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All I Wanted Was A Chocolate Shake

  • Written by Ben Dover
  • August 20th, 2005
  • 11 min read


One day, when my girlfriend and I were shopping on a street in Phuket, I told her that I wanted some ice cream and that I had seen a Haagen Daz the day before on the main street that runs along the beach. So we walked over to it and proceeded in the front door. Well, just like many Thai food establishments with Western roots, we were instantly given the royal treatment as our waitress led us to our table. Then she bought us napkins with flatware rolled up inside.

I almost started laughing because this was an ice cream store and the girl was acting like we were in a 4 star restaurant in New York City. But it was cute and I never turn down good service.

Ahhh, but not so fast young Skywalker, Obi Wan has most certainly NOT taught this young Jedi waitress apprentice well.

Now, I have been with my girl for some time now and I have had the pleasure of sharing a chocolate shake or two at various ice cream places in Thailand, while my cute little teeruk gleefully enjoys eating her scoop of ice cream out of a cup with a little plastic spoon, but she knows that my weak spot is chocolate shakes.

So what is the problem you might ask? Well, here is the problem…

There was only one other couple in the store and one couple outside, who had already been served. There were 4 employees, but it took them 10 minutes to make one chocolate shake and get one scoop of ice cream.

I mean, it wasn’t like I was asking them to crack Colonel Sanders’ 11 secret herbs and spices recipe in order to ‘decode’ and copy KFC Chicken…it’s just a God damn chocolate shake, for Christ’s sake. Chalk another one up for the ‘Thai way’ and Thai efficiency at its finest!!!

I was pretty relaxed that day and actually did not mind the wait because then that gave me an excuse to stare into my girlfriend’s totally hot and sexy, sultry Thai eyes. I mean, the shape of her eyes is the epitome of Thai beauty as they are mesmerizing to all mortal men!

Finally, our ice cream arrives. The waitress hands us our order, mine was a chocolate shake and Porn wanted one scoop of ice cream in a cup. Well, I picked up the shake cup and it was like liquid with almost no ice cream consistency. I opened up the lid and looked inside and it was mostly milk, although there were 2 small balls of ice cream at the bottom of the cup. It must have been blended for about 2 seconds because it was not mixed at all.

I took a small taste and it totally tasted like vanilla with no chocolate syrup in there at all.. I showed the cup to my girlfriend and she also could not figure out what that was, because it was most certainly not a chocolate shake. In fact, it wasn’t even a shake. I figured, hey, this is an American owned chain that sells ice cream so they must certainly know how to properly make a milk shake the Western way, right? WRONG!!!

I was mildly perturbed so I asked the waitress to come back. She came over with a big Thai smile on her face and asked me if everything was OK. I said, “No, this is not a chocolate shake. It was like water and it is not thick. And it does not taste like chocolate either, it tastes like vanilla.” I had my girlfriend explain the concept of viscosity to the waitress, which was thankfully in the Talking Dict electronic Thai-English-Thai translation dictionary that she carries with her religiously, at my behest. Well, this word has come up previously, for reasons that I will not go into here, so my girl knew EXACTLY what I was talking about when I said that I wanted my shake to be thicker, more like ice cream and less like the consistency of milk. My teeruk dutifully explained to the waitress what I wanted. But that dumb shit looked puzzled when my teeruk was trying to explain what thick and thin meant as they refer to viscosity of liquids. Now, I am not sure, but there does not seem to be one word in Thai that means the same thing as ‘thick’ when referring to a liquid, because my girlfriend took the better part of a minute to explain the concept to the waitress. The waitress still did not seem to understand, but pretended to anyway and took the shake back behind the counter.

This time she returned only 5 minutes later (again with no more customers in the store), but by this time my teeruk had finished her ice cream scoop cup and I would have to eat alone which is not as much fun or romantic.

So, finally the waitress returns, chocolate shake in hand, hands it to me, and walks away.

I pick up the cup, anxious to tear into my icy cold treat, and I notice that the cup feels like it is only 33% full. WTF??? I proceed to once again open the lid and peer inside only to see that it was in fact only 33% full. Now, this time the shake had the proper consistency as it was thick, as a normal shake should be, but what they had done was a total joke…

They did NOT add more chocolate as I requested and more importantly, instead of making me a new shake, the proper way, all they had done was to pour off most of the milk, put it back in the blender, put the lid back on, and brought it back out to me. Now the price of that shake was very expensive…something like 400 baht and now I got about a third of a cup of shake. I showed the contents of the cup to the waitress and said, “Where is the ice cream? The cup is not full.” To which she said, “Shake only have 2 scoops ice cream. You have 2 scoops.” Plus, she had poured out some of the ice cream when she poured off the excess milk, so now I was left with even LESS than 2 scoops anyway!

I am thinking to myself, ‘You have got to be kidding. Can you be that stupid? You cannot make a shake with only 2 scoops of ice cream and besides, why in the hell would you put a shake that contains only 2 scoops of ice cream into a 16 ounce (.5 liter) cup, making it look mostly empty?’

More Thai idiocy. I just said to my honey, “Mai pen rai.” I paid and we left.

