While I'm here, I will also share one of those "Only in Thailand!" oh-so-crazy anecdotes. Thai people are different than American people! Here's how:
At lunch today, I skateboarded (hey, I can still do that!) down to a little hole-in-the-wall I frequent. It's about the size of a one car garage, with a stove-top and counter in front and a couple rows of tables and stools stretching to the back wall. It is quiet narrow quarters--there is perhaps a total of 10 tables, all of which can seat 2 people, or 8 Thai people.
Now, I ordered my meal, and was pleased to see that I was the only person eating. Fast service, you guys! This guy isn't waiting 7 minutes to get his dish today! I was not so pleased to see that I was not, in fact, the only person in the restaurant, as I was joined by what appeared to be a woman's corpse.
Let me explain. Usually, when I eat here, I am not surrounded by dead bodies, or even one dead body. In fact, I would wager that I see an equal number of dead bodies here as I did in America, which is to say, I'm not exactly knee-deep in dead bodies over here.
But at lunch today, in this one-car garage of a mess hall, stretched out in between the two rows of tables was a makeshift cot, rising about one foot off the ground. That's fine; most restaurant owners here also sleep on the premises...usually not in the actual dining area, but regardless--hey, this is Thailand! It's different from America!
Now, on this cot, covered from toe to neck in three or four heavy blankets, was an old woman. It is 100 degrees outside, and there is no reason for her to need so many heavy blankets. Even one heavy blanket would be pushing it in this weather. I generally sleep under little more than a beach towel, and I sleep in an apartment and not in an open-air restaurant where people are trying to eat.
So, she was sleeping, right? Fine. Right next to me. I'll try not to spill chili sauce on your face. But then there was also this little boy in the restaurant. Let's say he is 7 years old. He was there, I suppose, to attend to this old woman. Here is the attending to that I saw:
The little boy poked the old woman in the shoulder several times.
The old woman did not move or make a sound.
The little boy got a damp wash-cloth from the sink and placed it over the old woman's face.
The old woman did not move or make a sound for the twenty minutes that I was in the restaurant.
I have the plague now.
I have seen some pretty, pretty weird things at restaurants. Once, at Bennigan's, a kid was having a birthday dinner at the table across from us--and wouldn't you know it, but the ENTIRE WAIT STAFF knew it was his birthday, and they had choreographed a song and dance for him. Pretty, pretty weird, you know?
But I have to say that eating garlic pork on rice next to a potentially dead or dying woman would have to top even that experience in terms of strange meals. Because, from my vantage point, looking down at my plate, if I were to glance over even one centimeter, I would see an unmoving wash-cloth covered human head emerging from a thick pile of blankets.
Note to self: If you ever open a restaurant, don't line the aisles with rotting corpses.