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Thai First Impressions

THAILAND | Sunday, 1 March 2009 | Views [1410]

Our first day in Hat Yai, Thailand.  We’ve spend the last 6 days in George Town, Penang, Malaysia, and this is our first foray into the Kingdom of Thailand.

 

We arrived in relative luxury to our appointed hotel – Lousie, as suggested by The Lonely Planet.

 

Hotel and Food

 

We walked randomly down the street for some food, and the first café we came across had a little place describing itself in English, and again, it presented itself as being a recommendation of The Lonely Planet.

 

This time, the guide was right. The food was good, and we were all satisfied with cashew and tofu stirfry with mixed vegetables and rice.

 

According to Thai custom, we ate a spoonful of rice to begin with, and only ate with our spoon – leaving the fork to push food onto the spoon with.

 

The King

 

We’d read about the Kingdom before we arrived, and heard that recently an Australian man was sentenced to a few years in prison for slandering the king. Still, we weren’t prepared for the reality.

 

Our hotel is dedicated to the King. There are pictures throughout the entire place showing different aspects of the king’s life, including his time as a monk, his schooling, his marriage and children, his abilities with a camera and the one in our room is of him guiding the rounds with a lamp in his hands.

 

Every shop has a picture of him. The religious amulet shops have photos of him while he was a monk. He looks rather severe. Intelligent, yes, but severe. His wife, especially in the photos where the children were young, looks radiant and a positive influence upon his disposition.

 

The Thai Smile

 

Well, we’d heard so much about it before we arrived, I guess we were expecting a lot more than what we’ve seen so far. People are quite polite, but we haven’t noticed a lot of smiling so far.

 

Prostitution

 

Its unavoidable here. Jett (our 9 year old) asked why ‘those girls don’t have much clothing on’ and we talked about some of the circumstances that could arise to create a society where prostitution was so prevalent.

 

Jett wonders why it’s a bad thing, when one sells and one buys. My answer is ‘look, each one of these girls is someone’s daughter, or mother, or sister, or friend. Nobody I know wants someone they know, to be in this business. Apart from an insignificant number of women, most of the girls would not be in this business  if they didn’t need the money.’  He understood in his head, but he’s old enough to still turn his head at a skimpily clad girl and forget the circumstances that have lead her to such a situation.

 

Basic First Impressions

 

The streets are cleaner than Malaysia. There isn’t rubbish in the streets. Buddhism is obviously the religion of choice, with temples, statues and shops catering for pray needs littered through out the area.

 

There are less Indian people here than there was in Malaysia. I’ve barely seen a handful in the streets. There are beauty salons on ever stretch of road, offering massage, manicures and hair service. I haven’t seen this in Malaysia or Sumatra in such numbers.

 

We like it.

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