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9 Things I’ve Learned in Thailand

List of 9's


Sawasdee Krub. The last time I visited Thailand (’05), I barely had time for noodles. This time, my stay is three times as long as my previous jaunt — an opportunity to truly digest the experience. As my vacation draws to a close, I sit in my in-law’s home putting together my thoughts on lessons I have learned during my current stay. Although much can be written, I’ve chosen to highlight my latest list of nine (in no particular order), dedicated to all those who are curious about “the land of smiles” and all future travellers to this gem of a country. Fodors, Lonely Planet – you’ve got nothing on me.:

Dunkin Donuts locations in Bangkok = 734
Dunkin Donuts locations in Los Angeles = 0.

OK, so I skewed the Thailand location number a bit, but pretty much everywhere I looked, I saw a DD chain shop. Granted the donuts and coffee taste like crap in comparison to its western counterpart, but this is glaring statistic, is it not? Better yet, not only does Bangkok have LA wiped out in numbers, they also host the largest Dunkin Donuts shop in the world. Looks like one city needs to represent. City of Angels (US Version), I am looking your way. Time to make the donuts, indeed.

Take boats instead of taxi’s wherever available.
If you are nowhere near the public transportation available, you are likely to hop in an automobile to get around town. During waking hours, that usually means bumper to bumper traffic and waiting up to five minutes for lights to change in some areas. Want to get from one side of the city to another in under 3 hours (seriously) without dealing with that? Take one of the boats that operate like a bus route cutting through the city via river. But if you are one of those claustrophobes, this may not be a great option as the boats get jam-packed and the ceilings are designed for short folks.

If the mall breaks out in a raging fire, don’t leave your unfinished Pad See Eiw behind as you bolt for the exit.
The mall food courts will hook you up with a tasty full lunch for under $2 USD (if you avoid the US chain restaurants, of course). But please follow these steps when consuming your grub: 1) Eat with generous spoonfuls. 2) Listen carefully for any developing panic. 3) If panic ensues, either a) finish food as quickly as possible and bolt for the door – or b) throw everything into your shopping bag, dart for exit and finish later. You don’t want to start your meal only to give up on it because some amateur forgets how to work the grill.

Brush & Shock (or Brush Shock / Brushock) is/are the foremost graffiti artist(s) tagging the streets of Bangkok.
These punks are everywhere. Just as many tags as Dunkin Donut locations. Their graffiti style, however, is very pedestrian at best. I get the feeling they are taking their cues from ‘Rumble in the Bronx‘ (aka Toronto disguised as the Boogie Down.) Word, na krub.

XL actually means Medium.
If you are a larger-than-average westerner, don’t bother shopping for clothes in outdoor markets. Chances are, they aren’t carrying XXXL. You will have better luck at the seven million malls that pepper the city, though the prices are pretty much on par with what you’d find in Macy’s. Squeezing into an XL polo shirt from an outdoor market will make you feel like George Muresan sans the rim skills.

Do not make eye contact with bar-girls.
If you want to feel like a hot chick walking by construction workers, feel free to ignore this lesson. Otherwise, avoid the cat-calling, hooting, grabbing (yes, grabbing) by just directing your eyes elsewhere while strolling the evening streets. Usually, there will be a group of 3 to 6 nymphettes wearing matching skimpy outfits, loitering in front of pubs, and trying to hit their ‘best’ convincing cries. Note: Despite what they yell: they do not want you, they want your wallet.

Do not expose your sliced mango pieces if there are monkeys roaming around.
If your itinerary includes travel to different, more rural provinces outside of metropolitan Bangkok, this lesson is directed at you. Odds are, you will encounter a myriad of wildlife throughout the countryside journey. This will make for fantastic pictures, but not so much for enjoying a fruity snack in some spots. Also beware of domesticated monkeys – they can be trained to pick pockets.

Wear sandals/slippers if you go temple-hopping.
You will be taking off your shoes often especially when you are around places of worship (as an aside, white socks = not recommended unless you intended to buy black socks). Thailand is overrun by devout buddhists that build very grand shrines that are must-see ornate spectacles in my opinion. If your day consists of hitting multiple temples, I highly recommend investing in some flip-flops or sandals. And speaking of purchasing shoes . . .

The largest shoe size in most places is “9”.
In other words, if your feet are bigger than that, get the sandals from your home country and bring them along. Trust me, walking around in sandals that are a couple sizes too short are murder on the soles/souls.

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4 Responses to “9 Things I’ve Learned in Thailand”

  1. Naz says:

    Largest shoes size is 9…… fitting for you!
    I love this list. Very entertaining and informative.

  2. Filthy Rich says:

    @naz – thanks for the props.

  3. mutuelle says:

    Being a cabin crew, i have been to Thailand so many times. i can say that you are completely right about the list. One thing is very true is that dont look at girl and try to avoid them. There are even lots of Transexual over there.

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