Thai Ten (composed for week of July 22, 2013)

Thai Ten pic

Planning on globetrotting? Have an urge to jet-set overseas to Asia? Sadly I cannot provide much expertise in this area, unless you’re booking a trip to Thailand…even then, I’m no expert. Despite this unimportant detail, I have composed a list of my top ten “Thai tips” for you soon-to-be “farangs” (foreigners) from a fellow farang:

  1. Motorcycles can drive on the sidewalk. And they do…ALL THE TIME. I’ve seen kids as young as twelve driving them, and mothers holding the accelerator with one hand and cradling baby with the other while driving a hog. If I die here, it will probably be from getting run over rather than acquiring heat stroke. Kidding, Mom.
  2. 30 baht = about $1 U.S. Pretty much every smoothie or dinner I’ve had equates to 30 baht each. And the merch sold in the outdoor marketplaces that I’ve purchased were as low as 10 baht, not exceeding 500 baht. I’ll let you do the math.
  3. The toilet and shower in our hostel occupy the same floor…welcome back, freshman shower sandals. And more often than not, toilet paper is used as paper towels in many public restrooms.
  4. As is the case with many foreign countries, no one drinks the tap water. Bottled H2O is the way to go! Also, I’ve noticed that almost everyone uses a straw, even for bottled drinks…
  5. Wai-ing is the name for what people here do when greeting someone older, or of high regard, which consists of folding one’s hands and making a slight bow of the head. I thought I (the young American) would be doing most of the wai-ing, but one of the surprise perks of teaching is that I get wai-ed to on a fairly consistent basis, and it feels awesome.
  6. Obviously one of the great things about Thailand is the food. Sadly, as a girl looking to lose some of the hated extra poundage, I must clear away at least half the rice or pad Thai from my plate before digging in. Carbs run rampant here! And I have to remember to order non-spicy food or else my nose will run like the Nile River, and my eyes will be as watery as a hormonal pregnant woman’s. On one occasion, I made the mistake of assuming the green pepper on my plate was a green bean. I quickly learned that it wasn’t several tissues and tears later.
  7. When I do get the chance to scope out the Bangkapi Mall, I notice that a lot of fake name brand merchandise is sold by the vendors. I’m a sucker for anything pleasing to the eye on a cheap scale, so it doesn’t take long for me to ask “Tao rai kha?” (how much). I be buyin’ that [fake] Louis Louis Gucci Gucci Fendi Fendi Ray Ban here since I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to sell fake name brands in the U.S.
  8. Simply put, if you’re a recovering shopaholic, do not come here. Shopping opportunities are EVERYWHERE. At the mall closest to our hostel and where I teach, it’s about four stories high. I had to come up with clever tactics for not getting lost in it. Right next to the mall is an indoor market…followed by a large outdoor market. Across the street, there’s another mall – again, surrounded by another cluster of vendors and booths. The temptation is not only tangible, but omnipresent. Fortunately, I’m frugal with money, but even I have been drawn to many a vendor because they basically line the streets, going on into an eternity.
  9. In Thai culture, feet are considered the lowest part of the body (both literally and metaphorically). Thus, feet do not go on the table, or really anywhere elevated, for that matter. Which makes sitting on the floor (which we often do) tricky business.
  10. People here are nice. I know that sounds very basic, but just imagine a foreigner trying to figure their way around a large American city, say Los Angeles. How helpful do you think most Americans would be to their plight? In much of the U.S. where it is essentially taboo to not speak very good English, the fact that I only know four –ish phrases of Thai to get around with is much more forgivable here than it would be elsewhere.


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