All in all, Thailand has been mostly what I expected. Warm/hot, loud, confusing at times, but overall a vibrant, welcoming place. There are, however, a few things that I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around…
- Cold showers are the norm. Finding a place with hot water can be a luxury. The Lawa village where I’m headed off to tomorrow for the next three weeks doesn’t have showers at all: my showers will be a bucket of cold water. Yippee!
- Toilet paper is also a luxury and definitely can NOT be flushed down the toilet. A hose mounted next to the toilet is the norm, for all your cleaning needs. I’m still adjusting to this. Toilet paper is occasionally provided, but putting it down the can is a big no-no. Learned that the hard way. Oops.
- No matter where you are, you are probably no more than twenty feet from free wifi. Your accommodations may lack a shower and a seated toilet, but I bet you 50-1 they have free wifi. I’m still trying to figure this one out.
- Traffic here makes rush hour on the Mass Pike look like a cake walk. Scooters, tuk tuks, motorcycles, cars, trucks, songtaews, and pedestrians all jockey for a place on the road. I swear to God, it’s like a real life size game of Mario Kart when the light changes (bananas occasionally included.)
- Thai people really are as friendly as they’re made out to be. When you smile, people actually smile back! If you smile and give someone a friendly “sawatdeeka”, you’re in. The other day we stopped for a drink and some snacks at a road side stand and made instant friends with three women also stopped. One even invited us to her house for dinner, anytime!
- Thai natives do NOT understand the concept of walking for fun/exercise. I can’t even tell you how many straight up crazy looks I got the other day when I was walking down the road, simply to see some sights and enjoy the exercise. Part of it was probably my farang (“fa-lahng” or foreigner) status, but man, they were perplexed.
Overall, I’m loving things here. I had a successful Skype interview with a university back in the states last night and I’m still impressed how clear the call was. Considering I literally called the other side of the world (11:30 am EST, 11:30 pm Chiang Mai time), things went really well. I might as well have been calling the house next door. This has been the biggest surprise of all- I’m as far away from home as I could possibly be, but if I turn on my computer, I feel like I haven’t even left. The ubiquitous free wifi has made it almost impossible to feel like I’m that far away.
I suppose things will be different in the village.. But then again, despite being two hours from the nearest town and having squat toilets, I’m told that there is (wait for it) free wifi. Oh technology, how the world keeps shrinking…
Stay tuned for my next update from the hills! 🙂