Top 20 Ways to Get Rid of Stress

Bangkok is a bustling city that keeps you on your toes. All that excitement, running around and spending evenings out can wear you down, especially if your job is demanding. So here are some ideas of how to release some stress and keep your sanity:

  1. Watch the sunrise or sunset.
  2. Grow some plants.
  3. Enjoy a nice massage.
  4. Spend dinner with your family.
  5. Read a novel.
  6. Go to a concert.
  7. Treat yourself to a health spa.
  8. Talk a walk in the park.
  9. Lie in the grass and relax.
  10. Learn something new.
  11. Get tipsy with good company.
  12. Take the dogs for a walk.
  13. Sample food at a new restaurant.
  14. Cook something special.
  15. Phone in to work sick and relax.
  16. Have a dinner/movie night out (or in).
  17. Spend extra time at the gym.
  18. Go for a long hike.
  19. Volunteer or give to charity.
  20. Quit the job which cause the stress in the first place!

Mad About Juice

One of my favorite places to grab an all-natural 100% glass of juice in Bangkok is Mad About Juice. It resembles the familiar chains of Juice It Up or Jamba Juice in the United States, but promotes even healthier serving sizes and many more variations of pure juice. Mad About Juice is often found in Bangkok shopping centers such as Emporium, CentralWorld and Paragon.

While most American juice stores focus on smoothies, Mad About Juice offers different categories for you to choose from like drinks with yogurt, mik, without milk or simply juice. This is really helpful for those with milk allergies or are looking to reduce calories.

My favorite are the 100% pure juices and I especially like the Slow Age drink. I love the different fruits and vegetables that they blend together to make the drinks. I’m always pleasantly surprised at the great taste whenever I try a new drink. As I said earlier, the servings are smaller than the American counterpart, but juices and smoothies made from fruit contain enough natural sugars that one should be careful of consuming too many liquid calories.

For those more adventurous than me, try the wheatgrass shot. I think it smells horribly like grass and haven’t yet forced myself to try one. It is claimed to have the benefits equivalent to eating one kilogram of vegetables. I’d have the orange or pineapple juice chaser to follow the wheatgrass shot, just to get the grass taste out of my mouth.

Ice Monster at Major Pahonyothin

After watching a movie at Major Cineplex at Pahonyothin, I ventured to the ground floor where I found an Ice Monster store. Located adjacent to the Starbucks and across from the McDonald’s, the Ice Monster appeared to offer a healthier alternative to sweets like ice cream or bakery goods. Ice Monster is a franchise from Taiwan that has a menu of appetizing fruit or chocolate with snow ice.

Bangkokians are always looking for a sweet treat when out and about in the city and Ice Monster provides the sweet taste of milk and fruit in an ice indulgence. Although the desserts at Ice Monster are not completely guilt-free, they do seem a bit healthier if you stick with the teaser size. The large size seems rather large for an individual to eat, but it is suitable for sharing. Other less healthy version of ice available are the ones which involve lots of chocolate or toppings.

The fruits in the ice monster products were fresh and seemed to be of high quality. You can even get two fruits or a mixed fruit topping if you can’t choose which fruit to put on top of your snow ice. The taste was great, but I’m sure the sweet milk in the snow ice and sugary condensed milk in the topping helped make it even better. Like I said, Ice Monster desserts are not complete guilt-free!

Hoax regarding changing Thailand’s Time

A relative of mine informed me on Tuesday that Thailand would change their clocks back 30 minutes for “daylight savings.” My first reaction was “Huh?” Thailand has never used daylight savings time in its history and as a country located in the tropical area near the equator, doesn’t need to turn the clock back in order to increase productivity of its citizens during the winter months.

My second thought was, how can Thailand change its time zone all of a sudden? Why wasn’t there more public awareness of this situation? How are banks and other countries which do business with Thailand all around the world going to be informed of this unusual predicament? Then I started to doubt the validity of what my relative told me. It seemed that if this situation was real, many more people would be talking about and it would be all over the news.

It appears the the email which my relative received, was a hoax. The email stated that teh Ministry of Science and Technology would change Thailand’s time zone on August 23. At 8:30 am on August 23, clocks will go back to 8 am. This email spread through Thai businesses and government offices via email and some translations were discussed in English blogs as well.

The Nation released information stating that an email was sent from the National Institute of Meteorology (Thailand) stated that any organization which used computers as part of its public service was required to set its time based on the cock of the institute. This policy is set to take place on August 23rd. The action is aimed at synchronizing the country’s clock, not changing the time for daylight savings.


U-turns in Bangkok

A friend of my who visited Thailand once commented on the number of u-turns that exist in Bangkok. It seems that Thai civic engineers love using u-turns instead of allowing intersections. The logic behind this decision may be that instead of using red lights, which stop traffic, using u-turns allow traffic to flow continuously at all times. U-turns are used especially in conjunction with flyovers and bridges. This is especially true in the city where traffic conditions are especially bad and u-turns are used frequently. Large roads like Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road even has u-turns that go overhead in order to avoid stop traffic on that busy street.

The use of u-turns in Bangkok often restricts going straight on a road or making a right hand turn. For example, when I drive on the Ekkami-Ramintra Road and want to head towards my house, I have to make a left hand turn onto Kaset-Nawamin Road and then a u-turn at the next traffic light. Additionally, I cannot make a right hand turn into my soi because there is a cement center divider. I have pass my soi and make another u-turn in order to make a left hand turn at my soi. All these u-turns means that driving in Bangkok is often more difficult to maneuver than simply knowing where your destination is because you also have to figure out the complicated roads.

