As this blog not only serves as a site for information for fellow travelers, it also serves the purpose of being my memory. Something that years from now I can read about and think fondly back on. As the Thai language is a very foreign and tricky, before I forget all the words I know I wanted to jot them down:) You will notice that several of the Thai words seems to be the same, yet have different English meanings. This is because depending on how the word is spoken (i.e. an inflection or intonation) the meaning changes. And of course I’m not writing the Thai words as they would actually be spelled, but rather in the way they sound so the pronunciation is correct. So here we go…
Sa-wah-dee-ka: Hello/Goodbye (spoken by females)
Sa-wah-dee-kap: Hello/Goddbye (spoken by males)
Khob-Khun-Ka: Thank you
Khob-Khun-mama-Ka: Thank you Very much 🙂
Mai Chai: No
Ka/Kap (female/male): Sure, Yup, ok, uh-huh, your welcome
Hong nam: Bathroom
Ma (long A sound): Dog
Ma (short A sound): Come
Ma (long A sound with voice down): Horse
Klap Ma: Come back
Mai Sah-bye: Not good
Sah-bye-dee: Good health
Mai Sah-bye-dee: Bad health
Kai Gai: Chicken egg
Tao-Rai: How much?
Ah-you-da Rai: How old?
Ooo-ah: Vomit (this one was an animal clinic word I learned and NOT learned because of the next word, lol!)
Naan Tell-lie: How long?
Lawn mack: very hot
Nit Noi: Little bit
Mack Noi: A lot
Maroon-Nee: Day after tomorrow
Numb Ken: Ice
Mee Panda: Panda Bear 🙂
Took-kay: House gecko
Non (pronounced like Noni -as in the juice- without the I): Sleep
One of the first things I learned when I arrived in Thailand was the word ‘falang’. It is the word that Thai’s use to describe a foreigner. Now, whether this word is meant to be an insult or not, I still haven’t figured out for sure. According to some fellow travelers however, it is meant to be an insult, an impolite expression to describe people basically with white skin.
While I’m not entirely sure the exact connotation this word is supposed to carry, here is my take on it. Perhaps at one point this word was supposed to be an insult. Perhaps even today, depending on how the word is spoken (whether spat out with spite or generally inserted to refer to specific people present) it may or may not have a derogatory meaning attached. But what my opinion is overall on the issue: it just doesn’t matter.
There are a lot of words out there in the World that people of one race or origin use to describe other people who either don’t look alike or are from somewhere entirely different. And though I know that even today many of those hateful words are still used to inflict pain or rile up others, to me, allowing a word to change my attitude or way of thinking or feeling is just ridiculous.
I’ve been called a falang countless times while here. And while sometimes I could say that the way in which they said the word was rude or hateful and meant to be an insult, why bother letting it bother me? To give a negative reaction back to someone who may be trying to be hateful is to allow them to win. For me to be upset at being called a falang means that I’ve given my power over to another. I’ve allowed them to change my behavior for the negative.
This is why personally, I find no offense in the word or being called a falang. Falang simply means foreigner in my book, no matter the tone in which it’s spoken. Because let’s face it, that’s what I am! There’s no debating that. I can’t tell you the number of times traveling with others that I’ve had a discussion on ‘falang’ and what it means. And it’s even more surprising to me how many find it insulting. Again, perhaps once upon a time it had a bad meaning attached to it, but today I don’t see why people are still carrying around the idea that it does.
We are all products of our reactions. If we allow our reactions to be negative or hateful, that’s what we will continue to be and to spread. If we choose not to let words or allow ourselves to feel other people’s negativity, yet simply move forward in a positive light, then light and positivity will be all that’s spread. Simple choice to me.
I was born in Italy and lived there for the first 7 years or so of life. Obviously, it will always have a tender and warm place in my heart:) But that doesn’t stop me from recognizing things that drive me crazy about the country either!! 😉
First I will start with the positive: Italians in my opinion have mastered the art of enjoying life! From the meals with friends that take hours (and almost always several courses) to complete then always end with a shot of liquor, then an espresso, followed by another shot and another espresso, lol!! They really have a passion for life and the enjoyment for it! They don’t really have personal space, which for some is really hard to accept, and they express themselves very passionately with their body language. This is another aspect that is hard for non-italians as while it looks from an outsiders perspective that a fight is going on (from their flailing arms and raised voices) they are simply discussing the weather!! Lol!!
