There are some things you will rarely escape, no matter how far you travel. McDonald’s, for instance. Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and KFC all show up fairly often. And Krispy Kreme has made a recent debut here in Thailand, following us all the way from home. But nothing is as prevalent, and as adaptable, as good ol’ fashioned Coca-Cola. No matter where we’ve gone, how rich or poor the country, what language they speak or what money they use, we could always order a Coke with our meal. (Apparently this is true unless you go to North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Burma, or Sudan.)
I have seen the Coca-Cola emblem written in so many languages it’s mind-boggling. Most products maintain their logo and change all wording to the local language; Not Coke. Strangely, you can instantly recognize it, no matter the language. The brand image is apparently seared into our brains. The same thing can be said of most Coke and Pepsi products.
One big difference between here and home that they use old school glass bottles. You almost never see glass Coke bottles in the U.S. But, in Southeast Asia, they are much cheaper than plastic, since the bottles are returned to the company and refilled. This means you have to either drink it on the premises and give the bottle back, or they will toss ice in a plastic bag and pour your Coke in. Slap in a straw and you have a to-go “cup” full of soda, sweetened with real sugar. Nothing quite as refreshing, or precarious, as a bag of cool soda.