Upon arriving home, and sharing our trip with my family, I remembered all the unique parts of our vacation in Thailand. It is so awe inspiring to see another culture and way of life...especially when it is much simpler then our own. The general pace and speed of life is just slower. The Thai culture appreciates all things of beauty. Everything from the taxi cabs we rode in, to the elaborate University my sister and her husband teach at, are done with beauty in mind. This view has its positive and negatives as anything does. Here are some of my unique experiences.
This picture is so typical of Thailand. You will note the most basic of water front housing. We would consider them shacks here. Walls and roofs are made of any type of constructable materials. Behind them you will note the yellow house, which is much nicer, and probably that of a very wealthy individual. If you look further back to the left, you will note a business building. And of course, all these types of buildings are right next to each other with no rhyme or reason. There are obviously no zoning laws in Thailand! Through our travels I saw the most inventive of housing structures. I saw these shacks on top of nice high rise buildings and box cars stacked on each other with windows cut out on the sides. Does your home feel big yet?
These houses are in a rural community. I would easily guess they do not have running water and there are definitely no indoor toilets. How many bathrooms does your house have?
This is apparently how the locals board an elephant for a ride. It is an amazing wonder to see. This is obviously no longer a traditional way of getting around Thailand. However, it does remind of how high high gas prices are right now. Only the wealthy have cars in Thailand. Public transportation such as buses, sky trains, Metro rail cars, and taxis are a common place.
This is my son and I on a water taxi. It cost 15 Baht=50 cents. A taxi to the airport for a 45 minute drive was around 240 Baht=8 dollars. I am not sure how a taxi driver even makes a living because gas is almost $4 a gallon there. A taxi driver only makes a few dollars a day. Tipping is not the typical practice. A mere dollar tip will make a taxi driver or restaurant worker's day. It is not expected in Thailand for someone to tip like in the U.S. and the service is amazing. However, they appear to employ about three Thai people for the equivalency of one job. A kiosk in the mall easily has three Thai girls working what one U.S. person would do. It is a community or group effort to do anything. According to my sister and her husband who have been there for two years, there is not a lot of autonomy in work or thinking.
There are shrines everywhere you look. Temples are staple of life and honoring those by giving what you have is common. Gold adorns buildings and marble tiles are often in the most unusual of facilities.
This is a view while we were on our way to the floating market. At first glance, it reminded me of pictures of the flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The difference is this dirty and murky water is a normal part of everyday life. Children bathe in it, women wash their families clothes in it, and it is scooped up for use in the house. At the same time, I saw raw meat cleaned by the water side with the juice readily running into the water system. And this is not a remote part of Thailand. Does this make you appreciate your water at home yet?
Oh yes, and they do not have western toilets in most places. I had to find the cleanest one possible to show you. This one is the limousine version. You can use your imagination, or I can just tell you they are nicknamed squat toilets. The bucket of water is to flush the toilet and you must carry your own toilet paper at all times if necessary. Kleenex brand appears to have huge stock in eastern countries. Their paper products are sold everywhere. These toilets were just fine for me. but provided some interesting and hysterical issues for my four year old. If I was only brave enough to share one of our comedic experiences!
The night markets were amazing. I wish we had them here with all the fresh fruit and produce. The mangos and bananas were incredible and you would not believe the mere quantity you could buy for $1.
Look at all this fish. I ate so much shrimp and fish while I was in Thailand. My favorite all time meal was shrimp pad Thai from a street vendor. It puts Pei Wei to shame. For $1.50 I had a bag of enough pad Thai to fill 2-3 people.
This was my sad attempt at a western breakfast. The menu read omelet and sausage. An omelet was eggs with a slice of cheese next to it, and my sister informed me later, that any time a menu reads sausage it is a hot dog. Oh, and everything...I mean everything comes with ketchup....Even pizza! (Yuk! Apparently ketchup translates to tomato sauce in Thai. They love the stuff.)
On the other hand, look at this amazing eastern meal. Uncle Ted always seems to order one of everything. At least we can afford it in Thailand. His overwhelming hospitality is infectious.
McDonald's is a universal language. There is a McDonald's and a 7-11 convenience store in even what appears to be a remote part of Thailand. This statue absolutely cracks me up though!
The craftmenship in Thailand was exceptional. Look at these button covered shoes. I wish I had taken a picture of the little girl who creates these masterpieces.
Here is a close view of how she sews on each button. She makes an average of two pairs of shoes a day. If I only had a little girl at home, I would have scooped a pair of these up in an instant. The picture does not do them justice.
Our trip was incredible and left us both happily exhausted.
My son has never passed out as many times as he did in Thailand in his whole four years of life. He cried when I told him we were leaving. I hope he remembers glimpses of our unique vacation and carries it with him throughout life. If not, I took a ton of pictures to facilitate his potentially once in a lifetime trip to visit his Aunt Heather and Uncle Ted. I was a little nervous about bringing him at first to another country, but I never regretted my decision once I was there for an instant!