Monthly Archives: July 2015

Chong Phli – Day 66

Climbing again today.  Still feeling good.  Warm up on Chutzpah 6a+.  It felt a little harder than I remember but I just had to relearn some of the beta.  I climbed it a second time on top rope and it was much easier.  Next we moved over to Exfoliation 6a+.  I was feeling slightly apprehensive about this one since it’s given me problems in the past but it went better than expected.  Climbed a second time on top rope.  By this time the sun was out and it was time to head home.

Chong Phli – Day 65 or so…

I’ve been resting / exercising my elbow to try to cure what is most likely tendinosis.  I’ve been following some of the recommendations here and it’s been feeling much better.   So last week I went to Chong Phli with a couple from Korea who are in Krabi for their honeymoon.  I took it easy, climbing EFZ 6a+, Zack Attack 5, and Mad Skills 6b.  After climbing my elbow felt a little warm and tired but no real pain so I think I can ease back into climbing a couple days a week now.

Yoga Words

Today in yoga class I was the only foreigner so the teacher taught almost entirely in Thai.  I’ve picked up on a couple words already and learned a few more today.  Here are some yoga related Thai words / phrases:

  1. Yoga: yoo-ká (Thai:โยคะ)
  2. Reverse: glàp-dâan (Thai:กลับด้าน)
  3. Breathe in: hǎai-jai kâo (Thai:หายใจเข้า)
  4. Breathe out: hǎai-jai àↄk (Thai:หายใจออก)
  5. Lengthen your back: yûut lǎng (Thai:ยืดหลัง)
  6. Left hand: muu sáai (Thai:มือซ้าย)
  7. Right hand: muu kwǎa(Thai:มือขวา)
  8. Left foot: táao sáai (Thai:เท้าซ้าย)
  9. Right foot: táao kwǎa (Thai:เท้าขวา)
  10. Left knee: kào sáai (Thai:เข่าซ้าย)
  11. Right knee: kào kwǎa (Thai:เข่าขวา)
  12. Left leg: kǎa sáai (Thai:ขาซ้าย)
  13. Right leg: kǎa kwǎa (Thai:ขาขวา)
  14. Left arm: kɛ̌ɛn sáai (Thai:แขนซ้าย)
  15. Right arm: kɛ̌ɛn kwǎa (Thai:แขนขวา)
  16. Shoulders: lài (Thai:ไหล่)
  17. Jump: grà-dòot (Thai:กระโดด)
  18. Sit down: nâng-long (Thai:นั่งลง)
  19. Stand up: yuun kûn (Thai:ยืนขึ้น)
  20. Body: dtuua (Thai:ตัว)

Bangkok

A friend of mine from work was coming to Bangkok so Anong and I booked some airplane tickets to visit her (thanks for the hospitality Jackie!).  During the day Anong and I explored Bangkok, visited temples, and sampled the many options for food in the city.  In the evenings we met up with Jackie and her friends for dinner and drinks.

On the 17th, we arrived in the afternoon.  Getting from the airport to the city isn’t too difficult but it does take some time…  We flew into Don Mueang Airport which means we had to take the A1 bus to the Mo Chit Bus Station which connects to the BTS (Sky Train).  Once in the sky train station it was pretty easy to figure out how to get to Jackie’s place.  I think it took about 2.5 hours to get there though.  Once we got off the BTS is was a 20 minute or so walk.  It didn’t take us long to find some street food.

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If I go to Bangkok again I think I will try flying into Suvarnabhumi Airport which I think connects to the subway and BTS which would save lots of time by avoiding the bus ride.  A little later in the evening we all went out for dinner at a Thai restaurant then met some other friends for drinks at a place called Small’s Bar.   They had a pretty cool rooftop seating area.

The next day was a gruelling tour of all the wats (temples) in Bangkok.  Well, not all of them but we went to 7 or 8 wats and a couple other shrines so it felt like we went to all of them.  But first Anong and I went to a yoga studio for a nice morning workout.  It was interesting trying a new yoga studio with different teachers and a different style of yoga.  Anyone in Bangkok should check out Roots8Yoga.

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Now for the wats!  I think the first place we went to was called Chao Pho Suea Joss House.  I can’t recommend going there.  Once we got close to the entrance a few ladies selling incense, candles, and other things start quickly talking to us and showing a price list of various things.  Anong is discussing various things with them.  This is all happening in Thai so I’m not really sure what is being discussed.  I don’t have a good feeling about this but I thought I’d just let Anong do her thing since it’s important to her  and it seems they agreed on an offering tray with a few things on it for around ฿200 which didn’t seem too bad.  So we go in side, light the prescribed number of incense sticks at each spot, burn some candles and do our thing.  Meanwhile some dude is talking over a loudspeaker and some lady is following us around seemingly explaining various things to Anong but this is all unusual to me so I ask why is this lady following us around.  Not getting a clear answer I just go with the flow.  About 10 minutes later we walk out and back to the stand that sold us the tray of things and they tell us it’s ฿790!  What!?  Being in a little bit of shock I just pay it unsure of what service they provided for 10 minutes that was worth ฿790.  After explaining to Anong that I don’t like being taken advantage of and that we can not spend ฿790 at every wat we go to we were on our way.

