Shift in culture
As you go further south in Thailand you'll notice more and more Muslims as opposed to the rest of Thailand who are Buddhists. I remember seeing a woman wearing a full length black burkah riding a bicycle with the sun beating down. Tourists should do their best to respect the culture and not expose too much skin. There have been reports of insurgency here, so keep your eyes open.
Neanderthal Traffic Lights!
These weird Neanderthal figures sit on top of columns that house traffic lights at a junction in the town centre near the shopping mall and market. They seem to be lifting the lights which look like they're made to look like they're encased in rock which is all a bit strange and I've no idea what it's all about!
As a local described this, a princess needed to bear a child. So, a shrine was made to help her. The shrine located on Phranang Beach in Railay west is filled with many phallic objects. It's not such an interesting sight. Seems rather out of place on the beautiful, tropical looking beach.
- Arts and Culture
General Map of Railay
This is not a detailed map but it will give you an idea of where the general points of interest are located. Hope it helps! Picture is taken from the link listed below.
To walk from Railay East to Railay West takes about 5 minutes. So, that should give you an idea how small this area really is. To walk from Railay to Phranang (Ao Pranang on the map) Beach is also about 5 minutes.
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Guys Hello, Girls Hello
Saying hello in Thai can be quite comical for the locals if you use the wrong phrase.
For guys, you will need to say "Sawadee-khap". For ladies, you will need to say "Sawadee-Kha".
To formalise your "Hellos" and also an act which gives it added respect to the person your are saying to, clasp your two hands together and with just a slight bow, say "Sawadee-Khap".
Then you're on your way to a much nicer stay in Thailand.
Despite being relatively westernised many of the public toilets in/around Krabi are squat toilets (not so much in restaurants), with a bucket of water next to it for flushing. My advice, always carry toilet paper with you. Even in the western loos, paper isn't always available or you may be charged for it.
Have fun with the people in Thailand, but never do things that will cause you harm. For example, items like the Thai flags and also their elephants are well-respected. Pictures of their King is also adorned in all public buildings and even homes.
Refrain from saying things about the King nor try to deface his picture. recently, one Swiss guy did just that and he got 10 years jail for his artistic effort.
Tips for bargaining in Thailand
Bargaining is part of the culture in Thailand. The vast majority of markets and small stores not only allow it, but expect it. That said, there here are some quick tips to get you started:
1) You can usually take about 30-50% of the original offer, so make your first offer below that range. This gives the impression of compromise when you eventually go up a little.
2) Be patient: You may have to invest a couple minutes of negotiation and walk away once or twice.
3) Shop around a bit first: Try to gauge the going market price to when you make your offer.
4) Learn some basic Thai: it makes you seem a little more cultured and less like a free spending tourist.
5) Most importantly, SMILE: Smiling is crucial - in Thailand it’s a sign of respect and shows that you're interested in having a civilized business conversation.
Good bargaining takes practice. You may strike out the first few times, but stick with it and you’ll get some great deals.
Proper Buddhist Temple Etiquette
While many tourists often regard Buddhist temples as great photo opportunities, many also fail to properly respect them as places of worship. Here are a few basic tips for proper temple etiquette:
1) Dress properly. Clothing (for both men and women) should cover the shoulders and knees. This means no tank-tops or short skirts. T-shirts should be fine. Occaisionally some well visited sites have "cover clothing" for rent.
2) Always remove your shoes before entering the temples.
3) The feet are considered the 'lowest' part of the body, so avoid pointing them towards other people and especially any altars or Buddha images
4) Women should never touch monks! Do not even hand out something to them directly. Just use an intermediary, or place an item on a table.
By following these simple guidelines you'll still be able to appreciate the beauty of Thailand's temples, and now the local worshipers will appreciate you right back.
I love the decorative food that is served on your plate or on a buffet.
A tomato that is carved to look like a bird,
butterflies made out of veggies.
I especially admired this watermelon that was made to look like a flower.
- Arts and Culture
The true river transport in Thailand is the long-tail boat so called because the propeller is located at the end of a long drive shaft extending from the engine.
The motor can be anything from a small marine engine to a large car engine.
Lon-yail boats can travel at great speed.
You will see many of these lined up in Ao Nang ready to take you wherever you would like to go.
- Sailing and Boating
Your coin, please
Most public toilets either have a lady sitting at the entrance to collect your coin before you are allowed inside or otherwise they just leave the box sitting on a table and hope you will put your coin in the box.
These are generally squat toilets with a bucket of water nearby for flushing.
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No shoes at the temple
Shoes are strictly forbidden at any Buddhist temple. It would be an insult of the greatest magnitude to enter a temple building without first removing shoes. Shorts are frowned upon. However, visiting a remote temple like Wat Bang Riang as part of a daylong excursion it is not expected that visitors will have long pants (it was well over 30C that day). The expectations are different in the cities and in the more important temples. It is probably best to ascertain the dress code before venturing to a temple to avoid bad feelings and embarressment on all sides.
- Arts and Culture
Fruit and flowers
Because it was our anniversary, we had a bowl of local fruit and an orchid bouquet in our room when we arrived.
This was a very special touch and much appreciated.
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