With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

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Posted by Heliocentrism on May 22, 2010

May 22, 2010 – May 27, 2010

Wai-ing with Ronald

Once again, I must say goodbye

I did a “Top 10 Things I will miss about Korea” so I thought it would be nice if I did one for Thailand too. I was in Korea for two years and I think I have gotten to know Korea and its people very well. It’s been only 6 months since I moved to Bangkok; I don’t think that I know Thailand and the Thais very well. I don’t think I will feel homesick for Bangkok like I did for Korea, but there are still some things that I will miss about life in Thailand.

Some of the things I like about Thailand are great only when you are a backpacker. When you work here, things that benefit tourists annoy you. Overall I think that Thailand is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here.

Thai Taxi

10. You can take a taxi anywhere.

Most cabs have a little sign hanging over the front passenger seat with a list of destinations and prices. At first I thought it was a rough estimate of fares in Bangkok. But, upon closer inspection I noticed places like Chaing Mai and Krabi on there. So if taking a long distance bus seems like too much of a hassle for you, take a taxi!

Of course it will cost way more than taking a bus and you might have to schedule your trip in advance. I doubt you can just hop on a cab in downtown Bangkok and say, “Take me to Nong Khai!” Though, that’s exactly what they seem to do on The Amazing Race.

Street Shops

9. The sidewalks are filled with crap

This is one of the things that is great when you’re a tourist, not so great when you work here. It makes it hard to walk down the street. Everyone and their mom are selling trinkets, baubles, and curios. It’s mostly the stuff you buy the not-so-close friends and co-workers back home so they can feel jealous of you every time they look at it.

When you are just a tourist, you want to stroll and explore. The sidewalk shops add character to the city. But when you are on your way to work, these street vendors are just obstacles that make your getting to the bus stop more difficult.

Of course this applies mainly to the cities. The streets out in the country side don’t have as much stuff on them.

We make your food right here on the street.

8. Street food

In Thailand street food is mostly chicken rice and sauce (ข้าวมันไก่)  or fish ball soup. But I have seen all types of street food here from fried chicken, to sushi, and roaches.

Not even slightly curious.

They are mostly delicious, though I was never brave enough to try the roaches.

I should have worn a tank-top too.

7. It is very hot

Anyone who knows me, knows I hate the cold. When I’m not out in the world, I’m in Florida and around Christmas time, I’m known to complain how cold it is in Miami. Yes. I think in December, Miami is too cold. It gets all the way down 45°F/7°C sometimes! So let’s establish the fact that I love warm weather.

But this is a level of warmth that can drive even me crazy. Look at me in the picture above! I’m a sweaty mess.

But it was my fault. I’ve known for sometime that in climates like this, it is better to wear sports gear made with CoolMax or some equivalent. It makes a huge difference. But that day I wanted to show off the fact that I had been to Guam…

This is another thing this is great for tourists, not so great for people working here. I can’t wear CoolMax to work. Work clothes can be made out of CoolMax type material, but no one does it. All my sports clothes look like sports clothes. So, I’m stuck with cotton for work which makes me look like I do in the picture above when I get home from work.

my pool

6. The Baht

Things are cheap here. CHEAP! I barely make any money, yet I live in a high-rise apartment with a doorman and a gym and pool on the roof. It’s really spectacular, especially at night.

There is no way I could afford this back in the states. On the money I make here, I would be living in subsidized housing and using food stamps back home.

The only time in my life that  I made this little was in college and I was working less than part-time. In other countries like Korea and Japan, you don’t make as much as you would in the states. But when you consider that you don’t pay rent, taxes, car insurance, and the list goes on, you actually find that you can save more money.

In Thailand I make a lot less than I did in Japan or Korea. This job does not come with an apartment. I have to pay my own rent and key money (apartment deposit). I make enough money to live well here, but not enough to send money home.

That is a big problem for me. I have student loans that I need to pay back and since I got to Thailand I haven’t sent any money home. And, I had to use the money I saved while living in Korea.

Would I advise people to work in Thailand?

Sure, if they aren’t paying off loans and don’t need to send money home. You will make enough money to live and travel in Thailand, but you will not be padding your bank account back home like you would in Korea or Japan.

(Just go when there is less political tension.)

FRUIT!!!!

5. Fruit

I will miss the fruit here.  Even though I could not afford the eat the more exotic fruits like mangosteens and grapes regularly, because they were imported. I enjoyed the ones grown locally like mangoes, durians, and champoo. I will also miss the street fruit venders. For about 10THB you can get a bag of sliced fruit.

air conditioning in a bag

4. Iced Coffee in a bag

It seems odd, but on a very hot day, ice and iced coffee in a bag is just the best thing. It’s like a wake-you-up bag of ice. Now it’s not the most convenient way to carry liquid around when you’re on a bus or driving. But when walking around in the heat it can’t be beat.

…and no, my bag and never got torn.

motorbike taxi to work

3. Cheap taxis

Tuk-tuks in Bangkok are a big rip off. I would only ride in one for the novelty of riding in one. It is always cheaper to take a metered taxi. Taxis here are ridiculously cheap. In fact, if you are traveling with 3 or more people, 2 people and you have to transfer from the BTS to the MRT, or you have to do a BST/MRT and bus combo, it might be cheaper to just take a taxi.

When you take a cab, remember to ask for the meter before the cabbie starts driving. If the driver tells you that he wants a flat rate, like 400THB for the trip or that his meter is broken, get out. There are way more cabs than people needing cabs in Bangkok. 200THB is usually more than enough to get anywhere from anywhere in Bangkok, with exceptions of the airport and through toll roads.

There will be an additional charge of 50THB when you get a cab at the airport. You are also expected to pay all toll fees at the toll booths. If you don’t want to pay tolls you need to tell the driver before you get into the car. Many cabbies will not take you during rush hour unless you want to get on the expressway and pay the toll. They only make money when the car is moving, so they don’t want to be stuck in traffic. Bangkok traffic can be very congested, so unless you are flat broke, you will not want to be stuck in it either.

If you are not in Bangkok there might be a scarcity of taxis. In such a case, it might be better to just pay what the driver asks than to walk or wait for a potentially non-existent bus. Don’t forget to ask if any songtows operate in the area though.

Motorbike taxis are great when there is a lot of traffic or in situations where a car would be slower or awkward. They tend to be cheaper in more suburban areas. They are not as safe as everyone around would like to think, but sometimes there are no other options.

There are times when a tuk-tuk is a good option, like in Ayutthaya. It just depends on the concentration of foreign tourists in the area. When the tourist are mostly Thai, tuk-tuks are less of a scam.

Camping in nature

2. National Parks to camp in

In Korea most camp sites are more like Astroturf carpeted parking lots than a clearing in the woods. But Thailand is filled with national parks which have actual camp sites. Some of the campsites have leeches, but whatever…

Beach sunset

1. The Beaches

Thailand has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. I loved every minute I spent at the beach. Some beaches are more for swimming others are better for snorkeling. And others are more for sitting around with friends watching the sun set.

ลาก่อน!

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