How can I not write about the Art of Life in Thailand the land of smiles when I have been there that many times it’s practically my second home?
Not to mention as some will know I am married to a Thai woman and live with Thai family.
So I thought maybe my experiences and insider perspectives on Thailand, it’s culture, it’s people, especially being a Westerner or Farang (pronounced more like Falang) as we are called by Thai people, might serve as being informative, possibly even insightful, often humorous and hopefully interesting to others.
And of course being a Generation X philosophical Creative kind of guy with an eccentric sense of humor married to a middle class Bangkok woman I might look at things a bit differently from the average expat looking for a pretty Thai bar girl, cheap beer and lolling around the seedy bars and beaches of Pattaya.
No offence guys, I like the beach and can drink beer with the best of them too!
So even if you have been there a few times yourself you might find my tales amusing to read and if you haven’t but would like to someday go to Thailand, well I hope you will get some real insight about the place from my observations and stories.
So…. The Art of Life in Thailand. Episode #1 A quick snapshot.
So for this episode I’m going to keep it brief and give a quick snapshot of my perspectives on Thailand……so what can I tell you?
Well firstly it is very different to everything you and I grew up with!
They speak a funny language for a start which is almost impossible to read and is structured differently from Western languages. They don’t use filler words like ‘and’ or ‘or’ or ‘it’ which is why they speak English as if they have forgotten to connect the words together properly in a sentence when in fact, it’s because their language is actually like that.
The roads and driving yes they are a bit crazy!
Now when I say crazy I mean it kind of affectionately. Because the truth is that craziness is only our perception as Westerners because to the Thai’s it is quite normal (in a crazy kind of way). Once you get used tomillions of motorcycles, Tuk tuk’s cars, bikes and even elephant’s!!!..you do actually start to discover the method and even order, yes I did say order, to it all. And they do seem to be quite efficient at getting where they want to fast.
Not so high safety standards but more freedom
Ok, maybe they are not so safety conscious as the West, often piling 3 or even 4 people on a moped with a baby on the handle bars whilst balancing baskets of fruit on their heads. I’m actually not exaggerating…much. But for all our regulations and attempts to make us drive like robots in the West we don’t actually change the road toll statistics much more than theirs (ok maybe a bit). But yes you are going to see some quite life risking things going on around the roads and streets of Thailand. Actually even walking along the pavement can be like an assault course of life and death proportions. But in saying that there is certain kind of freedom and resourcefulness about the place.
Thailand’s food is amazing…..if you like it Hot and some do!
And despite the obvious hygiene issues it may surprise some to know that the Thai people are actually very conscientious about the quality of their food. Don’t be fooled into thinking that street food vendors are unclean and shonky (even though some are). Their livelihood depends on other Thai’s buying their food so it has to be good. As a Westerner you just need a good constitution sometimes because you are not used to the new bacteria! but the food is so interesting and of course ‘spicy‘ and you can even eat it on the beach!!
The culture is very charming in Thailand.
Westerners always notice the way Thai people smile a lot, at you, and that doesn’t mean they want to scam you or think you are handsome and want a date with you (listen up men and some women :)) unless you are in Pattaya of course in which case??? That aside it is a charming culture. Even the noise, smells and lack of clean buildings adds to the charm of it all and the Thai people are incredibly generous and warm hearted.
The cost is cheaper than most western countries……
I have to report that costs in Thailand are steadily rising. In fact in the 8 years I have been traveling to Thailand the cost has gone up a lot and I wonder just how many Thai people manage on such low income levels. Generally however the basic necessities of living are cheap especially if they are locally sourced and luckily for Thailand so much of their economy and produce is still local in markets and home grown companies. I always work on things being around 30% of the cost they are in Australia except in the tourist areas.
The religion in Thailand is Buddhism
I believe this adds to the charm and the passiveness of the Thai culture. Buddhism is a philosophical religion and whilst there are many practices and rituals attached to it now, at its core it is more a way of living with nature and our own innate human nature. This is what I have always felt underlies the nature of Thai culture…. the sense of generosity and gentleness of spirit.
Things to do and see in Thailand are endless
Apart from the main city areas of Bangkok, Pattaya, Chang Mai etc there are just so many things going on. I find the thing with Thailand is there is just about something to suit every taste. Whether you want to site see cultural places like the Temples, Grand palaces or natural habitats, Party it up in Bangkok’s clubs and bars or relax on the beaches of Pattaya or shop till you drop in the endless shopping malls and markets you can find it in Thailand.
And it’s nice and warm….maybe even a bit too warm!
And this is all available in a balmy sometimes sweaty hot climate where wearing thongs and a singlet is the norm…mostly!! Well for Farang it is…not always with Thai. But the weather in Thailand is incredible and is what creates a laid back feel to places in Thailand, plus the way many Thai workers seem to sit around not doing anything, even in the city!
Not that we don’t do that now do we!!
Watch out for more in my “Art of Life when your’e in Thailand” series…..
So that’s my micro snapshot to kick this series of articles off…look out for my next episode and some live feeds and blog posts directly from Thailand itself when I am there because I will go into a bit more detail in future posts.
For now though….
Sawadee khab!! ( Means Goodbye……and Hello in Thai…..even that’s confusing)