Motos & Soi Dogs & Spray, Oh My!

7 Oct

Sometimes I have all these thoughts in my head about Thailand, but no idea about how to organize them. This is one of those times soooo now you get Darcy’s ramblings about Thailand part 3. Here goes:

The motos. I love the motos. I now have a regular moto guy. First, he started finding me in the street almost every morning. Then, he began appearing at my intersection. Finally, one day about three weeks ago, I got ready to leave the house and there he was outside my door. Since then, he has appeared at 6:30am every week day to take me to school. I pay him 30 baht, which is about a dollar. I am overpaying him by Thai standards. He thinks it’s a great deal, I think it’s a great deal, everyone wins. Lately, he has started talking to me in Thai – we have long conversations during which I guess at what he is telling me and respond appropriately in English. The other day I am positive he was talking about rain and flooding. One day I think he made fun of me for having difficulty with my skirt on the bike. Thai ladies ride sidesaddle while texting. I cannot imagine doing this and insist on straddling the bike no matter what I am wearing. This has led to some fun rides during which I desperately attempt to avoid flashing everyone we pass. I have had other fun moto rides sans taxi man as well. My fellow pre-k teacher, Sharon, and her lovely husband, Peter, live near us (in fact they have the same landlord and helped us find our home). They own a bike, and have generously given me rides home from school. Here’s my blanket statement about this: we look ridiculous. Thais ride all piled on the bike, sometimes a whole family plus a dog. I have literally seen 5 people on the same moto. Sharon and Peter and I cannot possibly fit another person. As it is, I am clinging to the back, contorting my body to stay on. Usually, I am also wearing 2 backpacks (my own plus Sharon’s). Peter gets props for driving very carefully and keeping us all balanced. I find these rides endlessly entertaining (adventure!!). Friday, it was raining so in addition to the usual fun, we were also wearing super cool ponchos. Here we are (yes we look awesome).

Topic numero dos? Soi dogs. ‘Soi’ is the Thai word for street. Or rather, large streets. Smaller streets are ‘yaks’, pronounced more like ‘yek’ and not like the shaggy animal one might find in Tibet. For example, when we give our address, we have a soi, the main street we are off (kind of like an avenue in NYC) and then our yak, the actual side street our house is on. ‘Pak soi’ is the end of the street, so sometimes people will say, “Oh meet at 164, the pak soi”. RIS runs a shuttle from the school to the pak soi, because the larger road is where one can easily find taxis. Anyway, ‘soi’ means street and around Bangkok there are tons and tons of soi dogs. There are also tons of stray cats but I’ve never heard anyone say soi cat. The soi dogs are so numerous, and so territorial that you see the same ones over and over again. Orestes has named the two that hang outside 7-Eleven most often. The large one with the green collar is Bubba, and the smaller one is Scruff.

        

Bubba is not actually a soi dog as he belongs to the restaurant next door, but for some reason many people let their dogs wander the street along with the soi dogs. Bubba is quite smart, and frequently lays right in front of the door to 7-Eleven so that the auto door stays open and he gets to enjoy the air con (Scruff had stolen Bubba’s spot when I took this picture). The soi dogs seem quite innocent (scruffy and covered in fleas but innocent) during the day. At night however, I am frequently woken up by packs of dogs howling. Coming or going late at night, it might be advisable to carry a stick. I haven’t really wandered the streets late at night much, but those who do find the packs of soi dogs somewhat intimidating. I think this happens more in the ‘burbs where we are and less in the downtown. I have seen soi dogs downtown, but not enough to form packs. Who knows.

Final topic for this post: The spray, otherwise known as the randomness of Thai toilets. Yes, toilets in Thailand are worthy of a blog post. Thus far I have found they come in three varieties. First, there are the traditional Asian toilets. My friend calls them “squatty potties”. Essentially, they are a porcelain covered hole in the ground. I cannot imagine these working out well in the US since I seriously doubt many people have the quad strength necessary. There may or may not be TP involved in this toilet option. There will however be the spray. Option two is a standard American-friendly toilet, again with the spray. What is this spray you wonder? Basically it’s the Thai version of a bidet. When we first got our home, I thought it was a convenient little hose that one could use while cleaning the bathroom – something along the lines of ‘cover in bleach and then hose down’. Well, turns out it’s for hosing down yourself. I have yet to use it since the water pressure seems quite forceful. Also, I suspect I would have major logistical issues and end up soaking my entire ensemble. Some of my Thai students use the spray in the school bathrooms. Four-year-olds who are still working on fine motor control plus hand-eye coordination should not use hoses in the bathroom in my opinion. I basically don’t go in the kid bathroom because it’s a scary place. Anyway, the spray is everywhere. Here’s the spray at our home.

Finally, option three of restroom choices are full service toilets. I saw my first one in a classy mall a few weeks ago. It has so many buttons on the side it looks like a person could launch a space shuttle from it. The seats are frequently heated. It can spray you down, blow you dry, and I’m pretty sure it could do a spray tan if you pushed the right button. I have yet to push any of the buttons on these, again because I really don’t know what will go down, and fear the worst. I have started judging the classiness of an establishment based on what type of toilet I encounter.

Anyway, that concludes this edition of Darcy’s Thailand ramblings. : )

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2 Responses to “Motos & Soi Dogs & Spray, Oh My!”

  1. maira October 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    what an awesome lifestyle !!!

  2. Shla October 8, 2012 at 2:53 am #

    Does the fancy toilet, or the Western toilet as we referred to it in Japan, have a douche? I tested all of the buttons before I sat on it. There was also a button to make a flush noise so that your neighbor couldn’t hear you doing business. In Tokyo train stations, people would stand outside the station as you entered handing out packets of tissues with advertisements in them. One trip to the “squatty potty” and I realized why so many people hand out tissue packs!

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