18 Nov 2006

Trang, Thailand

They have real coffee. And sandwiches. The taxis ignore you until you want one. The beer is cheaper than in Australia. There are footpaths.

I think I'm going to like it here.

My expectations of Thailand were completely wrong. It's better organised, more expensive, cleaner, and more developed.

There are many, many more tourists.

I got one thing right - at least in Trang, nobody speaks English. My phrasebook could be a joke book written in Thai for all the reaction I get when I try to say anything. Our first Thai dinner was from a street vendor with whom no communication was possible. I will never know what I ate that night.

The one exception is numbers. Everywhere uses roman digits, not Thai ones, and all Thais can speak English numbers. Of course, I spent two hours on the ferry learning to speak, read, and write numbers in Thai.

The second dinner was at the night markets, and was accomplished with a lot of pointing. The vendor tried to warn me that my selection was "very spicy", but I insisted. It was delicious.

I'd like to propose Captain Obvious' First Law of Cuisine:

"If you only just managed to eat it, you won't be able to digest it".

These days I'm eating western or westernised thai food about half the time, which works much better.

It pays to stay alert, and to know roughly what things are worth. The bus fare from Trang to Satun dropped from 2500 baht to 350 when I explained that I wasn't English, didn't have cash to burn, and wasn't a total fool. Bangkok will be interesting.