Are you imagining a different life, to escape the mundane? Do you need something really refreshing – like moving to a different country or continent, even as far as Thailand? Well, making such a move is the perfect cure! And if you are clever enough to get yourself to your dream destination, you are going to have the best adventure. You will feel alive. You will feel free. And you will feel enthralled.
The reason I feel all these things since I’ve moved to Thailand’s Rose of the North, Chiang Mai, is because everything is so different. It is so refreshing. I see crazy, yet wonderful things every day. One example: this morning I saw two men on a motor scooter and in between them was an enormous pig. These wonderful differences make my day interesting.
But sometimes those little differences can also be annoying. There is a flip side for sure. Here are my top 5, but don’t worry, I worked through them and they don’t bother me anymore. It is all about ‘headspace’.
Thailand Reason #1 Restaurant Mishaps
In Thailand, restaurants do not time your meals so that they all come together. More often that not, I have nearly finished eating a meal before my husband’s dish has been served. If you have a larger group in the restaurant, don’t expect it to be any better! Every meal will come at a different time.
This really gets to some people. They view it as disorganized or incompetence.
But the truth lies in understanding the culture. In Thailand, people don’t eat separate meals. They order a few curries and stir-fries, and they share. So, the Thai cook may not even understand the concept of separate meals eaten simultaneously! Also, Thai restaurants are not usually a high-profit businesses. They probably have one poor cook out the back, doing their best, and that cook is on low wages.
Now, when I am out with friends, we are all used to eating at different times. Unless, of course, we are all sharing, just like the Thais do.
Thailand Reason #2 Road Wrangler
Driving was a bit of a challenge for me at first. Partly due to all the different vehicles on the road. I remember my first solo drive. I was at a set of red lights absolutely surrounded by motor scooters. It felt a bit intimidated.
But more so was the behavior of the surrounding drivers. They did things I couldn’t understand. They would go through red lights, ride on footpaths and then give way in places you wouldn’t expect. It would drive me nuts.
I then developed a burgeoning awareness that there were the official road rules and then the local ‘unwritten’ rules. For example, when you are the first one stopping at a red light, stop about 4 meters back, to allow for the motorbikes to gather in front.
Thailand Reason #3 Transaction Troubles
Before I moved to Thailand, I was an impatient person. I was used to doing things quickly and efficiently.
I had to learn that Thailand is not in the same hurry that I am in.
I used to notice this, particularly in banks and shops. It can take longer than you are used to getting your transaction completed. And impatience is frawned upon here. The Thais don’t have the ‘rushing, panic, frantic’ mindset of the West.
I’m now grateful for the experiences to remind me to slow down and smell the roses.
Thailand Reason #4 Holiday Haphazards
Oh gosh! Thailand has lots of Public Holidays. And you might say, who cares. But I did.
I never knew when they would happen.
They would loom up instantly, and I would run to the bank to transfer money, or going out to a location with my friends for some function only to find things closed.
The truth is, Thai people work six days a week. So now that I realize that, I am more forgiving of the many holidays that may ‘inconvenience’ my lifestyle and time.
An experienced expat knows where to find out when holidays hit the calendar, even when there isn’t much notice.
Life is still good. And, I’m happy that the hard-working Thais get an extra day of their own to enjoy.
Thailand Reason #5 Find and Seek
When you are new in Thailand, you need to find things. The internet shop, places that sell nuts and bolts to fix some small but important household item, or maybe a tin of paint.
Funnily enough, many Thai businesses don’t use signs. Some businesses even change their names, just because. And google maps doesn’t cope with the myriad of small laneways, which also obstruct your mission.
And if you ask someone, they may not even know where to point, but they will definitely point somewhere. Over there…
I think the plus is that I have discovered lots of wonderful cafes and restaurants and even temples by getting lost. I consider it an ‘adventure’ these days, not an inconvenience.
Thailand – The One Great Reason to Stay
But there is one great reason to stay in Thailand, and it is pretty simple. There is always something wonderful going on. It may be a friendly exchange with a local, a colorful festival on the beach, a Thai street party, a new restaurant to discover, or another mountain to climb, This country is a feast for the senses and a slice of joy for the heart.
Wherever you land, it takes time to adapt to the culture of your host country. Have you gone through a similar learning curve? If you have, I am sure, after all the frustration and minor inconveniences, we’ve become better people for it. Share your story with us.
by: Rachel Devlin