I spent some time this weekend down on the beach, soaking up sun rays, sippin’ on some Leos and looking out at the glistening water. Watching the sun set over the Gulf of Thailand, I couldn’t help but think how I lucky I am to be in such an amazing place. I have been living in Thailand for over 7 months now (where does the time go?!). I am no longer a tourist just visiting this beautiful place. This place is now my home. All of this got me further thinking of the differences from how I felt when I first got here and how I think now about all the strange and crazy things that occur in my daily life; the things that I swear only happen when in Thailand. You know you have been here awhile when..
1. When you see another farang and think, “Where the hell did you come from?!”
Farang/falang is what Thai’s call us Westerners. It’s not a word meant to be an insult in any way. It’s more so just matter of fact. We clearly stick out in this country, and when you see another fellow falang, you secretly get excited. You want to know their story. Which leads me to..
2. When you can tell the difference between tourists and other expats.
A giant backpacker’s pack is obviously a dead giveaway, but with the elephant pants and Chang shirts.. you aren’t fooling anyone either. Although I totally get it because I love my elephants pants too, and I am guilty of owning a Chang shirt.
3. Your accuracy on being able to tell the difference with ladyboys is about 90%.
(Not a bad thing at all! I honestly admire Thailand for their acceptance of how many ladyboys are a part of the culture.)
4. You know the set prices for fruit and other food on the street.
Street food is probably one of my favorite things about Thailand. I can walk outside my place and buy pineapple, watermelon, guava, coconuts, Thai sausage, or pork on a stick all for less than a dollar. I also know how much each of these costs, so when a street vendor thinks he might be able to get ten extra baht off me and charge me some ‘farang prices’, I can’t help but laugh.
5. Your idea of a restaurant is a place outside with a few wooden tables, plastic chairs, and if you are lucky, some fans.
And seriously, these places are the best. Fancy restaurants are those that are indoors with the air-con. I’ll gladly go to a restaurant outside, down the sketchy alley, where the chicken is hanging up, and I can see the kitchen stove from my table.
6. Finding a bathroom with a western toilet, toilet paper, and soap can literally make your day.
When I say western toilet, I mean a toilet that is off the ground that you do not step on. One that you do not ‘flush’ by pouring buckets of water into the toilet bowl, but by simply pushing a button. Having toilet paper and soap in a bathroom is also a luxury. So finding a bathroom with all of these is enough to honestly make your day.
7. You have gotten used to the no booze from 2 to 5 PM law, and you know how to plan ahead accordingly.
Or you know what guy is selling some Leo’s on the street that will be around to save the day.
8. Your idea of drinking may involve buying a cheap bottle of Thai whiskey from a 7/11 and drinking it on the sidewalk.
The locals do it all the time, so why not?
9. Your idea of shopping is hitting up the vendors on the streets and the weekend markets because the malls are way too expensive.
Seriously. You have to really consider even spending more than $3 on a shirt from a vendor. Going to a mall to spend over $20 on piece of clothing sounds insane. I’m all about the 100 baht shirts, dresses, and shoes.
10. You’ve grown accustomed to the fact you’re always going to be hot and sweaty.
It’s Thailand. This place is always going to be hot. (Except at night during the cool season, when if it even gets down to 70 degrees, you are freezing. I tend to wear sweaters when it gets this ‘cold’.) I know how to prepare in the heat in true Thai fashion. I wear baby powder on my face now, and I know if I absolutely dying, hopping into a 7/11 for a quick cool off is sometimes just what you need.
11. You no longer get scared when riding on the back of a motorbike towards oncoming traffic.
There are no laws of the road here. So when you hop on the back of a motorbike taxi, you are now used to your driver squeezing in between cars, in between such small spaces that your backpack tends to hit other cars. You are used to the fact the drivers will go down the wrong way towards incoming traffic and even up on the sidewalks.
12. You get slightly offended when strangers on the street don’t smile at you.
Thailand is the land of a thousand smiles. When you are a farang here, you stick out. People are going to stare, and if you just smile at them, they smile back. If they don’t, you have been living here long enough to know, “Man they must have had a bad day to not smile at you.”
Oh, I am so beyond lucky to call this place home; to live in a beautiful place with beautiful people. I am grateful to live somewhere that amazes me more and more each day; a place where I find myself laughing and smiling at the little things in life.
If I can understand this language without words, I can learn to understand the world.