U-turns are places where drivers should be very carefully. Tonight on the drive home I saw an accident at a u-turn where the car making a u-turn obviously pulled in front of traffic and caused a collision. Cars making u-turns need to take care to stay to the rightmost lane as much as possible and watch for the cars heading towards them. Likewise, the cars which are going straight would be wise to change lanes as they approach u-turns. There are usually signs posted at 100 meter intervals starting at around 500 meters to let you know when the next u-turn is coming up. Of course, you should also slow down a bit and keep a watch out for those who are trying to make a u-turn.

Thai Mother’s Day

Today, August 12th, is a national holiday in Thailand as it is the Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday. As with the King’s birthday which is the same day as father’s day because he is considered to be the father of the country, the queen is similarly likened to the mother of the country.

On Mother’s day, children buy jasmine garlands for their mothers and present her with the flowers as a symbol of their respect and gratitude for her. Also, the children make promises to their mothers of how they will be good children, study hard and be well behaved. Many schools have Mother’s Day activities on August 11th where mother’s go to the school in order to receive the gifts that their children made for them and the jasmine garland. On August 12th, all schools and many government offices are closed.

Thai Women Don’t Sweat in the Gym

I’ve been working out at my local gym in a suburb of Bangkok and I’ve noticed that many of the Thai women in their 30s and 40s don’t really exert themselves. I’m not sure what the reason is but when I’m walking on the treadmill I always feel like these women are barely walking. Is it because they are sticking to the trainers minimum requirement of walking at 3.0 mph and dare to go no higher?

Yesterday, I was pedalling along on the recumbent bike machine when a woman sat down at the bike next to me. She started pedalling and I really felt like she was barely going. I glanced at her screen and saw that she was on the lowest level and lowest resistance. She biked for about 5 minutes and then proceeded to stop for another 5 minutes. I was confused as to what kind of workout she was doing but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt because maybe she’s a beginner or has a injury she’s recovering from.

But perhaps this all has to do with the resistance of Thai people to sweating. Funny if it extends to the gym, since it is the one place where sweating is a requirement. Perhaps Thai women in particular don’t feel comfortable doing an unfeminine thing like sweating in public. For the sake of their gym memberships I hope these women learn to increase the intensity at some point so that they get more out of their workout.

Shopping Freeze Broken

I’ve been in a strange mood for the past month that preventing me from buying things. It’s not that I didn’t go shopping or that I was conciously trying not to buy things, but rather that I didn’t find anythhing that I wanted enough to buy. In one way, it’s a good thing to break free from the consumerism that normally drives us to buy, buy, buy. Call it a detox of the consumer feeding frenzy.

However, after a month of the shopping freeze, I started to feel antsy and a little bit neglected since I had not purchased anything besides the basic necessities. I had even forgone the things women normally treat themselves to like hair treatments and pedicures during this period.

So last weekend, I begun the process of ending the shopping detox by spending an entire afternoon in Central Ladprao shopping center in Bangkok. Part of the time was spent shopping for gifts, enjoying a nice meal and watching a 3D movie. I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything for myself since I was not ready to end my shopping freeze.

The next weekend, I repeated the process and spent the first part of the afternoon at Esplanade in Ratchada watching a movie and browsing in the bookstore. I contemplated pampering myself with a manicure and pedicure or even a hair coloring, but I was too impatient to spend hours with someone hovering around me. I was quickly bored with Esplanade so I decided to rush over to Chatuchak Weekend Market before it closed.

It seems that I wasn’t the only person trying to get to Chatuchak Market as the traffic in the area was horrific and there were hordes of people in the market. I was off to a slow start at the market and was only buying beverages even though I walked the entire market once over. Nothing called out to be bought. Nothing that I saw interested me enough to warrant a purchase. No desire to buy anything that crossed my eyes. I was beginning to feel hopeless.

I almost left after an hour but I couldn’t admit defeat. I had to end the shopping freeze before I left the market. So I walked around the market again and managed to buy two books, two earrings and two jasmine garlands. I bought a banana smoothie on the way to the parking lot to celebrate the conclusion of my shopping detox. I had bought what I desired and no more.

Sacred Thread – Sai Sin

At certain Buddhist ceremonies where you wish to conferr good luck such as house warmings and house blessings, sai sin is used. Sai sin is the unspun white thread which is rolled up in oval shaped ball used by monks. The sai sin ball is placed in front of the alter tables and is used to mark the ceremonial perimeter by taking the ball out through a window and then circling the building. The ball is returned to the altar and the head monk will hold the ball during the ceremony. During the chanting, he will unroll the sai sin and passes the thread through his fingers before passing the ball to the next monk. Each monk will hold a piece of the thread and pass the ball until it reaches the last monk. The connection between the monks and the thread is thought to form a sacrosanct circle as the monks chanting infuses the thread with sacred power. It is believed that anyone who is within the circle will be blessed and protected from harm and evil.

Sai sin is also used during the preordination ceremony. Ceremonial attendants use it to tie the ordination candidate’s wrists to ward off evil spirits. Before the candidate is ordained he is believed to be vulnerable to danger and needs extra protection during the rites.

Sai sin is used in the North and Northeast for different purposes. The thread is tied onto the visitors’ wrists and they are wished a safe journey and good health. It serves as a gesture to welcome the visitors’ to the host’s home. In the North and Northeast regions, sai sin is also used in a traditional wedding ceremony. Guests at the wedding reception woud tie pieces of white thread around the wrists of the bride and groom to wish them happiness and prosperity. This is in contrast to the common Thai tradition of pouring lustral water on the bride and groom’s hands.