Thailand can be a really beautiful place, it also has the ability to challenge all of my senses in a way I rarely experience.
For example, today I took a taxi a few blocks to the local water taxi station (Nonthaburi Pier) and decided I would spend some time wandering around and seeing what would tempt me to spend the last 300 baht ($11 AUS) left in my wallet. It was ridiculously hot today so it wasn’t long before the idea of an ice blend drink became my one and only preoccupation, I chose a soi vendor that was particularly busy and settled on a drink that had a good picture. It ended up being a very sweet something (I couldn’t pinpoint the flavour, but it was good) that was topped with whipped cream and chocolate buttons. Pretty delicious! Once I had the drink I thought it would be a good idea to stroll along, take in the sights and drink at leisure. Wrong. This must be some kind of rookie mistake in Thailand, because I realised almost the instant that I left what I’m now going to call the safe zone around the drink vendor that there were some pretty strong smells that were in complete contrast to what I was drinking. For some reason my gag reflex is pretty strong when I am actually consuming something (more so than any other time) and today was no exception.
I quickly walked away from the smells that appeared to be emanating from the back of a parked truck that was full of nondescript food scraps and made my way to the river hoping that there would be a little more air circulation there. Along the way a soi dog decided to stroll along side me, which was fine and it was nice to have the company…but once I stopped walking to lean against the river balustrade and sip my drink the soi dog decided that it was toilet time and did things that I don’t even want to visualise again. I actually had to start singing ‘la la la la la’ in my head to stop myself from projectile vomiting whipped cream and chocolate buttons. After a few painful minutes of this the soi dog walked away and I readjusted my senses back to the present, although keenly aware of the area the soi dog had been in and where I definitely did not want my eyes to wander.
I’m a big fan of people watching, so I took this up enthusiastically, I mean at this point I was probably only about half way through my cup of ice blended goodness and I knew this was a great opportunity to get my tourist ogle on (in the most unobtrusive manner possible). So I settled on an old man who appeared to be enjoying the day just as much as me. He was walking along, casually looking at the ground and not much else. I thought it was a little strange and that maybe he had lost something, so I continued to glance sideways to see how it would unfold. He then stopped, stared intently at a very bare patch of ground and started to slowly hock a loogie. There was definitely a crescendo to this performance and it was very drawn out, I heard every movement and it wasn’t long till ‘la la la la la’ was once again ringing through my head like an evacuation signal.
So this was obviously a very small part of my day, but I learnt a lot from this experience. Such as –
a) If you’re planning to consume your food or drink outside, stay with the vendor – they provide tables and chairs, use them.
b) People watching isn’t an activity that is applicable to all areas, although a fantastic past-time, which I highly recommend, it does have it’s negatives.
c) When in doubt, definitely go with the picture that looks the best and rely on common sense (pink drinks are normally berry flavoured and brown drinks usually equal coffee or chocolate flavours…for your sake, I hope this always rings true).
d) Some retail therapy can always turn a situation around. After my little drink experience I then wove my way around the local market, purchased some dirt cheap clothes and spent a little time exploring the food market. Oh, and I got to pat a squirrel a man was selling as a pet.
e) Know your vendors. When in doubt, I always have my favorite vendors I can go to for a good and reliable feed and afterwards there is always the lady who sells homemade coconut ice-cream for 5 baht (.17 AUS).