Songkran

Snakes keep popping up everywhere. Not a single day has passed for the last week or two where someone hasn’t mentioned them, or a picture hasn’t popped up somewhere, or someone hasn’t given us a Naga Buddha amulet.

Nagaland is calling hard, but alas, we must not hurry ourselves.

In the modern day with Facebook and Twitter, everything seems to go faster and faster. But life doesn’t. Life goes at it’s own speed and it does not bend to anyones will. We so want to leave Thailand already, and everybody else wants us to also, but life has different plans it seems. We must respect it.

Here are todays gifts from people we met and talked to.

Buddha protected by 7 Nagas. We were given 2, one each
Photo: Pyry Kääriä

 

Buddha with a protection prayer on the back given to Juho
Photo: Juho Sarno

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Enlightened Buddha given to Pyry
Photo: Pyry Kääriä

As well as all the niceness from the Mae Moei people, one really good thing has happened. Our tuk tuk man, Mr. Pong, may have redeemed himself and made himself one of our best assets. He managed to help get the audience with the Myanmar Embassy, and he is trying his hardest to use all of his contacts to speed up the process so we can leave.

But alas, he is only human, like all of us. We can only do our best and nothing more, though I must say, that so far what I know of the Myanmar people, they really do their best. Especially when it comes to Songkran. Most of them seem to have eyes that penetrate the soul, and they party like there’s no tomorrow, for two weeks.

We crossed the border yesterday, again, and I have to say that the old saying, ‘third time is the charm’, should be changed to, ‘first time is the charm’, so that we wouldn’t have to do everything three times. We got through no problem, but our tugboat on wheels didn’t.

The letter from the Embassy had not made it to the central government of Myanmar before Songkran, and there, the party is just too good for anyone to answer phones, so we must wait ’till the party ends.

We used our chance while in Myanmar and spent some time partying with the Myawaddyans. After getting soaked within the first ten steps we went to find some food by the river. The locals were summersaulting into the river so we decided to join them. Very nice people with very potent self made drinks.

 

Photo: Juho Sarno

Photo: Juho Sarno

 

 

Then we came back towards immigration only to be stopped by a big group of ecstatic youngsters dancing like hell and squirting water every which way. By this time the alcohol had hit, and jumping around looked like fun, so we joined in and had a blast.

 

 

Video Screenshot, Tuk Tuk Travellers

Video Screenshot, Tuk Tuk Travellers

 

Not knowing if it was 5 o’clock already we went back to immigration just incase. The border closes at 5 and we were told to return before that. We found Myanmar Immigration partying also, so we spent our last hour dancing and drinking in no-mans land with them.

 

Photo: Juho Sarno

Photo: Juho Sarno

Myanmar has taken our hearts already.

We left with huge smiles on our faces and this time, we got a phone number for one of the Immigration guys so we can call him, and make sure, that next time we will definitely get through.

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Are the vegetables greener in Cambodia?

You know the old saying, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’? Well I was thinking about this a while ago and with the logic minded brain that I have, I came up with a theory.

If the grass is greener on the otherside, that means that wherever you look, the grass is greener than the patch of land under your feet, right? Doesn’t this then mean that whenever you move anywhere, the grass just keeps getting greener and greener? Doesn’t this then mean that everything is just going to get better and better?

So are the greens greener in Cambodia? We don’t know. We never got there. Instead we got to a piece of land that was not Thailand, and I’m not sure if it was Cambodia either because we could see passport checks to both countries about 300m apart. We were standing in the middle with two huge casinos on both sides.

We missed the bus and wouldn’t have made it on monday night so we decided to pay a few hundred extra baht and take the easy way. First buses left at 5am and we were asked to wait because 1 had come unreserved and they asked for one more van. This was quite a good chance space wise and sleeping would have been excellent if the driver hadn’t gone like crazy over every bump. I found myself hovering over the last 3 seats and then pounding into them time after time.

The door was opened and we were greeted by a blindingly shiny light from the outside. Half a sleep we packed our bag and found that the minivan had gone, so had the guide and the third man. Everyone was shouting something about visas and we had no idea where to go. We started walking and got a bit lost trying to steer away from the crowd and were greeted with a beautiful view of Cambodia.

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Next to this back alleyway on the right was the actual Aranyaprathet bordercrossing, or other words the gate to gambling country. I think both can be used to cross from Thailand to Cambodia, but the other costs money and gets you a stamp which saves you from paying fines from overstay. We were 2 days late for this visa run so it cost 1000baht each.

