Thailand really is an incredible place, full of diverse culture, breath-taking nature, amazing people and delicious foods. Whether you live here, work here or just travel here a lot you will notice that you’ve picked up certain things that we don’t do in the western world. Here is a list of things I have picked up since moving to Thailand that I never did before when I lived in England.
- Bum gun over toilet paper. One big sign that you’ve been in Thailand too long is that you prefer to use a bum gun to clean yourself after going the toilet instead of toilet paper. In England we don’t have bum guns, some people have bidets but not many. we tend to use toilet paper. I hated the bum gun at first as it is always really cold, but now I’m used to it I do prefer it and I had one installed in my house.
- Skilled at chopsticks. Ok, so this one doesn’t apply to me directly because I’m terrible. I’ve been In Thailand for a year now and I still am none the wiser on how I use chopsticks. I can’t figure it out and many people have tried to teach me, but I simply cannot do it. Other people I know though have mastered the art of eating with chopsticks. Normally if you order a noodle dish in Thailand they will only give you chopsticks to eat with, so people who aren’t me get used to using them quickly. I am the exception apparently!
- Eating using a spoon and fork. In England, we use a knife and a fork to eat our food with, be it steak, peas, rice, pasta I always use a knife and a fork. Spoons are normally used for soups and dessert dishes. In Thailand, any restaurant you go to that will give you a spoon and a fork to eat with. You use the spoon to eat rice with and the fork to help or eat the meat with. I once tried to eat my rice dish with a fork here and a lady actually came over to me and put a spoon in my hand and showed me how to eat!
- Head nodding at people when you say hello. This one I kind of did back in England, nodding your head at people shows respect and is another form of saying hello. Normally in England, you nod at someone who you don’t have time to stop and speak to, so a quick nod acts as the same as hello. In Thailand when you great a person who you respect you Wai to great them. The Wai consists of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion. Now when I see people, even foreign people I don’t do the hands but I always nod my head when I great them.
- Not drinking from the tap. When I lived in England, I always drank out of the tap, I didn’t think twice about it. The water in my bathroom sink for some reason tasted great! In Thailand, it’s advised that you don’t drink any tap water unless the hotel your in says it is ok. Bottled water is your safest option, and there are machines you can re-fill your bottles at for cheap around the towns.
- Staying out of the sun. the first few times I visited Thailand before I moved here, I would try and catch a tan. It would never work because I’m so pale, I would always want a nice tan to show off back home. Now I live here and I’m out in the sun all the time, I try to avoid burning or tanning as much as possible.
- Don’t wear revealing clothes. I never really used to pay attention to what I wore, I would just put something on I liked and I wouldn’t give it a second thought. Thailand is a very conservative country and most Thai people dress respectfully. Before I go out anywhere I’ll double check that what I’m wearing is appropriate and I’ll bring a shirt or scarf with me just in case I need to cover up some more. I’m very pale skinned and this already brings me a lot of attention when I’m walking around which I don’t like, so I try to keep covered up as much as I can when I’m out in public.
- 555 not hahaha. When you’re sending a message that is funny to someone you’ll normally include a “haha” somewhere in the text, In Thailand they use “555” instead. The number five in Thai is prosed “ha” so instead of writing “haha” they write “555”. I do this all the time, I forget and do it to friends and family back in England and they always ask me what it means.
- Only wear flip-flops. In England, I would always wear my ankle boots or trainers to go out in and I owned a million pairs of shoes and never wore them. Now, I own one pair of trainers (that I never wear) and two pairs of flipflops. It doesn’t matter where I’m going, could be to the shop, to a restaurant or to walk up a waterfall, I will always wear my flipflops. I wore them when I went back to England and it was a terrible decision, my feet were freezing and I had to buy some shoes from the shop to warm my feet up!.
- Driving everywhere on my moped. Before I bought my moped I was really healthy and I would walk everywhere. Now I take my moped everywhere, even if it is just down the road. I’ve become really lazy. Someday I’ll say “ok I’ll leave the bike at home today and walk”, that normally lasts about two minutes then I take my bike. My moped is like an extension of my body now.
- Enjoy showers with cold water. I love a hot shower, especially after a long day to me there is nothing better. I do have hot showers in Thailand but the days can be so hot here, especially during the hot season so a cold shower can be a sigh of relief. A cold shower is really nice if you have been outside in the sun all day and your skin is a bit hot and burnt, it really relaxes you and helps to cool yourself down.
- Don’t wear makeup. When I was back in England I wouldn’t leave my house without my mascara and eyeliner on, I felt naked without it. In Thailand, I don’t wear any makeup. It’s too hot! I feel like the mascara will melt off my face. If I’m going out somewhere nice and I know I’ll probably end up taking pictures then I will put some mascara on and lipstick, but during the day it is far too hot to bother with makeup.
- Talking half English and Half Thai. I’ve been in Thailand for a year now and I’ve been learning Thai as much as I can by myself and using apps. When I talk to my boyfriend we use a mixture of Thai and English to communicate to each other, I get so used to saying certain words that I find myself speaking Thai to my English friends and family. I’ll be on the phone speaking to my grandmother and I’ll say ‘Chai’ instead of ‘yes’, I do it all the time forgetting my family and friends don’t speak a word of Thai!
- Street markets over supermarkets. Back home, the thought of buying my meat from an outdoor stall was there are fly’s everywhere would not even cross my mind. This was probably one the biggest shocks to me when I first came to Thailand. If you go to a street market, people will be selling meat installs outside and they will normally just wave a bag around to try and keep the fly’s away. This doesn’t bother me now, I’ve never gotten sick from street food in Thailand. It’s delicious and cheap. Supermarkets here are quite expensive and I don’t think the food is as nice or as fresh as from the markets. If you’re in Thailand, make sure you try the street food.