40baht – breakfast on the street

Such an experiment always required follow-up. So I did the same for breakfast yesterday morning. My findings were more substantial.


Explained:
– Freshly squeezed orange juice for 20baht.
– Half a pineapple, sliced and ready to eat for 10baht.
– Thai breakfast sandwich, served diced (?!) for 10baht. Don’t ask. I’ve never had it before. I just saw it on the street vendor and said to myself, “There’s no way that would cost more than 10baht.” I was right.

I was so full with the food I didn’t get around to the juice until after lunch. Yuummm.

40 baht test – Foodland

I went down the street last night to go to my regular massage place… and found it closed. I decided to pop in the grocery store across the street before going back home. I then realised all I had in my pocket was 40 baht, just enough to tip the masseuse.

I talked myself into trying create a meal with the 40 baht in my pocket. My outcome:


It’s not a good sign when I say this, but I feel like I need to explain my purchases. I perhaps put too many constraints on myself. No cup-o-noodles or other tv-dinner equivalent preservative loaded one-box-solves-all ingredients that I normally never buy anyway. Make as full a meal as possible. No salad bar.

Anyway, my purchases explained:
– Tomatoes, 6baht. It’s both vegetable and fruit right? So I got two courses right there!
– Basil, 6.75baht. Well, I need to mix two of the tomatoes with it on the stir fry to make it more like a veggie dish, after all. Besides, I would have opted for the more Thai chili peppers at a mere 9 baht, but I already have a tub of them at home.
– Yogurt drink, 7baht. Gotta have a beverage. The straw came free!
– Sweet porridge, 15baht. Might as well indulge on the dessert. I found chocolate bars for about 8baht but this is probably slightly healthier. Besides, it’s different.

Result: I had 5.25baht of change remaining. Got home, looked at the purchases, punched the straw into the yogurt drink and finished it in two sips. Look at the rest and stuck them in the fridge without eating any.

Custom made anything

Speaking of sizing issues: Mr. Know-It-All had a somewhat helpful piece this week.

My dress shirt cost $50 to get tailored. Not really cheap at all, although if you add in the custom made part, it’s a deal. But given that I rarely wear button-up shirts, would $50/shirt be worth an investment?

I have also learned a new English word. It pops up quite a lot on signs in my neighbourhood: Bootery. I’m assuming it means a shop that makes boots. Bootery. I’m going to check out a couple of booteries (sp?) to consider getting a pair of riding boots made, especially now that my belongings have arrived and I now have my helmet. That’s one way of finding out if my assumption of what the definition of “bootery” is correct or not.

BTS


I take the BTS, or skytrain, to and from work daily. In fact, for most expats living in the city, it’s our primary mode of transportation getting around.

The train runs pretty frequently. For my first few weeks here, I never had to wait more than three minutes. But as I start going out and about in more different times of the day, I have waited double that. Still quite nice compared to my worst wait in DC’s metro- 27 minutes.

There’s an odd system about how they run it. Each platform is “guarded” by a security officer whose uniform looks almost military-like, and whose main job is blowing the shrill whistle around his neck when he sees someone stepping any closer than a foot from the yellow line on the edge. I rarely see them talk, but I was surprised one evening by an off-duty officer’s mumble behind me as we encountered an enormous crowd when he declared, in perfect American English “Oh MY God!”

The people queue up at the platforms. There are arrows indicating where to stand in line, usually two lines on each side of each door. And the Skytrail conductors bring the trains to a stop aligning the doors to the floor markings with very uncanny accuracy.

Depending on the time of the day, as people file in, they sometimes self-patrol and stop entering the car when it gets crowded, forcing everyone in line to wait with them for the next car. However, in the dead heat of the rush hours, that chivalry sometimes disappears. And the foreigners never honor it.

The Skytrain operates only two lines, stations marked with a N,E,S,W and number based on which direction and how many station aways you are from the system’s central point. The “central point” is where the two lines interconnect, and is located by one of the biggest shopping centres in the newer part of town, Siam.

On the one interchange station between the two lines, the two platforms have only escalators between them. Thais don’t walk on escalators. They just stand, even if the platform they are approach already has a train about to leave. They won’t budge until their step reaches the platform, then they will break into a bolt to try to catch the train. Being stuck on the escalator is fast becoming my biggest pet peeve about the Thais.

MOVE, GADDAMMIT.

For some of you who want to know about cost of living stuff:
My daily fare, if I take as close as door-to-door is possible: 20ThBaht/trip for work, which is an equivalent of 60cents.

Cost of Living analysis

Some of you may remember the economics lesson about comparing cost of living between two places, especially internationally. Consumer Price Index, Cost of Living Index, whatever and all of the above. My professor used the example of taking out a shopping basket and buying the same products in both areas, and comparing the prices. Before we get the complexity of determining the definition of “same products” let’s keep it simple, OK?

Here’s my unscientific, unofficial experiment.

To me, I compare whether a place is cheaper or more expensive by going to the local generic drug store or equivalent of CVS and to the supermarket or whatever type of venue locals go to to purchase their groceries, be it wetmarket or Shaws.

As I start traveling within the region, I’m going to create a list of products and take down the cost. I’ll report my findings here.

Challenge
– I need you to help me create the shopping list.
– Limit: 50 items, max. Hopefully we won’t get that long of a list. Because we don’t have three days just doing this research in every place we visit.
– I want YOU to do the same for places you visit or live in. If more than one person reports on a same locale, we’ll average your findings.

Rules and Criteria
– Everyday products or services that you use.
– Mid-range generic products. No special brands or features. Sometimes that means stuff that YOU personally may not use.
– Put aside trends. Like organic. Or locally grown. Or brand favoritism.
– If it’s a product not even used with no similar replacement, mention it.
– Necessities only. Cosmetics? Don’t even bother. Keep it gender neutral as much as possible, or use equivalents.
– Use the scenario of a single young professional. Don’t go into family expenses.
– We’ll keep rent, mortgages, utilities for the most part out.

I’ll create a page for a running list and your comments. Hopefully I can nail a master checklist down by September. Reasonable enough?