Thailand: No Elephants in Bangkok Anymore

Most of my 3 weeks in Thailand were spent in family dinners and excursions, so I don’t have a full grasp of the country. We stayed in Bangkok for 2 weeks, then headed to the touristy islands of Phuket and Ko Phi Phi. In any case, here are some of my observations:

  • Huge portraits of the king are everywhere, framed in gold. I’m told the Thais actually love their king.
  • Before movies, they play the national anthem and viewers are expected to stand up (I did, begrudgingly).
  • Temples and palaces look different from their Chinese and Korean counterparts, with thin gold points sticking up from the gilded roofs (see below).
  • Thai people put their hands together in a prayer-like gesture for greeting others and saying thank you.
  • Bangkok is full of malls, possibly because they provide an air-conditioned escape from the tropical temperatures.
  • Apparently, Thailand has become much more expensive in the past few years – but prices are still cheaper than, say, Korea or Hong Kong
  • Pad thai is indeed ubiquitous, as well as different soups like tom yum.
  • On the table at a Thai restaurant, you’ll generally find seasonings representing the 4 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy.
  • The bus system in Bangkok features a dedicated highway lane and a gate/platform system like a metro, making it fast and easy.
  • A more quaint way of getting around is the tuk-tuk, an open-air taxi named after the sound it used to make.
  • Unfortunately for me, Christmas isn’t celebrated because much of the country is Buddhist, so there were fewer decorations than in Vietnam.

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