10 interesting things you might not know about Thailand, but realized:
1) You are given straws with nearly all drinks, even bottled water! No matter if you get bottled water at a food cart, order a drink or bottle of juice, you are given a straw with it. I’ve thrown away so many plastic bags with straws because I’d buy, say, two bottles of water or coconut juice and two straws accompany it in the bag.
2) The taxis are pink. Most taxis here are pink. It is really cute.
3) Food carts are Thai fast food. Although there are fast food chains, you just don’t see as many here. They are in much fewer quantity than anywhere else in the world I’ve ever been. The locals and expats simply eat from food carts on the street as Americans would eat fast food. It’s much better, in my opinion.
4) A thai massage includes rubbing down your whole chest, breasts (if woman) and all. Ok, in all honesty I haven’t been back to get another massage since the one experience; and I’m simply assuming they’re all the same. But, yeah, laying in awkward silence on a firm table , without even eye covers, I, for all intents and purposes, basically had this girl fondle my breasts. Pretty awkward.
5) If you don’t already, you’ll love young coconut meat and mangos. You can get them at food carts or wherever you look. Both taste so good and fresh here unlike elsewhere in the US or Europe.
6) There’s not a subway or train that connects the whole city of Bangkok. There is a train and subway line (BTS and MRT), but neither are very long and connect only the main touristy and commercial areas of town in a short X-like shape. Though it is convenient, you could ride the longest track from one end to the other in well under an hour -probably more like 20 minutes. However, I’m told an expansion is in the works and will be completed in a couple years (too long to take for something so crucial, in my opinion, because Bangkok has a serious traffic problem! That 20 minute train ride could easily take you 2 hours by car).
7) Most young people do not speak English (like they do in many other foreign countries). I came here expecting a majority of young people to have a basic knowledge of English, having learned it in school. However, I am hard-pressed to find English speaking people here, young or otherwise.
8) There’s much poverty, but not as many bums as you might expect. Having recently been to Seattle, a city with a strikingly large amount of bums, I half-expected to see near as many in a city like Bangkok. However, I rarely see bums sitting around or begging for money. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are bums, just not as many as I expected to see. There aren’t many and they’re seen only in the majorly touristy areas -near markets, etc. And I suspect it’s because many, who would otherwise be bums, enter the realm of theft and scamming instead. However, maybe most Thais are just hard workers (which has actually been my typical observation of them). Interestingly the bums I do see come in one of 3 or 4 varieties: 1) a typically gaunt woman with one or two small, dirty children, 2) a maimed man, without an eye or appendage, or perhaps another deformation, laying flat out on his stomach on the ground holding out a tin cup, in the middle of the sidewalk, with people stepping over and around him and a faint sense, for instance, that there’s actually a folded leg hidden from sight in the pants, 3) a random man or woman singing into a makeshift microphone attached to some box-like amplification contraption strapped to their chest (horrible singing, by the way), and 4) a random, dirty homeless person simply sitting by the sidewalk -although, perhaps these types just resting there because they show no clear sign of begging.
9) Foreigners get charged more for everything, period, hands-down, and without fail. (even for things you’d think were objective and set, like a hotel room) This facet of Thailand (I can presently only speak for Bangkok but am told it’s similar elsewhere) is something that really bothers me. And I can even go so far as to say that it often disgusts and angers me. In a way, it’s a system that works and follows more closely a pure laissez faire economy. But still, it angers me when I’m charged 200 baht for a cab ride that should me 46, simply because the driver refuses to turn on the meter; or when I’m quoted 1500 baht or a mani-pedi, for which a Thai girl would be charged 200; or when I’m quoted a monthly rent of 85,000 baht for the same place a Thai person currently pays 38,000. (These are all actual anecdotes of my experience here.)
10) Eggs and bacon aren’t really breakfast foods, but rice is. And you can eat rice at any time of day or night, for meal, snack or else-wise. Moreover, there are so many various things made out of rice: noodles, crepes, desserts, drinks, and many others. Eggs are used in dishes at any time of day; but they’re more typically an accompaniment to other things and usually not the main, stand-out protein. This is great for me because I love eggs and could stick one on almost anything. And as for bacon, they do have it here (and it’s thin and crispy like in America, unlike some Eastern European places I encountered who seemed not to know what proper bacon is and how to cook it.) Yet here, bacon is used more simply as pork in dishes.
I’ll add to this list as other interesting things arise.