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New Things I Have Learned Since I Last Learned Things....

THAILAND | Monday, 28 December 2009 | Views [461]

Saying No: In regards to those incessant tuk tuk drivers; ask your local barman how to tell them to piss off! His words were "It's a loose term, so use it very carefully"...but it's along the lines of "abide by my feet", which in Thailand, is pretty much as bad as it gets as feet are seen as the worst part of the body.

Swimming in Canals: Don't do it. Komodo Dragon get you.

Thai Massages: are worth every freakin' baht and a kaspillion more. It's pretty common to kick back for an hour to have your feet and calves massaged, and at US$6 a hit, an hour long full body massage isn't out of the question (that's an hour every day!!!). They're honestly the best way to get over the hard work it has been to trek through the northern jungle! The problem here is that you have to decide whether or not you have the time to take an hour or two out of your touristing for a massage...

Night Markets: Chiang Mai has the best night markets this side of the universe. We've spent hours wandering aimlessly and finding unique trinkets, clothes and general 'stuff' to suit our every shopping desire. Has been fabulous. It does often run together after a while, but it's nice to have somewhere to wander around and explore in the evenings in Chiang Mai.

Don't bring accessories: I made the difficult decision of not bringing any accessories to Thailand. I'm currently wearing a new Tiffany engagement ring, a stack of tribal bracelets, and have a load more cool stuff in my pack. Best. Accessory Place. Evaaaaah.

Passport goes in Plastic: I didn't seal my passport in a zip-lock bag the first day I had it in my money belt. I spent plenty of time that night trying to dry it out in front of an air conditioner. Sweat + passports don't mix.

Get used to sweating: Yup. It's a part of it. Sad thing is when you're trekking in the hilltribes, feeling clean means that the sweat in your clothes has dried. If you're lucky enough to nab a bucket of cold water in the late afternoon before the sun sets, then you get to wash off some of the grime. Don't bother trying in the morning. It's 5 degrees. You ain't bathing.

Try the coffee!: I had these preconceived notions of horrendously sweet, condensed milk coffee that I had heard was running rampant in Vietnam. These guys, on a good day, do it better than the Kiwis. Hotter (shocking, I know), smoother tasting (shock again!), AND with better crema. Bliss.

The train to Chiang Mai: is always late. In our case, we added an extra 7 hours to our trip. A different way to spend Christmas day indeed.

Motorbikes: Children ride them. Their parents will drive them, but it's common to see kids on the front. Sans helmets.

Drink Water: Again. I clearly forgot last time I learned this.

Mattresses: These are good. After two nights on nothing more than about 1cm mats, I don't care how hard it is, I want to sleep on it.

Jungle: Tougher than it looks. I have a sore everything.
Elephant riding: See Jungle.
Grasshoppers: Taste gross. As do ants.

Eating on the kitchen floor with the locals: Best meal in Thailand. As our guide Dong says, we had Kentucky Fried Mountain Chicken :)

Bamboo Rafting: Not as crazy as it sounds. Never did I think 17 pieces of bamboo could get six people fours hours down a river. You get used to standing in two inches of water and still trusting that your vessel will stay afloat. Your feet won't get used to being cold.

Headscarf: Very quickly wraps around your nose and mouth battling the dust and fumes to get back into Chiang Mai from the outskirts.

Appreciation: Can only be relearned once you understand the things others don't have. It's amazing how quickly we come to forget how lucky we are to have the simple things we take for granted. A flushing toilet, a pillow, a decent mattress, enough blankets to stay warm at night, electricity, a running shower. But hey, they get to make fires and see a whole heap of stars at night. A local asked our guide to translate why we wanted to come to stay with them when they were so poor and we had everything - it was hard to answer, but we just needed to remember how good we've got it.

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