Tag Archives: travel

Good Reasons to Have Lady Parts in Thailand

There are a lot of really great things about being a lady in Thailand. Most of them involve pampering, beautifying, and free booze (Not together. Usually. Although…quick! Write up a business plan for a beauty salon where you can drink!).

To be honest, I usually take a page out of my imaginary best friend Tina Fey’s book, who says:

If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important Rule of Beauty: ‘Who cares?’

How brilliant is that?

Anyway, in Thailand, I can afford to care a little bit more than I do back home, because I can pay somebody to do the things that I can’t do on my own.

1. Shampoo and Blow Dry

For me, this is the best value for my money because it’s something I would never pay to have done back home. At my favorite hair salon in Silver Spring, Maryland, it costs about $40 just to have somebody shampoo and then blow dry your hair.

My main questions about that are: So, is that blow dryer made of solid gold? Or what?

For some reason, getting a shampoo and dry in Bangkok is so cheap it’s shocking. I have had a shampoo/dry for 60B ($2), but I generally pay 100B (about $3). I have paid 200B (about $7) when I was in a hurry and picked a random place, but that’s way too much for me on a regular basis.

Some things to keep in mind if you want a shampoo/dry for 100B:

  • You’re not going to get a fancy place for 100B. It’s going to be a neighborhood place filled with Thai women, which I think is great.
  • You’re not always going to get hot water for the shampoo for that price. Again, that doesn’t really bother me, as it’s usually one trillion degrees in this city.
  • They’re not going to sterilize the brushes and things like they do in many Western countries. Usually they just grab a brush, rip out the hair left by the previous person, and move on. I haven’t caught anything yet (that I’m aware of)!
  • They’ll shampoo your hair two or three times, use conditioner, and give you a head massage. And then you will die happy.
  • They will take as much time and care as if you go to a fancy place. Sometimes they will take more time and care.
  • A tip will be greatly appreciated and often confusing. (“I charged you 80B and you’re giving me 100B?”)

2. Hair Styling

Back home, I generally paid $50-$90 for a simple haircut, which is hilarious because it would look awesome for one day and then go back to the exact same cut I’ve had for years.

In Bangkok, I pay about 600-700 baht (around $20+) for a good cut at Anderson Salon. Pam is Thai, but she deals almost exclusively with Western clients, and she knows her stuff. She speaks great English and has very competitive prices. I recently got lowlights and a cut from her, and it cost 1500B, or about $50.

(p.s. Pam gives the best shampoo/head massage I’ve ever had, literally. Worth it just for that!)

3. Massages

If you just go to a random place, Thai massages in Thailand will start at around 150 (~$5) to 200 baht (~$7) for an hour.  And while Thai massage isn’t exactly relaxing (think forced yoga meets WWF wrestling), you feel great after, even with the bruises. Yes, literally, bruises.

Body massages of any kind in the US cost anywhere from $70 to $100 an hour. I love telling that to my Thai friends who have never been to the US before. The look of shock on their faces is awesome. And it is shocking! That’s a LOT of money!

The best foot massage in town is a place on Sukumvhit soi 31 for 250B, but I think if I reveal the name, my friend Jonathan will kill me.

4. Knock-off beauty supplies at MBK

I’m going to be honest: I don’t really understand how to put on makeup correctly. There’s some part of my girl gene code missing, so I literally have to look at an instruction booklet to put on fancy eye makeup. But I still like to buy it and pretend that someday I’ll know how to use it.

Enter: MBK. MBK is a mall full of clothing, electronics, and crap, and is so labyrinthine that I always end up stumbling out of there after a few hours, completely disoriented, praising the sun blazing down on my head, thankful that I made it out alive.

I feel like David Bowie should be waiting for me somewhere with some Muppets.

Still, it’s all worth it because the 3rd floor of MBK has a series of stands that sell expensive brand-name makeup and beauty supplies for incredibly, incredibly cheap. I don’t know how they do it, and I probably don’t want to know. Factory rejects? “Fell” off the back of the truck? Just old products? Who knows!

Beauty Product Wonderland

5. Keratin Hair Treatment

I don’t really know what keratin is, but I assume it’s some kind of wizarding magic that is taught at the School of Magical Beauty, Hogwarts’s lesser-known sister campus. That’s how amazing it is. It takes frizzy hair and makes it more manageable and smooth, and it’s pretty labor-intensive, so in the DC-area it costs $400-500.  That’s two zeros there on the end. In Kansas City, it’s around $300.

