Monday, September 29, 2008

Buddha Baht

Taxi Buddhas come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and materials. Sometimes they're even made out of torn money, as some Thais believe this is a way to make money multiply. For me, Buddha statues made out of Thai baht are extremely tacky. I realize people sometimes need to pray for money, but is it necessary to turn Buddha into a get-rich scheme? When I asked the taxi driver about his Buddha with the torn money, he told me that it has worked for him on occasion. Maybe I should try tearing up all my money. With my luck, it would just mean that I'm out more baht.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Finding My Inner Guru

After seven years of thinking about taking up yoga, I finally decided to give it a try a couple of weeks ago. It seems like the right thing to do living in Thailand. The main thing that prevented me from doing it in the past was that I was convinced I wouldn't be able to twist and contort my body into some of the pretzel-like poses. Granted, it wasn't exactly easy the first time. But now I see why some people are hooked. I can already feel a difference in the way I move, and I may be imagining this, but lately I feel more chill. Who knows, maybe in seven more years I'll become a yoga guru.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fishing for Baht

My dad always said, "Money doesn't grow on trees", but what if money grew on fish? For some Thai people, money does come from fish. Considering Thailand's geography, fishing is a way to earn money for many people here. And, of course, it's a way to find food. I might add that Thais make some of the tastiest fish dishes I've ever eaten. In Thailand, it makes sense that fish are symbols of money and abundance. Even in Bangkok taxis, drivers sometimes hang up fish made out of folded paper bills to bring in baht and to help them "fish" for more customers. I'm wondering, then, when I'm riding in the cab, does that make me the fish?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Take the bus, Gus?

In theory, I love Bangkok's mini green buses. They add yet another touch of retro cool to this city. Who can resist their bright green color, their smaller-than-normal bus size, and the fact that a ride will only set you back a few baht? In practice, however, it's another story. Last time I took a green bus, it was raining and the windows had to be closed, so since there's no air-conditioning, it was blazing hot and sticky. And, that day, it was rush hour and the bus was crammed with too many people. As if that weren't enough, the driver was dodging in and out of traffic like a mad man, and I as I was bobbing around, I thought I was going to lose my dinner. Since then, I've decided to stick to taxis, looking out the peaceful air-conditioned cab at the funky green buses going by.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


In Asia, tigers have been a symbol of power and strength for centuries. Sadly, the number of Indochinese tigers in Southeast Asia is rapidly decreasing. The tigers are threatened by illegal trade of their skin, bones, and other body parts for use in traditional Chinese medicines. The tigers are also losing their natural habitat as Southeast Asia becomes more developed.

I asked the taxi driver about the tiger statue in his cab, and he told me it gives him strength for his long shifts and it helps attract more customers. While the symbol of the tiger is helpful to the driver, it's ironic that the real tigers seem to be running out of luck.

To learn more about endangered tigers, go to

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Buddhist Bubble

It's common to see small glass domes in Bangkok cabs with little statues inside of Buddhas, monks, and temple architecture. It's a nice way to display the objects. I asked my taxi driver about the miniature white building, and he told me it was a Chedi that holds sacred relics in Nakorn Prathom, a city not far from Bangkok. Sometimes, as I'm riding in cabs with these glass domes, I try to imagine what it would be like living inside a clear bubble; it's not too difficult to visualize since riding in a taxi is a little bit like being in a glass dome with a roof and wheels.