A Travellerspoint blog

November 2008

Last week's quiz/This week's question.

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Last week's question was: If it is $15 one way from Bangkok to Hua Hin by train, (250 Kms.), how much is the return?
The answer is $1.50 cents. 75pence UK.
Unbelievable but true. 250 Kms. for less than the price of a cup of Mr. Starbucks finest Java.
Why? Because we went 2nd. class with air conditioning and came back 3rd. class with the window wide open.

This week's question involves Tuk-Tuks; tiny 200cc tricycle taxis that are ubiquitous in Thailand.
The question is: How many passengers can you comfortably take in a Tuk-Tuk?

Answer next week.

Posted by Hawkson 23:59 Archived in Thailand Tagged transportation Comments (2)

Spot the fake monk!

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Signs in Bangkok warned us against giving alms to fake monks, so we have been trying to work out which are the real McCoy.
Many working peasants, living in mosquito infested hovels knee-deep in stagnant swamps, make generous offerings of money and food to the monks of the numerous magnificent Buddhist temples, (Wats). On trains, passengers buy food and water for travelling monks from the dozens of itinerant vendors. Buddha is everywhere here - always with his hand out. There is a Buddha around every corner; enormous Buddhas look down from the hill tops; armies of baby Buddhas surround Wats; pictures of Buddha hang on every wall. If we had started counting Buddha images from the time we arrived by now we may have discovered the world's largest known number.
But, back to the monks: Saffron robed monks are in the same category as the elderly and disabled and have to be given a seat on a bus or train, (trains have separate compartments for them). But monks are not allowed to sit next to a woman, (God forbid such a thing). On the bus from Phitsanoluk to Sukhothai Sheila and another woman sat either side of the only vacant seat. Then a monk got on and chaos ensued. The bus conductress began moving people around the bus so that the only spare seat would be flanked by two men - easier said than done on a crowded bus. After several minutes of musical chairs the correct gender balance was achieved, then a spoilsport further down the bus stood up and gave his seat to the monk. The conductress was clearly miffed that all her organizational skills had been usurped by one thoughtless passenger.

So - Back to the question. How do you tell a fake monk from a real one?
You ask him of course!

Posted by Hawkson 18:38 Archived in Thailand Tagged postcards Comments (1)

Worthy Causes - first donation

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Thanks to Joyce and Sondra, caring friends contributed money to enable us to donate to local causes.
Ninety abused, neglected and retired elephants from throughout Thailand are treated lovingly in the Ayutthaya elephant kraal. Until 1906 this facility was used to corral wild elephants so that the king could select suitable ones for war. Today elephants from 5 months to 86 years live here peacefully. This elephant home is funded by donations and staffed by volunteers. For more information and great elephant pictures visit www.elephantstay.com

There is no doubt that we will have many more opportunities to donate to local causes, so if you wist to add to the fund please email us.

Posted by Hawkson 17:05 Archived in Thailand Tagged postcards Comments (3)

Loi Krathong-Night of the full moon

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Thanksgiving, Guy Fawkes and Dawali all roll into Loi Krathong. Feasting, fireworks, tacky decorations and exhuberant celebrations mark the end of the rainy season (we hope). Millions of decorated banana-leaf lotus flowers, with candles, incense and prayers (krathongs) are floated on the rivers throughout Thailand. We were there surrounded by throngs of joyous Thais.

Ayutthaya, the 14th century capital has charmed us with its ancient ruins and friendly tuk-tuk drivers.

Posted by Hawkson 00:17 Archived in Thailand Tagged postcards Comments (4)

Thailand-worlds collide

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After two weeks in Thailand it has become apparent that two worlds have collided and we, being mere Farangs, (foreigners), don't always know which world we are in. For instance: A Starbucks' coffee costs 8 times as much as the full fare on the riverboat from one end of Bangkok to the other. And, Gabriolans take note as you board the BC Ferry, the one hour ride costs just 5 cents. (It was five and a third cents until the fuel surcharge was removed last week.)
We went to Hua Hin by train, (250 Kms,) and it costs $15 for the four and a half hour journey - So how much do you think it cost us to return to Bangkok a week later?
If you can answer this question correctly we will buy you a Starbucks' coffee in Bangkok, (airfare not included.)

This is truly two worlds: Opulent shopping malls filled with the World's most exclusive stores are surrounded by shanty towns where a Dollar Store would seem an extravagance; corrugated iron shacks sprout giant satellite dishes; wizened Thai peasants have cellphones that play "Jingle Bells"; and working elephants share the road with motorbikes and SUV's

Signs outside restaurants read: "Beware of Fake Monks" and "Beware of Wily Strangers."
Some hotels should have signs saying, "Beware of hotels offering Serene Corners."

Beware of smiling Thais - especially when you are attempting to use a pedestrian crossing.

Posted by Hawkson 06:58 Archived in Thailand Tagged postcards Comments (1)

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