get all the way up, which is frankly part of what keeps it interesting and challenging.

If you're still here in October, consider the Nong Khai rocket festival. Most rocket parties are in May (http://www.bunbangfai.com/), but Nong Khai does theirs in early October. I'll be there for sure (the gf is from there so it's obligatory). Nice place to visit, high on a bluff over the Mekhong and and easy day trip to Vientianne, the capital of Laos, just across the river.

สวัสดีครับ

Jeff

Hey, thanks Jeff! I think you

Scott Hadfield

Hey, thanks Jeff! I think you already know how to say that in Thai though.. conveniently code is somewhat universal ;-)

I'm down in Samui now and probably won't be back in Bangkok until the 15th of Nov and then fly out on the 18th. Perhaps we should meet up for dinner/drinks or something if around then (of course assuming you're in Bangkok normally, which could be completely false :))

Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!

I misspoke that it was a rocket festival, they have similar names. This one is to observe the bizarre phenomenon of fireballs that rise from the Mekong river on the full moon. Probably methane bubbles rising due to the extra pull of the full moon's gravity, but the locals prefer to believe the spiritual explanation, naturally. I have never witnessed this but it's quite popular and draws tourists from around the world. I haven't seen the actual rocket festivals either (the rockets are to appease Buddha to make rain for the upcoming rice season, in May) but will next year. That's a really crazy event where they shoot these homemade rockets that are basically 30 foot long, 8 inch diameter PVC pipes packed with gunpowder. Curiously they seem oblivious to the fact that the spent rocket will land... somewhere and does occasionally inflict damage. They do also occasionally explode on the launch pad. Most of the activity is in Yasothon, about 200 km east of Khon Kaen, in Isaan. Video: http://youtu.be/UVAioqv-Xuw

Here's more about the Nong Khai Bang Fai Naga fireball festival: http://www.tatnews.org/events/events/2011/oct/5227.asp

A video from last year: http://youtu.be/To8Mhea41CE