For any visitors to Thailand, here’s the standard operating procedure when visiting temples.

  1. You can bring your own incense and candles.  But if you use the incense and candles at the temple, they usually suggest a donation of ฿5 to ฿20.
  2. More popular temples will have vendors selling flowers outside.  Flowers will cost between ฿25 to ฿100 but none of this money goes to the temple so skip it.
  3. When going inside the temple, take off your shoes.
  4. When inside, light incense, say prayers, burn candles, take pictures.  Pictures are almost always ok.  Just be quiet and reverent.
  5. There are usually 1 or 2 monks inside the temple.  It’s ok to talk to the monk and you can get a blessing from the monk.  It’s not required but a ฿20 donation is appropriate.
  6. There will be other donation boxes inside the temple.  Donate any amount you feel is appropriate.

The next stop is Wat Phra Kaew.  It’s inside the Grand Palace and is one of the most popular tourist spots in the city.  Outside they have a recording that plays every minute or two to remind people the palace is open every day and to be suspicious of anyone approaching you.  Apparently a big scam is to tell tourists the palace is closed today then take them on a tour of gem and tailor shops with high pressure salesmen.  It’s nice to see something being down to cut down on the tourist scams.  The price to go inside was ฿500 for tourists!  Thais are free.  Thanks Thailand for yet another reminder that although you are happy to take my money, I am not really welcome here and do not belong.  Still feeling sick from the last experience it was an easy decision to wait outside while Anong went in.  It was so crowded that Anong wasn’t able to take any pictures so I feel like I didn’t miss anything.  Here’s a couple pictures I got while I waited.

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Before Wat Phra Kaew we saw this:

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Mother Earth Squeezing Her Hair. A shrine to Queen Patcharindra who set up access to clean water for the people.

And this:

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Next was Wat Pho.  ฿200 to get in (free for Thais).  No thanks.  Here’s a picture of the ceiling over the bench I sat on while waiting outside.

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After Wat Pho we went to Wat Arun.  Wat Arun had lots of interesting things to look at.  Most of which can be seen without paying a fee.  There is one section that does have a fee but it’s a more reasonable ฿40 so I ended up paying that and got a few more pictures.

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IMG_0858After Wat Arun we bought some boat tickets and rode up and down the Chao Phraya River (Thai: แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา) and saw a few more temples.  Note the “Ch” is pronounced with a ‘J’ sound.  At this point all the temples started looking the same so here’s a few more pictures:

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Done with the temples!  Here’s another street food picture.  They are making Kanom Krok.  My favorite Thai snack / dessert:

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On the 19th, I went to yoga in the morning.  After yoga we relaxed then headed out on the BTS to explore Bangkok a little bit.  We did a little shopping at MBK but didn’t buy much.  Walked around, and ate some food.

On the 20th, we went to see the Erawan Shrine.  It’s a statue with four faces.

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Then we went to China Town.

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Durian Gan Yao!

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Of course we went to more wats!

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Painting on a ceramic pot.

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This is a solid gold statue of Buddha. This picture cost me ฿40

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The temples in China Town reminded me of Hong Kong.

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The durian was delicious.

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Then we ate pizza at Via Vai.  A guy we were with is friends with the owner so we got this extra fancy pizza.  We drank red wine and ate some more normal pizzas.  Best pizza I’ve had in Thailand so far.

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 And on our last day, we just went to the airport.  Back on the BTS to Mo Chit.  Then take the A1 to the airport.  It was a bit of an adventure finding the bus station and the bus.  I learned that Thai people are happy to give you directions even when they don’t know the location of where you are trying to go.  The bus stop didn’t list the A1 bus so I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to come here.  Anong asked someone and they said walk up to the next spot about 100 feet away.  Still no indication that the A1 bus would come here and nobody can explain to me why it comes here when it’s not listed as stopping here.  Eventually a #29 bus comes.  I’m not sure how but Anong quickly figured out it also goes to the airport and we confirmed it with the bus driver.  So we get on the bus and about a half mile up the road pass another bus stop with clearly marked sign for the A1 bus.  Eventually we made it to the airport and got to the gate 20 minutes before boarding.

Bangkok was a fun city.  I’d like to go back to sample more of the street food and see some of the other areas.  I was really amazed at how much food is in the city.  There are many restaurants but the sidewalks are packed with food vendors at all times of the day.  I was also pleasantly surprised with the taxis.  I’d heard horror stories about taxis not using the meters, over charging, and refusing to take you to where you wanted to go but the couple times we took a taxi we did not have any of those problems.

One Phrase Every Visitor to Thailand Should Know

Thailand is a beautiful country but it has a trash problem and most of the people here do not respect the environment.  I think this is slowly starting to change though with the Trash Hero movement.  There is also a local chapter in Ao Nang that I participated in a few weeks ago when they went to Koh Poda.  It’s nice to see locals and tourists working together to keep the beaches clean.  The amount of plastic, styrofoam, and other garbage picked up just this one day from the beach was staggering.  I think it was over 1000 Kilograms.  It’s not just the beaches that have problems though.  Many roads are littered with trash.  I think most people don’t really see it because almost nobody walks along the road so it’s not seen as a problem.  Most of the trash is plastic bags, water bottles, straws, and styrofoam containers used for takeout food.

