Thailand – part 3 (of 9)

Bangkok is locally known as Krung Thep, which means City of Angels. Its full name “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathi Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit” is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest name for a place. (Google, however, doesn’t agree with this statement)

part 3 01

Very colorful country, and for a reason. Every person has a colour, as determined by the day on which you were born;
Monday        =   Yellow
Tuesday        =   Pink
Wednesday  =   Green
Thursday      =   Orange
Friday           =   Blue
Saturday      =   Purple
Sunday         =   Red (1st day of the week)

Hence all the pink taxis, as the owner of the company were born on a Tuesday. Only the yellow top/green bottom taxis don’t follow this pattern, as they are ‘owner driver’ taxis. (The driver of the taxi below is restrictive about what you are allowed to do in his vehicle … checkout the 3rd last no-no.)

part 3 02

Did I mention that Thailand is known for shopping? As they have been doing/offering this for a while now, it only stands to reason that they must have systems in place. Systems that only make sense to them. Some are consumer friendly, if you enter a clothing stall/shop and the shop assistants ignore you like in South Africa, then they do not have your size (remember the locals are compact size). If they rush to greet you at the door (with “we have your size”), then they offer plush sizes, proudly marked “XXL” or even “XXXL”. One’s self esteem does go for a nose dive. Paying for your shopping triggers one of their systems that just doesn’t make sense. The street vendors are the easiest. You hand over money, you get your items. Done. In the shops it starts with a sticker that gets pulled off the item and they stick it onto a sheet of paper, which is placed inside a book, inside a folder. (Sometimes a second sticker is placed on the outside of the folder) The assistant then hands the pile, along with your shopping to a second person – who by them also wants the money/credit card, who walks to the cashier and hand everything over. The cashier then checks all the stickers and scans some of them randomly. Lot of talking takes place amongst them and then eventually a credit card slip appears for me to sign. What’s up with all the stickers? The worst system was in a department store, where the cashier scanned it, then pulled the price sticker off the item and stuck it onto a piece of paper. Put the piece of paper in the printer and printed something on it, we conclude the sale on paper, with me and PF wondering among ourselves what the use of their computers would be. Would hate to work there when they have a stock take!

part 3 04

Speaking of technology. This is rather impressive. Time to pay and I hand my credit card over. Before the cashier gets the chance to tear the slip off for me to sign, I already received my SMS from FNB to advise of the transaction that took place, along with the value (in Rands … very handy). But think about it. Her machine needs to talk to her bank, which needs to shout over the ocean to FNB, only for FNB to nod and say it is OK, and then FNB has to send me a SMS back halfway around the globe … all in a matter of seconds.

part 3 03

Way back when Tygervalley Shopping Centre opened and everyone was in awe of the size. Many a Durbanville housewife had to do coffee halfway through, due to sheer exhaustion. 275 shops. Canal Walk opened and people had to buy treadmills to practise at home. 400 shops. MBK (Mah Boon Krong) – the one we have spent most of our time in – has 2000 shops! (5 x Canal Walk) OK, the shops are way smaller, but crowded with stuff. Many without prices, which mean you have to ask. And if you have to ask you know the first price given is over inflated. The shop assistants do not speak good English and they always punch the value on a calculator and hand it to you. Very handy, as one can then divide by 4.5 to get Rands (saves time to not have to get own phone out to do the conversion). In the beginning one is shy and just shake your head and walk away, but after a while you realise your rug sack is empty and you start tapping numbers away on the calculator and hand it back to the assistant … sometimes they agree and sometimes they shake their heads and walk way. Needless to say often you haggle your price down, only to realise you have just shaved R10 of an item.

We also braved the “Weekend Market” at Chatuchak which crams 15 000 stalls into 35 acres!!

Continue reading Thailand – part 4 (of 9).