35 Random Observations About Thailand image

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We ended up spending seven months in Thailand. We didn’t plan to stay so long but Thailand has a way of sucking you in with its gentle Buddhist ways, the fiery cuisine, and an style of living that’s both easy for a foreigner to adapt to but exotic enough to keep things interesting. It’s the quirky details of daily life that we loved the most.

1) It’s actually the year 2555 in Thailand, which uses the Buddhist calendar.

2) Thailand generally feels very safe. Simon accidentally left the keys in our motorbike at least 10 times and it was never stolen.

3) Thais worship their King and there are giant billboards with his photo on everywhere.

Thai King billboard4) Before a film at the cinema everyone stands up for the national anthem accompanied by a video of the King. EDIT: Aaron commented and let us know it’s not actually the National Anthem but a song called “San Sern Pra Baramee”, which translates as “Bless the King.”

5) In fact, the national anthem is played in public twice a day and everyone stops and stands in silence for it – which can be bizarre in a crowded train station or market.

6) The cinemas are among the best value in the world – modern, comfortable, and cheap – especially in Bangkok.

Transport

7) Motorbikes (scooters) are the most common form of transport. Whole families, dogs, ladders, and even bicycles are carried on them. Often driven by ten year olds.

8 ) Motorbikes can serve many purposes – and can be transformed to kebab or ice cream vans or, by adding a sidecar, taxis.

Motorbike ice cream van
Kebab shop motorbike
Motorbike taxi with sidecar
Ladder on motorbike

9) Petrol in rural areas is often sold by the side of the road in old whiskey bottles.

Petrol in whiskey bottlesBuddhism

10) Monks from young to old are everywhere in bright orange robes.

Monks in Chiang Mai11) They are often found on mobile phones, listening to iPods, and taking photos.

12) Monks have right of way when crossing the street – we learnt the hard way when Simon nearly ran one over!

13) Women shouldn’t touch monks.

14) There are ATMs in some temples.

15) Many temple gardens have inspiring and motivational signs hung from the trees.

16) Colourful spirit houses are found everywhere and Thais give offerings to the spirits to keep them happy. Apparently, the spirits’ favourite beverage is ‘Unknown Bright Red Fizzy Liquid Inna Bag’.
Spirit House, Thailand

Etiquette

17) Feet are considered unclean – which means no pointing them at anyone or putting them up on a chair. Shoes should always be removed when entering temples, homes, and some shops and businesses. (When in doubt, look for the pile outside).

18) Shoes are also to be removed at public toilets and rubber sandals are provided which are inevitably too small for Simon’s honking great clown feet.

19) Heads are considered sacred and touching other people’s is frowned upon. Touching your own seems to be OK.

20) When speaking Thai add ka (for women) or krap (for men) at the end of everything to be polite.

21) The wai is the common way to greet or thank someone and is made by holding your hands to your chest as if in prayer.

Food

22) Food is everywhere – street stalls sell pre cut pineapple and watermelon, meat on sticks, piles of chillies and shredded payapa for som tam salad, as well as full meals.

23) Thais like their food spicy – there’s a difference between farang (foreigner) spicy and Thai spicy. Real men eat Thai spicy.

24) Three types of chilli are often added to noodle dishes – dried chilli flakes, fresh cut chillies in vinegar, and chillies in fish sauce.

25) Sugar is added to many dishes, especially noodle dishes.

Pad thai, som tam, wing bean salad, & noodles at Pun Pun

Pad thai, som tam, wing bean salad, & noodles at Pun Pun, Chiang Mai

26) There are no set meal times – Thais like to snack throughout the day which suits Simon just fine.

27) Food is eaten with a spoon in the right hand and a fork in the left to push food onto it. Chopsticks are used for noodles.

28) I love coconut ice cream served from street stalls for 10 baht ($0.30) but I skip the white bread Thais eat it in (they take ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ very literally). I also skip the weird toppings – peanuts, condensed milk, kidney beans and sweetcorn are common.

Coconut ice cream29) Thais love coffee. There are trendy cafes serving cappuccinos in the most unlikely settings.
Simon with a fancy coffee

People

30) First names are usually used rather than surnames with the honorific Khun added before the name for both men and women.

31) There are a disturbing number of old white men with young Thai women, although we’re sure they’re together for love.

32) Thais love to release lanterns on special occasions, especially for the Yee Peng Festival. As you release the lantern into the sky you release your troubles—especially if you tie him to it.

Yee Peng festival, Chiang Mai

Yee Peng festival, Chiang Mai

33) There’s less concern for health and safety here. We usually like that things are more relaxed but we were terrified for a guy gardening on the edge of the 6th floor roof.

34) Young Thais are ultra cool.

iberry cafe, Chiang Mai35) Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles for a reason. Be sure to join in.

 

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104 Comments (2 pingbacks)

  1. This photos make me want to jump a plane to Thailand! The Yee Peng festival looks amazing. Has anyone been to the Festival of Lights?

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  2. Why do you care what old white men and young Thai women are doing? One of the things I learned from the monks in Thailand is to mind my own business. I’m sure you would be the first to defend the relationships of all kinds of different people but age discrimination is ok. You obviously have little experience with Thai culture.
    Another western fetish I find silly and have talked at length with other western women is the hysteria around the bar girls .Although I find prostitution repugnant the vast majority of them are free to work or not. The prostitution you see as a foreigner is small compared to the part of the industry reserved for Thais and Asians only.

    t

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  3. This list brings back great memories thanks! We can’t wait to visit again for Tbex in October! Hope to meet you there!

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  4. Hi this is my second visit to Thailand in 25 years.
    Thailand is a very beautiful country in developing stage and needs to improve in customer service deparmant, street food is very greasy &salty & full of msg…..I think the best Thai food is in the U.S.A
    Also too many bathrooms don’t have toilet paper & hot water to wash your hands.
    Thrash cans are not readily available in many places.

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  5. An old post but still highly relevent!

    I’ve been in Chiang Mai with my Wife for just 1 week and can confirm pretty much all of these observations (especially the old dudes with young pretty women).

    I can also add:

    – If you need to cross the road, nobody will stop at a red light or a crossing. Just look for the best gap you can and walk. People will slow down for you.

    – You will 99% of the time not be pressured to buy anything at markets or shops.

    – Thai people are generally very friendly, calm and smiling all the time!

    – Food and drink at markets is much cheaper than restaurants (although these are still good compared to London prices).

    – Chang beer is cheap and amazing!

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  6. I visited Thailand in 2005 and loved it. The people were so kind, helpful and friendly that you just had this awesome sense of calm and safety which I honestly wasnt expecting ( is it because they are Buddhist?? IDK but they radiate the genuine goodness that I have never experienced in the US, not even in my own family…it is just this super cool unexplainable zen-ness :) I remember giving a photo to a Thai women of the moon that I had taken the night before (2005 was the year the moon smiled…seriously, google the photos) Anyhow the women I gave the photo to was so happy and seemed so shocked and pleased to get the gift it just made me feel wonderful. The entire world could take a behaviorial lesson from Thais… I wish I could have absorbed it all !

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  7. beware of the fake smiles.

    double pricing.

    head lice prevale.

    the country smells like a compost pile.

    they refuse to speak real english.

    dont even try to learn there language,

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  8. Love this! My family is currently hosting a girl from Thailand at my house and my grandparents are hosting a girl from Thailand as well. They are the sweetest and happiest definitely. I plan on going to Thailand in the next year to visit them and if I decide to take a Gap Year this coming year then I hope to stay there a bit longer and explore with the advice you guys have given!

    Reply ↓

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