Thailand was a new world after our travels through Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. Here are a few things we noticed:
- Despite being farther away from Mexico, Thailand does Mexican fare better than Australia or New Zealand. Maybe it’s a general talent for cooking which we found lacking in our earlier travels…
- Road traffic in Thailand (and we suspect elsewhere in Asia) is crazy! Westerners, forget everything you’ve learned about crosswalks, intersections and road lanes. It is all mere suggestions.
- Pedestrians have the lowest road priority and scooters are the biggest menaces. Generally, cars and trucks will slow down to let you cross the road but scooters will fly right by. You’ll have to trust that they’ll dodge you but we’ve found they generally will.
- You must be proactive or you may never be permitted to cross the street. Crossing at intersections is far more difficult and more dangerous than crossing in the middle of the road, so wait for a break in traffic and hightail it across the street.
- Thais seem to have a deep and abiding affection for 80s-style pop and easy listening. You’ll hear it everywhere, including easy-listening remakes of recent US pop hits like Gaga’s “Telephone” and “Poker Face.” For an example, check out the video by sandiegolu below:
- Watch your step. Uneven sidewalks and holes are commonplace. If you’re over 5’10″ you’ll have an additional complication of watching out for your head, and at 6’2″ and over, some ceilings may be shorter than you. Seriously.
- Beds are hard. Accept and move on.
- The secret ingredient in all Thai skincare products = whitening solution. Wander Boots pharmacy if you don’t believe me. While we tourists enjoy the sun, Thai women hide from it.
- And now, a note to ladies of a certain age: Wondering where all the men have gone? Well, they’ve moved to Thailand and are dating 20-year-old bar girls. You might find one to console after his misadventures. If you’re interested, start your search in Chiang Mai at Huay Kaew Residence.
Just for good measure, here are a few more tips for your Thailand travels:
- ATMs charge a 150 Baht ($5) withdrawal fee. You can save that money for…
- $5 massages! Thai massage and foot massages are generally around $4-$7 per hour. Awesome!
- When visiting temples, please wear long skirts and pants, and cover your shoulders. Here are some more tips from Got Passport.
- Speaking of which… Know the courtesy rules for Thailand: Don’t make scenes. Dress conservatively. Allow others to save face. Smile.
- Try the local specialties: khao soi, pandan buns and northern sausage (tastes like tom yum soup in sausage form).
- Use of MSG is prevalent. If that is a problem for you, like it is for me, learn the phrase “mai ao phong chu rot” ["my ow pong choo-rod"] which translates to “without MSG.”
- In Chiang Mai, the red trucks (called songthaews) are your friends. 20 Baht for anywhere in the city, shared ride. Be sure to flag one already headed in the direction you’re going because they won’t take you out of their way. Tuk-tuks are fun but they cost a lot more and you have to negotiate harder for a ride.
- Learn some language basics. Thais appreciate it and it’s fun!
P.S. Although I’m writing about Thailand, we’re currently road-tripping across the U.S. To follow our progress, check out the Travels tab.