Travel Deals – Thailand Etiquitte

Your experience traveling through Thailand depends greatly on the amount of research you do before you venture overseas.  It is a very nuanced country whose culture is full of etiquette do’s and dont’s and tricks of the trade as far as avoiding getting caught up in local tourist traps and scams (both of these I’ll talk about in this entry).  There are also definite places to see vs. places to skip, but I’ll save that topic for a different day’s work.  Once you understand the basics, Thailand is a beautiful and picturesque backdrop to, quite possibly, the best vacation of your life!

Perhaps the easiest and most fundamental key to traveling in Thailand is to avoid being around, possessing, talking about, asking about, or even alluding to anything drug-related.  While this rule may be a good one to abide by in any foreign land, it rings especially true in Thailand.  Over the years, the country has been getting increasingly overzealous in its anti-drug campaign – and because much of Thailand’s borders are burdened with drug smuggling this issue is exasperated.  Even though Thailand is generally a laid back place, the local police have begun to randomly drug test travelers in bars and arrest travelers for possession or positive tests.  This tid-bit of information is not meant to scare anyone away, nor should it be reason to avoid Thailand.  Just be smart…and maybe watch Brokedown Palace.

The people of Thailand are some of the friendliest people you will encounter on your travels, which I guess is why the country is sometimes referred to as, “the land of smiles.”  Nevertheless, here are some social norms that, if followed, should keep em smiling:  keep the PDA’s to a minimum – you may see Westernized Thai teens holding hands, but generally, that is the extent; keep your shirt on – no topless sunbathing ladies;  Thailand is a deeply religious culture, so respect it – while it is OK to wear shoes around the grounds of Buddhist temples, once you enter a building men and women should remove their shoes and make sure their legs and shoulders are covered – also, don’t go strutting around sans shirt in the town’s streets, bars or restaurants; keeping with religious values, Thai’s consider the head as the highest part of the body, literally and figuratively and they don’t approve of touching anyone on the head, even as a friendly gesture; along the same line of thought, Buddhist monks are forbidden to touch (or be touched) by a woman, or to accept anything from the hand of one; don’t point the sole of your foot at anyone – it’s considered rude – so try to avoid doing this when sitting opposite someone and don’t use your foot to point at things.  Lastly, the Thailand culture has no tolerance for confrontation…if any misunderstanding does arrise, demur and settle it with a smile.

In the Thai culture, they don’t shake hands, instead using the traditional greeting, the “Wai,” which is used instead of a handshake, but also as a means of saying sorry, thank you, or to pay respect.  A Thai person will often Wai as he approaches a temple, Buddha image, or other item of religious significance.  When you are introduced to someone who Wais you, it is polite to return the Wai.  As you are walking through towns and villiages, small children will often Wai as you pass by – they love it if you return the gesture with a big smile. (Note:  If you receive a “thank you” Wai from a hotel employee or after tipping a waitress it is inappropriate to return the Wai, but a smile is always welcome!)

Most of Thailand is gracious and welcoming, but, as in any culture, there are some people out to make a buck any way that they can.  Taking a few precautions will save you money in the long fun.  If you get into a taxi and the driver refuses to turn on the meter, even if they use the language barrier as an excuse, simply thank them with a smile and get out to find another one.

Local Thais, mostly teenagers and twenty-somethings, will offer to act as your local guide to show you the “local” sights that many tourists miss out on.  While many of these offers are genuine and allow you to see a side of Thailand that would otherwise be skipped over, some want to make off with your money and leave you high and dry.  Often times, the legitimate ones will photocopy your passport and leave it with someone.  It’s best to listen to your gut instinct or visit travel forums to get specific names of guides – although locating them once in Thailand can be tricky.

Overall, Thailand has much to do, is accommodating to travelers, and is full of cultural, religious, and artistic sights.  Be prepared for hot and humid weather and venture out to see what Thailand has to offer you!

In Beachhouse.com’s Backyard: Dolphin soars; wipeouts galore at the wild Wedge

It was another wild day at the Wedge, with more surfers and bodyboarders in the water getting worked on Friday morning, as waves in the 15-foot range and bigger slammed the shore.

