Five-ish things I’ve learned in Thailand

Whenever we travel I have a few goals. One is to meet people and hear their stories – where they are from, what it was like growing up, what they do and what drives them. Sometimes the language barrier doesn’t make that convenient so the other goal is what can I learn about myself and the culture I am in.

These are five things I have learned while in Thailand.

1. Always check for toilet paper before going to the bathroom

It is not uncommon for the public restrooms not to have toilet paper, thus you should always check before just strolling in and conducting business. Needless to say – Thailand toilets 1, James soft sided sunglass case 0. (TMI???)

2. The Thai are super nice, except the taxi drivers

Everyone we have met in Thailand has been super nice. They bow and salute and try to be extremely helpful despite the language barrier. The only exception to this is taxi drivers. They are out to get you. This is something we were warned about before embarking on our trip and man is it true. Many of the drivers will refuse to run the meter and you should not ride with them or negotiate with them. Every time we thought about negotiating, the price they said was always several hundred Baht greater than the metered rate.

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3. I’m too short to be an American

During our time in Thailand I have been mistaken for an Australian, Scottish, Canadian and “European” but never American. In fact, one Thai did not believe we were American and fought us saying I was “too small” to be American. I’m telling myself this is more due to my lack of eating McDonald’s than my vertical challenge.

4. Thailand can be done really cheap

Thailand is one of the cheapest places we have visited. In fact, as I type this we are in a very cozy hotel that cost us roughly $20 per night. There have been days when we have spent less than $20 and that is living pretty comfortably. However, our thought has been – unless you are trying to live long term – why would you? If you are looking at a 2-3 week vacation you could live like a king. You can get five-star hotels for under $100 a night. You can’t book a Super 8 in some cities in the US for that. You can get an hour long massage for $3-5 dollars, T-Bone steaks for $6 and eat and drink all day for $20-$30. If you wanted, you could stay in five-star hotels, eat at amazing places and be pampered for much less than a European vacation, and that doesn’t even begin to mention the activities like cooking classes, playing with elephants and trekking around in the jungle. So, if you were on vacation why would you skimp when you could live in luxury for much less than you would anywhere else?

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5. Crickets don’t taste like Chicken

I’ve seen on TV people like Bear Grylls telling me crickets or other bugs taste like chicken. Although, I can’t exactly describe the flavor, I can tell you the texture is NOTHING like chicken. Although the taste itself is not awful, it is hard to get out of your own head and enjoy a bug with legs and wings sliding down your throat.

*6. Cobra whiskey won’t kill you (bonus from Laos)

We took a day trip to the Golden Triangle of Thailand from Chiang Mai. This is the area where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) all come together. We were greeted in Laos with a “welcome drink.” You chose from a drink that had been fermented with one of the following – cobra, turtle and scorpion, gecko, tiger penis (yes you read that correctly) and ginseng. I’m not usually one to shy away from new foods and drinks (see eating a cricket above), but this one had me worried. When our tour guide offered up a small sample of the cobra whiskey I kept thinking to myself, “why do I always have to say I will try anything once (food wise that is)?” So I took a swig thinking the whole time “aren’t these things poisonous?” Well, needless to say I am still here and alive and well. The people of Laos believe each of these fermented drinks offer up different powers. The cobra gives you super strength, the turtle/scorpion gives you long life and you can use your imagination on the tiger penis, but you probably wouldn’t be wrong.

Have you done anything that stretched your comfort zone lately?

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4 Comments

  • Absolutely Love This! If I was faced with the same choices/decision re: Laos beverages, I am not sure what I would do. Rocky Balboa and the “Eye of the Tiger”? Scorpion? Cobra? Its like Wizard of Oz but with booze.

    Glad to you hear your alive, amigo.

  • Sounds wonderful all but the eating…some o that sounds pretty awful and I’m not sure I would even try it you are braver than I am…and I’m glad you lived to tell about it.

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