Just some stuff I’ve noticed…..

I’m not sure this counts as a blog, but I really wanted to document some stuff that I’ve noticed here in Bangkok and since I’m saving the rest of my journal pages for the Camino, I thought I’d just put them down here! So, here goes:

1.) When you walk into a major department store you will find there are usually more employees than customers. They seem to congregate and talk amongst themselves even when you are seeking help. Or, they are in the middle of the linen section texting.

2.) When you walk up to or within 10 feet of a street stall, you will be immediately “greeted” by the salesperson who will proceed to actually watch where your eyes are looking and try to sell you that object.

3.) People who walk around in the middle of the mall reading their Facebook or emails on mobile phones should be shot. Yes, I know that’s harsh, but it’s just so frustrating to try and get around them when they seem to consistently weave where you want to walk, without even looking!!

4.) I do not really like being called “Ma Dam”….it’s rating right up there with Hey Lady in my book of irritations!

5.) Tuk-tuk drivers are fun to tease. They want to rip you off so bad it’s hysterical. I kinda walk near them which makes them sit up from their reclining position (I should say it more correctly – they are completely laid out across the tuk-tuk), and say, “hey lady, tuk-tuk?” To which I reply, “no thank you”. That’s when the fun starts! They always ask, “Where you going?”.  I love that question! I tell them with a big smile, “far, far away”. Of course, they want me!! That’s when I rub my tummy and say, “No tuk-tuk, too fat, gotta walk”!! And they just laugh and laugh!! Priceless…I’m not sure who has more fun with that one!!

6.) Do not, under any circumstances, try to outdrink a Thai (girl or guy). You are asking for pain. Step in front of a bus first, it will be much easier and less embarassing. At least you won’t be throwing up in front of everybody!

7.) Asian women don’t seem to like us farangs (foreigners)! I’m not sure why – none of us can fit in their clothes, so it’s not like we’re out buying clothes away from them!  The street stalls are full of clothes that only fit them! And surely, none of the guys are looking at us – we’d squish them!

8.) Some of the Asian guys are pretty darn cute. The women might be pretty, but I’m not really sure because I’m afraid to look at them! Seriously.

9.) There can’t possibly be another place in the world (except maybe Hong Kong or Toyko) that has as many places selling cell phones, pc’s, and cell phone holders as Bangkok. I can’t figure out who they’re selling this stuff to! In MBK (the biggest tourist mall here), there is a whole floor dedicated to nothing but cell phones and cell phone covers. Now, let me make sure you’re getting the drift here. This mall is huge and the ENTIRE floor is all cell phones and covers!

10.) Lean processing does not exist here. Today, I walked around the mall looking at the employees in different places. In KFC, there were 8 people behind the counter which had 4 registers. There were 6 people cooking. Two young guys were in the seating area doing nothing but standing there waiting to clean off tables and mop if necessary. There were 12 customers including me. Do the math. Oh, and there was one girl who only sells desserts. On the way home though, I did stop at 7-11 and there was one person on each of the two registers they had and possible an employee in the back. There were 17 people in the 7-11.

11.) Yesterday I saw something very strange. It was the Google Maps Street View car. I had to Google that to find out what it does. It actually has a series of cameras mounted and does live updates of traffic in certain places. It produces a 3-D view of the buildings, etc. if you do the Google Earth thing! Only in Bangkok…

Goodle Maps Street View car!!

Crossing over from tourist to traveller!

New friends...2:00am leaving Thai karoke!

At some point during this journey, I knew I would cross over from being a tourist to being a traveller. It’s happened! How do I know this? Let me explain:

1.) Seeing a temple isn’t nearly as exciting as spending time with some new friends! Yes, all of the sights in SE Asia are fantastic and you could spend days and days doing nothing but visiting temples, trekking,, going on day trips of every sort imaginable, but at some point, you recognize that those are the things tourists do. While they are entertaining, they are not really what travel is about. Travel is about seeing how the rest of the world lives and functions. Last night is a perfect example. When I arrived here at my hostel (which by the way we’ll discuss later), I met a sweet girl from Canada who asked me to join her and some friends at a little bar and then for dinner. Drinks and dinner then lead to karoke! We ended up getting a group together, hiring a taxi, and asking the driver to take us to a karoke place. The taxi driver quickly got on the phone to his friends and next thing you know, we are at a Thai karoke place. Now, let’s be clear on this. This is not a Western karoke place with Thai people dropping by – this is a Thai karoke place with us as visitors!! So, naturally, most of the music was Thai music being sung by Thai people. Needless to say, it was an adventure. We of course, could not really sing along because the words were all in Thai!! What a hoot!! But see, this was way more fun than visiting another Buddha!

