Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life in Thailand is NORMAL.

After Loy Krathong nothing much has happened.. A couple of other interns were causing drama (well, one and the other one just didn't seem to like me) and they were gone after 2 weeks and I have been mostly stuck in Patong Beach as I'm in a way scared to leave the place and have only managed to do that thanks to Minna dragging me to Karon Beach for a FAB breakfast (5 things from the LONG list +tea/coffee for 120b (3€!!) and after that 35b per piece - I took pancakes with honey, banana shake, toast with marmalade, yoghurt and a baked toast with lots of cheese, FOR 3€.) and after I booked a 2 night stay in the other side of the island a week before.

Unfortunately there aren't that many pics available as I bought a tablet (which I swore I would NEVER do as people who take pictures with tablets (like me now) look like idiots no matter where they are). But who could resist? After all I was battling between a new phone or a tablet and Laura had been talking about a tablet ever since I arrived here (NEARLY A MONTH AGO!).. During a morning shift on Nov. 19th I was talking with Laura and browsing a magazine of electronics that our manager had received the day before. I went between the tablets and phones, then Laura mentioned that some tablets she had seen were only 5000b (~125€) and I decided that I HAD to get one. Walked to Big C after the shift, saw i-mobile's i-tab fun and bought it (brother had told me about what kind of core it should have, nice to have a brother who knows about these things). So happy with it :3

Then on November 23rd-25th I had a 2 nights long trip to Phuket town. I knew that it wasn't a tourist destination for longer than a day (for a ride/walk through the old town or for a visit to the weekend market) but GOD! I didn't know it was that dead! Sure, there was life and lots of traffic but I couldn't find a proper restaurant. I got into those tuk tuk scams (promise to take you somewhere, speak good English and offer low prices just to take you to the gem/jewellery shop where they're having a "sale" today when in reality they sell fake jewellery or gems for crazy high prices). In my case they promised to take me to the weekend market (they didn't know that I had the map with me and knew at all time that we were heading for the wrong direction), they stopped at a store with BLACK windows that had huge "SALE" stickers on the windows. At first I refused to get off the tuk tuk but eventually got inside the store. The clerk came to me immediately and asked where I was from. In a state of slight panic I said Sweden as I didn't want to tell the truth to someone like her. She replied knowing what a beautiful country Sweden is and showed me jewellery which I didn't buy as "every female relative and friend died in a huge volcanic eruption that happened in Sweden recently, oh jewellery just brings sad memories" - there are no volcanoes in Sweden but bet she didn't even know where Sweden is. I managed to leave after 10 minutes, the tuk tuk drivers dropped me off at a Robinson shopping mall (~800m from my hotel) and claimed that the weekend market was there. I paid the 50b and got rid of them. This left a really shitty taste in my mouth that I didn't trust anyone who tried to talk to me on the streets after that, especially another tuk tuk driver offering me a tour around Phuket town for 100b when I clearly stated many times that I wanted to walk, wander and maybe find something nice accidentally!
I practically survived with the hotel breakfast and whatever I managed to buy from 7-eleven or Family mart. Luckily the hotel was real fancy (25€ per night) and even though I suffered from migraine the next day/yesterday I managed to feel okay thanks to the soft bed, the perfect pillows and heavenly air conditioning. I stayed at Sino Imperial Phuket and REALLY recommend it if you end up in Phuket town for some reason (aquarium, small stamp museum, trickeye museum, millions of massage parlors/spas or because you want to go there for some strange reason).

There have been rains, thunderstorms, loads of shopping, working and now, annoying Finnish tourists. Yes, I know that every hotel in here has idiotic Finns but seriously, how can you keep your cool when a man OLDER than your father comes to you when you're working, leans as close to you as possible even though there is a counter between you and nearly whispers "daddy's going to pee now". Luckily I have a mean resting bitch face and he got the hint FAST even though he was drunk. Can I just hit someone or something? These people are getting worse and worse!

But to the pictures I did take with my camera before I got my tablet (and am too lazy and tired, it's 1am over here, to transfer from the tablet to laptop) :)

Lots of new books even though the prices are about the same as in Finland for English books

Foggy and rainy morning

Sun sets around 6pm

LIGHTNING! The thunderstorms in here are silent but the lightnings lit up the whole sky!

The 4th Asian Beach games were held in Phuket!
Combats were held in Patong :)

And the beach is as popular as ever

I had a visitor a couple of weeks back :) Gecko!

I find these EVERYWHERE after the sun goes down :)

More books because I can't leave Asia Books without buying something.

