Tag Archives: electricity

The ‘Squirrely’ Side of Thailand

I thought it only fair since I posted ‘Things to Love about Thailand’ that I should also have a little ranting page about things I find squirrely about the country as well.¬† Again, they are in no particular order ūüôā

#1: Whitening
Ok, now I understand that this is 100% a culture thing.¬† Unlike many people in the Western world and many Europeans, Asians want white skin.¬† White skin is a sign of wealth.¬† For if you are wealthy, you spend most of your time indoors and don’t have to work or labor outdoors, hence you stay out of the sun, hence you have white skin.¬† On the flip side, having dark skin is a sign of poverty.¬† So ok, I get people here want white skin, but what I’m not a fan of is the whitening products and not having a real choice outside of it.¬† Deodorants, body washes, lotions, basically any product for your skin has chemical whitening agents in them.¬† As a falang who prefers a little color to my skin, and as a person who doesn’t want unnecessary chemicals put on my skin, it’s really, REALLY hard to find any skin products without whitening chemicals in them.¬† They are all “whitening”, “extra whitening”, “white and firm”, etc….¬† What’s worse to me is so-called skin care product experts like Nivea, Oil of Olay, Dove, and so on are on the whitening bandwagon.¬† They are just out to give what the culture wants despite what damage it may do.¬† All about the $$$$… Again, I get it’s a culture thing to want white skin, I just wish there were options that didn’t have the whitening chemicals in them, that’s all ūüôā
#2: Electric Lines
I don’t know why it is exactly that electrical poles have what sometimes looks like hundreds of lines coming off of them stretching along every road and side road.¬† It’s as if they had poles with a few lines at first, then as demand for electricity increased they just added more and more and more.¬† It’s sometimes scary as when you walk by many of the poles you can hear them literally buzzing with electricity!¬† And between some of the poles the electrical lines stretch from the top of the pole to at least half-way down allowing the lines to sag almost to the ground.¬† Now, I’m not an expert in electricity by any means, so I may be way out of my depth here, but I would think there would be a “neater” or more organized way to get electricity where needed without just adding more and more to already congested poles… Hmmm…

#3: Sugar
I learned very quickly that sugar is super popular here in Thailand.¬† They put it in EVERYTHING!!¬† It’s even a condiment on the table for your meal!¬† They have the chili pepper powder, fish sauce, a vinegar sauce with sliced chili in it and sugar.¬† Nope, that’s NOT salt!¬† I’ve heard that Thailand is way up there for diabetes and obesity, though to be honest I haven’t noticed that many obese Thai’s, so while that part came as a surprise to me, after realizing and tasting that yes, everything does have a ton of sugar in it, it’s not so shocking after all.¬† Bread, coffee, “all natural juices”, potato chips, the list goes on!¬† If shopping on the street at the various vendors, if it looks like it may be tart or not have sugar in it, you really won’t know for sure until you take that first bite.¬† As someone who is trying to watch sugar intake for personal health benefits, I literally have to read every ingredient on what I pick up in the store to check for sugar.¬† I’ve done this action so often now, I even recognize the word in Thai (since the majority of ingredient lists are 100% in Thai).¬† Such a bummer!

#4: Visas
If you enter Thailand via air, you automatically will receive a tourist Visa for 30 days.¬† If you want to have a Visa for a longer period of time, you can apply before going to Thailand to the nearest Thai embassy for a 60 or even 90 day Visa.¬† It is possible to get a year Visa if you are doing some sort of education while in the country such as learning to speak Thai or Muay Thai training.¬† If you arrive in Thailand via land (bus or train) you get a 15 day Visa!!¬† Seriously???¬† What in the world would anyone actually be able to see of Thailand in 15 days!?!?!¬† I understand that there are many expats and travelers that get jobs while originally just visiting Thailand and aren’t being legal about it (paying the appropriate taxes and such) so the government is trying to limit the amount of time people stay in the country to make it harder for those who get jobs and aren’t legal about it.¬† I get that.¬† It’s just unfortunate from the perspective of regular travelers who just want to explore the country without having to leave every 30, 60 or 90 days (yes, even 90 days is a pain to have to do!!) especially with some borders being closed (well, you can leave, but you can’t come back).¬† I’m spending my saved earned money in this country… Wouldn’t they want me to be here for a longer period of time without having to leave?¬† Then again, maybe that’s part of it too… Paying for transport in and out of the country to be right by the Visa is also stimulating the economy… Hmmmm….¬† The rules do change quite often apparently and many expats who have been here legally for many years simply say that “that’s what happens when the government is ruled by the military”.¬† (Sigh)