Go ahead....feel free to sing along...if you can read the words!

2.) I found myself making a shopping list this morning! No, not things like souvenirs! This was stuff like a new hairbrush since I left my comb somewhere, laundry soap, snacks for in the hostel, conditioner for my hair, etc. You know you’re not a tourist anymore when getting laundry soap is more important than shopping for a new sarong! 🙂

3.) You research the weather forecast in your area of travel. Tourists don’t care what the weather is – they only have so much time in any given area and so what the weather is, well, it just is!  For me as a traveller, I can choose to sit right here in a hostel near the beach because the temps are a little cooler than Bangkok and Chiang Mai and there’s a beach about two minutes away! When I get to Bangkok, I get there! By the way, that’s exactly what I decided to do! Since the weather, scenery, and hostel here are nice, I have no desire to rush up north to the city!

4.) Speaking of hostels, I’m in one now that is absolutely wonderful. It’s a little pricier than some of the others I’ve stayed in, but comparable to what a decent hostel in Bangkok will be. Very modern and yet still has a real nice “Thailand/island” kind of feel to it. I’ll take pics later today and send them out on Facebook. That’s something that as a traveller, is more important than seeing great stuff. It’s my home away from home so it’s important that I like my “home”! When I find a good one, why rush away only to find the next place isn’t quite so nice!

5.) AND….THE NUMBER ONE WAY I’VE IDENTIFIED MYSELF AS A TRAVELLER……DOING MY LAUNDRY AND HAVING CLEAN CLOTHES BEATS THE HELL OUT OF ANY TEMPLE I COULD POSSIBLY SEE!!!! For those of you who know me, you recognize how huge that statement is!!! I hate laundry or anything remotely appearing to resemble housework!! Trust me folks, having clean laundry is the absolute best thing ever when travelling! Tourists don’t worry about clean clothes – they take enough to last their couple of weeks and head home. But on the road, space is limited in the backpack! You just can’t under estimate the joy when the laundry is done and you get to put on clean clothes!!

“The traveller was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes sightseeing.”  Daniel J. Boorstin

Happy travels friends! 🙂

This guy from Thailand must of sang about 50 songs...he was really getting into it!!

Some thoughts about friends…..

I started this journey long before I got on the plane heading to Singapore. It started years ago when my Aunt Sandie and I were talking about her trip to Europe. She went with a tour group and although it was a long, hard trip with many stops, lots of bus rides, and many days, she had fond memories of Europe and the journey. She started talking to me about the idea of us going to Europe one day together. Years later, we made it happen. That trip taught me that I can find a way to do the things I want! And it taught me that there will always be people in my life that are happy to see me do the things that mean the most to me….my friends and of course, my aunt! 🙂

From the moment I started researching this trip, I knew that there were people at work who would support me. What I didn’t know, was that there were friends out there who were silently supporting me even though they may not have known when or where I was actually going. But I always felt like I had a group of people around me who wanted the very best for me regardless of the impact it might have on them.

My strongest support as always come from my aunt. I think that’s because she loves to travel and knows how to travel the way I do….light and with as little holding me back as possible! I recognize not everyone can travel, but everyone can be supportive. In this past month and half, I’ve been amazed at how strong and wonderful my support network truly is! People that I literally have never met or haven’t seen in years, are out on Facebook every day watching my travels, commenting on my posts, and always wishing me well and thanking me for posting about my journey.

Folks, and you know who you are, you have no idea of what your comments mean to me! They are affirmations of friendships that don’t need to be coddled with birthday greetings or trips to the mall or even phone calls. They are daily reminders that we all touch each other’s lives in very small ways that have a huge impact in the end. Currently, I have a friend back in Colorado whose daughter was in a terrible car accident. My daily notes on his posts remind him that although we are miles apart, I am with him! Just as he is so appreciative of my few words a day that I send him, I too am appreciative of the comments all of you post!

There are many great things about travelling.  At times though, it does get lonely and that’s a part of the journey too. But reading your comments and thoughts and well-wishes that all of you post, brightens my day – EVERY DAY!! I look forward to reading your posts and emails!! They are not simply ego-boosters – they are true words of friendship that help me feel like you are on the journey with me!!

To all of you who take the time to post your comments…thank you! Please know that they are ALWAYS the first thing I look for when I sign on and that they ALWAYS bring a smile to my face!! Thank YOU!!

Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you to be in theirs, the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

YOU ARE ALL FAMILY TO ME!!

