The Land of Smiles
And then, there's my favorite shopping place, the Prathunam market. Here, I enjoy local prices, unlike the other more commercialized markets like Jatujak.
Nice things don't always come expensive. In Thailand you're opportuned to shop smart. And the choices, an endless string of creative merchandize. There's this place a showgirl finds everything she can dream of and imagine wearing on-stage. From ready-made costumes and accessories to those I want custom-made to my size and style. Fabulous.
But what I'm most fond of, for reasons I don't quite know but definitely deeper than just beauty alone, is the garuda. I got my stars read before I left for Myanmar and funny how I was told to always pay homeage to the garuda - you know, offer jasmine flowers & water - and wish for anything in my heart. Cosmic huh.... I always find myself attracted to this peculiar half bird half animal creature.
Dogs are virtually every Thai's favorite pet. I have great respect for them; for their love and compassion shown to even stray dogs.
The Thais' sense of devotion, loyalty and deep respect for their King, religion and elephants.
We were caught in a flash flood on one of our drives up to Northern Thailand. We were stuck in a massive massive jam for hours but these passer-bys kept me so engaged I forgot how long we were stuck there for.
Thailand has such diverse peoples. I love the hilltribes from the entire Golden Triangle and am crazy crazy crazy for hilltribe fabric, antique jewellery, ethnic outfits, Hmong patchwork bags and just anything and everything from the tribe culture.
There's this special place I often go to in Chiang Mai that's strewn with tapestries, woven in indigenous garb and rainbow-hued handicrafts. Being there is bliss and should there be hostility in my veins at that time, it would've been usurped by a joyful spendthrift gleam.
I've literally crossed path with peoples of sorts in Thailand - really, from hilltribe farmers to Hollywood superstars.
Chiang Mai - I was walking around the Warorot Market while the filming of soon-to-release Hollywood movie 'An American Gangster' was going on. Guess who I bumped into?
On one trip to Bangkok recently, we decided to take a day to enjoy the city like a real tourist. So we went on a river tour to see life along the Chao Phraya river.
A trip along the Chao Phraya river takes you to many attractions, one is the Snake Farm about 35 minutes from Wat Sai Floating Market. Turns out to be more than just snakes, you'll find some reptiles, gibbons, a couple of bears and a tiger. Yes, bears and tiger... left to live behind bars in the most atrocious and horrific state, probably for the rest of their lives.
I knew I'd be even more fired up if I watched the snake show that was about to begin in a few minutes. I knew more or less what to expect as snakes are usually teased, aggravated, milked for their venom and handled roughly by showmen. Well, I stuck around nonetheless....
Sure enough, my skipper had to drag me out before we got dragged out.
Ok, apart from the usual absurd stints with a king cobra, a monocle cobra and a rat snake plus the usual photo session after each stint, what pissed me majorly off here was when a mangrove snake was swung in the air like how a cowboy swings his lasso. For whatever reason , this is sick. This much I understood. I was stunned, lost for words, only swear words. He then landed the snake roughly on the floor in a quick gliding motion. The snake seemed a little less aggressive by then, I guess a sign of disorientation. By then, I was fuming enough to kick the guy in the face.
Seemingly testing my patience, this guy continued to pick up the mangrove snake with his mouth. Gripping it by the neck, he paraded around with a schmuck look I could so totally slap.
Although the Thais have great respect for their elephants (or 'chang' in Thai), I'm neither amused nor entertained to see these majestic beasts end up on the streets. You see, many elephants are literally jobless due to the rampant deforestation. So the mahouts bring them to town, where the center of entertainment is, where pedestrians and tourists may be interested to pay for some peanuts or corn for a feeding frenzy or a photograph. It's a common site, these elephants roaming about in the city. It is also common to hear of elephants being run over by moving vehicles in town. That's sad.