6 things that are better in Thailand
Well what a Russian Roulette this year has been so far. Just over 6 months, traveled to 4 different countries, explored Thailand from North to South with my brother and friends and moved all the way across the world, from Thailand to America. I am currently in Minneapolis, USA. And now that the cultural differences are once again right in front of my nose, screaming at me, it’s almost easier now to write about Thailand.
Having lived in Thailand for 2 years, I guess I can say I know a little bit about its country and culture. So I decided to write a post about the things that are FAR BETTER in Thailand than anywhere else! (Oh don’t worry, I’ll be doing the same post for things that don’t work AT ALL in Thailand haha).
Some of these you probably know already, but bear with me as I will approach them from a different angle.
This is without a doubt, one of my favourite aspects about Thailand. For the whole time I was there, I have always felt safe. Some areas or things can look suspicious when you first arrive, especially if you’ve heard all the crazy dark alley stories, but I swear I have never felt like I was in danger. In fact, I felt more uneasy when I went back to the UK last summer. People looked on edge and crazy, about to snap and do something stupid. The stress of the UK is not unsafe but it made me feel unsafe. I remember looking over my shoulder coming back home, one night, at around 11pm. I’ve walked some of the dodgiest streets of Chiang Mai on my own, at 3am and never had that feeling. I also ran numerous times at 4 and 5 am, on my own and the only thing I really feared, was the stray dogs and their rabies!
This also applies when you lose something. My first month in Thailand, during Songkran (Thai New Year - water festival), I lost my friends’ GoPro camera. It was kept behind one of the bars by a lovely lady! Can you believe that?
Being an airhead, I kept forgetting my helmet in all sorts of places. It was always there when I'd go back to get it. Same applies for anything else, clothes, expensive goggles, you name it. Better yet! I’ve left the keys of my scooter in the ignition! A friend of mine did the same thing on a Saturday night, in the busiest area of town, where everybody goes out. We went out for a drink for a few hours, came back and realised he had left the keys in the ignition! The scooter was literally left up for grabs! Poverty is very obvious in some areas of Thailand and yet safety is a big thing!
Sharing is caring:
Sharing is caring right? Well, this was one of the biggest lessons I learned, when I first got to Thailand. It was like a big fat slap in the face!
I earned 3 times more than my Thai assistant teacher and yet she was naturally more whiling to share things with me than others. If she ever brought in food for her breakfast, which was often, she would always offer to share it with me. When I joined the school, because I had no formal clothes respectable enough for a Christian school, all teachers, including my Director, gave me clothes. Things that they didn't wear anymore, or even somebody in their family.
But, here's the one that really got me: one day my Thai assistant teacher bought a dozen of eggs, and she prepared a bag with 5 eggs for me! Please remember these teachers earned the equivalent to 250$!
It made me almost disgusted in myself and it made me wonder when and where have we gone so wrong in the West?? Even when I lived in London, we all earned a lot more, but did we ever share it like that? Hell no!
From then on, I started making a conscious effort to always think of her and my colleagues. I would buy extra food at the market to give my teacher or extra dessert of breakfast to share with her and others.
This is probably the most beautiful lesson I have learned!
This one is up for debate! Thailand is known as the land of smiles. Well, my fiancé, from Guatemala, begs to differ. He always tells me how people in Guatemala smile all the time and say hi to you as you walk past. Well, I haven't been there so I don't know.
The reality is, in my experience, Thais are very helpful and will always try to get you out of a sticky situation. The few times my scooter broke on the road, Thai people always came over to help. I even had a flat tire on New Year's Day, and after pulling the scooter for maybe 50m, a pick-up truck stopped to drive me to a motorcycle shop.
This made me feel safe to drive anywhere in Thailand. I knew if I had an issue on the road, it wouldn't be long until somebody would stop and help.
I debated whether or not to include this here. Of course you all know this already!
All I will say is, you can eat every day, at a restaurant for less than 2$. My rent for a year and a half was 90$/month for a studio apartment. For a full house with outside space, our rent was about 190$.
Being in the USA now, the difference is... depressing to say the least! The other day I paid 11$ for apples. APPLES PEOPLE!!!! All 3.5LB of it! What in the actual f*ck!
Anyway, if you're good with your money, and not pretend to be a rich lord, your money can go a really long way in Thailand!
