Burin's mom has been in the hospital for about three weeks or so due to surgery and subsequent complications from it, so we're actually at the hospital much of the time visiting with her and the rest of the family.
However, we have had the chance to go shopping at a couple of malls, shops, and street vendors. So far, I've bought about four shirts and two pairs of shoes. The shopping here is great because the prices are so cheap compared to the States! The two pairs of shoes together cost around $17.00! If you're ever in Bangkok, you should definitely check out Siam Paragon, a very nice upscale mall with lots of major restaurants, movie theatre, etc. I haven't done souvenir shopping yet because I plan to do that this weekend at Chatuchak, the world's largest weekend market, where there is a huge variety of items at really good prices.
I've had a variety of food here, both Thai and American (McDonald's, KFC, Starbucks!). The photo above was taken at a really good restaurant, one of Burin's favorites in Bangkok, called Ban Khun Mae (which translates to My Mother's House). It is located in the Siam Square area, which is filled with tons of restaurants and little shops with the coolest stuff!
We saw the King of Thailand the other night! His sister is in the same hospital that Burin's mother is in. He was visiting his sister (security was obviously very tight), and when he got ready to leave, they blocked the streets off and people lined up along the sidewalks to get a glimpse. We just happened to be walking back to the hospital from getting something to eat and showed up just in time. When the motorcade came through, the king was sitting by himself in the back seat of a car that was all lit up so that everyone could see him! It is so different here because the entire population loves and worships their king (as opposed to the US where half the population dislikes President Bush), so he doesn't have to worry much about assassination or anything of the like. So, that was kind of a neat experience.
Some everyday observations:
- Beverages: most people drink water, and it's only bottled water here. Refills on sodas, coffee, etc., are not free.
- Snacks: Thai people love to snack all day long. At any time, day or night, there are street vendors selling all different kinds of food. If you go to someone's house, they have all sorts of snacks out on the table or counter. Anyone who shows up to the hospital room usually has some kind of food or snack! Seems like people are always eating, and they love to bring and/or offer you food! :)
- Shave-free Thailand: Thai women do not shave. So when I ran out of the travel-size shaving cream that I brought with me, I set out on a venture to find some shaving cream. Men's only. No tangerine-melon scented shaving cream for me. Um, yea..... :(
- Traffic: is horrendous. Enough said.
- Pedestrians do not have the right of way. They will run you over! Especially the ones on motorcycles!
Essential things you should always have on your person while here:
- Hand sanitizer, Kleenex hand wipes, something.
- A small pack of Kleenex tissues, travel size roll of toilet paper, something.
- A calculator so that you can convert baht to dollars while shopping (most cell phones have calculators now though).
- A camera, for obvious reasons.
- A Thai-English dictionary (although I don't have one; Burin usually serves as mine).
A haiku, or two:
chao phraya river/longtail boats, water taxis/in bangkok, thailand
thai wats, lights come on/gold against the dark blue skies/along the river
(We were at a restaurant last night that overlooked the Chao Phraya River, which runs right in the middle of Bangkok; Burin was visiting with a couple of friends and I was kinda bored and being neglected. Haiku happened. Note: a "wat" is a temple.)
Hot Chili Squid-flavored Lay's potato chips anyone?