I haven’t had it done in Bangkok yet, but I’ve seen that costs can start around 4,000B (around $130) and go up from there. That’s crazy cheap for wizardry, right?

You might also see it called a Brazilian blowout. Not crazy about that term, I gotta say.

6. Free Booze!

Most ladies nights back home are pretty lame. Maybe free admission or discounted drinks at some lame bar.

Well, Bangkok has some super fantastic ladies nights. It’s a good time to have lady parts!

Coyote Mexican Restaurant: Free margaritas from 6-8 on Wednesdays at the Soi Convent location, and Thursdays at the Suk Soi 33 location. Seriously, free. Their nachos are pretty decent, too.

Dusit Thani MyBar: Free ALL drinks from 7-9 on Thursdays. They’ve got all sorts of cocktails, wine, sparkling wine, beer, and smoothies. The atmosphere is kind of fancy, and there are large groups of women, so be sure to make a reservation. One time I was there, half the Thai ladies ended up passed out with their arms wrapped around a toilet and the other half were face down, drooling on the floor of the bar.  Then somebody yelled at the DJ, who screamed back, cranked up the music so loud it hurt our ears, then stormed off. It was awesome.

QBar: They often (always?) have ladies night on Wednesdays, which is free admission (usually 500B!) and two free drinks for women. And I gotta say, they don’t go cheap on the alcohol.

Witches’ Tavern: Free drinks from 5-9 on Wednesdays. I haven’t been there, but I hear it’s a pretty nice place, and that their food is good. Supposedly they have super yummy pizza. Also: free drinks for four hours!

Dear Men: I know you’re going to be like, “This is totally not fair!” But, seriously? Keep it to yourself.  Give us this one thing. Give us the free booze!

7. Clothes Shopping

I know that a lot of Western women don’t like shopping in Thailand, or Asia in general, because they feel that they’re too big. I would say I’m a pretty average-sized woman, and I don’t have any problems finding super incredibly cute clothes in Thailand for super incredibly cheap prices. I will admit, though, I haven’t bought pants (trousers, Brits!) here, and I don’t mind wearing snug clothing, so that could be why I don’t have much of a problem. If something is too short, I just put on some tights and go on my way.

If you go to the street stalls, you can find amazing deals. I shop almost exclusively from the street stalls, to be honest. And while Khao San may be a nightmare for some things, there are some really cute clothes to be had there.

My favorite dresses from Thailand. 200 baht (about $7) each. Lurve.

Also, I haven’t gone shoes shopping because I have abnormally large feet for a shortish woman (5’4″), so I can’t comment on that. Asian ladies have got some tiny feet, yo.

8. Pedicures

If you go to pretty much any hairdresser or massage place here, you can get your toes painted for 100 to 200 baht, but it’s really just paint. For about 450 baht (~$13), you can get a spa pedicure at a nice place. That’s about half the price of a pedicure back home. 600B will get you some extras like a massage or leg scrub.

When I go to get a pedicure, I usually look for a place that has the pedicure chairs; you know, the ones with the basins to put your feet in at the end. When you’re looking, anything under 450B is a really good deal, but 450-500 is average for a decent place. Anything less than that and it’s probable you’re just getting your toes painted. Check for the chairs, and you’re good to go.

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Conclusion: I love you, Thailand. (I can’t think of anything witty right now!)

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Challenge: Not Sweating to Death

You know when it’s summer and you have that one friend who steps one foot outside and feels a burning need to announce to the world that it’s hot? Like everybody didn’t already know that? And then that person feels compelled to say how hot it is every 10 to 15 seconds, as if they might have a bad case of Tourette’s? Yeah, I’m totally that person.

I’m very popular at picnics during the summer.

Heat and I don’t get along. I despise humidity even more. My hair becomes a giant frizzball, I get dehydrated easily, and somehow my face gets pale and red at the same time. It’s a talent, really.  That’s why I decided to move to a tropical climate! Because I’m smart like that!

Tropical climates are good for lots of things. Like fruit:

The hairy things on the left are rambutans, in the middle is dragon fruit, and on the right is longans.

And veggies:

Yum, veggies!

And plants:

Not the best photo, but that's my orchid. I bought it for $3.

