She calls me "gege" (Mandarin word for "older brother") while I call her "meimei" (Mandarin word for "younger sister"). We first met in Beijing, China at my former job as an English instructor for kids and teens. Since then our relationship meshed like a hand in glove. Eventually I regarded Hannah, my colleague, as my younger sister or meimei. When my time in the Middle Kingdom expired, she vowed to visit me at my next destination: Thailand. One year later, her promise was fully realized. Hannah and her cousin, Sunny, traveled to the Southeast [region of Asia] on their first voyage outside the country in December 2013.
It was the prime time for me to practice the remnant of Chinese that I recalled from my time there while having the chance to be a local "tour guide" for my friends. They stayed in my vicinity, tried the local food and we did a few sightseeing trips prior to their exotic weekend getaway to the tourist-friendly and charming Phuket island, a little less than two hours away from Bangkok by plane. Then they returned to the metropolis to spend their last 15 hours with me before heading back to the wintry Northeast [part of Asia] after having relished their seven-day vacation in the beautiful “land of smiles.”
Curious to know about Hannah's perspective of Thai culture and society, I asked meimei to provide her list of top five impressions of Thailand [for this blog]. They are as follows:
Top 1: People
They are very friendly and polite. I remember that there was a guy who was making a sculpture of the King and I asked him why he was doing it. His English was not that good. He was so shy and sorry b/c he was afraid that he couldn't explain himself correctly. We shopped while there. Even when we did not have the intention to buy things, the shop owners still said "thanks" when we were about to leave. 🙂
Top 2: Price
Most things are much cheaper, esp. name brand items like Apple, Samsung. etc. You don't feel any pressure if you want to buy things you want. The massages are so good and cheap. I can get a massage everyday if I have time. It only cost like 50 or 60 Chinese RMB (b/t 265-300 Thai baht, depending on the massage type).
Top 3: Lifestyle
You, gege, told me that Thai people don't make much money every month, probably just around 2000 RMB a month or 10,000 baht. If they were in Beijing, they'd probably find it so hard to survive. But they seemed so happy. Everyone was so happy to help and so eager to introduce their culture to foreigners like us.
Top 4: Worship for the King
I still couldn't believe my eyes when I saw thousands of people standing outside the Siam Paragon Mall holding a candle and praying for the King on his birthday. I am not saying I like things like this, but it seems that they have their own beliefs. Probably this can't work for China not like in Chairman Mao's time. I was wondering probably back in the 1960s or 70s, Chinese people would have done the same thing.
Top 5: Scenery
The ocean is so clean and the mountains are very beautiful.
Thanks a jillion Meimei Hannah for contributing to this blog post. You and I both will continue embarking on our world nomadism of exploring one new nation per year. Happy Travels and Happy Spring Festival!