More spectators lined the shoreline today, with news crews out and the echos of “ohhhhh” ringing loud when one of the insane riders was pummeled by a huge wall of water. There were big-time wipeouts, as well as some amazing rides. If you were stuck in your office and couldn’t make it to the sand, be sure to check out our slideshow HERE.

Wild Wedge thrills and spills on Friday as swell stays strong

Wild Wedge thrills and spills on Friday as swell stays strong

It was a big day for thrills and spills as the guys out in the water tried to take on the big bad Wedge before the swell starts to drop over the weekend. It was day 2 of the swell, a bit cleaner today but more crowded.Check out images from Thursday if you missed them (with newly added evening shots after it cleaned up.)

After you check out the photos, below is a can’t-miss video that hit Facebook last night by photographer and Wedge local John Minar.

A few of us were on the sand Thursday morning when the swell started to hit hard, and all of a sudden a huge dolphin came flying out of the top of a wave, propelling itself way up in the air.

I pulled up my camera and hit the button, but it happened so fast the dolphin was gone in a split second. Another photographer and I looked at each other, mouths dropped “DID YOU GET THAT?!” Neither of us did.

Fortunately, John Minar had the camera rolling, and said he didn’t even see it until he was looking through his footage later that day. It goes to show that the dolphins are the original locals out there, and none of us can compete. Definitely take a few minutes to watch; it’s guaranteed to make your Friday:

*article from orangecounty.com

Photo Journey through SE Asia

Beachhouse.com Guest Bloggers, Stacy & Jeff, traveled across 6 countries in Southeast Asia and were nice enough to check in with us all along the way.  This is their journey by the numbers:

  • 21different airplanes they took
  • 6bus rides (varying from 7 hours to 27 hour trips)
  • 2train trips (overnight)
  • 11boat/ferry rides
  • 46different hotels (not including Cynthia and Fernando’s homes)
  • 12the # of languages they came across (at least!) throughout their trip
  • 0sicknesses
  • 0injuries
  • 1root canal
  • 0danger/trouble they encountered
  • 22# of books they read – each!
  • and we both want more!
  • This is their journey in photos (each photo links to the corresponding blog entry):

    We hope you enjoyed this as much as we did!

    Guest Blog – Loggerhead Turtles of North Captiva Island

    On my most recent trip to North Captiva Island, I had the opportunity to go on a turtle walk with a conservationist volunteer who is responsible for reporting on sea turtle nests. It was a fascinating fact finding experience. We started before sunrise and walked for approximately 3 hours investigating turtle nests and crawls. This is what I learned.

    Each summer from May through August, something wondrous happens along our beaches: An ancient mariner, the loggerhead sea turtle, leaves the water during the night and crawls ashore in North Captiva Island to lay her eggs in a sandy nest.

    The task of excavating a nest may take her over an hour to accomplish. The turtle – weighing several hundred pounds – laboriously digs a nest cavity with her rear flippers.

    turtle1

    Turtle nest

    She then deposits approximately 100 pliable ping-pong ball sized eggs into the chamber, covers them with sand and returns to the sea.

    After roughly a two-month incubation period, a cluster of tiny hatchlings emerges from the sand and scrambles to the Gulf. Unfortunately, their sea-finding ability can be disrupted by lights from buildings and streets. Confused, the hatchlings wander inland and are crushed by vehicles or die from heat exhaustion in the sunlight.

     

     

     

     

    Loggerhead Turtle Facts:

    • Loggerheads are air-breathing reptiles, scientific name Caretta caretta
    • The common name refers to the turtle?s large head
    • Loggerheads are the most common sea turtles in Florida.
    • Weighing 250 – 400 pounds, adults can grow to more than three feet in length.
    • Hatchlings are two inches long.
    • Nesting occurs from May through August. Hatching may extend through October.
    • The nest cavity is 18 – 22 inches in depth.
    • Incubation period of the eggs in their sandy nest is 55 – 65 days.

