Here’s a list of things I noticed about living in Thailand versus living in the USA. In the USA we are overly cautious about so many things. Here in Thailand the rules are different. The traditions are different. It’s almost like a different world sometimes, and yet I’ve found that it’s much easier to find happiness in the simple way of life here. Here’s a list of 16 things I don’t worry about since moving to Thailand.
Things I thought were true in the USA, but here in Thailand they are not:
1. I thought water to wash the dishes must be warm. It doesn’t matter, dishes dry anyway, and they’re clean.
2. I thought hot water was a necessity all-year round. I lived in Florida and Hawaii for 17 years – and I never once questioned that silly idea. Now that I’ve been in Thailand without hot water coming out of the sink or the shower for over 2 years it isn’t something I think much about. What does the sticker on your water heater say? How much do you spend for one year of running it?
3. Vehicles must stop at stop signs. Not true. If nobody stops then nobody is expecting anyone to stop and traffic all kind of merges together.
4. A person in a vehicle entering traffic must look and merge only when it doesn’t present a problem for anyone he’s merging in front of. In Thailand cars and motorbikes pull right out into traffic without looking a lot of the time. They know, and it’s expected, that whoever is behind the one pulling into traffic must compensate for the new vehicle. That might mean swerving or braking.
5. A clothes washer and dryer are a necessity. Nope. My girlfriend does the undies and shorts and other easy stuff, and when we get a backlog we take it to the laundry woman to do. If we do the clothes here we hang them on the laundry line. Nobody has dryers here in Thailand. Do we need them in Florida? Hawaii?
6. Electrical outlets must be grounded – with the third prong. While I experience a bit of light shock using almost every electrical appliance that I’ve used in Thailand – including this notebook computer when I touch it in the right spot, it’s not killing me or anyone else. If you owned a toaster and took it in the shower with you (few baths here) you would die quickly. If you did that in the USA you’d also likely die, though perhaps not as quickly (TH uses 220v lines, not 110v).
7. One must eat until very full at every meal. If you saw what Thai construction workers ate for a meal you would wonder – how are they surviving? Thing is they are, and most Thai people here are, eating only what their body needs. No more. No less. Nobody is gaining weight or losing it here except the tourists.
8. You must watch over a child and correct every single thing they do that goes against society, tradition, or family beliefs. The Thai people come second only to East Indians in this department. The kids do whatever they want until they are doing something that is going to hurt them or hurt someone else. Adults understand that kids other than your own are going to get under your skin a bit. Mai pen rai. “Never mind it” or, “No worries”. Nobody gets upset here by kids running around the restaurant or up and down the street, in the library, wherever it happens to be. I have rarely seen a child get upset at the store because of not getting candy he/she wants. Not sure what to attribute that to, but it’s true. Thai kids grow up to be adults that care a lot about how their actions influence others. They’re not spoiled brats for having received almost everything they wanted in childhood.
9. I would get numerous common colds each year. I’ve probably had an average of 1-3 each year I was in the USA. Sometimes I had as many as 10 in a year. Here in Thailand I’ve had a cold exactly twice in 3 years. Again, what to attribute that to I’m not sure. I think my ultra-spicy diet might have something to do with that. I eat many raw vegetables and fruits now, whereas in the USA all my veggies were cooked prior to eating. (90%).
10. Work must be a stressful activity and one to be avoided when possible. In Thailand it’s very rare to see a Thai person that is stressed from his or her daily job except in Bangkok. I’ve not met anyone that didn’t honestly like their job outside of Bangkok. Why? If they want a new one – they change. It’s not difficult for them to find a new job that’s more fun. The environment at work is much more easy going and the focus is on everyone getting along and getting something done. In the states the focus is on getting a hell of a lot done, and whatever happens with the employees as a group or individuals comes second to getting lots of work and production accomplished every day.
11. A car or truck is an absolute necessity after turning 18 years old. You could survive with a motorcyle for a year maybe, but you’d probably have another vehicle also. In Thailand I’d estimate that 60-70% of the adult population ride only motorbikes.
12. Large flying bee shaped insects sting very painfully. You should run screaming and flapping your arms wildly to get away from it. In Thailand there are these massive black bee shaped things that, everyone says – do not bite or sting. I don’t believe it yet, but I must admit I’ve never seen a Thai adult or child run away or even flinch after seeing one of these within an arms-length.
13. If you are at the grocery store and comparing two size containers of the same thing, coffee for instance. The larger container will always be the better deal because they want you to spend more money immediately than if you just bought the smaller container. They don’t make as much money from the smaller container so they want you to buy the bigger one and they can give you a few cents discount for doing so because they made more profit overall from selling the bigger container of coffee. In Thailand – anything goes!
14. Eggs must be refrigerated. Not true. Eggs sit out at room temperature all over the country here and nobody is dying from food poisoning. Reason that is, the egg is only dangerous if the shell is cracked. Really!
15. Milk must always be refrigerated. Not true. There is UHT milk here, which is milk in a cardboard container that can sit out for weeks on end in Thailand’s high heat and humidity. Why? I guess because it’s vacuum sealed and has BHT or some preservative added to it? I think this must be a valid (healthy) way to preserve milk as Thailand does it on their own – but also imports from Belgium. Belgians are civilized, aren’t they?
16. Beef, Pork, Chicken, Fish, Squid, Clams, Shrimp, Eel, Pizza, and Lobster will KILL YOU if you leave it out longer than about an hour. Here in Thailand we leave food overnight, pick the ants off in the morning and have it for breakfast or lunch. Food might sit 24 hours and you know what? It’s OK. I’ve not had a stomach ache for over 2 years. I haven’t had diarrhea in 2 1/2 years. Go figure.
17. And finally… the last of the list. I thought it was necessary to blow one’s nose during the course of one’s life. Over and over and over. Not so… say the Thai people. To blow your nose in public or private or anywhere someone hears you is considered rude. They do NOT ever blow their noses here! Is that strange? If they have a cold they politely wipe it. Not blow. I was horrified when I learned I’d have to just politely wipe as my nose ran after the spicy dishes in Isaan (northeast Thailand – known for exceptionally spicy salads and soups).
So, that was my list… hope you enjoyed it. Come to Thailand – it’s really a cool place.
Best of Life!