When you finally book that plane ticket something that will probably be going through your mind (other than the gut punch that your bank account just took) is how much change will occur between those arrival and departure dates. Maybe scaling a waterfall will finally help you drop that fear of heights, or being 8,500 miles away from the states will somehow wean you off your mild snickers addiction (just FYI, it actually makes it entirely worse).
Having hit my one-month mark here in Thailand I have found that when you live abroad, little pieces of who you were back home start to fall away. However, what you leave behind is nothing compared to the amount that you pick up.
1. The Coffee Crawl
I don’t care how immune you think you are to the deliciously addictive effects of caffeine; all that ends in Chiang Mai. Starbucks has been knocked off its pedestal because coffee here is on an entirely different level. With more than 1,000 coffee shops in the city alone you will have no problem fuelling your new found vice; and at around 35 Baht ($1 USD) you shouldn’t have too much trouble financing it either.
2. Extreme Jaywalking
When you first get to Thailand, the streets can seem pretty intimidating. I’d describe it as a mix between rush hour traffic and complete anarchy, all the time. It doesn’t take long to adjust to the organized chaos though. Your overthought sprint across the street quickly turns into more of a leisurely speed walk with the occasional motorbike dodge.
3. Paying in Change
Unlike back home, coins can actually do more than take up pocket space. It can feel like you’re going through cash pretty fast here, until you start counting up all the change rolling around your wallet. Since coins hold more weight here I often find myself paying for whole meals in change, and without getting the stink eye from servers.
You will get very well acquainted with this little treasure trove during your time in Thailand, mostly because you run into one every 75 feet. These stores carry everything from hangers and silverware to seaweed potato chips and yogurt milk (not something I would exactly recommend…)
AND if you are in 7/11 it’s probably to pick up a Toastie. These flaky straight-from-heaven conglomerations of ham and cheese are HIGHLY addictive and oh so convenient. Have a 9am Thai class? Grab a Toastie for the trek to campus. Need a snack? Toastie. It’s 2am? Toastie. You’re going to go to the gym to burn off all those Toasties? Grab another Toastie instead.
After making your way through a few markets and learning a key phrase or two (Tow-rai? How much?) you’ll be ready to start negotiating. It’s going to be awkward and may require a lot of hand gestures, but at the very least you both get a laugh out of the whole thing! You’d be surprised at how far smiling and throwing out the little Thai you know can get you. Try your hand at the Sunday Night Walking Street, before you know it you won’t be paying full price for anything.
7. Over Using Public Transportation
Song Taews are my mode of choice when it comes to going pretty much anywhere. As if I needed any more reason to walk as little as possible, these red trucks make it too easy. For 20 Baht they’ll take you wherever you need to go within 15-20 minutes away, as well as further destinations for a modest price increase. Unless they try and hit you with tourist prices, but we’re bargainers now remember?
8. Carrying Toilet Paper at All Times
And finally, unless your ready to face the bum gun; I suggest keeping a pack of tissues on you for bathroom breaks. Just saying.