Guest Post: How to be a tourist

My sister Sarah just left after spending 2.5 weeks with us. She decided that it was extremely important for her to influence the development of Zoe’s personality as much as possible in these early, impressionable days, so she ditched the first weeks of her university semester for some time in the tropics. I’m not sure that Zoe even realizes that she has a “personality” just yet, but Sarah was determined to try.

Whispering instructions to Zoe while she sleeps...

Whispering instructions to Zoe while she sleeps…

Sarah also got to satisfy her lifelong wish of being my twin. “Apparently,” when we younger, I refused to wear matching clothes, but as a parting gift, I agreed to be twinners for one evening.

Nursing mothers should generally avoid owl/hooter paraphernalia...

Nursing mothers should generally avoid owl/hooter paraphernalia…

And finally, she achieved her greatest ambition by writing a guest post for this blog. All I can say is that I hope that some of her guidelines are facetious, because otherwise they are the worst advice I’ve ever read.

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Guest Post:

 

I came to Thailand for 2.5 weeks to visit Ruth, Todd and Zoe. Because my stay was short, I wanted it to be sweet so I decided in my time off from being an influential auntie, I would be a tourist. There is no better place to be a tourist than Thailand and I thrust myself into the lifestyle with abandon.P1030869 In the past two weeks I have really learned how to be a perfect tourist, so let me share the tricks of the trade with you

  1. Learn as little of the local language as possible. Hello, thank you. That’s all you need.
  2. ALWAYS have a camera with you. If you are travelling alone and suck at selfies, just make a friend for a day. Stop every time you see something unusual and pose in front of it. Remember, if you don’t have a photo, you weren’t there
    PROTON. never seen that before. gotta get a pic!

    PROTON. never seen that before. gotta get a pic!

     

  3. You can wear whatever you want because you don’t understand the customs. If you want to be a bit respectful, there are several ethnic groups who will not only push the limits, they will stomp naked on those limits then pose for pictures. Use these groups to help determine what isn’t appropriate.
  4. If something bothers you or you get cheated, feel free to yell about it. The seller won’t see you again, so no harm right?
  5. Try any weird food you can. If it tastes terrible, comfort yourself with the knowledge that you tried something cultural.

    who am I kidding, these prawns are the reason I would move to Thailand

    who am I kidding, these prawns are the reason I would move to Thailand

  6. Spend exorbitant amounts on purses. They are real leather after all.

    I can't believe it's not leather!

    I can’t believe it’s not leather!

  7. Make friends with other tourists. You can swap stories about all the things you have done and comfort yourself with the knowledge that they know as little about the culture as you do.we wore these hats to fit in...

If you follow these 7 easy steps, you will be a successful tourist. Just a reminder, if you are caught doing something rude or disrespectful, please lie about the country you are from. Since your main goal is to have a blast without having to get with the culture, you shouldn’t be worried about setting a good example, so make sure the tags on your bags don’t reveal your true identity.

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Guest Post: Momalot reviews Thai toilets

Well, the madre came through on her threat promise, and wrote a thorough review of her favourite Thai toilet experiences thus far. Enjoy!

As a guest writer on this blog, and in keeping with the tone of refinement we have come to expect of its erudite offerings, I find myself addressing a matter requiring some delicacy, namely, that of bathrooms in Thailand. No matter where we live – and particularly if we are of the gentler gender – the location and condition of these essential services is never unconcerning.

Being a first-time world traveller last week, I had opportunity to compare the services and general conditions of Air Canada planes with those of Thai Airways. This seemed fitting, since one of these originated in my homeland, and the other in my travel destination. While both airlines offered adequate and even cordial service, Thai Airways outshone AC on a number of counts, including its bathroom. The Thai Air bathroom was brighter, prettier, cleaner, and just nicer than the ones on Air Canada. Thus, I might have been led to expect that this would be the case in bathrooms in Thailand in general.

Not so. Thai bathrooms can probably claim to be more interesting, but – in my recent and varied experience – none of the adjectives listed above could apply. To set the context (for Canadian readers, especially), I will describe the bathroom system here.

Here are features of almost every Thai bathroom I have visited.

1. One may not flush toilet tissue. There is a waste basket located next to the toilet as a receptacle for used paper products. This could be horrifying, except that…

2. There is usually a pressurized hose nozzle located next to the toilet, to be used in hygiene. (I think that in Europe it is called a bidet; here I have heard it called a bum gun.) This makes use of tissue nearly superfluous, except as a drying agent.

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A fine example of a bum gun

In my opinion, this approach to waste management is more ecologically sound, more hygienic, and generally more sensible than the practices common in N. America.

But there are some interesting variations on this theme.

In one road-stop bathroom, the toilet was located on a raised platform. Beside it was a 2’ x 2’ tub, into which drizzled a continuous stream of water from a copper pipe. A plastic bowl with a long handle floated in the tub. This was the flush system: do business, then ladle a dipper-full of water into the toilet to flush it. There was also the usual pressurized hose, but located on the lower floor, only almost-close-enough to reach the toilet. (Hmm… that might explain the general soaked condition of the whole stall when I entered it.)

One night we visited an open air restaurant which had its own bathroom! (Restaurants and other public places are not required to have a customer bathroom; however, facilities can usually be found somewhere nearby). This odd little room had a conventional flush toilet, no hose, and no useable sink: said receptacle was filled with beautiful red plastic flowers, artistically arranged. No problem: there was a shower here which could be used for hand washing. (A shower? Is that for the use of the cook, when things get too hot? Or for customers who come for ‘healthful healing practices’, as advertised outside the restaurant?)

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At the bus station in downtown Bangkok, washroom use was not free. We paid 3B each to a masked man seated in a tiny, dingy, glassed-in stall, squeezed ourselves through a narrow opening, and found ourselves in the facilities we needed. Not brilliant, but adequate.

The most picturesque bathroom was the outdoor privy located on the property of our beach bungalow. It was a“squatty” with a manual dipper-flusher, and is housed inside a palm-leaf-roofed shack.

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The bathroom of one of our vacation restaurants had a practical feature: each individual stall door had a slatted window inset, presumably for ventilation. The slats were angled, as in venetian blinds, except they were not adjustable. The only problem was that they were angled so that the people outside could see IN but the user could not see OUT!

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Peekaboo!

None of the bathrooms was stinky until the long bus ride home from our island vacation. In that vehicle there was a (non)flushing problem, so whenever anyone opened the door to the facilities the odor wafting through the bus reminded me of the “composting, natural” outdoor toilets typical in our Canadian mountain parks and other tourist areas. These require a bold, stoic approach to meeting daily needs!

I must stop, although I’m sure there are many undiscovered variations awaiting me. If anything really interesting in the field of bathrooms comes up in my travels, perhaps she will permit me another small entry…

Squatty Toilets – a link to a great blog

Don’t worry my little friends. I haven’t suddenly decided to start inflicting verbiage on you on a daily basis – that would interfere with my coffee drinking schedule. However, I recently read a great post by a dee-lite-full fellow Bangkokian blogger, and I wanted to share it with you. In order to fully understand the farang experience, it is important to explore a topic that is near to the farang heart and close to the farang bowels – the squatty toilet. It is not, however a topic that I plan on covering, for the following reasons:

1) Squatty toilets warm the cockles of my Indian heart, and;

2) Squatting is my main talent in life. It’s often been said in my home town “Ruth may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but MAN can she pop a squat.”

So I’m leaving it to someone who knows and feels farang pain. Do check it out. I hope you enjoy it.

http://mishvo.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/why-squat-toilets-suck/