The next day we discovered a Baskin-Robbins further North on the main street that runs along the ocean. After dinner we stopped in and lo and behold, they made a perfect chocolate shake for me, that was full to the brim with ice cream and it only cost 190 baht. Ahh, a taste of back home, finally!

We returned to Bangkok the next day.

The next day we went shopping to MBK as I wanted to buy my little teeruk some new white jeans, because she had actually lost weight and now was down to only about 39 kilos (86 pounds)!

Her pants were getting a little baggy, but I love pants that are so tight that they look like they are air-brushed onto my little teeruk’s round little ass and slender little legs. She always wonders why I seem to fall behind sometimes when we are out strolling, but I do not tell her that I just love to stare at her ass sometimes when we are walking and I am not even an ass man, either!

Well, it was kind of humid that day, so I told her that I wanted to go to Baskin-Robbins before we started shopping and get a nice ice cream treat to carry around on our shopping jaunt. I was looking forward to a nice chocolate shake at the Baskin-Robbins after having such a great experience in Phuket. So, we sit down to order and this trainee (it said it on the name badge) comes over to take our order. I was rather concerned, because in Thailand, even multi-year veterans of service related companies are still complete idiots, all too often, as far as common sense goes.

Well, here is the problem…you see, everywhere that I have ever been to in the States, when you ask for a chocolate shake, they always ask you how you want it made, especially in ice cream stores. They ask if you want it made with chocolate ice cream in the blender along with some milk or if you want it made with vanilla ice cream with chocolate (Hershey’s) syrup mixed in with the milk while it is being blended. Now pure chocolate ice cream is a bit too sweet for me so I always have it made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup poured in the blender before it gets blended.

So, I casually told the waitress trainee that I wanted vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. I repeated my order, slowly and clearly. Then, for good measure, I asked my girlfriend to tell the waitress, in Thai, exactly what I wanted so that there would be no confusion. The waitress looked totally baffled and confused and I KNEW that she was going to f#@k up my order, so I asked to speak to the manager.

A few seconds later the manager came waltzing over and I re-explained what I wanted. Then, for good measure, I had my girlfriend review everything a third time, once again in Thai, so that there could be no confusion.

Well, there were only maybe 6 customers in the store and 5 employees, but our order still took 10 minutes or more to come to the table. And when they brought me my shake, I was rather happy that the cup seemed full, but one taste and my new found happiness turned to incredulity as those idiots made my shake with, you guessed it, only chocolate ice cream!!!

I swear to God that these issues have nothing at all to do with education. I mean, here in the U.S., I have met countless people my whole life who never went to college, or never even graduated from high school, but were brilliant and street smart beyond their years and just as talented, intelligent, and articulate as a Rhodes scholar and they had a keen sense of common sense as well. Needless to say these same people could easily follow instructions and make a simple chocolate shake if I told them what to do.

Now I am not racist or anything <nah, I totally disagree hereStick>, but I swear to God that I am really starting to think that Thai people are just STUPID!!! I mean, if clear and simple instructions can never be followed by a majority of the population, even when spoken to in Thai, then there has to be something seriously wrong with the entire population. I mean, who really cares if the people are really nice and always smiling, if they can’t ever seem to get your order right? Now, I am not talking about cultural issues here, just common sense and the ability to follow simple one sentence instructions…IN THEIR NATIVE LANGUAGE!!!!

Now, I have not been to every country in the world, but I would be willing to bet $1,000, that if someone carried out my same chocolate shake test in 1 ice cream store in each country in the world (with instructions given in their native language), that probably 95% of the time, I would get what I wanted and asked for…a chocolate shake made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup (assuming that they had chocolate syrup which I think that all ice cream stores seem to have). I bet that even though many of the 200 plus cultures (countries) in the world are vastly different from mine, that they can understand and follow simple instructions given in their native tongue. But in Thailand, out of all of the chocolate shakes that I have had, less than 5% were made correctly.

Why bother, in my opinion. Perhaps they should have a disposition more like Germans, and be grumpy to match their stupidity at following SIMPLE instructions. But I suppose that the Germans would never allow Thais to copy them because of the Germans’ extreme efficiency!

So the lesson learned here is that Thailand and ice cream do not seem to mix well…or maybe Thai people cannot mix ice cream well…!!!

Stickman's thoughts:

What happened at Haagen Daz in Phuket was a case of incompetence and very poor customer service. You were treated very badly!

But what happened in Bangkok with the shake not made to your specifications is a much more complex problem. It helps to understand a little about Thailand, about the culture and about the way things happen in the workplace. Generally speaking, the staff does NOT have any leeway at all to deviate from the “existing way” of doing things. Sometimes they can, and sometimes they are daring and do, but many staff are simply too scared to do so, even if a customer explicitly requests them to do so. Many employees will think they know better than you.

You also need to acknowledge that some things just won’t be done how you want them in Thailand. That is the way it is! A coffee connoisseur from Vienna who is used to specifying many different aspects to exactly how they want their coffee will in turn find that the coffee options available locally are very, very limited…