Thailand – The Land of Smiles

When I came to Thailand, I had no idea what it means to live in a monsoon time (that your clothes and glass case and nuts can go mouldy in a few days cause of the moist), what is 7-Eleven, Swensons, Family Mart, Tao Kae Noi, or Pad Thai and who was Bhumibol Adulyadej. I equally had no idea there are at least 13 different smiles that a Thai person might use, each one having a specific meaning.

I didn’t know they basically do not use a knife here and most of the public toilets would not have a toilet paper.

None of the curries I had eaten in my life before were as spicy as the ones here, and I kept throwing ice away from my glass until I was explained that they BUY ICE here (so it is made of potable water: LINK).

When a friend of mine told me after her vacation in Thailand that she missed the street food vendors in Europe, I could not understand what she was talking about… Now I know I am going to miss them like nothing else! It is like a street food paradise here!

Thai people add “ka” (ladies) or “krub” (gents) to the end of every sentence just to be more polite, they line up at the metro doors and unlike many Western people show a great respect to the leaders of their country, i.e. the Royal Family.

Also unlike Western people, Thai people seem happy and relaxed most of the time and adore white skin, high noses and small lips.

When I lost my phone in Bangkok (for the first time in my life losing anything important) and freaked out throwing all the stuff out of my bag, I immediately got about ten to fifteen people asking me how they can help! The police was right by my side to help too! Thanks to my incredible couchsurfing host, Dream, who (14 years younger than me) stayed cool, responsible and mature, we got my phone back alright (forgotten in a shopping mall when I was buying my favourite seaweed snack, found by some people in the shop and handed in at the information desk at “lost and found”). A great lesson for me in many respects and a great “thank you” to Dream for staying calm and reasonable yet acting out dynamically.

I could (and perhaps one day will) write a whole book about this incredible girl, Dream, who I stayed in Bangkok with for 4 days, my beloved yoga team at  Marina Frei, all the great people I met in the centre, and Femi – not just for explaining to me about the ice…

They say that it is the little everyday tasks you manage in a foreign country that make you feel truly “local”; in that case, for me, it was learning to drive a scooter, finding my way around in Krabi with, obtaining several new glasses from Super Cheap when I broke two in the kitchen of the centre where I was working, getting my t-shirt narrowed by a street seamstress in Bangkok, my camera repaired (without paying anything), my pedicure done in a street of Bangkok, curing my probably first-time cystitis at a local clinic in Krabi by using local antibiotics, explaining to the ladies at the information desk in the Discovery centre in Bangkok that my phone was mine as only I knew the gesto and there are pics of me in the camera, KA, using ALL the means of transport in Bangkok, including the 5 BHT local train, the Sky train, metro, local buses that swirl around Victory Monument (6.50 to 7 BHT), local truck-buses for 7 BHT, airport vans, airport shuttles, taxis (ok, no tuk tuks cause those are more touristy – and more expensive – than the taxis – which have metres – and you have to haggle), getting intoxicated with the locals first in Octave Roof Top Bar, Silom, Bangkok, then in a street open bar next to Dream´s street where we danced, sang, and yes, I accepted the way it goes here – people offering you a sip of their drink when they want to get to know you, talk to you, dance with you, when they appreciate you – and drank out of probably four to five glasses (god knows what) while still having had a few of my own drinks too, without getting drugged or sick afterwards (the 18-year old me would be proud of myself) and still being in the state of buying stuff for breakfast at 3 a.m. in 7-Eleven, yet falling asleep in the corridor, next to the door to Dream´s apartment, while she ran for help as the door would not open (without the key forgotten inside, on a hanger next to the doorknob).

Thailand, all they told me about you was that you have great beaches, a high degree of prostitution, cheap plastic surgery, frequent trans-gender visitors, that I should beware of my belongings and that Bangkok is crazy and busy, combining high quality standards of living with poverty and dirt, and that your cuisine is rather meat-based… You know what – whatever!

Nobody told me I would earn twice the money here I get in Prague for working at a uni, that the rents are of 1/6 of the prices in Prague and buying a nice cosy apartment in the city centre would be like buying a good car in my country… nobody told me you offered such food variety and fun variety… nobody told me the spirit of yours was such a marvel… To me, you are a thrill! Thank you for having me!

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