I’m not sure why but Thailand really loves plastic bags.  I’m no environmentalist and thought the plastic bag ban in Seattle was silly but even I can see the use of plastic bags here is excessive and damaging to the environment.  It’s not uncommon to see somebody buy a bottle of water at 7-11 then have the cashier put the bottle in a plastic bag with a few straws then as the customer walks out the door throw the plastic bag and straws in the garbage can then drive off on their scooter.  That plastic bag was used for about 3 seconds.  Such a waste.

So I’ve started refusing plastic bags every chance I get.  I also got this sweet stainless steel food container that I use when I want to bring food back to my room to eat.  So, before the cashier has a chance to put your items in a plastic bag say this: Mâi sài tǔng ná kráp / ไม่ใส่ถุงนะครับ.  It means “Do not put in a plastic bag”.  Note that women should say ká / คะ instead of kráp /ครับ. When the cashier looks at your like you are crazy (because nobody ever asks for this), you can say: Mii tǔng léao / มีถุงแล้ว.  It means “I already have a bag”.  Then the cashier will probably smile and happily let you put your items in your bag.

It’s not much but I’m trying to be more mindful of the amount of plastic I use.

Spelling

In school we have been practicing spelling lately.  Sometimes the words are easy to spell based on the sound and tone.  Other words simply need to be memorized and this is further complicated by the fact that there are many consonants that make the same sound.  For example, five consonants for the initial ‘k’ sound (ข, ฃ, ค, ฅ, ฆ), 4 consonants for the initial ‘s’ sound (ซ, ศ, ษ, ส), and 5 consonants for the initial ‘t’ sound (ฑ, ฒ, ถ, ท, ธ).  The choice is even more difficult when choosing consonants for the ending syllable sound.  There are six consonants for ‘k’, six consonants for ‘n’, six consonants for ‘p’, and seventeen consonants for ‘t’!  Then there are the words that have a gaa-ran (Thai:การันต์) over one or more consonants.  This symbol serves to silence the consonant so it is not pronounced.

This makes it seem like learning to spell is a nearly impossible task.  Memorization is still needed but once the tone is figured out, the possibilities for spelling a word are greatly reduced.  So, here’s a chart that can be used to help figure out how to spell words.

  1. Low Tone
    1. MIDDLE + DEAD
    2. อ + ย + DEAD
    3. MIDDLE + ่ + LIVE
    4. อ + ย +  ่ + LIVE
    5. HIGH + DEAD
    6. ห + (งนมรยญวล) + DEAD
    7. HIGH + ่ + LIVE
    8. ห + (งนมรยญวล) +  ่ + LIVE
  2. Middle Tone
    1. MIDDLE + LIVE
    2. LOW + LIVE
  3. High Tone
    1. LOW + SHORT + DEAD
    2. LOW + ้
    3. MID + ๊
  4. Rising Tone
    1. HIGH + LIVE
    2. ห + (งนมรยญวล) + LIVE
    3. MID + ๋
  5. Falling Tone
    1. LOW + LONG + DEAD
    2. LOW + ่
    3. MIDDLE + ้
    4. HIGH + ้
    5. ห + (งนมรยญวล) +  ้

Note that in the above rules, ‘ห’ is used to change a low class consonant to a high class consonant and ‘อ’ is used to change the low class consonant ‘ย’ to middle class.  When ‘อ’ and ‘ห’ are used to change the class of a consonant they are silent.

Also note that the tone marks ‘ ๋’ and ‘ ๊’ only ever appear over middle class consonants.

There are only four words where ‘อ’ is used to change ‘ย’ to middle class and they are all pronounced with a low tone.  They are:

  1. อยาก – want / desire
  2. อย่า – do not / prohibit
  3. อย่าง – type / kind
  4. อยู่ – to be (somewhere) / live / occupy

Don’t Take a Dump

It’s always fun reading signs that are in Thai and English.  I haven’t seen any horribly bad translations but there are definitely a few that have raised an eyebrow.

  1. From a roadside fruit stand near my room in Ao Nang.  Here is a sign selling pineapples.  ฿15 per pineapple or a little bit less than 50 cents.  Pretty good.  No apples or pies were to be found.
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  2. This is a sign in the Krabi Immigration parking lot.  The Thai script basically says “Parking lot for people who come to contact the government office”.  May I suggest simply “Visitor Parking”.
  3. IMG_7178Here’s a sign on Poda Island.  I find this very funny for childish reasons.  A mostly literal translation of the Thai script says “It is forbidden to dump trash of all kinds within the national park.  People who infringe will be penalized according to the law”.  Also note the oddly placed comma after “law”.  A better translation would be “It is forbidden to dump trash.  Violators will be prosecuted”.  Or simply “No dumping!  Violators will be prosecuted.”
  4. IMG_7105Here’s a sign at Wat Sai Thai.  I haven’t translated the Thai script yet but I really want to know what this marine transgression was and if the sea has been properly punished for its crimes.
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