Port Angeles, Washington
January 9, 2002
Very few foreigners come to Thong Pha Pom, so there is absolutely no tourist atmosphere, which I found wonderful. It also meant that I had to try out more Thai words and phrases. We went to a market area in the morning, before our bicycle trip. Again, not touristy at all. Good food and interesting shops with friendly people Later that evening, a couple of us decided to see if anything was going on in town to celebrate the King’s birthday. Often there are big parties and festivals on his birthday. But we only saw subdued lines of candles lit up in front of the homes and businesses. We did find a sort of flea market going on, with the same sort of things you would find at our flea markets – used clothing, cosmetics, some fake brand name cothing, etc. Not a tourist market at all. We wandered through looking at things for a while. During this time, my friends were distracted looking at clothing. One of my friends looks Thai and the other is also fairly dark complected. I, on the other hand, have long light colored hair and very blue eyes. As I waited for the girls to shop, I started to notice that I was getting stared at a lot. Not just an occassional glance, but all out staring by entire families of people. I know they don’t see many foreigners, but this was weird. I guess I didn’t really mind, I just thought it was funny.
We eventually made it over to the food section, and we sat down to a huge bowl of noodle soup. It was so delicious and very hot! In many tourist areas, the spiciness of the food is toned down automatically, but not here (like I said, it is not a tourist area). Again, I was getting a lot of stares. I asked my trip leader if I was doing something the Thai people would find strange or rude, and she said "no" and also thought it might be my hair and eyes. When we finished the meal, my lips were burning from the chile peppers, so of course I had to cool down with something sweet. It was a nice evening and we returned to our pampering guesthouse to finish out the night in style.
From journal Kanchanaburi – Week 2 of 4 of Thailand trip