Tipping is NOT customary in Thailand, there is absolutely NO mandatory requirement to tip anyone, but small gratuities for great service are very much appreciated. Unlike some other parts of the world you will never see a Thai service provider standing there with his hand out waiting for a tip.
Well, it may not be customary or mandatory, but it sure appreciated and although there may not be a hand out, I do think they have come to expect it. For example in our letter from the tour company, they suggest that a 400 baht tip to the driver each day is appropriate. Also, they make so little here, my guilt kicks in and, as Terry so delicately put it the other day, “You left HOW much?”
2. Bangkok has interesting traffic and drivers – some examples:
- The taxi driver the other night was an older gentleman (70+, I would suggest). I think that perhaps he was just learning to drive a standard, since he ground the hell out of the clutch/transmission every time he changed gears, which was frequently since we were in heavy traffic. It was like a 15 year old learning to drive and made us literally cringe each time. I gave him a bit of a tip since he is soon going to need it to keep that car on the road.
- The driver to the golf course yesterday – he was one of these guys who speeds up and slows down, speeds up and slows down, speeds up and slows down – all within ten seconds of each other – for almost the entire 50 minute ride back from the course. It was more comfortable on the long boat!
- The traffic is quite unbelievable. Both golf courses were less than an hour from the hotel, apparently. On Monday we left an hour and a half before our tee time and made it with about ten minutes to spare (in which time we had to pay, change, get our rental clubs and get to the tee – Warm-up? I felt like some of those guys at the club (George) who get there just in time to tee off – how do you do it?). Yesterday I asked the driver to come a half hour earlier and pick us up at 6:30 for an 8:34 time. Again, we got there 10 minutes before our time. Both times it took about 50 minutes to get back since we weren’t in the same kind of traffic. I will say, though that the drivers are all very patient, no horns, no cutting in and out – just a “This is just the way it is” attitude.
3. The people of Thailand
- All Thai people are NOT polite. The rude ones work in the Drop Bag area and the pro-shop at Suwan Golf Club. Or perhaps they just don’t like people who are paying extra to rent clubs, rather than having them lift them out of a van and load them on to a cart. To be fair, the starter was over the top with his effusive apologies for the behaviour of his colleagues in the Pro Shop.
- Stiletto heel manufacturers are NOT going to make the same kind of money in Thailand as they are in China. Sadly, most women here are far more sensible in their footware. (Does that make me some kind of leg chauvinist, or something?)
- The street hawkers are not nearly as pushy as their colleagues in China. Here, they ask once and smile and joke when you say no.
4. The food of Thailand
- It just amazes us at the low cost of dinner at the pavement cafes. Last night: One 16 oz. beer, 2 orders of rice, 3 spring rolls, 1 cellophane noodles with seafood (loaded with seafood), 1 baked claypot of mussels (there must have been 36 in there) – $10.20 I don’t know how they get the ingredients, let alone pay any of the 5 servers, plus, I imagine, a cook on what they can make in an evening. There are 9 tables on the sidewalk for maybe 40 people. I guess they do turn them several times. The night before, one more beer, one more dish, $14.00 BTW – Either the cook last night or the one at the Bee should take over the kitchen at the Shangri La!! Food was much much better for far far less.
Okay – time to prepare for our trip to the Golden and Reclining Buddhas.