The driving in the country makes me absolutely crazy, as in my opinion all drivers in Italy are absolutely crazy!! The country is so diverse for being so small and each section has a very strong and individual culture (sometimes to a fault as there are many rivalries between regions that sometimes break out in violence which again speaks to a different kind of passion). I do love the country and of course recommend it to all travelers! However, do be aware of petty thieves and pickpockets… They are quite talented in Italy!! That’s all for now- enjoy my most recent experiences in Italy:)
Oh and by the way- Ice cream and gelato are NOT the same thing… Gelato is to die for whereas ice cream I could pass on:)
Early the next morning, it was “on the road again” for me. I was picked up at the tour office and shuttled from La Fortuna to Lake Arenal, across the lake in a little boat and met on the other side by another shuttle that took us to Monteverde.
Ok, technically we were taken to Santa Elena which is right next door to Monteverde. Locals insist you use the proper name of Santa Elena, but tour groups and tourists call the whole area Monteverde.
When I arrived in Santa Elena I was dropped off at a place that some people recommended to me. If memory serves correctly it was called El Toucan. The reception staff however were not very helpful as when I asked how much the rooms were (private with a private bathroom if possible) they asked how much I wanted to pay instead of telling me the price. Red flag alert! I stated no more than $10 per night and they jumped on it! Red flag alert #2… I asked to see the room first (always a good idea for any traveler) and they seemed nice enough but I did notice that the place was practically empty and the “private room” I was to stay in had 3 other beds. So I decided to move along and see what else there was.
As I hiked up a teeny hill I spotted the tour van passing me, and the tour driver spotted me giving me a look of “what is that crazy tourist doing now?!?!” as I had just left where I was dropped off and was heading in the same direction he was driving! In any event, I noticed many people being dropped off at the Monteverde Backpackers so I decided to check it out. It was $16 a night and I don’t believe there were any private rooms left, so I opted to keep going. I was told there was another hotel/hostel just down the road so I went to check it out…
Enter Cabinas Eddy… I literally get chills thinking of this place and the kind hospitality and beautiful accommodations that I was provided during my stay here. I can’t say enough good things about the place and the people!!! Cabinas Eddy is run and owned by 2 generations of “Eddy’s”, the father and his wife and his son (Eddy) and his wife and child. For $8 a night, I was offered a beautiful and cozy private room with a private bathroom and HOT water!!! I almost passed out when I found out the price for it and scrambled furiously to get money out to pay before someone else came by to snatch it up!!! Well in all reality I first had to excuse myself politely to furiously get money that was stored in my bra out to pay, as I never travel with cash easily available but rather always store it in less likely places…
After signing in and settling in, I signed up for some tours. One jungle night walk for later that evening, and after making sure the place was a good one that took care of its horses, I signed up for a horseback ride.
Monteverde/Santa Elena truly is a magnificent place! Nestled in the cloud forest of Costa Rica the biodiversity is rich and the land literally reminded me of the hills of Ireland!! Rich, lush and rolling, this area really was a beautifully magnificent sight to behold!! Now, I should mention here that I have never been to Ireland, but the land is what I would imagine Ireland to look like. Since being there I have met several people from Ireland whom have also visited Monteverde and have asked if it reminded them of home, and they have said absolutely yes! So I really don’t mind so much making that comparison even though I haven’t actually been to Ireland…
Anyway once again I’m getting off topic! I spent only 2 nights in Monteverde, which really unless you plan to do a bunch of tours is about the right amount of time. They are also quite famous in that area for zip lining and for sky walks as they are in the cloud forest. The weather while I was there was quite nice as it was sunny and warm in the day and got chilly at night! The winds even picked up for the second night I was there, which locals said was very unusual for this time of year (normal for December time). The cool mountain air at night was so refreshing and nice and made you want to bundle up making for some of the best night sleep I had had in a while. The food was fantastic as I was once again indulging in casados, and the people all very friendly! None as friendly as the Eddy family though as on my second day there they offered me a homemade tamales! It was so darn scrumptious!!
I of course did find time to do a little fiesta-ing in the town too and on my way back from one bar ran into some people whom I had noticed around town in La Fortuna. They were staying at the backpackers place which is where I ended up going and meeting a ton of other travelers. I stayed up till quite early in the morning talking and drinking and playing cards with my fellow travelers and the hostel manager. I know I’ve probably mentioned this before, but it really does still amaze me how many travelers are on the same path. There are so many who have just had enough of where they were and what they were doing and decided to simply pack it up and move on. One such case was of a guy from England I believe who was an architect there. He once loved that occupation but then just got burned out and decided to pursue his true passion: photography of primates! He has since been traveling the world in pursuit of every variety of primate! There were and are of course just your regular garden variety travelers on vacation or on a sabbatical, but quite surprisingly to me even more who left everything from their previous life behind to just travel and try something new.
The morning of leaving Monteverde I ended up on the same bus as the people I had seen in La Fortuna and in chatting some more with them realized that we were once again going to the same place: Manuel Antonio.