After paying the fine we got a receipt and it was off to the casino for the all included breakfast buffet. The omelette was good and the thai food, but the chorizo-type sausage things were horrible and so was the thing that was next to it on my plate. And whats with buffet orange juice? Aloe vera and dragon fruit seeds were tasteless but the pineapple is always a good choice. And they had proper Thai coffee! After breakfast we waited a moment outside and looked at whats for sale at the small duty free stalls.

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Then walked back to the Thai side and were stamped back in. It was back into the airplane minivan ride and we were half an hour early in Bangkok @ 13.30.

Cambodia is yet to be discovered by us. Maybe next time.

Efficient waitring

Last night we went to have some of the best seafood ever at one street food restaurant on Sam Sen soi 2. Baby clams fired with chilli paste and basil, Grilled prawns and Larb Moo.

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

It was strange at first because the waiter brought us the menu, paper and a pen, and then went back to work. After a while he came to check if we had filled out our order. Turned out we had to write the order ourselves.

After thinking about it, this idea of customers writing their own order turned out to be very very efficient. Many times in restaurants the waiter must wait, sometimes minutes, before people are ready to order. Also many times in a group others know what they want and one person still doesn’t know what they want. This might add another minute or two of waiting.Then someone wants to change their order because someone elses sounded better or because of this or that. This is all waiting time for the waiter and waiting is never efficient.

Once they saw that the order had been written, they went through the order to make sure they understood everything and off they went again. This way they could serve 30-40 people in a surprising amount of time with only 2 waiters. Genious!

Frogs, Caterpillars and Smiles – BKK street kitchen vol. 1

Finally we are here!

Warm, smiling Thailand. A few days getting used to jet lag and getting adjusted to local life. We arrived on Friday the 13th with no problems what so ever. On the contrary we had the best of luck. I guess with a positive attitude, you attract positive things.

In Helsinki we were late for the check in. Less than 1 hour till the flight left and the women at the counter were afraid that our luggage will not make in onto the plane. No worries we said. Our luggage will make it on the plane or then it won’t, but don’t stress we said.

In the end our plane was broken and they needed to fix it so our flight was delayed for an hour. No fault of anybody. I guess others thought its Friday the 13th and we thought Thank God It’s Friday, the 13th.

Upon arriving at Suvarnabhumi International to our surprise we were greeted with two tickets to the Immigration pace lane, and a quick lane for children. Immigration was over in 7 minutes. Pyry’s bag was the first to come onto the conveyer belt and the others followed soon after. Never has immigration and baggage claim gone so quickly. And the warm hug that Thailand gives when you walk out the airport is amazing.

Now it’s been two days in Bangkok and we’ve been checking out many of the street food places and comparing them to the non-street food restaurants. We’ve had many nice dishes and some not so nice dishes. One really good dish was fried frog (the recipe will soon be on www.tuktuktravellers.com. We will tell you when we get it started)

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Flied Flogs
Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Swapping between street food stall and restaurant quickly shows you the differences. Street food is by far better food for less money. Cheap restaurants are mostly for tourists who are afraid to eat street food or for people who want ‘Thai food’ made for western taste. Their food doesn’t taste fresh since they have a fridge and they keep food for the next day. They need to pay rent so the ingredient are chosen with money in mind. Expensive restaurants are better quality fresher food but they need to have some special fusion recipes and an expensive interior so they can justify the price. In short, more expensive means less taste for money and nicer materials around while you eat.

Street food on the other hand is always fresh because it has to be. There is no fridge, just ice to keep food cool. Every morning they get fresh ingredients from the market because yesterdays have been eaten (otherwise they would go bad). They pay no rent so they need not shimmy up the price. The food is made for local people with local taste, so the price is right and the food tastes the way it should! They buy the food with people in mind, not money in mind.

And about atmosphere, street food stalls are for the local community where everybody knows each other and takes care of each other. Everyone is seen and accepted as a person and nobody is seen as potential for money. This feels great in the modern world where people have become numbers. And when you add this to the thai love for children, you get the perfect experience with the family.

Yesterday Juho and his wife got to eat in peace because a homeless man played with their child leaving them free to eat. The man even shared his fruits with the kid and fried caterpillars with the adults and didn’t want anything in return. Sharing the moment with someone and being allowed to play with a child was enough of a joyful experience for him. He had a mohawk and was missing the front teeth but he was a super nice charismatic man with a super nice charismatic smile.

And for those who are thinking about an upset stomach. Millions of people eat street food everyday, and I have never heard of anyone actually getting sick from it. People that make food for their community care about the food. They have the same people eating everyday and bad food is not an option.

So if you want to taste true Thai food, don’t go to a restaurant. Pop by a street food stall and enjoy food made with love for people. It’s always served with a smile. This is what we aspire to bring with us back to Finland 😀