in addition to some misconceptions about what happened politically over there, there are a number of things i didn’t realize about thailand til i went there. now you can either be better prepared than me or pretend like you’ve already been.
1. the thai love their king. and love is probably not even a strong enough word. to say they worship him is incorrect. they truly love him. partially because he’s been an incredibly benevolent ruler, and partially because this country still wants a monarchy. either way it is incredible the length these people go to to show their love of king and country. they play the national anthem everywhere – not just sporting events, but movies and even subway stations. and when they do, everyone stops and stands there for it. also, there is some thai tradition that each day of the week is assigned a color. monday’s color yellow, which is also the kingdom’s color. and while most other days, people don’t really wear that days color, on monday the country is bathed in a sea of yellow. everyone dons shirts with either the royal crest or messages about how they love the king. and the thing is, there’s no irony, they mean it. it’s incredible.
2. a thai massage has absolutely nothing to do with girls rubbing you down and giving a hand job. there is nothing sexual about a thai massage. women are rubbing you so much as plunging their elbows hands fingers and feet into you with enough force that there’s slightly more pain than pleasure to this affair. and you’re wearing clothes (well actually they’re more like pajamas) the whole time. so they aren’t even touching you. now granted, i’m sure the girls in the red light district who were offering us massages would have given us the other kind. but that’s sure as hell not what the thai call it.
3. the thai are all relatively skinny because their “junk” food is mostly healthy. sure there’s fried food and sugary snacks. but you know what the most commonly available street food is? fruit. seriously. you can’t go more than a block without a fruit cart selling delicious pineapple, mango, watermelon and other goodies. for like next to nothing. (about a quarter, actually) i seriously leaned out after being there only a week. those people know how to eat right.
4. speaking of which. thai food here in the states – even the really good thai food – pretty much tastes nothing like the food over there. the only thing i’ve had that was close is the larb at king of thai. otherwise pretty much every dish tasted different. the flavors are much lighter (and much hotter) in thailand than they are here.
5. the thai have no hangups about sexuality or masculinity / femininity. men are very physically close to each other. women hold hands. gays are accepted without a second thought. whores are considered a part of the culture and not shamed. ladyboys are given just as much love and respect as anyone else. honestly the whole thing was a bit shocking. it made me feel like a prudish american.
6. while the majority of kickboxers here are in their mid to late 20s, most kickboxers in thailand are retired by about 23. the fights in big stadiums are typically between guys who are 18-20 years old. it’s an incredibly young sport. also, a great deal more attention is paid to knees. the only 2 knockouts we saw at lumpini stadium were delivered by a serious of knees to the stomach.
and finally, the thai make ice coffee with all those spices and sweeteners because their coffee sucks. i couldn’t get a decent espresso to save my soul and the coffee was even worse.
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