This past weekend we decided to make a point to journey around and see some new sights. On Saturday we went to one of the local malls, Harbor Mall Pattaya, as well as some western expat grocery stores. At the mall we were successfully able to find a Google Chromecast dongle which has been very helpful in streaming Netflix, Hulu, etc. (we don’t have cable). I highly recommend it! At the grocery store we found some comforts of home like Kraft Mac & Cheese, Heinz Ketchup, sliced deli meats, and Nature Valley breakfast bars. I honestly didn’t think much about these foods in the USA but was excited to see something familiar to eat. On our way back home we managed to pass Khao Chi Chan or “Buddha Mountain” which is a limestone hill carved with a sitting image of Buddha and painted gold. It is actually very close to our home.
On Sunday, we decided to take a journey to Wat Phrai Yai aka “Big Bhudda” at the top of Pratumnak Hill between Jomtien Beach and Pattaya. I’m told is is one of the largest in the region and it is approximately 59 feet high. It is free to visit however it is a nice gesture to donate a little money once there. We traveled the 40 minutes from our home and finally arrived.
As you begin the trek up the hill you see many sites and sounds. We heard people praying and monks chanting. We heard bells ringing. We passed an old lady who was selling small cages of birds that people often purchase and release through Buddhist ritual. There were vendors selling food items and drink, as always.
As we approached the footsteps of the Big Bhudda a gentleman quickly snapped a photo of us in hopes to sell some tourist kitsch later. The temple was intense! Huge “naga snakes” which look like golden dragons run up the stairwell of Wat Phra Nai. At the top were multiple smaller Bhudda statues in various positions which represent days of the week.
If you walked behind the Big Bhudda you could witness wonderful views of Jomtien Beach and Pattaya.
As we took our own pictures, our kids became little celebrities again.. HAHA. A few groups of people asked if they could take pictures with them. We obliged but I managed to take my own of the process. The kids aren’t put off by it but it is definitely a different experience for them.
As we departed we decided to go ahead and buy a piece of tourist paraphernalia considering we had yet done so since our arrival in Thailand. The gentleman who snapped our photo earlier affixed the image of us onto a plate. 200 baht! Not bad. However I’m kinda creepin’ in the background.. oh well.
With any move, but especially to a foreign country, there are frustrations. Adapting to how things are done in a different place takes time, patience, and understanding. We’ve been experiencing this quite a bit in the past month. In Thailand, the expression is “mai bpen rai” which essentially means “don’t sweat it” or “never mind”. A friend of mine equates it as the Thai equivalent to “hakuna matata”, haha. I’ll try to explain in a few bullet points.
- When trying to pay our car rental or home rent payments with an ATM and not knowing exactly how to send money to the provider’s savings account. (People you pay provide their savings account numbers)
- Not knowing what type of gas to put in your tank (I know unleaded, but which pump!?!) and realizing that you don’t pump it yourself but rather allow the attendant and they ONLY take payment in cash at the pump.
- Trying to get simple lawn maintenance done only through referred Thai people as we don’t speak the language and can only work through referral. They usually take about two days to complete the work as well, I believe.
- Getting fresh water delivered to our home by a weekly truck vendor and leaving payment taped to the empty water bottles is a new experience.
- Realizing that google maps will often take you a completely WRONG way because of the lost translation of street names and businesses at times.
- Trying to use bamboo brooms and rakes to do simple house chores takes some skill.
- Drying clothes outside on a line.
- When does the mail run? (I’ve yet to notice a marked vehicle for delivery.. it seems to just appear)
- Learning to embrace the metric system. Understanding distance with kilometers and temperature in celsius.
- Learning to cook with different ingredients ie. fish sauce, chili sauce, sesame oil, unusual squashes, minced porks, dried fishes, etc.
- Trying out a squat toilet for the first time as well as embracing the “bum guns”.
These are the things I’ve encountered in a month and we are definitely handling it in stride. I’m sure I overlooked a few. The great thing is there is always someone around who is willing to take time away from whatever they are doing to help you figure it all out!
I’m living in fairly rural part of Thailand. I can go 20 minutes in any direction and find a fairly large city, whether Pattaya, Ban Chang, or Rayong. Lining all the roads here are multiple street vendors and markets selling all sorts of things at a cheaper cost than a corporate chain like Tesco or 7-11.
I am finding fruits like mangosteen, lychee, pineapple, coconuts, durian, rambutan, and dragon fruit. There are dried goods like dried mushrooms, dried fish, dried shrimp, and even dried squids which I assume are for making stocks. Vegetables are harder to come by but you do tend to see corn, green tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and radishes. Leafy greens seem more rare at the moment. As far as housewares I’ve been seeing lots of the bamboo brooms and rakes, hats of all sizes, pottery, etc.
My son and I made a trip out yesterday to see what we could find. I think I spent about 100 THB and left with a nice bag of goodies! Before we left I wanted a coconut to drink. I asked a local lady selling them for 20 THB. She quickly chopped it open and presented it to us with a straw. She was enamored with my son and asked if she could take a picture with him on her phone. I told her “chai” meaning “yes” and then gestured with my phone indicating I’d like to do the same. He’s not a big fan of coconut water though.. haha.