The things I’m getting used to (or not) here
In order to share some of the nuances of everyday life here in Thailand, I thought I’d write about things in terms of how comfortable (or not) I have become with them or how I have (or haven’t) gotten used to each thing. For the sake of brevity, I won’t be expounding much on each one, but feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comment section and I’ll tell you more …
So far in Thailand,
I have gotten used to the sinks in my house having two options – off and on. (Well, to be honest, I can have more or less pressure if I want, but there are no hot vs. cold water options.)
I have grown comfortable with the navigation of the local hospital in order to check in, be seen by a doctor in the emergency room, and pay my bill. This one is compliments of my son, who recently had a run-in with one of our sinks falling off the wall, shattering, and cutting one of his legs fairly badly. After seven visits to the ER for stitches, bandage changes, and check-ups, I’m quite comfortable with the process.
I have not gotten used to seeing older, white, western men out and about with their young Thai girlfriends.
I have gotten used to seeing stray dogs running around just about anywhere and everywhere. I have not yet gotten used to said dogs barking, yipping, and sometimes riling up our entire neighborhood of pet dogs (who are enclosed within their gates). To be honest, it is one of my least favorite parts of living here.
I am getting used to how many of the smaller stores, restaurants, and coffee shops here are open … well, just when they are. A daily schedule of when they are or aren’t open? Not so much. In addition, these stores will often be there one day and gone the next with no explanation.
I have not gotten used to how, once you make friends here, they will care for you like family even if you’ve only know each other for 4 or less months. However, I absolutely love it! It really is unique and I am learning a lot because of it.
I am not always comfortable with the amount of attention (and sometimes touching) my children often attract when we are out.
I have gotten used to paying certain prices for particular foods, coffee, and the like, and now am slightly indignant when I have to pay $2 USD for an iced latte rather than $1 USD. I know, I know, I’m going to experience “sticker shock” big-time when I return to the States for the first time!
I have gotten quite comfortable driving on the left side of the road, although I often still head to the wrong side (left side) of our truck to get in when I drive (the steering wheel is located on the right side here), and sometimes still turn on the windshield wipers when I mean to flip the turn signal (reversed from how they are in American vehicles).
I have not yet gotten used to those times when we are the only white people amidst a sea of Thai, such as when at the market, at the park when the Thai are out exercising, or at the local hospital. I’m ok with that – I think everyone should at times be forced to be in places where they are somehow the minority, as it challenges the way you think and look at things and people.
I have grown comfortable with the fact that small geckos live in my walls and ceiling and run wherever they please whenever they please. I have not grown comfortable with how these geckos also poop wherever they please. Nasty!
I have gotten used to having to take off my shoes at the door of some businesses, gatherings, etc.
I am growing more comfortable having to use squatty potties at times when in public bathrooms. I am still getting used to the fact that these public bathrooms often do not have toilet paper, soap, or paper towel available in them.
I am not used to, and am in fact uncomfortable with, the fact that the majority of public advertising in Chiang Mai uses only white models or light-skinned Asian models. (In America, darker skin is often considered more “beautiful.” Here in Thailand, however, lighter skin is considered to be more “beautiful.”)
I am getting a bit more used to there being a different set of “rules of the road” to which people abide to here. I am still getting used to the graciousness of Thai drivers (Road rage? The only time I really experience that is when I ride with westerners!), but being a new driver here, I am grateful for it!
This list is just the tip of the iceberg, folks! Maybe I’ll share more in a “part 2″ post at some point in the future. Until then, you’ve gotten an idea of some of the things we encounter in daily life here and how comfortable (or not) I’ve grown with them.