1st Time in Thailand
Chef LeeZ Thai Cooking Class Bangkok – You should know this
Hello or Good-Bye … Saw Was Dee – ( sa wa dee) Ka for females. Krap or kap for males. Females sa-wa-dee- ka. Males sa-wa-dee-kap … is a polite hello and good bye. Gays (lady boys) will say Saw Wa Dee Ha.
Thank You – Kap Kuhn (ka for women) Kap for Men as in (women) Kap Kuhn ka or (men) Kap Kuhn kap is thank you. Gay men ( lady boys) will say Kap Kuhn Ha.
Alcohol Sales – You can purchase alcohol between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm and after 5 pm. Alcohol is not available during the other hours of the day nor is it available during the 3 or 4 annual Buddhist days and nor during any election. Having said this most any little store that sells alcohol will ignore these non sales hours and bootleg you booze especially if you bring in with you a concealing bag into which the booze can be put. The exception being the Buddhist days when it is very difficult to find a bootlegger.
Thailand’s population is 66 million people. 44 million females and 22 million males. Thai women give birth on average to two females for every male born. This leads to some very different ideologies from western culture. 16 million people reside in Bangkok.
Raising your voice is unacceptable in Thailand, and considered rude and impolite. Being humble and calm is always the best approach in Thailand.
Shoes must be taken off upon entering someone’s home. Even if you get a “mai pen rai” (no problem/it’s okay), still take them off! Many stores are also shoes off.
Thai Tourist Police – The short number to call is 1155. There often different phone numbers for different towns or cities and within large cities such as Bangkok there may be area specific numbers for each district. You might expect tourist police to have English language but once again you will find very few tourist police with any language other Thai. Go figure. These are the people you would call to settle a dispute where there is no specific law broken such as a taxi driver charging you 500 baht for a 100 baht ride. If you are being ripped off by a taxi driver here’s a suggestion. Pull out your telephone and tell your driver: “I call tourist police, wait till they come or take (your offer).” It is extremely unlikely that the taxi driver will want to sit and wait for the tourist police to arrive, then discuss and perhaps further fined by them and you will likely get your reduced fare.
Mosquitoes There are over 400 different species of mosquitoes in Thailand, the ones which concern us most are the mosquitoes which spread mosquito borne diseases like Malaria, Dengue fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Chikungunya Fever and Filariasis. Contracting any of these diseases is rare but it does happen. Thai mosquitoes are very small and make no noise on approach. They instinctively avoid white colors as then they are visible and are attracted to dark colors where they are invisible.
Mosquito Hour is the time of day when mosquitoes are at their worst. It is twice daily 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after sunset and sunrise with sunset being the worst. Wear light colored cloths. Deet works or avoid being outside during the mosquito hour. Mosquitoes hide in dark places like under tables and among leaves of plants so don’t sit with your legs under tables or beside plants.
When bitten, and you will be bitten, you can ignore the itch till it goes away, ya right, or you can make an X with your thumb nail across the center of the bite (sometimes you will have to do several times but it works for most people). You can also try the oil of a kaffir lime squeezed from the skin (peel and applied to the bite. This also works for most people.
Minimum wage is 30 baht an hour (or $1 U.S.). So when you are treated properly tipping is most appreciated. Be sure you give the tip directly to the person deserving of the tip (by way of a handshake pass) otherwise it will usually be absorbed into the business owner’s general revenue.
English language is seldom used by Thai nationals and thus what little is learned in school is quickly forgotten. English in the school system is not a priority and is often frowned upon by the Thai teachers. Thai school system is one where no student ever fails and thus there is no incentive to learn. A grade 6 English teacher can expect 50 students in a class and will have 25 students that can’t say the A B C’s, 20 students that are between grade 1 and grade 5 and 5 students that can read and write paragraphs. It’s sad but the vast majority of Thai’s will never earn enough money get out of Thailand beyond their neighboring Asian countries and will have absolutely no use for English on an annual basis. So why should they learn English is a justifiable argument.
The school system is corrupt as in Foreigners as required to have a work permit to work in Thailand and teaching English requires a University degree and a course in Thai culture. All of which is ignored as the schools get paid from the dept. of education who only look at the university diploma (available on Bangkok’s tourist attraction Khao San Rd for 100 baht) and does not insist on work permit #’s to pay the schools for their foreigner teachers. Teachers are paid in cash and are and obviously immigration officers are paid to ignore the situation. The foreigner is treated as second class citizen by school management and staff. Some of this has to do with the fact that a first time no degree 2nd language foreigner English teacher will be paid $1,000 U.S.. It takes a Thai national university graduate specialized in teaching 20 years of teachers to earn the same income.
Barter system – You, a foreigner, will be ripped off, paying anywhere up to 500% more than a Thai person would pay for the same item or attraction, every time you want to purchase anything from food to taxis. It is legal for Thai nationals to charge what they want of a foreigner except taxi they are legally required to run the meter – see Bangkok taxi’s. It is up to you to negotiate a price you are willing to pay. A rule of thumb is you will be asked to pay 100% more than will be accepted so your first counter offer should be less than 50% of their asking price settling somewhere close to 50% of the original asking price. Even Thai’s will barter the asking price for a 10 to 20+% discount off posted prices.
