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Thursday, October 13, 2011

JADED AND CYNICAL PAY OFF

Dave, my landlord. Shown here giving a traditional American greeting. This is a good guy to get to know and do business with. Seriously, he's OK.



QUESTION AND ANSWER

A buddy of mine asked me how much alcohol was here and this is my answer:

In Thailand in general, I don't know. In Pattaya and Bangkok, it's pretty free wheeling. If you want to buy booze from bars, they're generally open from say 10AM till 1-3AM, depending on where you go. If you want to buy it from a store, you can't buy it after midnight unless you are purchasing a large quantity (6 liters?). Booze is pretty easy to get. As for costs - in a bar, a beer is generally 50 BHT to 100+ BHT (again, depending on where you go, toward the low end is about what you'd pay for it in a store - beer is not really 'cheap' here - generally $2, $3+ from a bar. Hard alcohol has a huge range. I am drinking cheap rum that is about 300 BHT ($10) per bottle. For labels you'd know, it ranges from 600 BHT ($20) to 1000 BHT ($30ish). Compared to food, alcohol is crazy expensive. For example, I had a decent meal of red curry chicken with rice (that filled me up though if my internal stomach was the size when I'd left the states, two would have been OK) for 35 BHT (a bit over $1). If I had a beer with it, it would have more than doubled the meal price. Keep in mind that this is the general ranges. If you go to - oh, lets call them 'specialty bars' you can pay a lot more for a beer. However, getting something like tea or coffee at a bar is generally around 25 BHT. So two coffees = 1 beer.



NARRATIVE

I went to a restaurant on the recommendation of the owner of the building, a nice gent named Trevor. I had asked for something under 150 BHT and said that I was interested in steak. [I didn't know it at the time but here you get what you pay for - and buying it from even a grocery store you'd pay more than that here.] My landlord assured me that the place I wanted to go to is called "18 Coins". The danger in asking people who aren't really concerned about money the price of things is that 'about' is a pretty vague thing. It turned out to be 299 BHT for a steak but by the time I got there, I was worked up for it and decided to give it a try anyway. Usually, the beef in this country is absolute rubbish. I've been told that due to the heat, they can't raise cows (except up north) so instead raise the less tasty buffalo. So, I tried out the ribeye and the cheapest drink on the menu which turned out to be a pot of tea for 65 BHT. Compared to western prices, this place is about 1/3 or 1/4th the price I'd expect to pay in the states though it is 10x more expensive than where I normally go. (Steak dinner with pot of tea, 365 BHT or so). A note on service - although it is better than the extraordinarily bad Czech service (pretty much every country is) the English of the staff is so bad they can't tell you what the vegetable of the day is.

I am normally wary of expensive restaurants. Aside from the whole "Logan is poor" thing, if you are in a cheap restaurant you can spit out (like a child) anything you don't like and just order more food. Doesn't work out so well with an expensive meal. I must say however that meal was the best I'd had in Thailand. The onion rings, potatoes, everything. I accidentally even ate a couple of the vegetables of the day in my mad rush to get at the edible food.



HYGIENE

This is very much the climate to wear sandals in. You really want to leave them outside of the door however as sometimes you end up wading through sewage and such. They get smelly.

According to tradition, after a woman gives birth she stays in her home for 40 days of quarantine for her and her baby.



MEDICAL

In hot, wet environments, it is best not to wrap wounds as it apparently creates a breeding ground for bacteria and infection will set in. Keep your wounds clean and disinfected. Old hands around here suggest alcohol (sterilizer rather than drinking though they do suggest that as well) and iodine.



BOOK REVIEW

"Private Dancer" by Stephen Leather

I had finished reading another book, "Money Number One" and asked the expat community what they suggested next. Next up, this book. I feel it is a good idea to check out things the expat community recommends - they've been around for awhile and usually have an idea of how things work.

Some might call me too jaded but reading this book was like watching a slow motion train wreck for me. There are vast cultural differences in Thailand that westerners just don't get. For example, in Thai culture a husband can have a wife that works as a hooker and be fine with that. He may not even have a job and live a life of comparative luxury while she earns her money on her back. He is not her pimp but someone she takes care of. And that's OK - it's their culture.

The problem comes when tourists here don't realize that the money is all the girls are after. Sure, they could go make ten times less at a factory doing hard work but the money is better here and the work - well, lying down on the job is often required rather than punished.

This is the story about some guy who goes over to write travel stuff about Thailand (and it's cooking) and falls in love with a 'bar girl' (prostitute). He spends more money on her than I will see for a long time and gets upset because (gasp) she's already married.

He then decides to get revenge.

Revenge is not really a good thing to get in Thailand because it causes the person/people you've gotten revenge on to lose a serious amount of 'face'. And they will eventually be back to get revenge. With friends. And weapons.

That is something I don't understand personally is why you can 'get back your face' by killing or beating someone even if you 'lost face' due to doing something stupid and getting called on it. I'll probably figure it out later. Not from doing anything that will cause someone to 'lose face', mind you - but I am planning on making more of a study of this as we don't really have anything quite like it in the western world.

I managed to read the book all the way through to it's depressing ending and footnotes on people's lives.

Over all, if people you meet don't consider you a jaded and cynical bastard you should probably be reading this book. Doubly so if you are 'idealistic'. Note that this only goes for people who plan on visiting or moving to Thailand. Overall, the book was a pretty smooth and fast read. I'd give it five out of ten stars.



COSTS

Normal cheap (Thai food) place, 35-40 BHT. I'd recommend avoiding beef and 'crunchy pork' - both are rubbish. Chicken is your best bet.



VIDEOS

The Wat

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois | Colorado |

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