The mangoes below, all 3kg of them (!!!) were 100baht (3,26$) and you can have a seafood feast for around 250baht (8.15$).
Taking part in sport events:
This one is related to the affordability topic. Thailand has an amazing weather, the whole year round. Not everybody's preference, I'll give you that. I loved every bit of it but I must admit, after 2 years of baking under the sun, I was starting to miss the cold and having proper seasons.
I 100% will ALWAYS prefer sunny days to anything else! The level of heat is a little less important. But it's great to be able to put facial cream in the morning, leave the house and not have it melt all over you. It's also great to have a shower and stay clean and dry, rather than sweating the minute you walk out of the shower.
Anyway, what I want to say is, with this great weather and sunshine, Thailand has a lot of different sport events - mini marathons, half-marathons, marathons, ultras, trail races, triathlons, duathlons, YOU NAME IT! All of them for about 10 - 15$!
Guess where my chin ended up when I got to the States and realised all these events are between 70 - 168$!? I'm dead!!!!! I'm sorry but, simply put, I cannot afford it right now! And very very sadly I won't be doing any of them here.
Plus, in Thailand, they give you an awesome feed at the end! Amazing food, hot and cold dishes, coconut ice-cream and a whole coconut for you to replenish yourself. Oh my! I know people who would do the races just for the feed haha!
Celebrations and public holiday:
One of my friends in Thailand told me at the beginning: "There are two things that Thais do better than anybody else - their holidays and their parties". Think about Songkran, Thai New Year, known as the water festival, and Loi Krathong, known as the lantern festival.
These are truly unique and, in my opinion, 2 of the most special times of the year to visit Thailand. These celebrations are something you won't see anywhere else in the world, and they last between 3 to 5 days. Where else in the world do you celebrate New Year for 3 to 5 days?
Granted, both these celebrations are very likely harmful to our planet. Think national level, water gun fights (and by water guns I also mean water hoses turn on all day, containers of water and human size ice cubes), thousands of lanterns flying up to the sky and thousands of flower arrangements sent on all rivers as part of a ‘letting go of the bad' ritual.
Thais are also very friendly and non-violent. Fights and altercations are not common, or at least you don't really hear about them. From my experience, I never saw or heard of any drunk fights. Thais are out to have fun and they are all about that calm, quiet life. It's awesome! If anything, the only thing to worry about when you go out or during these big celebrations, is the drunk drivers. Thais drink a lot and they drive!
A part from these there are also a lot of other small celebrations and national holidays either related to Buddhism or the Royal Family. When their King died, the Royal Family announced a year-long period of mourning. And to mark the 1st anniversary of the King's death, they announced a Royal cremation ceremony which took place for over 5 days. This meant, national holiday, for that whole week! (I kept thinking about that time Germany said Portugal was one of the most unproductive countries in Europe and that we had too much holiday…) I believe the main reason for this was so that people from all over the country could go to Bangkok and be part of the ceremony but, where else do you see that? Imagine if Trump died? Ha!
Basically, if you work in Thailand, you get a lot of time off!
Social Media for Businesses:
This is a smaller area I would like to mention, and not always true but, bear with me. Recent years allowed us all to move from a SMS culture to a data culture. For us travelers, it is a lot easier to use services like WhatsApp or Messenger to keep in touch with friends and family. SMS and roaming are not a thing! Asia has their own version or WhatsApp, Uber and others. China for example, does not allow Facebook, YouTube and Google Maps. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGE YOUR LIFE LIKE THAT? But, on the other hand, they have their own versions of these platforms.
In Thailand, the equivalent of WhatsApp is Line. You don't even need a phone number to install it. It works with a unique user name and a QR code. What I wanted to mention here is that some businesses in Thailand, use Line as a form of contact. Think taxi drivers, nail salons and even hotels. Isn't it amazing? Rather than email, sending a quick message on Line? Plus, you end up getting a reply way quicker. I even spoke with a 5 star resort in Malaysia, via Line.
It is nothing ground-breaking, I give you that. What surprises me is why we don't use it more in the West, and why hasn't it been a thing?
So that’s it guys! How about you tell me what you find to be better in Thailand, and what crazy stories you have in the land of smiles.
Stay happy and healthy folks.
Thank you for reading.