#5: Thai’s Don’t Sweat!
Ok, this one is obviously just meant to be humorous… It simply astounds me how the Thai people never seem to actually sweat!!!¬† Seriously, if I’m sitting indoors without a fan directly on me I start to sweat profusely!¬† And even then, while the skin being hit by the fan is dry and cool, my backside is not!¬† Walking anywhere and well forget it, I’m drenched in sweat so often just walking about that my clothes change color from being sweat soaked.¬† I’m constantly peeling clothes off soaking wet clothes and setting them outside to dry after my walks and when they do dry they are streaked with white marks across them (from the salt in my sweat) so into the wash they have to go.¬† Yet watching Thai laborers in the sun constructing a new building, carrying materials and such, not a single drop of sweat anywhere!¬† Their skin isn’t glistening with any sign of stress!!¬† Ok, now of course this is a teeny bit of an exaggeration because of course they sweat, otherwise I’d think that was a major health issue, but seriously compared to how I and other falangs sweat, it’s night and day!¬† What is their secret???¬† I’m off for my third shower of the day now to rinse off the sweat from simply writing this post. ūüėČ

Back to Thailand

Manuel Antonio

All the way down to Manuel Antonio I chatted up with the two fellow travelers, henceforth known as “B” and “A”.¬† They were from the States and were traveling friends down in Costa Rica for vacation.¬† Together we made our long journey through a long lay-over in Puntarenas and a drive through Jaco (which has been recommended to me by several people who have previously visited Costa Rica but locals have said not to travel there and frankly consider it one of the scars of the Country because of the large party and drug atmosphere there) and finally arrived late in the afternoon to our final destination of Manuel Antonio.

Upon exiting the bus (a small 15 minute and 250 colones ride from Quepos) we were instantly “attacked” by several people trying to get us to go to¬†whichever hotel or hostel they worked for.¬† Backpackers are targets for these workers who get commission for every person they bring to whatever hotel or hostel there is in the area.¬† At first we were quite reluctant to follow the advice of the individuals who met us as¬†most looked¬†drugged out and some reeked of alcohol.¬† Nonetheless, since it was¬†a backpackers hostel they were recommending to take us to, we followed.

We were led to the Costa Linda Backpackers, about a 500 meter walk from the beach and a 300 meter walk to the Manuel Antonio National Park and after checking out the accommodations decided it was a nice enough place to stay for the weekend.  We had also agreed on the way down that we would share a room while staying there to cut down on our costs.  For the first night we were able to score a private room with a private bath for $15 per person, but as this room was reserved for the next few nights, we had to move to another private room with shared bathrooms for $10 per person per night for the remainder of our stay.

Despite the initial sketchiness of the place, this area turned out to be one of the best places I had visited so far.¬† But I am getting ahead of myself…

As it was late in the evening¬†with the sun already starting to set, there really wasn’t a ton to do except, well¬†what else but get drunk!!¬† Ok, one other little factor played into¬†our decision to leave the exploration to the next day, and that was that within an¬†hour or two¬†of us arriving there a fantastic thunderstorm erupted!!¬† So since we were bound to stay under shelter by a beautiful storm we¬†opted to stay in the restaurant that was¬†just¬†at the entrance and part of the Backpackers to¬†toast the day and the beauty around us.¬† I¬†really don’t recall how much beers were at this location, but I do recall them being cheap as we had several rounds that night toasting the¬†lightning and thunder as it clapped and struck around us and chatting the night¬†away.

As all the drinkers out there know, once you get started the inevitable million trips to the bathroom begins.¬† I had not yet¬†“broken the seal” but had need to at one point and¬†borrowed the keys to our room so I could use the bathroom.¬† I happily¬†made my way into the room, went into the bathroom and even though I was the only one in there, I closed the door to the bathroom…

BIG MISTAKE!!!¬† Or well, perhaps really it was much better that I did as you will soon learn…¬†You see,¬†behind that door on the wall was (no joke here) a spider with a leg span of about 5 inches!!!¬† I know that as an arachnophobia our memories and stories tend to make these fearful creatures out to be much larger than¬†they actually are, but in this case I’m not exaggerating!¬† And this wasn’t¬†one of those large daddy long-legs with large leg spans but teeny¬†bodies… No sir!¬† This one had a long¬†but slender body!!