Why I can’t lose weight in Thailand…..

It’s simple. The food is too damn good and there are way too many choices!!

When I was in Malaysia, the kids at the hostels would rant and rave about how good the food was in Thailand. But when I asked them if the food was spicy, they always said yes. Now, I don’t know what food these people were ordering, but I’ve had nothing spicy at all yet! I will admit though, several times I’ve been asked if I want “spicy” or not!

Let’s start with breakfast. Although I’m having a hard time finding these for breakfast, we’ll count them as breakfast food – banana pancakes. These are not your Aunt Jamima’s pancakes folks!! These start as small round balls of dough. They flatten the dough and then make it thinner and thinner which makes the size of the “shell” get larger and larger. The “chef” throws a hunk of butter on the griddle and then the thin dough. Most of the time the dough is so thin it has holes in it. A banana is quickly sliced up and tossed in the middle, usually with another slab of butter! (Already you can see this is my kind of treat!!) Then the banana inside is covered up by folding over each side of the dough and the top and bottom of the dough. The whole square is turned over and fried also! Once it’s done, the “pancake” is removed to a piece of paper, cut up in 9 or 12 pieces, and then sprinkled with sweetened condensed milk and a little sugar. Now really folks, we’re talking dough, bananas, butter, sweetened milk and sugar. I’m not seeing a downside to this treat!! The only thing I have found is that bananas give me heartburn so I have limited my intake of these especially since I only seem to be able to find these in the evening at the night market!

Dinner – pad thai…..basically fried noodles with vegetables and chicken and sometimes shrimp and of course, soy sauce! Folks, these people love oil and butter and that puts me on a first name basis with them! Honestly, I could eat this stuff every night of the week – oh wait – I pretty much have!! Really, I do vary my dinner because they also have chicken and pork satay which is basically just meat grilled on a stick. It’s fabulous! I also sometimes have fried rice with vegetables and meat. I’ve also had omelets with meats and rice…they are delicious too.

And fresh juice..I’m telling you, they use whatever fruit you want and put it in the juicer right in front of you. Pineapple, strawberry, watermelon, kiwi, orange….you name it…they juice it!!

The most amazing thing of all is the cost of this food. Tonight I had pad thai in a sit down restaurant and it was 45 Baht which is slightly more than $1 USD. Add in my Coke for 20 Baht which is less than $1 and there’s a meal!

So here’s the deal…I had this feeling when I was in Malaysia and not liking the food so much because most of it had a curry-like taste to it, that I was going to come to Thailand and eat less because I wouldn’t care for the food. WRONGO!!! I love the food here and it’s taking everything in me not to eat too much!!

So….why can’t I lose weight in Thailand? It’s simple – the food is so damn good and there are way too many choices!!

Letter to Aunt Sandie!

Dear Aunt Sandie,

Please seriously consider walking the last leg of the Camino de Santiago with me in May/June!

Love,

Cheri

Now, I know some of you are probably wondering why I would write a letter to my aunt as part of my blog. Well, it’s pretty simple – it’s blackmail. Yup, down and dirty public exposure! It’s kind of like that book, “The Secret”, that says if you tell the Universe your needs, it must provide! I’m thinking that if I ask for this through these public forums we call Facebook and the blogging process, it’s as good as asking the whole Universe!

And why the short letter? Another easy answer. Aunt Sandie and I talked about the Camino so often during my visit to Florida, that there’s no need for explanation or further discussion. She knows what it is, why it’s done, and what it would mean to me if she showed up!

Okay, so before any of you get upset about not getting a request or invitation, let me assure you I’m a “the more the merrier” kinda gal. But this is not any old vacation or get-away. This is a whole different ballgame in the world of travel! This is a journey that requires the ability to sleep in a refugio with many other people. It is hours upon hours of walking. The Camino is about sharing your thoughts with another and yet, at times, sharing no conversation at all. This trip demands that you understand there is a purpose for walking the Camino and still,  you may not even be aware of it’s purpose until it’s done and over. When I think of all the people I’ve travelled with over the years, I know that Aunt Sandie is the one person who could share this journey with me.

How do I know she can do it? Once again a very simple answer! Because she wants to! She knows it and I know it! For all the physical, mental, emotional, and financial struggle this would be, she is the one person who could tackle them all…and win!

And so, my letter to her is now public. I expect my friends to chime in and encourage her! She doesn’t have FB, so just send your comments to me! I’ll be sure she gets them! It’s like I said, once you put something out to the Universe it must happen!

Love you Aunt Sandie….see ya in Spain! 🙂