Bangkok Transportation – Airplanes, trains, sky train, under ground train, river boat, canal boat, buses, vans, song tauw, tuk tuk, taxi.
Airplanes – within Thailand can be had last minute for 1 hr flights such as BKK to Chiang Mai or Phuket for $50 U.S. return. Kho Samui is a captive airport meaning it’s owned by one airline and only one airline can go there making it, by comparison, an expensive flight.
Trains – travelling air conditioned – sleeper trains is considerably cheaper than airline travel but is 10 hrs instead of 1 hr. If going on a long ride such as Bangkok to Chiang Mai you will want to take an overnight air con train with sleeper bunks (the seat you sit becomes a bed) and has an overhead bunk as well.
Sky Train – Is a fast way for getting through the city if the Sky Train goes near your destination. The cost depends on the distance to your destination but is 20 baht to 50 baht per person and if travelling alone it is a cheap and fast. If travelling two or more person you likely can go by taxi for near the same cost and actually end up at your specific destination.
Under ground Train – The underground train travel to different destinations than the Sky Train making it possible to use it or combine the sky train and the underground train to get to a particular location.
River Boat – Commuter boats and tourist boats are both a great way to see BKK from the river. The difference is the commuter boat is half the price and goes the entire length of the river piers (60 piers) for 20 baht while the tourist boat is 40 baht and only goes pier 1 – 30. The tourist boat has English explanations for what is coming up next and is wider therefore easier to get up and move around for photos.
Canal Boat – Commuter boat – Is a great experience and is also very fast to get to where it goes. Just as with the river boat it offers non stop photo ops. It is not easy to board and get off therefore it is not recommended for the aged and those with poor co-ordination. It travels from Near Khao San Road to middle of Seri Thai Rd. It is an option for after a Chef LeeZ cooking class to return to your room or to go to your next destination. It is not recommended as an option to come to class as it can take a couple hours from departing your room to arriving at the school.
Buses – The average Thailand Buss is super cheap travel but is slower than trains and the busses are generally old and may not make the entire trip without breaking down.
City Buses – Are the cheapest way to travel within cities having these buses and can be faster than taxi especially during rush hour traffic. The cost will depend on the destination. The set immediate behind the middle doors of the street buss are reserved for Buddhist monks. If you are sitting in this chair and a monk enters he stand there expecting you to give up your chair. Failure to do so is very poor manners.
Song Taow – is a truck with the box fitted with seats and a rain and sun cover. They do not operate in BKK city center. Generally sit on the side the women are sitting on as that will be the shaded side. Thai culture the men do not sit on the same side as the women. You will see these on the city outskirts but not in downtown centers.
Tuk Tuk – Reserve this for an experience and a short ride as you will surely be taken on your tuk tuk ride. A foreigner can go in an air conditioned taxi, on the meter 100 % OF THE TIME, cheaper than you will be able to negotiate for a ride on a tuk tuk. GUARANTEED! If a tuk tuk offers you a cheap ride he will drop you by 2 or 3 or more shopping sites where high pressure salespeople will be all over you, also GUARANTEED as he receives gas vouchers and commissions for bringing you by their shop.
Taxis – see our taxi page for detailed BKK taxi options. Always request the meter and if you accept a non-metered ride, have an agreed to price before getting into the taxi. Know without the meter you will pay up to 500% more than with the meter. Expect to have to ask 5 or 6 taxis to run the meter before finding one that will obey the taxi law and offer you, a foreigner, a metered ride. Know where you are going and know how long it should typically take (in rush hour and non-rush hour) as 30 minutes in a BKK taxi on the meter, non-rush hour (after 9 am and before 3 pm and after 8 pm week days), will cost 80 to 100 baht.
Medical Services – Minor injuries (scrapes) can be handled by doctors offices, food poisoning by Gov’t hospitals, serious injuries such as head injuries or broken bones go to an international hospital. Food poisoning is common in Thailand and the cost to get hospital fixed is 1,000 baht in a Gov’t hospital and 30,000 baht in an international hospital for the same treatment including the DR. interview, in hospital meds, overnight hospital bed, at home meds. International hospital service will likely be quicker to attending to you but that’s the only difference when it comes to minor stuff. Recently I had an ear infection (from poorly maintained swimming pool). My first visit to a gov’t hospital took near 2 hrs to register and wait for my que. The Dr took 5 minutes to make a referral within the same hospital for the next day as the hours were different the cost for this first visit 80 baht $2,50 U.S.. The next day (two hours to file paperwork and que up) a I saw the ear specialist. He sucked stuff out of my ear (total 5 minutes). Medication, Dr fee and hospital fees total cost was 180 baht ($9 U.S.). The taxi cost to and from the hospital cost 200 baht each way ($12 U.S.) making the taxi service more expensive than the Dr. fees and medications.