Friday, January 8, 2010

Living in Thailand: My Friday Afternoon Short Gimmick

It is cloudy with light rain showers here in Bangkok. I have got nothing else to do other than internet hopping all day, everyday... I was really bored so I've decided to roam around our community.

Perhaps, my relatives, friends and people who knew me will wonder how I am here in Thailand. My way of living or how do I manage to live here and some interesting stories here in Bangkok, Thailand.

I grabbed my digicam and door keys quickly as I was so excited to go out again. I usually stay home everyday from morning till the sun sets. I rarely spend time to go with friends or by myself. Although, my sweetheart and I often go out to see a movie and dine out every weekends. Still... you will get bored if you were in my shoes.

I got random shots about our community here. By the way, my place is about 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours from the City. The community is like Bulacan in the Philippines. But, it is more of a commercial area. and I will explain about them one by one.

1. Most residents here are living in a condo or apartment. There are also town houses or bungalow houses. But many residents are living in a studio type condo, especially some OFW and other foreigners who are living alone. There are also town houses for rent and cost as much as 10-50,000 baht a month. Some of the houses I mentioned are semi-furnished or fully furnished already. In a condo, you will only pay about 2,500-3,600 but it depends on the location (Sukhumvit area or in the City locations are more expensive) and structure. The simple ones are the cheapest. The only advantage living in an apartment or town house is the electric and water bills are subsidized by the government, but there is a minimum consumption or limitation. if you reached the borderline, you will pay for the excess. In a condo, you will pay more because the charge will be based on the whole or total bill of the residents living in there, how many persons and the appliances that you have.

In condos, there are washing machines with coin slot that you can use. You will need 20-30 baht per laundry session. But, I prefer to use my hands because I've tried using them and I was not satisfied with the cleanliness and scent of my clothes because many people are using these laundry machines, there are still some kind of body odor or something smelly yucky. I had to wash it again... so it's a waste of my time. My sweetheart's clothes are not really dirty or smelly (though he is a little chubby)because his always in an air conditioned room or place) so hand washing is better for me. We cannot buy a washing machine, though because of the limited space in our unit. Eventually, when we moved to a bigger space (hopefully too soon), we can buy more necessary things.

There are mineral water refilling stations everywhere here. This is closest to our place. It cost only 1 baht for 1 liter.

And this is our simple condo. We spend 5,800-6,500 baht a month for the condo rent, water and electricity bills. The condo rent is 3,500 baht (air conditioned unit), but we're paying more in our electricity which costs like 2,000-3,000 a month (jeeezzz.. so expensive!). Aside from our satellite TV (similar to cable) bill which is 2,200 baht a month.

2. Mode of transportation here
Taxi-if you will grab a taxi here and you can't speak any Thai, you will find it difficult to go anywhere because it is either the driver will refuse you to ride or he will take you in circles and the taxi meter is running or jumping so fast to cost u a lot of money, pain in the ass or you will be in big trouble. Some drivers can speak a very little english but you must be aware that here in Thailand has also traffic jams anywhere like in the Philippines. It is really not advisable to take a cab, nevertheless, you are in hurry and you know where you're going plus the driver knows how to get there (you need to validate if he understands you or provide a specific direction how to get there so you won't get lost). The flag down rate is 35.00 baht. From here to Ekkamai, it will cost me about 300 baht or less due to traffic.

Van or We call it FX in the Philippines- I've experienced riding this vehicle and it was really nice. It is cheap and cool. But you must know where to go because the rate varies. The minimum fare is 10.00 baht if you're just near. The only problem is sometimes the passengers have to wait until the seats are all taken.

Buses (air conditioned and ordinary- I recommend you to take the bus because it is more economical. But you have to remember the Bus number because it is very important. You won't be able to read the bus sign (destination). The easiest way is to remember the bus number. Taking the bus is not bad at all because the buses here are in good running condition. The fare for ordinary bus is 7-10:00 baht only whether it is near of far. On the other hand, AC bus' minimum fare is 10 or 12 baht, depends where you'll go. From Ekkamai to our place is 19.00 baht, same price when I wanna go to the BTS station (MRT version in the Philippines). This is the nearest bus station in our place.

