With all of social media flooded with picturesque photos of waterfalls and the sparkly temples of distant lands it’s easy to make a different version of South East Asia in your mind than how it is in actuality!
Don’t get me wrong – the past year and a half living in Thailand has been the best time of my life! It truly is a magical place BUT there are some parts of living in SE Asia that can be anything from frustrating to hilarious, and everywhere in-between!
Here are 10 truths that you need to know, if you are thinking about moving abroad to SE Asia!
1. Street food is safe, and cheap!
*just use good judgment
Most people come to Thailand and will turn their nose up at all the street food, but this makes me so sad because often times the most delicious, authentic cuisine is going to be at that roadside stall! This being said, you do have to use your best judgment because Thailand’s food cleanliness standards are definitely lacking!
2. You will get sick very often.
I know this seems to contradict my previous statement but living in SE Asia comes with a guarantee that you will be sick a lot. Usually it wont be from the food though – hand soap is lacking here so germs are just everywhere! Hand sanitizer is your BFF along with Immodium – there are no escaping the ridiculous instances of illness.
3. “Bum Guns” are your friend.
Attached to every toilet is a little hose that you can use to squirt water on your bum after you do your business. These upon first glance can seem gross or strange BUT THEY WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE. Literally just trust me. Toilet paper isn’t usually stocked anywhere and even if you try and carry it everywhere, I promise you will find yourself without it at some point… trust me.
4. Bus schedules are more like guidelines.
Bus schedules in Thailand are very irksome! I swear the busses have a mind of their own. Perhaps a bus will arrive 20 minutes early and leave ten minutes before its set time therefore you miss it. Or, it will show up an hour late just because. Either way there is nothing you can do, and just going with the flow and staying flexible is a must!
5. There will be bugs in your food all the time.
Bugs in food is the norm! Back two years ago in America I would have sent something back if it had a bug in it, now here in Thailand it’s a non-issue, just pick it out and continue nomming away! Sometimes the bugs are even there on purpose!! Had an interesting encounter with an ant stew a while back… blahhh!
Snapped this selfie right after I ran up the steps to this view point as the ferry below was waiting! I was drenched!
6. You will sweat… a lot.
When you first get to Thailand you will sweat CONSTANTLY, unless you are accustomed to a level of humidity that rivals the inside of a sauna, in which case you are a super hero. If you aren’t then you wont just glisten, I’m talking buckets of sweat. You will reach levels of un-comfortableness where you will have to just meditate on the pain in a pool of sweat because there is nothing you can do.
**Pack wisely! When I just got here I had clothes made of random different materials like rayon or synthetic whatever – they all just felt like wearing plastic bags! Pack lots of linen and cotton! Yay for breathability.
7. Bug bites are forever.
RIP my unscarred legs and arms. Your appendages will go through a trip, I’ll tell you that. Pack lots of mosquito repellent, and after-bite because there is no escaping it! I prefer natural citronella spray because it is less irritating – after camping in Cambodia I had the most ~*disgusting*~ bites on my legs along with a lovely rash all over from using too much repellent that contained DEET.
Regardless of what type of spray you pack, pack lots of it!
My drive to school last semester!
8. Roads are crazzay!
When living in a Thai town you have to be SO careful!!! The roads here are unreal, there are no rules and Thai people have no fear, in fact Thailand has been named home to the worlds 2nd most dangerous roads. Please please please be careful.
Breakfast in bags!
9. Breakfast doesn’t exist.
If you are living somewhere other than Bangkok then chances are you can say goodbye to the sweet sweet breakfast food that you know and love. Say hello to rice, and some more rice and then maybe some grilled meat. This is the normal breakfast in rural Thailand, if you don’t think you’ll like just meat for breakfast with rice then you can always have the second favorite dish: Jok! But this is basically boiled rice soup with meat, so pretty similar. It’s not that bad though, you get used to it!
Free roaming lizards in Bangkok’s Lumpini Park.
10. Even when you’re inside you’re outside.
This is a big one! Its actually quite funny, it seems like everything in Thailand is not sealed nor is it built to keep anything out. It is very common to go to bed with geckos leering at you from your walls or even plants growing out of your drain!
You know that feeling you get as you’re falling asleep where something tickles your arm and you just think “oh its just a hair or something,” well here… its never just a hair.
I have three resident spiders that I cohabitant with, they keep to themselves though. Sometimes if there is an onslaught of bugs outside somehow they will seep into your room. I’ve looked up and there have been hundreds of gnats swirling around the lights!
There you have it! 10 ridiculous but very true facts about living here in Thailand. Although, everyone’s experience is different, let me know your tips and funny experiences below in the comments!
In the end, my time here in Thailand has been unreal and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I’ve loved every sweaty, bug filled moment of it. The sparkly temples, beautiful views and waterfalls do exist as well though, and they are amazing!
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