Sunday, July 20, 2008

Couple of Odds & Ends

I keep remembering these random things from Thailand and they really aren't stories or significant events, but they are things that I remember, and want to remember, about my trip and this blog is almost just as much for me as anyone else because I always think that I'm going to remember something, but time goes on and I'll forget.

Odds & Ends:

1. 'Thailand' literally translates into "Land of the Free". Ironic considering thousands upon thousands of people are victims of modern-day slavery in Thailand.

2. Most food items are significantly cheaper in Thailand. For example, you can buy a good sized back of cut up, fresh pineapple for approximately 75 cents, but Starbucks prices are the same as U.S. They don't have as many drink options (i.e. they don't have the Chai Tea Latte or Strawberries 'n Cream Frappucinos I love)as in the U.S. and they also don't have any "Thai" Starbucks drinks... no papaya 'n cream fraps or anything unusual. I think that they are there to cater towards the tourists and that's why they can keep their prices the same. But, there are also other food/toiletry items that are much more expensive. Pretty much anything that they have to import from the U.S. is marked up significantly. So, whereas we could buy a Betty Crocker Cake Mix at Target for @ 1 dollar, in Thailand, they are at least $5 a piece. I was in 7 Eleven one day and they had Pantene Shampoo and this bottle couldn't have been too much bigger than a Target travel-sized bottle, but it cost $7.

3. One night four of us girls decided to go to one of the local hotels and have dinner at a buffet. It was recommended to us by a couple of locals and so we figured it couldn't be too bad.

We figured wrong.

The hotel seemed nice enough. High rise hotel and it was a bit 'Vegas-ified' in that it had a bungee jumping area, they had a couple of roller coasters (never saw any of them running)and then, of course, it had a buffet. The buffet was located on the top floor and we went over and asked if we could go up and see what it looked like. We were told that we could not and you had to pay for your meal first and then they would let you up on the elevator. Looking back, this really should have been a red flag to us. So, we figured, how bad could it be? And, we purchased the dinner tickets and rode the elevator up to the top floor. Now, to focus on the positives... well, really there was only one positive... the view. It was on the 53rd floor and the restaurant overlooked the city of Pattaya. Plus the restaurant actually rotated, so you were able to see all of the city. And, that's where the positives stop.

It was almost cafeteria-style seating in that there were a bunch of long tables with chairs and, I'm assumming, that if it was busy, you'd be sitting with a bunch of strangers at your table. It wasn't busy, so we did have a table to ourselves. We got up and went to look at the buffet. Let's just say that I just came back with fruit on my plate. It really was pretty bad. If Super 8 Motels had buffets, this is what they would look like. First of all, next to every hot dish they had a cartoon picture of the animal that was 'in' that dish. So, they had these cute little cartoon pictures of pigs and chickens and rabbits, etc. So, I look at these pictures and feel guilty about eating the food; but, all guilt aside, I couldn't eat it anyway. It really didn't even resemble food. It was probably one of the only times in Thailand when I really wondered if I was going to be taken to the hospital with food poisoning later that evening. Then, to top it off, right above the seafood was a sign for the patrons that read, "Eating large quantities of seafood can cause stomach upset and diahrrea" It's as if they know people are going to get sick off of this stuff, so they put a disclaimer up on the wall, in front of the food, so that should anyone come back complaining that the food made them sick, the restaurant can say, 'we posted a warning that seafood could do that to you'. No no no... seafood does not do that. Undercooked, week-old, kept-at-the-wrong-temperature seafood can do that and I'm thinking that was what they were trying to serve.

Did I mention the 'lounge singer'? They had a guy at a piano who had this slicked back hair and he was singing 60's and 70's hits from the U.S. All I remember is hearing "Hotel California" and at that point, I just started laughing and couldn't stop. I mean, the experience was so horrible, that it was comical. We never should have paid for a meal without seeing the restaurant first. Lesson learned.

4. One afternoon we were working at the Tamar Center and they asked us to be guinea pigs for a couple of the girls who were being trained on facials (Tamar Center has a beauty shop). I know what you're thinking... 'oh, poor girls... they go on a mission trip and they 'have' to have facials'. Hold that thought. Trust me... you will not be jealous of me in a moment. So, we lay down on these mats and they start applying all of the product to our faces. I actually am not a huge fan of facials to begin with- I don't like a bunch of product put on my face and my skin tends to be sensitive, so it's not a fun thing for me, but, I know that they need practice and I'm thinking that maybe I'll walk away with 'glowing skin'. After rubbing in several lotions/moisturizers, they apply an exfoliator. I'm all for exfoliators- I use them twice a week at home. BUT, I rub them on for a few seconds and wash it off. I must have been laying there for a good 10 minutes, at least, while she rubbed this exfoliator on my face. It actually didn't feel that bad, but I just remember thinking that she was doing it for a long time. Next came a clay mask. She got it on pretty quickly and then we had to wait 5-10 minutes for it to dry. It turns out that it was one of those peel off masks vs. wash off.

Here's where things started to go wrong.

She began pulling it and it kind of hurt. I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want her to feel bad, but I could tell that it was, essentially, waxing my face as it was being pulled off. I also didn't say anything because I was going by the 'band-aid theory'. The theory that it's more painful to slowly take it off vs. just ripping it off in one quick motion. So, I let her get it off as quickly as possible and I could almost feel the skin on my face pulsating and stinging all at once. I was the first one to get it done and one of the girls next to me asked me how it was and I just told her, 'just let her take it off quickly'. The other girls weren't as quiet as I was. For the next 10 minutes or so, you just kept hearing 'ow ow ow ow ow'. Finally, all masks were off.

Get this... after all was said and done, we found out that 'ow' in Thai means 'more'. So, as the girls were trying to verbalize the pain they were in, the only thing the Thai girls were hearing was 'more more more'.

Remember how I said that I have sensitive skin??? Within about 2 hours after the facial, I had small red welts all over my cheeks. I looked so pretty. :-P That night, I seriously prayed that my skin would clear up and, thankfully, by morning, you couldn't even tell that anything was wrong.

The thing of it all was that it really wasn't the girls' fault. The product they were using was just way to harsh, but it had nothing to do with their technique. We mentioned to one of the directors at the center that the masks had caused some 'discomfort' and that maybe they might want to check out a few other products that would work well on sensitive skin. She mentioned that, after we had gotten our facials, she had gotten one as well and she agreed that the mask was quite painful. Hopefully, they'll be able to find some better material to work with.

Here's a 'before picture' of us all getting ready for our facials. We had no idea what lie ahead for us :-)