Bangkok Local Custom Tips by thedouglas
Bangkok Local Customs: 352 reviews and 481 photos
Contraband in ceramic cups!
We were in Bangkok recently when the elections were held. We were struck into a state of complete indecision when we attempted to order our evening drink(s) on the eve of the election. No alcohol is to be sold between 6.00pm the night before or until 6.00pm on the day of the elections! I guess thats when the polls close.
We did manage to find a little restaurant off the streets, and immediately sussed out some bottles of beer about - and had an interesting "ceramic cup" of wine at our friend's hotel!
It is said that these coiffed little bushes and trees started off as an effort to copy Japanese bonsais, which the Chinese also replicated and individualised. You will see these little pom pom trees everywhere in Bangkok! They are called mai dut - and may be 5 inches or a few metres high. They are often seen at temples, and the Grand Palace has many, and typically grow or display in a face-gaining context - such as in a courtyard, entry, office, shopfront etc. where they will be on display. Some of them move away from the pom pom poodle appearance into forms of animals as well.
They are very beautiful and quite unique in appearance, and I took great interest in them on my first and subsequent visits.
No matter how dirty Bangkok may be, one thing that has impressed me from my very first visit is the cleanliness. The stallholders always clean up and leave a nice tidy pile, which is then collected by a cleaner. There is a small army of mostly women who clean the gutters around populated areas, like Chinatown, and I haven't seen people wilfully litter at I do at home, and there is almost no graffiti to be seen! The people themselves are very clean - despite often the most basic accommodation and facilities available to them. As a frequent tuktuk passenger, I have to say I always notice how clean and tidy the drivers are at all times, as are the people in the streets, stallholders etc. Stallholders are seen fussing and dusting all day long - and, once you have moved on from their store, they will tidy any mess you have left behind! It is therefore respsectful for us as tourists to attend to our grooming, and cleanliness, and rituals such as removing shoes in some shops and houses, rather than assuming anything goes.
The little girls in my main photo are the children of a concierge staffmember from our hotel - what you can almost see is the dirty khlong beside them - you can't see their home, which consists of 3 of the tiniest rooms you have ever seen, where you have to move from room to room via a public outside alley....and the general basic nature of this family lodging. They were all dressed up for a day at Chatuchak with my husband and I.
Uniformly quite relaxed!
I found a gem of a book at Bangkok Airport - at arguably the wrong end of the holiday - but buying it afterwards was great too, as I had lots of questions. Just felt the need to go back and understand a little better! - boy, that sounded confused didn't it?!
The book is called Very Thai - Everyday Popular Culture - put together by a pair of Americans, now living in Thailand - Philip Cornwel-Smith and John Goss (photographer). Published by River Books, Bangkok, 2005.
I found this to be an excellent book - very well photographed, capturing the abundant colour of Thailand, and the smiling people. The book is divided into chapters about the sights on the street, personal habits and beliefs, the wide array of rituals and sanuk - the fun part of Thai life.
All the answers are here about the things you see in the street and Thia lifestyle, which is both educational and amusing at times, but certainly enriches your appreciation of Bangkok and Thailand as a country. You can find out what all of those culinary delights you see in the street are, the "nick-name" culture, royal and Buddha reverence, how Thais love uniforms.......
We saw this poor old dog in Chinatown over a few holidays - it lived in a phonebooth near our hotel, in one of the Chinatown shopping streets. Seemed to be quite tolerated here - people would stand behind and lean over it to make phone calls, and I guess it was given food - all the market animals seem to be cared for in some way. I was almost sad to find that it was gone last time we were in Chinatown - I guess his days were numbered.
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