Also into Starbucks now and HAD to load up a card with 2500b (~65€) because I wanted the adorable planner. And this way I don't have to worry about money for a while when I go to Starbucks for the air conditioning and writing postcards :)

These guys are CRAZY popular in here! Had to get a figure when I saw one :3

And how could I say no to Ciel? LOVE Kuroshitsuji though I still have only seen the first episode of the new anime about the Circus Arc, FINALLY!!!! (Cosplayed Doll back in 2013 and 2011 Desucon and hey, "she's" even in my banner!)
Might try to upload some pics tomorrow if I'm not sleeping too long as I'll be meeting Jojo as she's currently working in Thailand as well :3 And going bowling after that :D


Friday, November 7, 2014

Loy Krathong

Yesterday, November 6th, Thailand (and parts of Burma and Laos) celebrated Loy Krathong, a festival of lights. In the northern parts people have mixed the celebration with "Yi Peng" festival so they make and release lanterns to the sky, while here in South people make krathongs ("floating baskets") that they release in the rivers or the sea. The krathong is a sacrifice for the Sea Goddess Phra Mae Khongkha and is thought to bring good luck as people let go of their hatred and negative thoughts. It is traditionally made out of banana trunk (the base) and on top of that people build a beautiful "basket" with banana leaves, candles, flowers, incense sticks or even bread to feed the fish :) It is celebrated on the full moon of the 12th Thai month (2013 - Nov. 17th, 2014 - Nov. 6th, 2015 - Nov. 25th)

I was supposed to go with Laura but as she got sick I made another plans with Minna and we went to the beach around 7pm. I was a bit sad that there were no lanterns as I would have LOVED to see those! Luckily a nice Thai girl I've been chatting via Instagram told me that there are some lanterns released in the north even during New Year so I might have another chance to imagine I'm in the world of Tangled ;)

via weheartit
Anyhow, when we got to the beach it wasn't as packed as I expected it would be and there was only tens of people releasing their krathongs to the water. We walked and looked around for a while.

the stage when we got to the area

lots of tourists :)
Some local singing and dancing

the stage later on

We walked around and as krathongs were EVERYWHERE we stopped at one stand, looked at each other and decided to buy ourselves some good luck for the "upcoming" year :) It was rising tide so the waves were rather high and many krathongs had  drifted back to the beach. We were offered by a local man for him to take our baskets further away as it brings better luck or something but we decided to do it by ourselves as it might be the only time we experience the festival.

Our baskets for 50B :)

Mine :)

Minna was lucky that she had shorts so she didn't get all wet but guess who had capris? :D I went almost waist deep in the water to release my basket but I bet it fell over by the next tide :D It was still fun! :D

the beach :)

We had walked a bit further away from the main stage so we got rid of the masses and enjoyed the nearly empty beach :) The water and sea breeze were almost hot!
Then a little while after they started a 5 minute fireworks show :)

After that we walked through the Bangla Road and were offered many Ping Pong Shows. I seriously had NO idea what those were and when Minna explained to me she might have thought what a naive little world I have lived in. For those who don't know what those are, let's just say that they are located in strip clubs and sound DISGUSTING.

FULL of people.

Finlandia and Kevin! :D

After we managed to dodge all the people trying to sell us drinks, some merchandise and tickets to ping pong shows we decided to try this Japanese restaurant I've fallen in love with. The food wasn't as great as I expected so a bit of a let down.. And the prices were a bit lower than in Finland but still, compared to other restaurants I've been in Thailand this one was rather expensive.

The cocktail glass was shaped like a curvy woman.
And I ordered a cocktail but just basically got vodka with some colour...

Avocado (YUMMY!) and raw oyster sushis (NEVER made a bigger mistake).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thailand part 2.

Life's been interesting and I have been too tired (or lazy and busy with Skype/Facebook chats) to write letters or blog :) Been hunting for various postcards, stamps and what not. Apparently out of the 5 Finnish girls I'm the one experimenting with the food the most, trying whatever I can find :) And at nights I've had some problems sleeping as everyone I would like to chat with is online when it's 10pm-5am in here. And people light fireworks. EVERY NIGHT. At first I was sure that there were some bombings or gang fights every night but nope, fireworks! YAY! \(-__-)/

I have been walking around the beach but as it's the main tourist area I rather not go there for shopping purposes :) So most of the time I've been around Jungceylon mall and the fresh market/evening market next to it :)

the frigging roosters have awoken me MANY times D: And they can roam FREE!!! D:

Jungceylon - sitting at one of the cafes

Jungceylon - sitting at one of the cafes

Swensen's to be exact..

