Category Archives: Thailand

The Post Where My Son Channels Sid Caesar

March 13, 2015 – Day 530

It is one kettle of cod to read about a thing and quite another bin of fish to actually experience it.

When doing research before our trip to downtown Bangkok to visit the complex of buildings collectively known as the Grand Palace, I had read several times (such as here) about how enterprising entrepreneurs (aka scammers) patrol the streets outside the Grand Palace and attempt to convince tourists that the complex is closed, but that they can show you around for a fee.

So, sure enough, after our gaggle of family members approached the walls of the Palace and waited to cross a busy intersection, we were approached by a Thai man who spoke passable English.

“Excuse me, hello,” he started. He had approached me on my right and was trying to grab my attention.

“Hello, hello,” he continued, “Palace is closed today.”

I have not even turned to face him. I am staring straight ahead willing the traffic buzz-full of tuk-tuks, pink taxis, and motorcycles to part like the Red Sea so that I and my family may continue our journey to the Promised Attraction.

“I take you to open part of Palace,” the man says again.

It is here that my middle child (and youngest son) displays his genius. He is standing to my left and he too has been hearing the Thai gentleman attempting to gain our attention.

He turns to me and says loud enough over the din of vehicles so that the Thai man can hear, “Sie verwendet einen √úbersetzer, nicht wahr?

Actually, the words my son used were complete gibberish, but his German accent and cadence was so spot-on, that the Thai man vanished back into the crowd to look for another victim…ahem, customer.

As for the title, ladies and gentlemen, here is five-plus minutes of the great Sid Caesar. Seriously, if you can make Carl Reiner laugh this hard (at 3:35), you are in the pantheon of great comedians.

Falling Numbers

January 18, 2015 – Day 476

The numbers they are a’falling.

For starters, we have the temperature. On this Sunday, when the sun rose, the mercury stood at a solid sixty-eight degrees. Here in Bangkok, that is sweater weather. Citizens of Chicago are perfectly free to roll their eyes and even sarcastically whisper That’s adorable as their thermometer showed thirty-seven on the morning of the 18th.

Another set of numbers that is dropping are those attached to gasoline prices. Just like in the United States, the price for automobile go-juice has been migrating southward. In America, according to the Lundberg Survey (news item here), a gallon of gasoline now sits at $2.20, the lowest level since 2009.

So how does this price compare to Thailand? Let’s find out.

Last April, I did a post talking about pump prices in Bangkok. Back then, I was paying the equivalent of $4.43 a gallon while the price in the States was $3.60.

Today, I filled up our car and paid 25.98 Thai baht per liter. Just like my post in April, when the price per liter was 38.08 Thai baht, it’s time to do some calculations and see where they take us.

On Sunday, it took 32.58 Thai baht to buy one US dollar.

One litre of gasoline is (still) equal to .264 gallons, so one gallon is actually 3.78 liters.

So, the amount I paid for one gallon of gas is 25.98 (my price per liter) multiplied by 3.78 (liters in a gallon) which comes out to 98.20 Thai baht.

That monetary amount is equivalent to $3.01 (98.20 divided by 32.58) and that is how much I shell out per gallon to fill up my vehicle.

That amount is eighty-one cents away from what I would pay, on average, in the States, but it sure is a great deal lower (a whole buck-forty-two) than what I paid in the fourth month of 2014.

Mac Tonight

October 31, 2014 – Day 415

There is no other way to say except that Halloween is big here in Bangkok. Or at least, it’s huge in our semi-porous mesh trapezoid (SPMT) (because we don’t live in a bubble) north of the Thai capital.

What’s not to love about a holiday where you can walk up to a stranger’s door, make a threat, and receive free candy?

Tonight we saw a crush of kids (both Western and Thai) ring our doorbell and ask for sweets.

There was the usual collection of superheroes, fairies, witches, devils, skeletons, and even a ballerina.

However, there was only one costume that made me stop and grab my camera.

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I did a double take to make sure that I was indeed staring at a kid wearing a “Mac Tonight” mask. For those who do not recall, Mac Tonight was the character created by McDonald’s to promote their nighttime menu.

You can see a commercial touting the moon-headed piano player here.

I never was able to ask this kid where he obtained his mask or even if he knew who the character was. I’m sure he didn’t care as long as he received his free candy.

I do give the kid kudos, though, for the touch of adding the formal jacket…which had to add about twenty-five degrees to his temperature while walking around our SPMT.

Yes, We Have Young Bananas

October 7, 2014 – Day 391

Have you ever wondered what unripe bananas growing on their trees look like?

Neither have I.

Yet, right outside our house we have a banana tree and it is in the process of producing its fruit.

So here you go. A picture of a banana tree in bloom.

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That’s something you won’t find in your standard Bangkok guidebook.

Absenteeism Makes My Heart Grow Fonder

September 24, 2014 – Day 378

Since I turned eighteen, I have never missed an opportunity to vote in a federal election. Even when I was in Peru for the 2012 presidential election, I had registered online with my home state of Virginia to ensure that they would be able to send me an absentee ballot.

The 2014 mid-term elections are almost upon us and I am ever-so-grateful that I do not have to be bombarded with advertisements on the TV and radio telling me how Candidate ABC will unleash Hell’s minions unless I vote for Candidate XYZ.

After our family’s move to Thailand, I once again contacted the necessary authorities and alerted them to my new address. So, being the lover of elections that I am, I was beside myself with joy upon joy that my absentee ballot showed up in today’s mail.

Voting absentee is a wee bit different from touching the screen back home. First off, the actual ballot itself is in a sealed envelope. I can only open it in front of a witness and in the view of said witness, I must mark may ballot (although I can cover up who and what I vote for). When I have made all of my Xs on my choices, then I fold up my ballot and place it in another envelope and seal that one up. I sign and the witness sign and then I drop the envelope with my choices into a mailbox.

On my ballot this year, I have a United States Senator to vote for, a member of the House of Representatives, an amendment to the state constitution of Virginia, and three county bond requests.

I can’t wait to open up my ballot and savor the sweet smell of democracy.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

April 19, 2014 – Day 256

Humanity is the theme on tap this week from WordPress and my response takes us to an area outside of Hua Hin, Thailand.

In celebration of the week-long festival of Songkran, the family traveled to Hua Hin area to soak in some sun, enjoy the beach, and have fun at a waterpark. In our driving around to find certain attractions, we managed to get ourselves lost. Instead of being forlorn and anxious over not being where we wanted to be in a foreign land where we cannot read the street signs, we took this opportunity to see where the road would take it.

It took us to a large statue of man sitting cross-legged on a raised platform. The road took us to the Huay Mongkol Temple and learned that the statue in question is of Buddhist monk Luang Pu Thuat (1582 – 1682).

One of the activities we saw at this location was people talking thin layers of gold leaf and attaching them to one of a few life-size statues.

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I will jump onto a limb of assumption and make a guess that this activity has some sort of religious significance.

After over forty years of living in countries where the majority of citizens expressed their faith by taking Communion, reading from the Torah, or kneeling and praying five times a day, it was fascinating to see how another large slice of humanity seeks answers and guidance.