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Welcome to Thailand

March 12, 2006 Thailand Arrival

After another night of waking up around 1am, we’re all up, dressed, packed and ready to go at 6am. Off to a 3 hr. flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

The Hong Kong airport is wonderful, especially at 8am on a Sunday. No waiting at the ticket counter or security. Food is a bit strange for us Westerners—no bacon and eggs here. Would you care for soup with seaweed, or rice with octopus? We did manage to find pancakes for the girls so all was right with the world. And, of course, Starbucks coffee for the parents.

No issues with the flight. Kids were great. Bangkok airport is small and not nearly as clean as Hong Kong. We get through Immigration very quickly because we get picked out of the Visitors line and put through the Residents line. Apparently the Thai people like families and children—maybe our kids will start to pay off!

We haggled a bit for a taxi to take us to Chanthaburi, a small town about 4 hrs. south of Bangkok. We were able to get a van with A/C for only $125. Things are cheap here.

I asked the driver to stop at a place where I could buy a SIM card for my mobile phone. About an hour down the road we stopped at a roadside shopping area with had a 7-11. Apparently this is the big SIM card buying market—buy a phone and get a free slushy. And, it was dirt cheap. Got some drinks and snack, a SIM card and a calling card that gives me 200 minutes for only $17. The food and drinks alone would cost us about $17 in the states. (NOTE: later I would find out that the calling card didn’t give me 200 minutes, but gave me 200 baht worth of calls. At 5 baht per minute, that gave me 40 minutes of talk time, which worked out fine anyway. That averages out to 12 cents per minute.

Note on the mobile phone: no idea how this started working. I popped the card in my phone, dialed the number of our homestay place that night, and I was directed to an automated registration service. I THINK this was to register my new card, but it was difficult to hear the voice prompts. It asked me to input my serial number, which I didn’t know what number to type. The card had a serial number, and the package that the card came in had a different number. And both were about 54 digits long. So I tried inputting both but received error messages. It kicked me out of the automated system and instructed me to dial 1678, which I assumed was some sort of helpdesk. After I dialed that number several times and received nothing but static on the phone, I tried calling our homestay place again. Worked fine. Don’t know how that happened, but I see that we will be challenged by the language differences here. The instructions with both the SIM card and the extra minutes are only in Thai. That’s part of the fun, eh?

Odd Thoughts:

  • I have been plagued with Strep Throat in the past and had all the symptoms of it during our stay at Chiang Dao Nest. I saw a pharmacy that advertised an English speaking pharmacist and walked in and got a week's worth of Amoxicillin for $3.00. Don't need a prescription from a doctor to get these and they're obviously extremely cheap here.
  • Most of rural Thailand does not have grounded electrical outlets. Strange.
  • The beds are really hard. They must make the mattresses with a combination of concrete and diamond.
  • You can haggle for anything, as long as it's not confrontational and you keep a smile. I think you can generally expect to get at least a 10% discount from the advertised price.

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