This is the bus stop. We always wait here to catch bus 26 going to Fashion Island Mall, when we're planning to watch a movie, shop at Tops, Big C and Robinsons'Supermarket or just eat at our favorite restaurants.

Songkyeaw or our jeepney version in the Philippines- The minimum fare is only 7.00 baht.

The motorcycle- the minimum charge is 10.00 baht.

3. Tesco Lotus, the nearest supermarket - it is 5 minutes walking distance from our home going here. There is a service vehicle for consumers if they wanna go to this supermarket, a great advantage indeed! Here I can go to KFC or at the food court (3rd floor) for my lunch. They also have Dunkin'Donuts stall here. The store opens at 11:00 am and closes at 10:00 pm. Last holiday season, they're open from 6am-11pm.

4. Minburi and Jatujak wet and dry market- Here in our place, we have so many markets surrounded our place. At the back of our condo is the Jatujak 2 weekend market.

Jatujak Market facing the main road going to Ramkamhaeng highway and the opposite side is the Ram Minthra (going to fashion island mall)

At the Minburi market

Inside, you will find these cellphone and computer repair stalls. You will notice that they're using laptops not an ordinary PC. Gadgets like mobile, laptop, digicam, etc are cheaper here, actually.

It's almost past 2:00 pm and I haven't taken my lunch yet... I was starving. I wasn't hungry at 12 noon today maybe because I ate a lot this morning. I was getting even more starving when I passed by Jatujak 2 market. So I parked myself there, to decide what I would like to eat. I was craving for a Thai dish for lunch and I didn't want to dine in at KFC because I wanted something different. Something that I have not tried yet.

I found this interesting menu called "Tom Joet Mara Yot Sai" in Thai which is just a bitter gourd or ampalaya in Filipino term with stuff seasoned ground pork (like embutido without salted egg). It was tasty and cheap for only 25.00 baht with plain rice. The ampalaya here is not bitter as what I expect.

5. Thai street food- Along the road, you will find these food stalls that are moving around the streets. They are made up of bicycle with side car or we call them pedicab store in the Philippines.

She's selling grilled banana, not our traditional banana cue which is coated with brown sugar. It is just plain grilled banana, no sugar or flour added. Here, you will also see grilled egg (with shells)... and I saw three whole eggs with shell on a bamboo stick, really funny!

What are these? They are all processed meats like cheesedogs, hotdogs, fish balls, squid balls and kikiam on sticks. Some of them, grilled these and others they cooked them deep fry. It costs 5-10 baht each stick with sweet and spicy sauce. It is only weird because they eat these together with chopped cabbage. I haven't tried yet (to eat with cabbage) but I don't wanna try either. I have noticed that they haven't got red colored hotdogs here and those plain hotdogs are not delicious if you're buying a cheap brand. However, their branded cheesedogs are really yummy here. I always buy those stuff and include on my grocery list.

This guy is selling chicken balls (chicken coated with flour) and deep fried marinated chicken wings. They looked yummy but I was still full. I continued to walk to see other items on sale.

Small donuts on sale!!! for only 5.00 baht each. I was tempted to buy, because they looked nice, a great presentation with reasonable price. I just wanted to try so I only bought three donuts. I was amazed about the packaging, huh... They put my 15.00 baht donuts in a styrofoam with a signature plastic bag. Great! they really didn't looked cheap at all hahaha. I felt like I bought them at the mall. These donuts were my afternoon snack also known as "merienda". The taste was really good, worth spending indeed. I'll go for more next time. I can compare them with the taste of Dunkin' and Mister Donuts.

