50 Things You Should Know About Bangkok

Live Loud

Now that I’ve been in Takua Pa a few days, I feel like I can sufficiently sum up most of the things I learned during my two-week stay in Bangkok. Consider it a guide to some life lessons that you can now avoid when staying in Bangkok. The following is a non-comprehensive list of the things I learned, observed, or was told while in Bangkok:

  1. You’re going to sweat. Get over it.
  2. The one day that you finally decide to wear a tank top and shorts, since you’ve realized that all the locals do, everyone else will be wearing a t-shirt and pants. Apparently it’s cold outside.
  3. When the locals are sweating profusely, you know it’s hot outside.
  4. Drivers in Bangkok are 1000 times crazier than Montreal drivers. Yes, you will fell like you’re going to die sometimes. Pray extra hard.
  5. Riding a motorbike taxi is both terrifying and thrilling, in cycles. When other cars are around, you will think that you are going to die. But when the road is clear, enjoy the rush of excitement as your hair flows in the wind.
  6. Almost all of the monks I saw were on their cell phones. Interesting.
  7. Never layer shirts. That’s just asking for extra sweat in places where you’re already going to sweat anyways.
  8. Thai people love to smile (awkward smiles for the win!), but don’t mistake this to mean that they are always happy.
  9. Thai people don’t like confrontation, and try to avoid it at all costs. (My kind of people!)
  10. A smile is a perfectly acceptable in place of a sa-wat-dee (“hello”) in most scenarios. (Do I fit in here, or what?!)
  11. Never say anything bad about the king. And really, why should you? Look at what the Thai kings throughout recent history have done for the Thai people!
  12. You won’t fully understand the love and reverence that Thai people have for their king. There’s nothing else to compare it to that would help you understand it. But be respectful – stand for the King’s anthem when it plays in the movie theatre before your movie, and stand still when it plays across the PA system in the parks and metro stations.
  13. When Thai people don’t understand you, they laugh. What a great way to break the ice, right? (I honestly fit in so well here!)
  14. If you go to the famous temples, don’t expect to experience authentic Thai Buddhism. You may feel like you’re exploiting a culture – I most certainly did. Go to a local, non-famous temple. You’ll gain a better understanding of the relationship between Thai culture and Buddhism.
  15. When you go to temples, BE RESPECTFUL. I can’t tell you how much I hated myself for being a tourist when I when I saw people step over and around people on the ground worshipping, just so that they could take the “perfect picture”.
  16. Talk to Thai people. Not only are they super nice, but they have so much wisdom about the places you’re exploring!
  17. According to every Thai person I’ve spoken to, if you’re from Canada, then you’re either from Toronto or Vancouver. Sorry to my friends everywhere else – apparently you live in places that don’t actually exist.
  18. There are a lot of cute little kittens walking around the city in need of some lovin’. Pet them and love them, even is it goes against your better judgement.
  19. Things here are super inexpensive!
  20. If you convert the price of something to Canadian dollars, then it may seem super cheap, but people who live here could still think it is expensive.
  21. Everything is relative. Try to understand all perspectives.
  22. Don’t be a tourist. Look for an authentic experience.
  23. There are a lot of ex-pats and missionaries living here. You won’t feel too much outside of your comfort zone. (Although I’m sure it will be a different story in Takua Pa!)
  24. Jet lag sucks. You won’t be able to avoid it, but make the most of the time you spend awake.
  25. Keep a journal – you’ll want to remember each and every little quirk you come across!
  26. People do fitness classes and go to the gym in the park. Some of the fitness equipment looks like it belongs in the playground – don’t laugh at this. Also, don’t take a picture if there is anyone using the equipment, as much as you may want to.
  27. People here dress a lot less modestly than I thought they would.
  28. When English music is playing somewhere, swear words don’t get bleeped out like they do in Canada. It’ll catch you off guard the first few times you hear it.
  29. Not sure if it’s just my abnormally long legs, but people here seem to walk incredibly slow.
  30. A Thai massage is basically you paying someone to tickle your feet for an hour.
  31. Once your masseuse figures out that your feet are ticklish, he’ll exploit it at every opportunity to have a good laugh. Laugh along. 🙂 (Although if you’re being tickled, than you really don’t have much choice but to laugh!)
  32. Learn to speak Thai, so that you can understand when people are making light-hreated jokes about you in Thai.
  33. Wear sunscreen. (I really need to work on this one…)
  34. Tip your masseuse well. They’ve earned it!
  35. Go to church. You’ll gain some perspective of God in a Thai context, and it’ll remind you of how great our God is.
  36. Go shopping at the markets. Try to haggle, even if your as awful at it as I am.
  37. Street food is delicious. Consume in copious amounts, since it’s supa-cheap, and you’ll walk it all off anyways!
  38. Eat dinner for breakfast. It’s what all the cool kids do.
  39. Taking three showers in a day is completely acceptable.
  40. Drink lots of water – and then once you think you’ve had enough, drink more!
  41. There are both really good and really awful smells around the city. Try not to let your face show your thoughts when you move from one to another.
  42. When you come across a cockroach in the street, and you will, stare it down until it scuttles away. If that doesn’t work, run for your life!
  43. When an unknown liquid substance drips down on you while walking in the streets, do not try to think of all the possible things that it could be. Ignorance is bliss in this case.
  44. If you’re foolish enough to forget how to use chopsticks half way through a meal, like I did, be cool. Casually observe how the people at the table next to you do it. If you’re alone in the restaurant, just stab at the food until it stays on the stick.
  45. When a train ride is supposed to take 2 hours, don’t expect it to take any less than 4. Bring snacks.
  46. You can buy anything from one of the billion 7-Elevens in the city.
  47. People have absolutely no problem staring at you , even if you catch them doing it. Commence staring contest.
  48. Be flexible.
  49. Embrace the bizarre.
  50. Enjoy. 🙂

Yes many of these are generalizations. Many are also jokes. But I learned all of these things the hard way. Bangkok is awesome. You should go!

Live. Love. Travel.

Originally posted to Live Loud