Culture Shock :: Thailand :: Part 2

28 10 2008

Warning :: We must apologize to the Living Spree addicts out there because we will be away from the internet for a while on a meditation retreat and won’t be able to update the site. During our leave feel free to revisit some of your favorite blog entries to get super pumped for our return post to find out how we managed the meditation boot camp.

:: Flavor Combinations ::

Salt and Pepper sitting alone on the dinner table is now considered amateur in my mind, because the Thai people seem to have perfected the art of spicing a meal. With most real Thai dishes we’ve noticed a standard set of spices that accompany a meal and can be combined to create all sorts of interesting flavor combinations. They have fish sauce (bitter), vinegar sauce (sour, usually a little spicy), crushed red pepper (full spicy), and sugar (sweet). With these four spices, it seems you can fit just about any personal taste preference, though the real fun comes from foods you eat/drink where you don’t personally control the flavors.

We’ve had plenty of fruity looking beverages that caught us off guard with a very strong sour flavor in addition to the expected sweetness. Since then we’ve noticed that most fresh juice stands offer to put a sour powder in your drink after they’ve added the sweet syrup. If you don’t know what that stuff is, you’re in for a surprise. Jen’s precious desert cravings can be difficult to satisfy as well because what appears all sweet, isn’t always just that. For example, the photo below shows some tasty looking bakery treats we’ve found, but don’t get too comfortable because those babies aren’t all cheese danish. The item to the left has dried shredded pork on top and the treat on the right has the addition of hot dog slices, oh and yes, they still have the sweet cheese. Some of the surprises we’ve encountered are actually quite tasty, like the shredded pork pastry, but some other times we’ve been so confused that it was difficult to finish. You’ll have to experiment for yourself to find out what flavor combinations you’ll take home with you.

:: Everyone’s on Commission ::

Before we ever landed in Bangkok we knew that Thailand was a great place to shop. We’ve seen enough of the “made in Thailand” stickers or tags to know that this country is a major source of goods. We heard about how you can get custom tailored clothing made from the same materials the major labels use for a fraction of the cost that it would be in the U.S. What we didn’t know is that shopping seems to be one of the main reasons to visit Thailand, and it’s not just the tourists who are excited about it.

Everywhere you go in Thailand people ask you if you’re going to do any shopping. Tuk tuk drivers want to take you around to all the best shops because they get a kick-back from those stores if you buy anything. When you leave your hotel and ask for directions to the market, the staff always smiles and says, “Going shopping?” When you have conversations with people on the street or while visiting a beautiful old Wat (temple), people always want to know if you’ve done any shopping yet. If you haven’t shopped, they look confused and then remind you that Thailand has really good shopping. This enthusiasm isn’t just focused on farangs (foreigners) shopping either, the Thai people love shopping as well, which is probably why they’re so excited for you to shop. In fact, we’ve often wondered whether the entire Thai population in on commission. Because if you haven’t shopped yet, they tell you about which markets you need to visit, what products the country is best known for (silk, silver goods, handicrafts, clothing), where the best tailor is and when you should go there to get the best deals – which is usually immediately (because this is the main reason you’re here right?). Like we mentioned in the first Thai culture shock post, the Thai people are super nice and helpful, and shopping seems to be everyone’s expertise.

:: Sunblock for Beauty ::

Jen and I have finally found a place where our pastey white, almost reflective skin is not viewed in disgust and followed by white jokes. Who would have thought that by coming to a place where our skin obviously stands out, we’d find people who not only apppreciate it, but are jealous? It turns out that the Thai people actually want to have pale skin, while it seems the trend in the west is look exotic and well sunned. A bit reversed, huh? While hanging out with a bunch a Europeans in Cyprus, we made the mistake of going for a swim and didn’t hear an end to how shockingly white we were for the rest of the trip. I’m not fully aware of the reasons for the Thai people’s desire for paler skin but, I surely do enjoy it. Until recently, I’ve never been complimented on my skin. Never. These people sure do know how to make a couple of borderline albinos feel good about themselves. In fact, crazy as it may seem, they even have a bunch products for skin whitening filling the drug store shelfs.

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One response

29 10 2008
Lacie

I think I need to go there – they would LOVE me!!

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