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The Other Bangkok

 

The Sikhs in Thailand...

The Sikhs, a minority group living in Bangkok, make up only a fraction of a percent of the total population. In addition to being their place of prayer, Sri Gurusingh Sabha is also a school that is managed voluntarily by the congregation. The Recitation of the Holy Scriptures, considered the only authority in Sikhdom today, is a 300- hundred-year-old ceremony. It takes place annually and is a three-day event. Sri Gurusingh Sabha is located at 565 Chakraphet, Bangkok 2.


Looking for a reliable guide...

I found that since Bangkok covers an area of 360 square miles, hiring a private guide can save time when there is a lot you want to see. Here are two companies that I've dealt with and that I can recommend:

PNK Tours & Transport
This company offers an English-speaking guide, driver and van for approximately $20 a person a day (min. 2 people).
36/8 Soi Kasemson 1, Rama I Road, Patumwan
Phone: (662) 219-2079
E-mail: pnktravel@hotmail.com

Land Tour Operator Khiri Travel Co., Ltd.
106/4 Soi Rambuttri, Banglumpoo
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Phone: +2 629 0491, +2 629 0492
Fax: +2 629 0493


A First-class hotel...

The Conrad Bangkok is a luxurious, visually stunning hotel, but, because it is new, many taxi drivers are not yet familiar with its location. I carried directions in both type - and handwritten Sanskrit after having been taxied around most of the city one afternoon, while my non-English speaking driver tried to find it.

The address is: All Seasons Place, 87 Wireless Road.
Phone: (66) 2 690 9999
Website: www.ConradHotels.com
E-mail: info@conradbangkok.com

It was late when I checked into the Conrad Bangkok. Most notable in my room (especially after my direct NY/Tokyo/Bangkok flight), was a free-standing tub in the bathroom, which opened into the bedroom via louvered mahogany shutters. Divine decadence is what came to mind as I poured the complimentary gardenia-scented bath gel into running water, opened the shutters and, while soaking, focused on the serenity of the large room before me.

I felt great the next morning, thanks to a comfortable bed and the No-Jet-Lag homeopathic tabs I take during long flights. Downstairs, the three-floor atrium lobby was flooded with soft natural light. Breakfasts are on the balcony surrounding the second floor, where strategically placed art objects and a single orchid stem or bamboo branch in colored crystal vases glow from the indirect lighting behind seating arrangements. This was one hotel I didn't feel as though I should rearrange the furniture. Special attention is paid to the smallest detail.


Culturally correct clothing...

We asked women around the world to share their thoughts on culturally correct clothing in Thailand. These are some of the many pieces of advice we received. Thank you everybody!


No matter how hot it is, don't wear sleeveless tops or short shorts when in public areas. The Thai's look on this as disrespectful and besides it certainly singles you out as a tourist. Neat, clean clothing makes you look good and is the best bet for good respect from the Thais'.
Meg, Melbourne, Australia

Wear shoes that can be easily removed because you cannot wear shoes in the Buddhist temples. Socks are considered poor form and tacky. Capri pants are fine because the young women have discovered western fashion. Shorts are not appreciated anywhere. Showing cleavage is also a bad idea and is thought to be in bad taste. The Thais are kind and tolerant of foreigners, but the only time you will really offend them is if you wear shoes in the presence of a statue of Buddha at a shrine, even if it is not a temple. I was in a shop where they were making Buddha statutes and I was told in a cold tone to take my shoes off in the shop. It was embarrassing.
Francesca, Steubenville, USA

If you are a woman over forty travelling to Thailand, please take a skirt or dresses along. It is incorrect to wear pants after 40. I wasn't told before I left so I only had one skirt and had to wear my slacks day after day. Also take something that you can wash out by hand that can be hung to dry quickly.
Kelly, Florida, USA

I went to school in Southern Thailand. My comrades and I spent many a weekend trip lecturing females who wore short-shorts, no bra's, strappy tank tops, etc. Local newspapers often contained articles about women tourists getting into trouble. Southern Thailand is not a tourist mecca and the population is primarily Muslim. Cover up or expect to be propositioned, followed around by men and/or put in potential danger. Save western dress codes for westernized resorts and beaches.
Michelle, Pullman, USA

I have some blue nylon long pants that my mom gave me years ago. They are very thin and feel like a parachute. But I can handwash them with shampoo and they are dry enough to wear in 30 minutes. They were great in Thailand in 95 degree weather. I also bought some Thai nylon trousers that are put on like a diaper. These and the wrapped Thai skirt are decent enough and cool for hot weather. It is important to dress decently so that the locals and/or families are not hesitant to approach you. I traveled alone in Thailand for a month and never felt threatened.
Karen, Ancorage, Alaska

If you are going to visit any temples wear shirts or blouses with sleeves and carry a sarong or wear a skirt. Also remember that you will have to take off your shoes.
Michele, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands

After escaping the Alaskan winter, I couldn't wait to strip down to spaghetti straps and backless dresses in the tropical paradise of southern Thailand. However, I found that it is very uncool to do so anywhere off of the beach. The Thais are quite modest dressers and it's an integral part of their culture, not a fashion statement. In the south, where much of the population is Muslim, scantily clad foreign women are especially offensive to the residents. So, my advice is that if you go to Thailand, dress modestly. Another safe bet is to buy a nifty long sarong and light cotton long sleeve or at least half armed-shirt and bring them with you in your bag everywhere, so that if you're out gallivanting in shorts and a tank top and you suddenly feel out of place, you can put them on. This is critical if you might visit a Wat (Buddhist temple) because wearing shorts or tank tops in the temples is really a big no-no. Ditto for topless sunbathing. Anywhere.
Bridget, Homer, Alaska

I traveled in Thailand. To prevent bug bites, my advice is to wear long cotton pants and a sleeveless t-shirt under a thin cotton long-sleeved shirt. Leave the shorts at home. It is culturally insulting to the Thais to have bare legs exhibited.
Lois, Newport Beach, USA

When travelling in Thailand, conservative clothes, like pants and a shirt are a must when going to the temples.
Weng, Manilla

Although the Thai people will never say anything about the way you are dressed (except when entering a temple) it is good manners to cover the top of your arms and not to wear very short skirts or shorts. An everyday T-Shirt is fine and long shorts are fine.
Linda, Melbourne, Australia

I traveled in Thailand. My advice is to wear a bra under t-shirts or any other thin fabrics.
Jessica, Singapore

I traveled in Thailand. Going to the royal palace in Bangkok, many people were turned back because of their clothing - shorts were not acceptable, nor halter tops, nor were Teva or Thong sandals. I was wearing long pants, a plain t-shirt, and Rockport-type sandals, and had no problem. In general, light-weight long pants seem far more acceptable in Thailand than shorts.
Clare, Rhode Island, USA

When travelling in Thailand always carry a couple of sarongs. You can use them as a sheet, a skirt, to bath in public, and they're also good for carrying your laundry.
Gail, Thailand

When travelling in southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines), wearing a long full skirt (cotton ) with a hip length top is cooler, more comfortable and much more culturally correct than pants.
Mary Ellen, San Diego, USA


Want to read more about Thailand?
Thailand -- Keeping the Experience Female-Friendly
Thailand -- He Plays With Babies

 

 

 

 

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