Monday, October 15, 2007

The 100 Challenge

Recently, a few of my friends have posted lists of 100 or more little known facts about themselves for their friends and family. Though I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the lists, I really don't think I could come up with that much info about myself. However, I've thought it might me fun to try and list unique sights, sounds, smells and experiences of Bangkok as a way of sharing our life here in Thailand. I'm not sure I can list 100, but I'm willing to give it the good ol' college try. Wish me luck!

1. We live on the 20th floor of a high rise.
2. Our building is called Bann Jamjuree and it's close to a sky train stop, which makes it very easy to get to other parts of the city quickly.
3. Our apartment has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, office, 2 balconies and a service porch.
4. Each room has its own air conditioning unit.
5. The apartment also has a maid's bedroom and bathroom. Our maid only comes 2 half days and doesn't use the quarters.
6. Our driver's name is Ton and our maid's name is Tawan.
7. Ton is 21. Tawan is 32.
8. Ton attends English classes 3 times a week and is learning English far more quickly than I'm learning Thai. Tawan can speak English enough for us to enjoy each other's company.
9. Speaking English in Thailand opens many doors of opportunity.
10. I hope to give my Pre-K and K students a head start in learning English so that they might be able to one day live outside of the slums.
11. We're worshipping with The International Church of Bangkok and I go to a Tuesday night BSF Bible study on the book of Matthew at Calvary Baptist Church.
12. The International Church of Bangkok is celebrating their 75th anniversary this year.
13. The embassy of Myramar (Burma) is a block away from the church.
14. There are weekly protests outside the embassy on Sunday mornings. The group I work with (Urban Neighbors of Hope) have been participating in the protests.
15. It is a common sight to see people wearing hospital masks because of the pollution.
16. Pedestrians have no just have to be bold and take a chance as you race across the street.
17. You cannot walk more than a block without crossing paths with a food vendor...lots of other street vendors too!
18. The food vendors set up sidewalk kitchens daily...some of their kitchens are transported on a charcoal barbecue grill and all.
19. Speaking of motorcycles, whole families use them for transportation. I've seen 5 people on one motorcycle!
20. All major intersections have motorcycle taxi stops. Motorcycle taxi drivers wear an orange vest....and usually a helmet.
21. Pink and orange taxis (cars) are owned by a company.
22. Green and yellow taxis (cars) are owned by the drivers.
23. I usually walk around breathing very shallowly as there can be a strong sewer smell that comes from the street holes and exhaust from the tuk-tuks.
24. Balconies are for clothes drying.
25. Street vendors wash their dishes in basins of cold soapy water guessed it- the street!
26. Most Thais shower in cold water....they don't have bath tubs.
27. I have 2 bathtubs in my apartment with hot water!
28.Traffic is horrible...thank goodness for the sky train! However, many times we sit in traffic just so our driver can get the hours.
29. The police and security people blow whistles constantly when directing traffic...kind of like the national bird of Bangkok!
30. The streets are swept by hand with handmade brooms...usually by women.
31. At 6:00 in the morning and 6:00 in the evening, everyone matter where they are to honor the King. They play the national anthem.
32. Everyone stands before a movie to honor the King.
33. Everyone wears yellow on Monday to honor the King...He was born on a Monday.
34. All the days of the week have a certain color.
35. Everyone wears blue on Friday to honor the queen...She was born on a Friday.
36. Father's Day is the King's birthday. He will be 80 on Dec. 5. He has been King for 60 years and is dearly loved...just recently had a stroke.
37. Mother's Day is the Queen's birthday.
38. Building scaffolding is made from bamboo.
39. People believe that beggars and handicapped people must have been really bad in a former life. Many have little empathy.
40. 90% of the population is Buddhist.
41. People "make merit"(offer food, incense, flowers) at local shrines in order to keep evil spirits away and to gain favor for the next life.
42. Local shrines...temple houses are everywhere.
43. Foreign visitors pay a higher admission price to attractions like national parks.
45. Service charges are added into restaurant bills so tipping is not the custom.
46. Most women don't wear sleeveless shirts with out jackets.
47. Women carry umbrellas much of the time...mostly to protect themselves from the sun.
48. Thai women use a whitening cream...they don't want their skin to turn dark.
49. The whole chicken/duck is eaten.
50. It's common to see the boiled chicken/duck hanging from it's neck waiting to be cut up for some dish.
51. I've seen just the duck's head served with some rice.
52. I've yet to see Thai road rage.
53. The tradition is to smile no matter what.
54. Thai smiles are beautiful and welcoming...but sometimes you wonder if they're really happy about something or just acting that way. It can interfere with honest communication.
55. Dairy products like sour cream and cheese are expensive...if you can even find them.
56. Fruit is delicious and cheap.
57. I especially love the lime juice drink served with soda water.
58. I could eat fresh pineapple every day if I wished.
59. A major section of the grocery store is taken up with rice, oil, and fish sauce.
60. Thai beer is inexpensive and good.
61. Thai wine is expensive and bad...all wine is very expensive due to a tax.
62. You can't buy alcoholic beverages between the hours of 2 and 5 in the stores.
63. Most people don't cook at home as the street vendors provide good food at a cheap price.
64. "Street" drinks are served in plastic bags.
65. "Street" soup is served in plastic bags.
66. Emergency vehicles use a siren, but traffic is so bad, there is no way to get out of their way. I hope I never have need of an ambulance or if I do, I hope it's about 3:00 in the morning.
67. All drinking water is bottled. I cook with bottled water also.
68. Fruits and vegetables are weighed and priced before going to the check out stand.
69. You hand paper money to the cashier with the King's picture facing up out of respect.
70. Thai people love corn, and they eat it as a sweet. They even have yogurt with corn in it.
71. Tuk-tuk drivers do not have a set price. You must negotiate it before you travel...same with motorcycle taxis.
72. Most property is gated and security is posted. I don't think security is because anything is dangerous, but rather because it provides a job to someone and it protects property from being used as a parking lot.
73. Sidewalks are a luxury and are often times treacherous.
74. Thai foot massages are the best!
75. Thai body massages can be very physical...I've been advised against them as they can injure you.
76. Toilet paper is not flushed. There is usually a hose for washing.
77. Most toilets in Bangkok are western style.
78. There is a pet duck that lives at a house just below our balcony. Most mornings, I wake to the sound of it quacking.
79. The city is never silent.
80. Department stores all have doormen.
81. Department stores are usually 6-8 floors high and include a grocery store.
82. There is no lack of fast food...McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dairy Queen, Dunkin Donuts, ....
83. Sticky rice and mango is the best dessert!
84. I'm too big for most clothes here.
85. 8...maybe 8 1/2 is the largest shoe size.
86. There are plenty of tailors...but I haven't explored that world yet.
87. One of the most annoying sounds in the world is a young Thai lady with a microphone selling something...a very common sound in the grocery stores and malls. It's kind of like nails on a chalkboard.
88. I'm commonly addressed as "Madam" ...with the the last syllable pronounced "dawm"
89. A dishwasher is very rare...we may be the only ones who have one in our building as it took 4-5 months before they could figure out how to hook it up.
90. It's tradition to remove your shoes before entering a home.
91. It's tradition to not point with you should use your whole hand.
92. It's tradition to not touch the top of some one's head.
93. It's tradition to not show the bottom of your feet.
94. It's tradition to eat a bite of plain rice before eating any other part of the meal.
95. Eggs are not refrigerated in the stores and are barbecued in the shell by street vendors...I haven't tried one yet.
96. Gift cards are called vouchers.
97. Thai street dogs are so ugly...I feel very sorry for them.
98. The yellow royal flag always flies side by side with Thailand's country flag.
99. Bank accounts are extremely difficult for foreign residents to establish.
100. Trash is hand sorted and that which can be is recycled, is.

