5 Ways Thailand Will Surprise You While Teaching and Living Abroad

5 Ways Thailand Will Surprise You While Teaching and Living Abroad

When I moved to Thailand to teach English, I knew that I would try new food, visit some amazing beaches, and explore ancient temples. I knew that I would be surprised and challenged at school and by trying new things, but living here has brought many surprises.

Here are five ways that Thailand will surprise you:

1. Thailand is More than Just the Land of Smiles

My thai student and host sister and I visiting the local aquarium.

Thailand is known as the land of smiles, but Thai people are hospitable beyond belief. Within minutes of knowing someone I have been invited to dinner with their family, offered rides, been boating and rafting, and taken care of as if I were a family member.

When I came down with a fever and virus, my Thai friend (and conveniently, doctor) sent her husband to bring me to the hospital and pharmacy. They then insisted that I stay at their house with them so that they could take care of me. After that they made sure I had enough food before taking me home and checking on me the following days. I was amazed at how quickly they welcomed me into their home and family.

2. A Scooter Serves Multiple Purposes in Thailand

It is common knowledge that scooters are widely used throughout Asia, but I was surprised with just how resourceful Thai people are with their scooters. They serve so many purposes!

It is the family car, made with a special child seat in the front. It can fit one person, or 5 with a dog, in the front basket. It can be used to carry anything including ladders and couches. Scooters also function as mobile food and ice cream carts (and in this case an ice cream scooter and local taxi/playground).

I was also surprised that you can get a motorbike taxi to just about anywhere for significantly cheaper (and faster) than a car.

3. Not Only is Traffic in Thailand Organized Chaos, Life is as Well

Everything in Thailand seems to move at a different pace and work differently than back home, but in the best way possible. Even though I normally don’t understand the methods, I have learned to trust the process because in the end things work out (whether it be transportation, maintenance in my apartment, or in everyday interactions).

I have come to realize that my school also uses the “organized chaos method.” Sometimes we find out about things months in advance, other times moments before (I guess it just depends on the day).

Similarly, I was recently on a motor bike taxi when the driver just pulled over, turned off the bike, and walked into 7/11. I just sat and waited a few minutes, he came back, popped his cigarette in his mouth and off we went. In most situations, I have no idea what’s going on, but I trust that the organized chaos will get me to where I need to go.

4. The Sunsets and Sunrises are Incredible

Whether you’re in the mountains or at the beach, you are almost always treated to a colorful sunset. On one of my first nights in Trang I noticed the sun starting to set and decided to head to the roof of my building to watch the sunset. Not expecting anything spectacular, I was shocked by just how beautiful the sunset was.

Another time while visiting Koh Kradan, the sun began to set while we were still in the water. It was incredible to watch the sun go down while floating in the ocean. Whether you are at the beach, in the mountains, or in Bangkok, you will most definitely be treated to some remarkable sunsets in Thailand.

5. Thailand Quickly Becomes Home

As cliché as it sounds, I was shocked how quickly I settled into life here in Trang. I arrived, decorated my apartment, and quickly fell into a routine, just like back home. And it feels normal. I have my routine, friends, and life here. It’s comfortable and that’s something I never expected.

But one of the most surprising things for me about living in Thailand is how it feels like a second home. Despite the language and cultural barriers, and even though I am still a foreigner living in a relatively small town, I feel like I fit in.

I know that I found my small piece of this puzzle that is life in Trang and life in Thailand. I found my place, and I could not be more surprised and happy finally feeling like I belong.

My thai host family in Trang, Thailand.

About the Author:

Hi! My name is Kelsey, I’m 23 years old, and I am a Colorado Native. I’m a sucker for cute dogs, margaritas, and anything outdoors. I am currently living in Hua Hin, Thailand and sharing my adventures from South East Asia!

Follow Kelsey’s blog “The Life of Kelsey Barlow” for more insights into teaching English in Thailand! 

Want to be surprised by all Thailand has to offer?

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