Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sawadeeka!

It’s my 4th day in Bangkok today and I have yet to sight see or do typical tourist activities.

For the past few days, I have been diligently learning the Thai language. The environment I’m in enables me to interact fully with Thai people, so it really speeds up the learning process. Thai language has han yu pin yin but the tones are different from Chinese, so I often confuse the both.

Just yesterday, I went to Thammasat University in hope of enrolling for the Level 1 Thai language class. Unfortunately, participation was insufficient to start a class. We need at least 4 and there are only 2 of us. The one other guy who was also interested in enrolling the Level 1 Thai Language class is a guy named Les Thompson, from Canada. He says he is in Thailand to keep warm (It’s winter in Canada now) and will be here till April.

He’s one super cool old man i tell you. Decked in a full safari/ hunter attire (complete with the straw hat), he says the only Thai words he know is “beer chang” and “hong nam” (toilet). Apparently he’s done a lot of research on the modern history of Thailand and has fascinated me with many of his stories! Also, he has provided me some useful information regarding the extension of my visa.

Few days ago, I was told that I can simply cross the borders, over to Laos or Cambodia and my visa will be renewed. But my Thai friend thought that it seems strange, and was unsure as it seems... too easy. Apparently, it is really that easy! (According to Les). There are even several companies which organize such trips. 2000baht (SG$85 approx.) and your transport, food and visa will be settled! Yes, its reliable because Les himself has done it many times.

Hmm, I’ll probably be crossing to Laos. According to Mathias, it's not so advisable to go to Cambodia during this period due to political issues. Also, we will be visiting his hometown Ubon, a small province in Thailand and just 2 hours drive to Laos; so i can simply cross over Laos anytime to renew my visa.

Back to my application for language class. There were 2 other people who were interested in the Level 2 Thai Language class. One is a German guy named Falk and there other a Japanese housewife from Osaka named Eri. Falk is here just like me; to simply enjoy Thailand. And Eri is here because her husband has set up a company in Thailand.

The teacher said that I can join the Level 2 class because i already know many Thai words (prog wah chan ke-yan ka. Translate: Because I’m hardworking). Falk also mentioned that Level 1 mainly teaches greetings (which i already know more or less) and names of food and vegetables, which I think can be easily self-learnt. But we are short of 1 person for Level 2 (There's only me, Falk & Eri and we need a minimum of 4), so we still cannot start a class.

And random, but five in Thai is “ha” so you know in MSN we use “hahaha” like we’re laughing? Over here the Thais use "555555+". Cute right?

The bus doesn’t really stop at the bus stop. And even after you flag it down, it will still be moving slowly while you're boarding! And sometimes, when the jam is really heavy, the bus will not stop (even when it's empty) because it will be hard to join back the lane. Bus fare is a flat fare of 8.50 baht. However, the fare on an air - conditioned bus will differ (according to distance).

There will be a ticket issue officer who will go around collecting the fare. (She needs to have a good memory to remember the passengers who have just boarded the bus!) Look at the thing on her hand? Its a cylindrical metal case which she keeps all the coins and issues the tickets (rolls of paper strips which she will tear) from.
For the journey back from Thammasat University, I take the ferry for only 3 baht. You can stay on the ferry for as long as you want but it only travels between 2 berths. (Just across the river, to the other side)

Monks in Thailand are not allowed to have contact with women at all. So when I walk on the streets I have to be careful not to even brush past them. They also need not to pay for bus or ferry fares.

After which we took a mini bus. Mini bus is really mini. It will go along a designated route, and you simply ring the bell anytime, anywhere you wish to alight. One thing I notice about Thai men is their gentlemanly-ness (I like!). Most of them always offer their seats up for women. You don’t have to be pregnant or old, as long as you’re female, they'll let you have the seat. Sweet right?
My meals costs as little as 30 baht (SG$1.50approx.). Thai food tastes quite similar to Chinese food so I have no problems adjusting at all.

I’m staying at Thammasat University’s dormitory (which is not near Thammasat at all) and paying 50 baht (SG$2approx.) a day for rental. It's dirt cheap for lodging but what I'm paying is nearly twice as much as what the students are paying. I've paid 1400 baht for 28 days stay; and the students 800baht for a month. No air-condition, 2 - 4 people share a room, cold showers (SUPER COLD, imagine the days when its chilly, which is almost everyday during this time of the year) and A LOT of mosquitoes.

Everything else I can get use to, but mosquitoes I really cannot. Chan clee-at yong ka! (Translate: I hate mosquitoes!) Everyday I get bitten an average 5 times or more! I've used the mosquito repellent I brought all the way from Singapore but it doesn’t help a single bit. The mosquitoes here fierce and they love foreign blood (apparently I’m the only one who gets bitten). Desmond recommended an electric mosquito coil! Super effective, he said whilst in India (read about his travel adventures in his blog, which he is now too LAZY to continue) he used it and next day all the insects were lying dead on the floor. He also told me to be careful of bed lice. Thanks ah Desmond.

My pillow has a funny smell so today i went to Tesco Lotus (Think Giant/ Carrefour) and bought a pillow for only 69 baht! (Less than SG$3)

My room mate Jane (right) and her bestie, kratai (which means rabbit in Thai).

I haven’t been sleeping a lot, and kept waking up at 2 - 3am everyday because of the stupid mosquitoes. And I usually wake up at about 7 - 8am everyday without the alarm clock. Don’t know why!

Ok, enought for the day! La gone na ka! (Goodbye)

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