Thursday, May 29, 2008
While people here don't walk around grinning every minute, I quickly realized that Thai people generally smile and laugh a lot. In Thai culture, a smile is used in many situations. Besides showing happiness, it's common for Thais to smile during nervous or embarrassing moments. Now that I've lived in this culture a while, I even find myself smiling after I make an awkward foreigner faux pas. Perhaps a more accurate phrase would be, "Welcome to the Land of Happy, Nervous, and Embarrassing Moment Smiles".
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I was left feeling very curious about the sign. Considering that it was Chinese, I wondered if it had something to do with good luck. Or, perhaps it was there to protect the car from danger and "evil spirits". Or, maybe - just maybe - it was an excerpt from an ancient Chinese poem about taxi drivers.
Friday, May 23, 2008
We arrived at the destination much sooner than the car taxis stuck in traffic, and the cost was about half of what the car cab fare would have been. If I keep taking "moto-sii tak-sii", I might have to change the name of this blog to Still Life ON Moving Vehicles.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
When many Bangkok taxi drivers begin their shift, the first thing they do is remove their amulets from around their neck, and hang them from the rear view mirror while saying a prayer. The amulets then serve to protect the car, as well as the driver and the passengers. This morning the cabby told me his amulets help to attract more business. Apparently, the charms had worked on me. As it turns out, I brought good luck to the driver as his first customer of the day.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
This year, Buddha Day fell on a Monday which means it was a long weekend. For those who stayed in Bangkok, the holiday may have included a visit to the temple, but more likely it involved sleeping in late, going out to eat a lot, and perhaps heading to the mall. Yesterday, shop-a-holics were out in full force, dining in food courts, and taking advantage of Buddha Day sales.
I wonder how Buddha would react to the way some people use this sacred day to enjoy themselves. Considering that they didn't have mega-malls and food courts in Buddha's lifetime, it's difficult to say how he'd feel. Maybe, since Buddha believed happiness is an important goal in life, he wouldn't disapprove, after all.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I especially enjoy getting in a Bangkok taxi filled with collections of stuff. They feel homey to me, and it gives passengers a lot to look at. While most Thais prefer to live among visual excess, some new luxury hotels and trendy restaurants in Bangkok are opting for minimalist-style interiors. If you ask me, those places can keep their cold, bland decor. I'd rather be in a cab brimming with colorful religious icons, superstitious bric-a-brac, and the occasional furry stuffed toy bear.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Getting stuck under an eave in this city during a downpour with crowds of dripping-wet people isn't fun, especially if you have to be somewhere. Sometimes it's impossible finding an available taxi when it's raining.
Luckily, I was already in the cab today when it started pouring during the ride home. It was an especially relaxing drive as the cabby sang and whistled along to upbeat tunes on the radio.
Friday, May 9, 2008
When I asked a few drivers how they felt about the new law, most of them told me it was no problem. And, one driver said he uses his hands-free accessory anyway, so it doesn't matter to him. But, one of the cabbies seemed concerned about the fine which ranges from 400 to 1000 baht. He thinks the law is just another excuse for the police to make money. In his opinion, if the government was truly concerned about safety, they would ban hands-free devices, too.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Today in a taxi, there was a traditional-looking Thai-style vessel on the top of the dash board. When I examined it carefully, I realized someone had spent hours - even days - folding little pieces of iridescent paper into small origami-like forms, and then assembling them into an elaborate bowl. The cabbie told me that it was actually a "krathong" กระทง, a small "boat" that normally holds incense sticks and candles during Loy Krathong ลอกระทง, a festival celebrated in Thailand every November. The driver proudly explained how his wife had lovingly made it, and how she's an extremely patient and "cool hearted" woman, traits obviously necessary for making such a time-consuming handicraft.
I'm always happy to see traditional Thai art forms being practiced and preserved for future generations. And I'm glad the driver keeps his "krathong" out all year for his passengers and himself to enjoy.
Monday, May 5, 2008
If you're visiting the city for the first time, or if you're new to Thailand, taking a tuk tuk is a blast. But, after you've been here a while, like myself, the novelty wears off, and an enclosed car where you can hear yourself think often seems like a better choice. I'm not quite sure what prompted me to take a tuk tuk yesterday. Perhaps, it was the fancy fringe or the stickers inside the tuk tuk, or maybe it was the huge grin on the driver's face. In any case, it was fun riding around Bangkok in a tuk tuk for a change of pace. And, it was especially exciting since we didn't get stuck in one of Bangkok's famous traffic jams.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Since arriving in Bangkok, I've been yearning to learn how to make green curry, tom yum soup, and peanut sauce. So, yesterday, my friend, Didier, and I attended a half day cooking course at May Kaidee Restaurant in Bangkok. Not only did we learn how to make ten Thai dishes, but we were able to sit down and try each creation as we were entertained by the owner herself busting out a few Thai dance moves, drumming with a mortar and pestle, and singing a couple of tunes.
I should mention that May Kaidee Restaurant serves vegetarian and vegan food. I should also mention that I'm not a vegetarian, but when I'm at May Kaidee enjoying the fresh, healthy ingredients in sumptuous sauces, I don't miss eating meat. And, in the cooking class it makes more sense to learn how to make basic curries, soups, and sauces sans meat. Later on, if you choose, all of the dishes can be made with chicken, pork, shrimp, etc.
May Kaidee has a large following of foreign travelers, expats, and some health-conscious Thais. You definitely won't find any taxi drivers eating there, and, it seems most Bangkok cabbies have never heard of the place. But, if you're planning a trip to Thailand (or are already here), you should consider taking a cooking class at May Kaidee, or at least plan on stopping by and having a bowl of spicy vegetable green curry with steaming brown rice.
For locations, to sign up for a class, or to order a May Kaidee cookbook, go to http://www.maykaidee.com/.