Whew! Now I'm positive I'd not be able to complete this exercise with info about myself. What you have here is a bizarrely random list, but maybe it'll give you a glimpse into my life in Bangkok after close to 3 months. I imagine that, with time, my focus will change and many things that seem note worthy today, won't be something I'll give a second thought to a year from now. It'll be fun to look back, but for now, I can't imagine anyone I'd rather have travelling along with me than y'all! Thanks for checking in on the blog.


The Mama said...

While I know you could do a 100 list every other week on your life in Thailand and keep us interested, I would think that my ridiculous 100 list would have made you realize you can easily do your own, personal, 100 list. I kind of found mine annoying after I finished it but I also realize I only covered about half of my life. You have way to much 'life' to think you couldn't get 100 interesting things - that we do and don't know.

Come on Tracey, you can do it.


Terri said...

Yeah Tracey,

I've already started a list for you, if you don't watch it Daphne and I will post one for you!

I, too, enjoyed your Thai 100 post & found it most interesting.... remind me when I come not to eat from street vendors... I can't wait for my Thai foot massage (or to eat at the Bed Supper Club)and I personally thoroughly expect you and Sam to adopt a little Thai boy before you come home. Keep up the posts, you are such a gifted writer it is both refreshing and thought provoking to read your daily posts.

Love you girlfriend,
<3 Terri

Kathy Luthringer said...

When you are protesting in front of the embassy, what do the signs say? I hope that the duck below your apartment "accidentally" gets out and purposely gets eaten.
Love you both,

Thailand Tracey said...

Kathy- I didn't know how to write you back, so I hope you are reading this by checking back on the blog. The signs...T-shirts... simply say "Free Burma".
As far as the duck, I actually like the sound. It's far more pleasant than the jackhammers and other construction sounds that are routine for the rest of the day and night. Please give my love to your family and thanks so much for your notes...makes my world seem smaller!

Lauren said...

Tracey...this is an awesome list...very informative and interesting! It's almost like I walked down the street in Thailand. I learned so many (almost 100!) things I didn't know about Thai culture. Great job :)