Thais love TV, especially evening soap operas, or serieses, as they refer to them in their language. It's a case of English vocabulary being adopted into another language. My wife and her sister, back in March, visited Central Pinklao Shopping Plaza in Bangkok, and there was a soap star making an appearance. He happened to be one of Kade's sister's favorites.
This is where I met a German friend and her English husband earlier this year in Bangkok. She recommended this spot, in fact. I simply had coffee or a latte. The location of Chu, in the Exchange Tower near the Asoke BTS (skytrain) station, made it really easy to find. Click here to learn more about Chu.
I use all types of transportation in Bangkok - taxis, skytrain, tuk-tuks, private cars, motorcycle taxis, ferries, canal boats, metro and buses. For this route, buses are not only cheaper, they get there faster.
This is a night market not far from Kade's family home. Just before you reach the entrance, there are several motorcycle-transported food and drink stalls. This would clearly be the mom-and-pop type service, and for those wanting tasty drinks and snacks at a great price, go for it. My rule of thumb is to check out the customers and merchant, and then look at the overall setup. How clean is it? Often it doesn't meet my approval. In that case, if I want an iced coffee or cold drink, I go by a 7-11 or into a business I know. I worry most about the ice and how straws are handled. One strategy, if straws are not packaged, is to reach out and grab my own from the bundle they have displayed. I place my order, I grab a straw and then they hand the drink to me. If I didn't, their bare hand would be on that straw, and putting it into the cup. Little tips like that can ease your mind! As for the ice, that can be hard to gauge. Ice is in coolers, and comes from ice factories, then was taken my motorbike to vendors. That's what you see. And I would presume that those factories have regulations, and use clean water and all that. I really have never been sick in Thailand, nor noticed any really stomach issues after going to one of these motorized stalls. That said, I primarily stick to stores, chains or independently-owned businesses in popular areas. How was that coffee we got at that market? Really good.
A fabulous thing about Thailand - and it makes sense because it's so hot there - is that wherever you turn, there's something to drink. Cold things. And a stunning variety. This Chapayom kiosk outside Tesco-Lotus shopping plaza (just a short walk from mega-mall Central Pinklao) quickly became a favorite of mine when Kade and I visited Bangkok in March. I would either order an iced coffee or pink milk. It hit all the spots: Cold, sweet, creamy with a hint of strawberry. I'm sure the flavoring was made of mostly corn syrup, but whenever I am in the hot, muggy climate, it seems like I need a sugar spike when it gets hot. And you might think it puts on the pounds (or kilos), but all the empty calories are easily offset by the sweating and constant movement. There's no reason to monitor your number of steps each day! Aside from the effects of air pollution, which is still pretty serious, in many other ways I feel healthier when in Southeast Asia.
I don't know if this is a good sign or not! When I see giant-sized toilets in Thailand, and they are American Standard, I wonder how up-sized Thais might be getting.
If you reside in Bangkok, or probably in city of decent size in Thailand, it's easy to find the huge home decor and building stores we are accustomed to in the good ole USA. It may not be the same chain name (sometimes is, though), but it certainly is that same winning formula.
These are some jewelry boxes I have gotten on my travels. Several I gave to my mother as gifts. I had one more - a wooden one I got in Uzbekistan. I gave it to my nephew for his high school graduation. The countries represented here are Uzbekistan, Russia, India and Thailand. Incidentally, the "Peace Dog" fits in very well here in Asheville, NC, but I bought it in Bangkok, Thailand. It was created by a French artist who has apparently become pretty well known over the years.
This is a portrait of the first elephant round-up in Surin, Thailand. Since then, Surin has hosted an annual elephant round-up festival that's very popular with tourists. I have never been, but the way it looks, it's part parade, part old war reenactments, part history and a bit of circus. Animal lovers might rightfully question the use of elephants in this fashion, but elephants in Thailand are also very revered. And many Thais would think this festival shows great respect and appreciation for elephants. I would encourage you to Google and YouTube for more material.
As lovely as this pottery is - and I am pretty it's handmade - it's everyday ware in Uzbekistan. Notice the cotton bolls. Uzbekistan is known for its cotton, and this "white gold" made the republic of Uzbekistan, when it was part of the USSR, a vital piece of the economy. Today I'm guessing, it's still the biggest crop and export.
I got these dishes from my friends who visited the USA back in the early '90s. If I remember correctly, my friends Ulugbek and Timour gave a set to my mother. I may have even purchased a few myself. After she died, I got it. Over the years Kade and I, have made tea many times, using that pot and those tea cups. [I added a couple of videos below] What I learned, though, on visits to Uzbekistan, and during the year I lived there, having tea was a true cultural and social experience.. We'd have it after dinner. They'd have it the morning. And at the school where I worked, it was served on break, much like coffee here. You find it in all the restaurants. In neighborhoods, there are tea houses where men gather and socialize. I remember my student/friend Bakhodir took me inside one of these near his home.
I recall drinking tea in Uzbekistan on occasion. But my favorite by far was black. I added the sugar cubes and maybe even some milk. An interesting aspect of all of this was that they had a saying that they used when preparing the tea. Boiling water would be brought over from the stove, and it would be poured into the pot, which had ground tea leaves inside (not in a bag or anything). It set there and brewed for a few minutes, and then someone would take the ceramic pot and pour into a tea cup once, then it would go back into pot, then poured a second time and back into the pot, and then a third time into the cup for drinking. The saying was, "First time, mud. Second time, oil. Third time, tea."
The smaller plates you see could be for salads and appetizers. The larger ones would hold a giant mound of rice pilaf, the country's national dish.
first year in Asheville
Click here for other tea experiences I've had. Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is where much of the