And I got L to go with me to try the durian ice cream.
Durian is known as the king of fruits in here (or stinky fruit, which it REALLY is).
This wasn't a pleasant experience as it tasted like sweet but over rotten onion ice cream!! SERIOUSLY!!
But I will eat something durian related when my friends come and visit me :D And maybe take some to Finland....

Mall built for tourists, haven't tried Baskin Robbins
Or gone to Starbucks or MacDonald's :DD
These are everywhere
Evening market offers variety of foods from insects to local soups and from clothes to bags
A small shrine(?) next to the area
Clothes stands

 So far I have tried various juice shakes (fresh fruit, water, ice (and sometimes some sugar) - blend it all and you have a fruit shake. Easy but SO delicious and only 0,5-1€ per 0,5l!! :D), alligator meat (tastes like chicken), grilled shrimps and octopus, Tom Yum Kung (local shrimp soup which is SPICY even though I asked to hold the spices) and various fruits I don't know names of. :) Yummy! 

First day at work and RAIN!! :( Heavy rain for the whole day. But the temperatures stayed around 27 :)
LOVE the Coca cola light cans :3
Postcrossing card to Czech Republic (took some postcards with me but only Moomins, Doctor Who and a couple of anime ones :))
Postcrossing card to Germany
Postcrossing card to Netherlands
Postcrossing card (Big Buddha) to Indonesia
Today was a hot and sunny day

Clouds appeared in the evening :)

Bought some local stamps yesterday as I was finally told where the Asia Books - store is located in here :)
15B stamps for postcards

Local 3B stamps - one sheet for an international postcard

Mountain collection stamps set for postcards

And some more 3B stamps :)

3D cards I found from Asia Books :) 89B ~2€ per card.
Tomorrow, November 6th, Thailand celebrates Loy Krathong, a festival of light. In northern Thailand they release floating lanterns to the sky (like in the 3D postcard. Guess who wishes she could go to Northern Thailand to play Rapunzel with all the lanterns tomorrow?? ;;__;;) and in Southern part of the country people craft krathongs (floating baskets) that are released to the rivers. I hope that in Phuket we would have floating lanterns as there are no rivers where I'm at :) Luckily I have a day off and I will go and see the whole thing (if something happens in here) with L :) Happy to have at least someone with me who's as interested in trying new foods and experiencing local festivals :)


Some other things I've learned
1) While feet are the filthiest part of the body and pointing something or showing the bottom of your foot is the WORST offend in here (guess what me and my best friend did in Skype, this is how mature some "adults" are, worse than teenagers :D), the head is the holiest. You shouldn't touch anyone's head as that is where the soul is located and upon touch it might escape and leave the body soulless.
2) Thai people get REAL friendly REALLY quickly! I have bought all my fruits from this one exact seller as her coconuts are the cheapest (and she and her daughter are SO nice!) and just yesterday the owner got next to me, put her hand against mine and started comparing our skin colours. I'm a Finn so I appreciate my own space and don't really like unknown people touching me or getting so close but it's a cultural thing and I understand that in here it's normal.
3) Thai people (not all) might tell your secret forward "by accident" - not on purpose but it just comes out. This had happened to a friend of a friend a couple of times with different people :( And it wasn't by purpose. Finns usually tend to keep secrets of their closest friends (at least I do).
4) Something goes wrong = panic! I was shopping and there was some problem with the receipt. The cashier walked around for a while asking from fellow cashiers what this and that meant and finally had to call the manager to check it out (apparently there wasn't anything wrong but there was something wrong in the receipt. Today I went to a Japanese restaurant and ordered 4 onigiris as Take away. I waited for 10 minutes and got 3. I said to the waiter that I had ordered 4 and BOOM. There were 4 people going through my receipt looking and checking, nodding and the waitress brought me a free green tea ice tea as an apology as I had to wait a couple of minutes more.
5) No fast food in here, everything takes time. This teaches every foreigner, especially European some patience. Hope I will be laid back when I return :D A while back one of the Finnish girls I work with went to the closest café to get some coffee. The cashier had to go and wake someone up to make the coffee and once they said that it will take 10-15 minutes as they need to go and buy some milk :D
6) You need a shirt that says "No Taxi, No Tuk Tuk, No Russian(also Swedish if you don't speak the language), No tailor etc." Everyone tries to stop you, even when you walk past them at least 4 times a day! The tuk tuk/motorcycle taxis try to offer me a ride whenever I leave my apartment!
7) Yes, westerners look the same to Asian as Asians look to westerners. I was walking with a fellow worker a couple of days ago and a friendly boss of the taxis looked at us and asked if we were sisters or twins. We look nothing alike, apart from having light skin that burns way too easily :)