But being in the tropics does have its challenges, namely: Not Sweating to Death. It’s hot here, guys.  Google tells me the average temperature during September in Bangkok is 89.6, but I think whoever averaged those temperatures was on crack. Okay, fine, I’m willing to concede that it might be 89.6 (doubtful–I’m watching you, temperature guy), but it’s also 312% relative humidity. I mean, that’s a rough estimate, but I’m pretty good with weather stuff, so you can trust me.

The sun normally feels like this to me:

Burning death! The sun is shining directly on my head at all times, even when I'm inside or in the shade. Yes, the sun gives us all life, but sometimes I just wish it would go away for awhile.

I sweat a lot.  The sweat–this is the absolute worst feeling–runs down my body when I walk. Sometimes I sweat when I’m just sitting in my apartment, doing nothing. I am honestly not exaggerating when I say I sweat through my clothes every day. I can practically ring them out. I get smelly (now, gentlemen, don’t all of you ask me out at once, okay?). I take many, many showers. I thought I’d packed too much underwear when I came over, but I was wrong because you can never have too much underwear in the tropics because you are taking 12 showers a day.

I see Thai people walking around not sweating at all. This seems like a minor miracle to me. On some days it seems like a major miracle, the kind that can only be performed by a major deity. Sometimes I see men wearing long, heavy pants, long sleeve shirts, jackets, hats, and face masks. Meanwhile, in order to beat the challenge of Not Sweating to Death, I walk around in as little clothing as I can while still remaining decent.  Calm down, people–that means tank tops and shorts, mainly. I’m not walking around in a bathing suit–although I’d like to. Yes, I get stared at sometimes because I’m showing a fair amount of shoulder, but I’d rather get stared at for wearing a tank top than stared at because I’ve passed out from heat exhaustion.

I’m silly like that.

We’re in the rainy season right now. Cold season should be coming up soon. However, I’m reading a book called Letters to Thailand, by Botan, and this quote just says it all:

Its [the sun] rays were like fiery tongues licking at my arms. Father says this is the rainy season, and Thai farmers will work in the fields planting rice every day. They also have a hot season and what is called a cold season, which Father says will seem to me only a little less hot than the hot season.

So that’s something to look forward to!

Anyway, sometimes I kick ass in the challenge of Not Sweating to Death. Like this day:

See? I don't even look like I'm sweating! It's a miracle! No Photoshopping or anything, I swear. This was the middle of the day, so I should have by all rights been disgusting.

Sometimes I don’t do so well with the challenge:

UUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH. This day made me want to weep. I was wearing a tank top, so I had to cover up with a scarf because we were at a wat (temple). It was like being smothered. And not by my mother's love, either. By a really hot thing that made me feel even hotter.

Sometimes I feel really confident, especially in the early morning when I’m setting off for school at around 7:00 (fine, 7:15, okay?) (FINE, 7:25 yesterday. Are you happy now?). There’s usually a slightly cool breeze and I haven’t sweat at all since I woke up. Sometimes I feel so confident that I wear pants and walk at a normal pace to the train station, instead of walking at a snail’s pace to save my energy.

This is always a mistake. By the time I get to the train station, I’m cursing myself for thinking I was getting used to the humidity, the sweat is beading on my lip and rolling down my back, and I’m thinking longingly of my skirts and shorts. When I get on the train I can barely hold in my gasp of pure pleasure when the cold air hits my face. I can see Thai people looking at me with sympathy, and I don’t even care, because I’m looking at my own damn self with sympathy and trying to sop up my sweat with a wet wipe (doesn’t work, by the way).

This is a situation when it's perfectly acceptable to sweat. As a matter of fact, if you didn't, you might look ridiculous.

Okay, let’s get down to it. What’s my success been with this challenge? Well, obviously I’m still alive, at least for the time being, so I’m WINNING THIS CHALLENGE. So far. I’m not getting too cocky about this, though, because the tropics have definitely smacked me down the other times I’ve been cocky about something. Okay, I’m downgrading to more of a tentative win at this point. Or maybe a tie. I don’t want to push my luck. Sometimes I feel like I want to die from sweating.

Final Score

Bangkok: 1   Megan: 1

Okay, Bangkok, we tied this round. I’ll give you a serious smackdown next time…

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Challenge: Going to Malaysia, Days 3-5

When I was growing up, my family nicknamed my father Wally Dad after Clark Griswald in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Clark drove his family all the way across the country so they could go to Wally World and the fact that it wasn’t open wasn’t going to stop him. No, sirree, he had this trip planned and by god, his family was going to have some fun, even if it meant holding the security guard hostage.

