Hannah- Blog 14
You're not Thai? Huh? American? What?!
Sah Waht Dii Kha or Hello! This is one of the very basic sayings that I have learned in Thai. Unfortunately, much to the dismay of the Thai people and myself, I really don't know much else. Much like how many of the Egyptians mistook Luqman for a local, I have had the same assumption and mistake happen to me in Thailand.
This all started when we arrived in Thailand around 1:15 PM after a delay in Cairo. We came off our flight and stood in the LONG line for customs and then rode the escalators down to meet our contact for Intrepid Tour & Travel. When she saw me, she did the traditional Thai greeting of a prayer-like-palms-together gesture and said sah what dii kha. Of course I had no idea what was going on and just responded with "hello!" She looked at me utterly confused and then looked down at her paperwork and then looked back at me and said "you're not Thai?" I shook my head no and said "American." She responded with "strange, I thought you were Thai." I looked at Luqman who just shrugged.
We got in our cab, which was a very, very nice Camry and started the hour drive to our hotel. Our cab driver was a nice man who taught me some key Thai phrases such as thank you and do you speak English as well as informed us of some traditional Thai culture. In particular, he told us about the Thai Royal Family and their relationship with the people. Like many countries, Thailand's Royal Family is much talked about and photographed. Everywhere you look, you see pictures of the King in various stages of his life, his wife the Queen, and their four children. Currently, King Rama IX is the longest ruling monarch in the world. He has ruled for 60 years and has celebrated his 80th birthday in the recent past. However unlike many countries, the Royal Family is greatly revered and any speech against the Royals, even in jest, is unacceptable and not tolerated. I was very glad that our cab driver told us this before my dumb butt said a stupid or crass joke. He also showed us the soccer stadium as well as the other notable buildings in Bangkok. We finally arrived to our hotel, the Viengtai Hotel, and I felt like Intrepid Tours told us in the words of Beyonce, "let me upgrade you," because the hotel was nice! No offense to the Indiana Hotel, but this place was the Four Seasons compared to it. We settled into our posh (shout out to my Brits) room and then were delighted to find out that we could tap into someone else's wireless network. We used this time to call our friends and family back home and I am mighty glad I did because I found out that the reason why my parents hadn't been answering my calls were because they were on vacation in Hawaii. Man! I guess they didn't want to be upstaged by me. I'm glad there wasn't an emergency and I wouldn't know where to reach them….sheesh… I walked down the street to withdraw some Thai Bhat and looked around and noticed that all the locals were not wearing summery clothing. Well I guess what I mean is that they weren't wearing common Western summer clothing. You could clearly tell the locals from the tourists because besides the bright fanny packs, the tourists were wearing short shorts and tanks. The Thai locals were wearing light clothing that covered the majority of their body. My hat is off to them because I'll admit it, I am a complete wuss when it comes to heat and add in the humidity and whoo-wee! Anyways, the Thai heat is no joke, thus I made it a point to remember to drink plenty of water while I was here so I wouldn't become dehydrated or faint. Our meeting was scheduled around 6 PM in the lobby and we headed downstairs to meet our group and guide. I was a bit nervous because I didn't know what to expect. Our last tour group was great and I wasn't sure if lightning could strike twice. We met our group and discovered that Luqman and I were the only Americans in our tour. We had two Aussies, three Brits, a Scot, and a Dutch woman who lived in Australia. When we were taking roll, our guide, Arjan, looked at me and asked "you're not Thai?" Again, I sadly told her no and she looked confused. Our group went to a dinner at a restaurant down the street and we all enjoyed an AMAZING meal for a very small cost. The current exchange rate between the US dollar and Thai Bhat is 1 to 31. Thus, we ate a feast for a few dollars. Afterwards we went back upstairs and got ready to pack for the rest of the tour. I was excited to finally bust out and pack the summer clothes because I knew I would be needing them to survive the sweltering Thai heat. And so I went to bed dreaming of our Thailand adventure full of waterfalls, elephants, and gorgeous temples. Until next time, lao pohp gun mai!