Monday, January 31, 2011

100 Days in Thailand :: Things I'm Getting Used To...

Our 12th day in Thailand was kind of boring - or should I say relaxing?! I stayed home and rested, journaled, etc (which was definitely needed with all the traveling we've been doing!) while Rusty went with Ray to Bai (a town about 3 hours away) to look at a motorcycle. So, since I don't have an interesting day to share, I thought I would share some things I'm getting used to while living in Thailand!

The kindness of Thai people 
I am planning on sharing more about Thai culture in a future blog, but let me just say here how WONDERFUL the people are!!! They are the most kind, gentle, respectful, and honoring people I have ever met. It is truly a joy to be in their country and learn more about their culture!

            The Wai
The Wai is the traditional Thai greeting. It consists of your hands pressed together (as in prayer) and a little bow to whomever you are greeting. Your hand placement and the depth of your bow determines the level of respect. So - if I am greeting an older person who is a goverment official, I would place my hands high on my face (in front of my nose) and bow a lower bow. Everyone does this here everyday - we were even given a wai by a precious little toddler! It was the sweetest thing EVER!

Suwadee Kha & Kahp Khun Kha
Which is "hello" and "thank you" in Thai! These phrases have become a constant part of my vocabulary. Everywhere we go people greet us or say thank you for something (or we thank them for something!) We are learning more Thai each day - I've been amazed at how patient strangers are with us - when they hear we want to learn their language they all try to teach us new words and phrases! We can't wait to start Thai lessons on Feb. 10th!

Sunshine every day 
Goodbye Michigan clouds and snow - HELLO THAILAND SUNSHINE!!! I adore warm weather and sunshine, so living in Michigan (where is is gray and cloudy about 3/4 of the year) has been really difficult for me. Here is is sunny and warm every day!!! I'm in LOVE!

Driving on the left side of the road 
I haven't driven here yet (though I did drive on the left side in Africa), but just being in a country where you drive on the left side has meant a lot of adjustments for us! Not only do you DRIVE on the left side, but your car is set up differently (the driver is on the right side, passenger on the left) so you have to remember to get in on the correct side. Also, when crossing the street you really have to be careful to look both ways and remember which side the traffic is coming on or you'll get run over! 

Throwing away Toilet Paper
That's right - this is one of those countries where you can't flush your TP. I know you think it's crazy, and yes - it has taken some getting used to - but I'm adjusting. And I'm really, really thankful for a husband who takes out the trash every day!

Squatty potties
These things are the BANE of my existence here. Seriously - Thailand would be perfect if not for the squatties!  For those of you who don't know what a squatty potty is (and would like to laugh at my horrible experiences attempting to use them) just wait.... there is a more in depth blog coming on this subject soon!

Riding in Song Taus
It's always interesting to see the unique and cheap modes of public transport in different countries! In Chiang Mai it's the Bot Bus (truck with a covered bed and seats) or a Song Tau (tuk tuk). I definitely prefer these to the rickshaws in India! To ride around town in a Song Tau it can cost anywhere from 20 - 50 Baht per person (approximately 80 cents to $1.80) - depending on the distance. It's a great, cheap way to see the city!

Sweet Chili Sauce at McDonald's
OH SWEET CHILI SAUCE! HOW I LOVE THEE!!!! I don't know if any of you tried the sweet chili sauce McDonald's served in the US during the Winter Olympics last year, but it was DELICIOUS! Sadly, it was only available for a limited time. When I lamented it's disappearance on facebook last year, my friend Jess McClure (who lived in Thailand for a few months) informed me that is is ALWAYS available here. I am glad to report that she wasn't lying - it's in a dispenser right beside the ketchup! I am trying to figure out how to bring some of this deliciousness home in May!!!

Constantly trying new foods
There are tons of other new foods here - from Thai food to snacks to produce. Every day is a new adventure! I've learned it's best to be adventurous and figure out what you like by trial and error. So far my new favorite things are pomelos (an AMAZING fruit - like a sweeter, juicier, less messy grapefruit - pictured above), mangosteen, and Khoa Pad Gai (chicken fried rice). Oh - and anything my friend Candace cooks (she is an incredible cook!) or my new friend Charity bakes (we had the most INCREDIBLE chocolate chip oatmeal cookies a few nights ago!)

Being stared at & talked about
Because most foreigners learn very little - if any - Thai when they come to Thailand, the locals usually find it easy to talk about them, right next to them. We've often heard their word for "foreigner" which is falaung (sounds like fa-rong) when we are around. We get a lot of stares too - the women here think white men are SO handsome, and that white women are SO beautiful! More and more of them are getting cosmetic surgery to get round eyes and a pointy nose (like me!) and almost all their cosmetics have whiteners in them. I am told often that I have beautiful skin and that I am suai mak (very beautiful). And just the other night at the grocery store I heard two women comment that Rusty was law & a roi (handsome and DELICIOUS! bahaha!)

Cheap dinners out
We can go out to dinner and each have a nice meal (like chicken fried rice) and a coke for 100 Baht - which is $3 total! It's definitely a treat since I've been cooking dinner for us almost every night since we got married :)

Having someone do my laundry
Another BONUS of living here! We can have a big bag of laundry done for only $5! It comes back washed, dried, and folded - it's great! The only negative is I have to hand wash my "delicates" in the GAIN detergent I brought from home (they use much harsher detergents here and I just don't want to take a chance of having any allergic reactions!) Nothing like hanging your intimate apparel to dry out on the balcony for the world to see! LOL!

NOT drinking the water
You just don't realize what a blessing it is to have SAFE drinking water flowing from your tap. Though the water here is better than, say, India (where I got parasites), we still aren't supposed to drink it. That means we have to have bottled water for drinking, cooking, and making coffee or tea. We go through it faster than we expect ever time! I'm so glad it's so cheap here (about 25 cents a bottle!)

Taking off my shoes at the door
 This took some definite getting used to... it's easy to forget and walk right in! But everyone here removes their shoes before entering someone's home, and sometimes before entering a business. I am always amazed that people don't steal their shoes outside the door! I'm afraid if we tried this in America we'd end up barefoot for the rest of the day!

Not being able to communicate/speaking broken English
I'd forgotten how frustrating it was not to be able to ask for directions, ask where an item is while shopping, or have any kind of conversation with local people without a translator. It's a sad feeling to WANT to get to know someone and not to be able to (though you'd be surprised how much you can figure out from a good game of charades! ;) We are speaking so much broken English lately that a few nights ago at dinner Rusty told me, "Tomorrow we go to store" instead of "Tomorrow, lets go shopping at the store". haha!

Shopping at the Night Bazaars
Of course I'm going to save the best for last.... SHOPPING! There are night bazaars EVERYWHERE here! Several nights a week, the streets are taken over by carts, displays, and racks selling beautiful (cheap) clothes, jewelry, art, etc. I can't wait to spend more time exploring them!


  1. The night bazaar looks BEAUTIFUL! Would enjoy spending time there if for nothing other than the twinkle lights!!

  2. Nice article that helps Thai people know how foreigners thought of Thailand. "korp kun ka tii lao reuang dii dii hai rao fang". Thanks for telling a good story to us.