I'm not saying my father actually did this, but I'm also not saying it's out of the realm of possibility. The man used to take vacation seriously, for real.

My poor dad. There’s a special place in heaven for him, that’s all I’m saying. He really wanted us to do stuff on vacation, just like ol’ Clark Griswald. He would get up early in the morning on vacation, ready to go out and do something–he was on vacation!–and the rest of us would moan about and refuse to get up, then spend the day sulkily going from museum to museum and finishing up the day with a round of putt-putt golf.

When my parents were first married, they went for a road trip somewhere out west, to one of those places with majestic, awe-inspiring scenery that make you contemplate your life and your place in the universe. My dad, ready to share a touching moment with his new wife, would excitedly say, “Jan, look!” My mom would look up from her book, say, “Uh huh,” and go straight back to the page. She’s not so much one for the sightseeing.

It’s a miracle my sister and I exist at all.

Seeing as how I’m a good blend of both of my parents, for better or worse, I like vacations where I do a lot and vacations where I do nothing. Luckily, I got that on my trip to Malaysia. Days 1 and 2 were spent doing things! Going places! Seeing stuff! Recording every move for posterity!

The rest of the trip was spent like this on an island called Langkawi:

What's that you say? I bring a ridiculous amount of stuff with me to the beach? Yes, yes, I do. Go ahead and judge me if it makes you feel better about being at work while I was frolicking in the warm water.

Langkawi was quiet. There wasn’t much to do except eat Indian food because that was the only thing open due to Eid, lay around wondering if I should have had those chips (and the chips the day before…and the day before that…and…well, you see where this is going) when I was going to be in a bikini all day, and read.

Oh hi. I want to live in a beach-based society. And not work. FOREVER.

Luckily, I wasn’t made to do any sightseeing, which would have seriously hampered my ability to do nothing.

Hooray for no sightseeing!

I’m actually finding this kind of difficult to write due to the absence of anything resembling activities happening. But I want you to think for a minute–is there anything more beautiful than a sunset at the beach? I think not.

Brock and Josh made fun of me the entire time because I wore SPF 55 on my face, plus sunglasses, plus a visor, then I put SPF 45 on the rest of me. WHAT? I don't want wrinkles, people!

Artsy-fartsy shot of Joshua. Also, I would like to point out that I did not retouch these photos at all. My stupid camera finally came through for me.

I also want you to think very hard about this picture I’m going to put up right here.

**WARNING** The following picture may cause temporary blindness.

I KNOW. I. KNOW. I hope your eyeballs haven't been burned by this image. More to come on these later, but briefly: yes, they are as bad as you think.

On our last day, we went for a walk on the beach, then Brock headed for Kuala Lumpur, and Josh and I hopped a fast plane home.

Haha! That last part was a joke. We actually took a taxi to the ferry on Langkawi; a ferry to a city in southern Thailand; a truck to the mini bus, except the mini bus was full, so we got the public bus, which looked nice, but actually ended up packed so full of people that they were literally sitting on top of one another, plus the air conditioner was having a sick day and I thought I was going to pass out, no kidding, and the bus trip took 2.5 hours instead of under one hour on the mini bus, and we ended up at a bus station waaaay outside the city; truck to airport; plane; taxi home; walk up the drive…

Sometimes when you're the only white lady around, you become a tourist attraction. So it was with these Thai grandmas--they looooved me. At the airport in Hat Yai, a little girl also wanted to have her picture taken with me. I'm like a celebrity in southern Thailand.

And then I was home after an 11-hour trip, and everything was great!

Hahahaha! I’m throwing some zingers out there today!

No, what actually happened is that Murphy’s Law kicked in and the key card to my building wouldn’t work.  The security guards were of absolutely no use for letting me in, so I had to trudge unhappily over to get my extra key card from Josh, then trudge back home, and then everything was great!

Well, besides that my vacation-away-from-my-vacation was over, that is.

Final Score:

Going to Malaysia: 0   Megan: 1

Booyah, Malaysia! Your food is delicious, your cultural makeup is fascinating, and your beaches are beautiful. You put up a good fight, but in the end I won this smackdown. Better luck next time.

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