It’s interesting, the reaction you get when you tell people that you’re going to Thailand on holiday. It ranges from a sly smile, to a slap on the back and sometimes a wistful expression of past memories. Then you clarify that you’re going with family. Eyebrows are raised, a dejected sigh is let out and a couple of times I swear I saw an expression that meant ‘serves you right’. People have an expectation from Thailand, much like they do from a Salman Khan film. Over the top action, a fair amount of song and dance and after some emotional negotiation, he will always get the girl.
I’ve seen a slightly off the beaten path version of Thailand this time. I mean, the path has always been there, it’s just that people don’t expect to beat it. Take shopping, I ended up visiting only one mall, and that too on a time limit. The wife laid down the law, it seems we were there to enjoy the country, not shop in a mall. Who knew? I quickly figured that they don’t cater to, how to say, large people. Surprising, considering that so many tourists of varied sizes come to Bangkok. After trying out a couple of shops, I quickly figured XL sizes were not their speciality. So clothes were out of the question, save for the dragon design pyjama pants I ended up buying at the weekend market. Anything that is wide enough to need a drawstring to hold it up usually fits me.
My consolation prize were the most high-tech ganjees I have ever seen. They have all these properties for perspiration evaporation, anti-odour properties, promotes coolness and comfort and all that other stuff. The details perhaps reveal a little too much information, but I can’t help myself. I’m as excited as an eighteen year old finding perfect lingerie. Don’t make the leap of the imagination and picture me in lingerie, you will lose your appetite.
There’s also the sightseeing, and the one thing I learned is that Bangkok is one of those places where seeing the same place in daylight and at night are two different experiences. The palace, the temples, night market, flower market, street food, all quite fun.
We went to a restaurant that serves ostensibly the best Pad Thai in Bangkok. Nice as it was, it seems like the Thais are great at marketing as well as cooking. I need to learn to enjoy things for what they are, not because they are spoken of highly. The line outside the restaurant does however lead me to believe that either marketing can convince a lot of people or my taste buds are little bit off.
I will also say this about Bangkok, the seamier side of the city can be entirely avoided if you so choose. So depending on whom you’re travelling with, the trip can be tweaked to suit your personal tastes.
Something I would have certainly not done, if I was left to my own devices, was quad-biking. Bouncing around on an all-terrain vehicle is not my holiday thing. But with us was my young nephew, full of adventure and derring-do, and this was high on his to do list. So as not to come across as the boring-lump-on-holiday uncle, I gamely went where, to my knowledge, no boring-lump-on-holiday uncle has gone.
Exciting and invigorating to say the least, two hours of madly riding around forest trails and getting muddy in a way that hasn’t happened since football games during the monsoon in childhood.
In the midst of this, someone is taking pictures and videos of your shenanigans. It would have been much nicer if they surprised you with a media memento of your ride, included in the not insubstantial payment already made, instead of trying to sell it to you seperately. But hey, you’re the tourist, they’re in a monopoly situation, you’re fair game. So I have an unframed picture, because I refused to buy the frame at an extra cost, of me smiling madly at the camera while spraying mud on self and fellow riders.
Then came the sailing trip, Phuket to Krabi. Once you get over having to set sail at the ungodly hour of eight am, on holiday, it gets to be quite enjoyable. You pass a whole bunch of islands, stop at a couple for snorkelling and cave exploring. It helps to have an enthusiastic guide, who points at a cave and tells us about birds who build nests from their saliva it seems. On seeing a collective grimace from the crowd, he educates us on how those nests are actually much sought after. Turns out, a broth made from them gives a man ‘More power, vroom vroom, missus happy’, with a suggestive swaying of the hips. His words, not mine, I assure you. How would I know, certainly don’t need it myself, just saying.
Did I go for a massage? More than a couple, actually. The only happy ending to those were a big smile, a gentle bow and the Thai equivalent of Namaste. Yes, those types of massages do exist, can be very easily found and highly recommended. Is there any other kind? Certainly, but you only find what you’re looking for.
Turns out, there’s lots more to explore in that country, the question is, should I deal with expressions of shock and disappointment, or should I just tell people I’m going with the boys?
While on questions, you did picture me in lingerie, didn’t you?
Ashish Jagtiani is the name he was born with, though that is a bit of an urban legend. He goes by the name of Jaggu, a very popular name across the airwaves. Dry, dark and lucid would describe him aptly, where one can only hope that one is not on the receiving end of that unholy trio.