Great Things About Thailand

Bangkok skyline from Wat Arun

I sat during the short ferry ride from Koh Chang elephant island on the way back to the mainland, and thought: Thai people in tourist areas are jaded.  It’s easy to notice the aloof and glib look as a Thai toiling in tourism turns her eye.

I realized that I couldn’t blame these people for feeling desensitized. Because of an intelligent tourist industry, bargain travel opportunities and a great climate, Thailand sees around 11 million tourists a year. Numbers like this have jaded and will jade anyone who lives or works in a tourist haven.

As I pondered on these cons of the land, my mind flicked its paradoxical switch and thought of some good and even great things about Thailand:

Bangkok is a world-class, cosmopolitan city. It’s clean. There are skyscrapers, contrasted with the age-old Chau Phraya river and its klongs or canals. Like Chiang Mai, Bangkok boasts spectacular wats. The new sky-train is the plushest subway system I’ve ever ridden.

● Regarding costs, Thailand provides values as good as any country on earth. For example, as mentioned in a previous post, you can get a room equipped with high-speed internet, a/c, cable TV, desk and chair, private bath with hot water, daily cleaning, reading light and a comfy bed, for as low as $13 or $14.  Of course much cheaper options with less amenities are available. And if you want to upgrade to something higher, the sky’s the limit.  If you want a plush resort, the options are virtually limitless.

● I was looking around for a new pair of sandals in Chiang Mai as the pair I was wearing was falling apart.  I wasn’t able to find what I wanted.  One day, after drifting by foot for 10 minutes, I came across a  shoe-repair man on the sidewalk and showed him my sandals. He began working on them then and there.  The man quoted me:

Yee sip.”  20 Baht or $.67

It was a super-pleasant surprise to have the soles of my beloved Tevas taken care of. I bought them almost nine years ago for a 15-day Tamarindo and north Costa Rica drift.  The sandals were coming apart at the seams.

The genuine man had a jar of glue and a spade.  He rubbed just the right amount of glue between both soles, and put just the right pressure on both sides of the repair on either sandal.  His focused effort went on for about 15 minutes.

My sandals now feel about four years old, as opposed to nine.  They’re broken-in perfectly so there’s no chance of blisters.  The bottom of the soles are a bit worn.  I’ll now casually keep my eyes open for a new pair, but with absolutely no sense of urgency, which had become the case.

Tailor stand

● My shorts have been ready for replacement.  They needed a couple of repairs.  You can’t walk down the street in Chiang Mai and not notice someone with a sewing machine. I asked a tailor for a quote.  Four little sew jobs and the adding of a button cost 40 Baht or $1.33.  In two hours I was able to pick up my seven-year-old shorts that fit flawlessly.

● As mentioned previously, there’s plenty of therapeutic tourism to go around.  It’s easy to get reflexology and traditional massage treatment.  Mud facials and fish spa therapy are also affordable enough to experiment with.  There are also super-sterile clinics and hospitals for almost any type of treatment you need. The costs of these therapys are significantly less than in the U.S.

● The food is super-flavorful. I wouldn’t argue that Thai food is the best on earth; nor could I argue that it’s not that.  Restaurants can be cheap depending on where you go. Local restaurants can be half the price of tourist traps, and tastier. I’ve never been to a city that has such a variety and abundance of street food as Bangkok does.  Healthy fresh fruit is usually plentiful in the streets of Thailand.

● There are lots of islands and beaches. You can swim in cleansing warm water year round.   While swimming, it’s reassuring to know that there are no stingrays in the Gulf of Thailand.

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Can you think of any great things about Thailand? Feel free to comment.

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