     

    turtle tracks

    turtle tracks

    Danger of Extingtion
    Most adult loggerhead turtles nest every other year or every third year, laying several clutches of eggs during a nesting season. Only a small percentage of hatchlings survive to maturity! Loggerhead turtles have existed on Earth for millions of years with little serious threat to their survival – until recently. Pollution, lighted beaches, loss of nesting habitat, drowning in shrimp nets and other fishing gear have contributed to the drastic decline of these and other sea turtles.

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (31 of 40)

    even ronald knows the local customs

    even ronald knows the local customs

    more on KL and on to bali
    “KL, what a crazy unique city. at least to our eyes. the people, so many different people. we stayed in china town, in an indian owned place, ran by one of the manliest lady boys we’ve seen (indian) and these two other guys that had more going on than amy winehouse. piercings, rainbow nail polish chipping, gold teardrops on their foreheads, you name it, quite colorful human beings. but all very nice and entertaining.

    we went to one of their many malls and witnessed the largest indoor themepark in SE asia amongst this 10 story gigantic mall. we ate a craving lunch of mcdonalds. it’s funny how good a big mac tastes over here when you don’t even think about it at home. we were surrounded by young chinese girls all dressed up to one side, young indian boys in skater clothes on the other, a group of indian ladies with their colorful head dresses, and then two families where the women are completely in black, only revealing those mysterious eyes through a small slit, while the guys are dressed as any other everyday man. and we see she doesn’t take her veil off even to eat, she must slide her grease dripping french fries under her cloak. like we said, a vast variety of people here in KL.

    indoor themepark - too expensive for us

    indoor themepark - too expensive for us

    we finally found our peanut sauce though. at home we like to order that scrumtous thai dish called panag: spinach and chicken smothered in peanut sauce, yummy! we have yet to find anything close anywhere! not one peanut sauce in thailand. here, completely different story. everything comes with peanut sauce. the best is with a pack of satay (less than two bucks for 12 sticks of chicken and beef) served with a mouth watering spicey crunchy peanut sauce. worth it all.

    after two nights in our strange indian palace (dirty tiles greated by fake flowers, fake grass hanging from the ceiling, plastic chinese lanterns, way too many fish tanks to not be an aquarium, and pop music like it’s rick dee’s weekly top 40), we were off to bali.

    dinner and beers - rooftop in KL

    dinner and beers - rooftop in KL

    heaven. yes it’s a bit more crowded then in january, but great weather and the smell of waves. we went straight to ayu guna where we left the boards at and guess what, they were still there, locked in the bag, never touched! love the karma here. we stayed a few nights in the same bungalow as last time, swam at padang, then moved to juni’s warung (recommended by fernando) at bingins. it’s great. our room has a large window opening up to the waves below, and we’re literally steps from the water. now jeff can walk out to the waves at any time, impossibles, bingin, dreamland, and even paddle up to padang… while i’ve got a beach, snorkeling, and a great place to just chill.

    flying over java or sumatra?

    flying over java or sumatra?

    we just booked mentawi’s wavepark for the end of the month, so for now, chill here in bali, then head over to lakey’s point sumbawa, then back to bali and off to mentawi’s which will put us in june when we’re done. then work our way back to bali through mainland sumatra and maybe java. surf’s up the whole way….bagus (pronounced bagoose = good!)

    sidenote – thanks to everyone who’s been checking us out. it’s such a great surprise to see everyone’s comments on the board. can’t wait (well we can cause we’re here!) to catch up with everyone once we get back!

    peace love and surf!”

    indo fire mouth

    indo fire mouth

    lookin out over impossibles from the cliff

    lookin out over impossibles from the cliff

    lookin out at bingin from cliff

    lookin out at bingin from cliff

    jeff and fernando

    jeff and fernando

    impossibles, view from above our warung/hotel

    impossibles, view from above our warung/hotel

    padang padang sunset

    padang padang sunset

    padang padang fisherman - my favorite!

    padang padang fisherman - my favorite!

    treckin down the road

    treckin down the road

    real backpacking now!

    real backpacking now!

    jeff comin in from bingin

    jeff comin in from bingin

    window view daytime

    window view daytime

    sunset panorama

    sunset panorama

    bingin sunset

    bingin sunset

    surf

    surf

    moon

    moon

    sky

    sky