Then, I happened to see this beverages stall. They are selling all kinds of softdrinks, shakes, juices and... my favorite which is ICED COFFEE!!! It's been a long, long time since I last tasted iced coffee because the doctor advised me to avoid too much drinking this. By the way, here in Thailand you will find many kinds of delicious coffee which tastes almost like a famous Starbucks coffee at a very cheap price. They also put vanilla mousse like what they have at Starbucks and you won't believe it because it costs only from 25 to 50 baht (depends on the kind of coffee and location). They're selling this along the streets or everywhere here. I ordered a simple iced coffee not brewed because it's not good for me. It only cost me 15.00 baht. The good thing here is they are paying attention about the packaging so it won't really look cheap although they are. Nice idea.

So I had my iced coffee and mini donuts for snacks this afternoon. Awesome!!! My afternoon delight :p

6. Fashion Clothes- It is so cheap to buy clothes here, for a very low price you can buy a decent fashionable clothes, shoes, bags and other dry goods.

7. Flowershop at the market- There are also different kinds of orchids and other flowers here. Some are cheap and some are expensive. Eye catching....

8. Wood handicrafts - A very creative artwork!

7. Prayer hall- I was so tired already so I went out of the market, my eye shopping was finished. On my way out, I took a glance at their prayer hall. I remembered that every morning, Thai old folks are having an exercise session, it's more of stretching. I thought of QC Circle and Luneta Park in our country wherein people from all walks of life gather every early morning for different kinds of outdoor activities like belly dancing, aerobics and taebo exercises, karate and taekwondo practice, Military training for HS students, prayer meetings, etc.

8. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, his royal majesty- is the current King of Thailand. Publicly acclaimed "the Great", he is also known as Rama IX. Having reigned since June 9, 1946, he is the world's longest-serving current head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history.

9. Nawamintra Hospital District 9- The closest hospital in our place. It is about 10-15 minutes walk from our home across the highway near Jatujak 2 market. My sweetheart and I visits here every month for my prenatal check-up. My attending physician is Dr. Wanchai, he can understand and speak English. My hospital bill every month is so cheap, the accommodation is really superb and the facilities are neat and clean. Personnel are really helpful and caring.

10. EK Burapa School- The closest preparatory and grade school in our place. This is a bilingual school. There are many private and public schools surrounded our province. But this school is the closest one because from there, it will take you about 10-15 minutes by walk or less than 5 minutes by vehicle.

11. Suvarnabhumi-The closest domestic and international airport.

12. Paula Taylor- One of the famous international models here in Thailand. Remember the Nesvita drink with fiber commercial in the Philippines? She's the endorser. Her face is so familiar to me as she has done numerous commercials here and in the Philippines. She joined the "Amazing Race" contest last year, where all of the participants were from Southeast Asia. She was the rumored ex-girlfriend of Mark Nelson (a Filipino international model and host of "Duke").

It was a wonderful experience to just walk around my community to take shots and create a simple blog. I love this place because it is accessible to supermarkets (3), wet and dry markets (4), hospitals and clinics(a LOT!), private and public schools from preparatory to college (so many),transportation, banks and ATMS, etc. Two beach resorts are located about 2-3 hours travel (Chonburi and Pattaya). The down town is only about 1 1/2-2 hours trip. Although, this place is considered as country area (province), it is now developed. It isn't agricultural anymore. There is an internet connection and internet shops everywhere. There are condominiums, apartments and town houses, golf courses, other recreational and leisure activities are possible to enjoy here. It is commercialized yet peaceful.

It is safe to walk around at night or late night alone here without negative thoughts that you'll be kidnapped, abducted, snatched, robbed and stalked by a stranger. My sweetheart walks alone every other week, late night or dawn to go to the ATM to withdraw, deposit or check his balance. He sometimes calls his parents via mobile and he needs to go outside to have a better signal. No trouble because there are no by-standers, drunkards, drug addicts, bullies and gamblers here. But you won't see a police patrol or community watcher roving around here, either.

Another thing is, there's no big typhoon here only heavy rains. There might have small floods in low areas somewhere, but it won't take too long to subside.Living in Thailand is really a great experience. My Friday afternoon short gimmick was really fun and successful. I enjoyed so much.

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