Getting to know the neighborhood


When you move to a new place, especially in a new country, there are lots of little tasks to be done and purchases to make, so today I set out with a couple of what seemed like fairly simple goals. (Sorry about no pictures in this post but I figured I would be carrying plenty back with me and the camera would just be in the way.)

The first goal was to walk to where I was told I could purchase a coffeemaker, which turned out to be a lot further than I thought. Since it was only 8:30, however, and the retail stores wouldn’t open until 9, I decided to get some breakfast at the bakery place Goy, my landlady, had touted several times. “The Baguette” is located on the main highway just as I exit my street. It’ an upscale place where, I’m told, the Bangkok weekend vacationers like to get coffee and pastries.

They have an impressive assortment of fresh breads, pastries, meat pies, sweets and danish, and a wide variety of coffees. I chose a small shepherd’s pie ($1.40), a pineapple danish ($1.40), pineapple juice ($1.90), and a bottle of water (35 cents). Fresh juices are relatively expensive here. I ate my breakfast in the outside patio area. There were several other westerners there, some with their Thai partners.

It was a bright, sunny, very hot day as I set off on my search. Once I reached the appliance store, however, I decided to skip buying the coffeemaker and, at least for the time being, rely on instant instead of fresh coffee. Asia seems to be pretty sold on instant coffee. The coffeemaker, by the way, was $46.

At least on the way I found a print shop where I could get copies and business cards made, and a fresh meat shop. I thought the latter was a regular grocery but upon entering discovered all the bins of out-in-the-open pork and chicken waiting for purchase. There was also a selection of fresh vegetables.

There were lots of women in blue or pink vests running around helping customers, but I couldn’t get anyone’s attention. That was a little odd, given my height and the fact I was the only farang in the store.

The store offered chicken chopped up, ground up, whole pieces and internal organs. You can buy pork ground, ribs, chops, whole loins, etc. Most everything was priced at between 110-150 baht but I don’t know how much that would buy. If that’s per kilo those are pretty good prices ($3.50-$5). This store will be a good alternative if I don’t want to go to the morning market (which should be cheaper), and if they will actually help me next time.

The second task I had for myself today was to find some kitchenware, such as plastic containers for sugar/flour/coffee, cutting board, steak knives, ice cube trays, kitchen towels, paper towels. You know, all the stuff you take for granted in your kitchen but what has to be purchased new here. I found none of this so I headed home.

On the way back, since I had nothing to carry, I stopped at the specialty meat shop I investigated the day before. They have a wide assortment of beef, lamb, sausages, some cheese, specialty canned goods, salmon and tuna. The fish and meat is all frozen in mostly individual packets. This is relatively high-priced stuff and I spent about $60, including for a 12-pack of large bottles of water for less than $2. I’ve been warned about drinking the local water, although I used it for instant coffee this morning, hoping the boiling of the water, even for a very short time, would be sufficient (it was).

When I made it back to the apartment, I realized I had lost my apartment keys. Turns out the shorts I decided to wear have holes in both front pockets. The keys dropped out somewhere on my morning walk to the beach. Fortunately, I had left the doors unlocked. I traced my steps from the early morning walk but did not find them.

A message was sent to Goy and she showed up later with new keys and the rental agreement. I asked for a 6-month lease, which is what the bank and immigration will require, and Goy said if I stay the 6 months, I get a rebate of 9,500 baht, roughly the same as my deposit.

She then brought in a couple extra trash cans and told me about not putting toilet paper down the toilet. Now, I had encountered this “mandated” practice in Costa Rica, where you put your used toilet paper in a plastic bag next to the toilet. I would not do this then and I will not now. Something was mentioned about the thin pipes in Thailand, but I doubt seriously there are too many westerners doing this.

Goy also told me where I could have extra keys made and maybe find some kitchenware. So later I went back out: the key place was closed and you  have to call him and wait to get keys made; I found the copy place and had 3 copies of the lease made for 2 baht each (5-6 cents); and found a store with a few plastic items but not what I was looking for. They did have a small cooler and a couple of other items I needed.

Next door at the Tesco quickie store, they did have some plastic containers, and I picked up more items I needed, such as soy sauce, milk, hand towels, cutting board, cooking oil, hangars, beer, soda. About $30 worth of stuff and heavy on the way back.

Very soon (it’s almost 4pm), I will be headed to the beach to try out my new fishing gear.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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