Virtual meanderings

First day in Thailand

There is this psychological state of mind of which Freud nailed as “longing to get back into the womb to feel safe again.” This is how I felt when I woke up in my silent and cozy room at the thought of going out to the Khao San madness.

The maddness

My "Traditional Thai" hotel room

My "Traditional Thai" hotel room

My room
Courtesy: author


I could just sit around, watch my plasma TV all day long, be lazy, relax from the exhausting travel…rrrright… If that was what I would do, I’d better stayed at home. I got up, took a shower and went out.

Boy, what a contrast it was to face the world now, having gotten enough sleep and with no heavy backpack on my back. Khao San felt completely transformed too. The garbage was gone, cleared in the morning. I could see all the surrounding buildings, as there were no neon lights. It felt nothing like last night. The noise was gone, the sun was shining and everything just looked… normal.

By night one way, by day another 
Thus shall be the norm…
(Princess Fiona describing Khao San Road)

Khao San day time

Khao San day time

  Courtesy: Author

    A small mystery from last night also found its explanation. Last night, while I was moving back and forth Khao San last night, longing to find a place to sleep, I had been approached by an overly friendly local guy who was sure that what I needed the most was a new custom tailored suite.
Tailored suite was exactly what I did not need at that moment, and I let him know about that. He quit insisting and left me alone. Oh, well – that would have been too easy, wouldn’t it? In reality, the guy just would not take “no” for an answer. When his attempt to friendly shake hands with me produced no result, he grabbed me by the arm, and tried to take me with him. From the little I knew about Thailand, Thai people never made physical contact – considering it extremely impolite.

So the whole story was almost surreal – and it certainly added to last night’s “Where have I come?” feeling. Now, in the broad daylight, more friendly ‘suite touts’ materialized with killer bargains, and this time I could see that none of them were actually Thai. They were Indian (or Bangladeshi, or Pakistani. I’d opt for Indians, however). Turns out that making custom tailored suites is good business in the areas visited by Western tourists. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense, given the fact that they charged a third of the price in Western Europe. Since I had other encounters with the tailored suits mafia, I will be making a separate dedicated post.

Outside I set off finding the nearest 7/11 store in order to get a SIM card for my phone, and I found one such store just a 100 meters down Khao San.

US…? …Thailand!
Courtesy: nop711 on flickr

    NOTE: 7/11 stores are everywhere in Thailand (and are cleaner than their US counterparts). Later I found out that 7/11s abound in Japan as well.

A couple of minutes later I had my new SIM card, topped up with some credit. Yet I still needed one extra for my phone to continue being operational in Thailand – a charger (oh, how easy we forget about these things…). Back at home in Europe, while doing my research, it had somehow slipped under my radar that power sockets in Thailand followed the US standard. Unfortunately, no chargers were sold at that 7/11. Where to get one then? The girls behind the counter had no clue (or rather, their English was yet to improve) and could not be of any help.

I got out of the shop – having the confused-foreigner look – and I was immediately approached by a young guy who wanted to sell me T-shirts and anything else that he knew how to pronounce in English. I asked for a charger. “My cousin sells them over there” – he answered without skipping a beat and ordered me to follow him. I did.
“Over there” turned out to be a small dark shop on the side, completely hidden behind hundreds of T-shirts on the stalls in front. Believe it or not, they sold chargers there. $8, problem solved.

NOTE: Even from this first day in Thailand I could already tell that the level of English varied greatly from shop attendant to shop attendant, but was usually very basic. Get ready for sign language, dust off your acting skills – and keep smiling.


2 responses to “First day in Thailand

  1. Alya September 3, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    ah, yes, 7/11 are everywhere in Thailand!

  2. Pingback: Luang Prabang Main Street Transformations « mastercopycat

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