So there I was, one hand on¬†the button of my pants, my eyes focused steadily on the spider, my body frozen in fear.¬†¬†Thoughts began to¬†pass through my drunken brain… “What do I do?!?!?!”… “Perhaps I can just pee really, really¬†fast then tell someone about it when I leave cause I really, REALLY need to pee!!”.¬† The showdown continued for¬†probably another 30 seconds like this with me staring at the spider and the spider staring back… I was about 2 seconds from just peeing really fast then leaving when the spider moved a single leg about 2 millimeters to the right.¬†¬†And that’s all it took, I¬†was out of there!!¬† I flung the door open and ran as fast¬†as I could to the exit of our room, out the hall and back to my friends at the table who were still chatting along happily.¬† I sat for a moment¬†wringing my hands waiting for a moment to interrupt their conversation.¬† Then I¬†shyly told them that we have a HUGE spider in our room and that I need it removed immediately!!!¬† I of course told them too that I was arachnophobic and was sorry to make such a deal out of it, but it had to go!¬†¬†“B” got all excited as he¬†was quite interested to see the large arachnid (Lord only knows why!!) and he said he¬†would go take care of it.

While he was gone, “A”¬†and I exchanged stories of fears, which for privacy purposes I won’t reveal hers here but¬†I will say it was quite an unusal one!¬† We continued to chat until¬†“B” finally came back and¬†said “sorry it took so long, I first wanted to get some pictures of the spider, and then it took quite some time to get him out of the room as it kept trying to bite me!”¬†¬†Thankfully¬†he didn’t¬†go into too many other gross details of how¬†he removed the spider but as my relief for knowing the spider was out of the room set in, my now even more extreme need to pee returned!!¬† But before even thinking of returning to the room, I had to know exactly where the spider was taken too…¬† “B” then informed me that since it was so hard to get it out, he was only able to get it as far as the hallway… “I’m sorry, WHAT?!?!?!?!¬† You mean it’s in the HALLWAY right OUTSIDE OUR ROOM?!?!?!?!”¬† This made me even more paranoid and though I really didn’t want to have to go back to the bathroom, my body was telling me otherwise.¬† So I begged “B” to come with me and walk ahead of me to the room just in case the arachnid was in the hallway or on a wall of the hallway on the way to the room.¬† Such a nice person he was as he acquiesced and allowed me safe passage back to our room so I could finally relieve my bladder:)

The night continued much happier and arachnid-free from there as we continued to fiesta the night away until we all finally crashed and slept soundly.¬† We awoke to a¬†stormy morning the next day and therefore opted to wait to go to the National Park until the next day when we hoped the weather would cooperate.¬† After breakfast and taking a picture of a “cute little guest” (see below picture) we moved into our new hostel room (private room with shared communal bath), met a¬†local lizard who was always hanging out in one area and whom I fondly named Miguel, and generally hung around waiting for the storm to recede.

“A” had to get to a bank for more money, so about mid-day when the rain finally stopped, we all headed on a walk back up toward Quepos where the only ATMs were found.¬† Along the way we spotted several Capuchin Monkeys making their way across man-made ropes that stretched from one side of the road to the other.¬† These ropes are part of the “Children Saving the Rainforest” project and can be found throughout Costa Rica.¬† When electrical wires were first being erected to provide electricity to various areas, the monkeys thinking they were useful items to climb across to get to where they wanted to go, would often get electrocuted and die when they gripped them.¬† This was quite a large problem in the beginning, but it was quickly remedied as the “Rainforest” group stepped in with their fantastic idea of providing safe and non-electrical passages for the monkeys to use.

After our walk back up into town and a nice lunch and beer, we headed back to Manuel Antonio and A and I spent the rest of our afternoon “butt surfing” in the ocean!!¬† Now for those who don’t know what this is, Butt surfing is where you sit in shallow areas of the beach and allow the coming waves to toss you around the shallow beach as if you were simply a grain of sand.¬† It really is quite amazing the power of the Ocean as we literally were tossed and pushed and pulled and pommelled by the tiniest of waves!!¬† Due to the anywhere from small to large rocks and pebbles on the beach however, at times it was quite painful!!¬† But still fun nonetheless:)

Our night was spent again with good food, good conversation and company, and of course many great beverages.  If our hopes were to come true, the next day would be a sunny one so we could visit the Manuel Antonio National Park.

Back to Costa Rica

Pictures of Puntarenas and Manuel Antonio (including Costa Linda Backpackers Hostel and critters of the area):