Thailand was my first journey to east Asia. Every time I travel I have some expectations, sometimes I’m aware of them, sometimes they’re deep in my subconscious. So I decided to do a small experiment: I wrote down all expectations I had before I have left and now I’ll confront them with what I actually saw in Thailand. I’m very curious how wrong I was 🙂 I apologize if anything is too stereotypical.
3,2,1… Let me invite you to expectations vs reality contest
Expectation no. 1.: maybe it’s a raining season, but it will rain once during a day, mostly at night and will go away quickly.
Reality: except for one Sunday, when it rained 4 times, it actually rained once a day or not at all. Unfortunately usually not during the night but in afternoons. Few times it seemed like it was gonna rain in the morning, but it didn’t. Weather forecasts were useless, observing the sky was much better option to verify plans for upcoming hours. Also, weather differed a lot between parts of Thailand, but all in all, October in Thailand was not as bad as it may seem.
Expectation no. 2.: food will be everywhere
Reality: not in the mornings. Unfortunately food carts were showing up around 10am, so having breakfast at 8am was nearly impossible. I imagined Bangkok as a city where you leave a hotel and you stumble upon a food cart (hello world street food capital), but unfortunately it’s not a case in all parts of the city and sometimes finding lunch took 15 minutes instead of 3 🙂 despite that, food was everywhere
Expectation no.3.: it won’t be the cleanest country on Earth
Reality: I would like to apologize to all Thai people. Everyone should learn from you. Do you want to enter a hotel? Take off your dirty sandals, you can enter only barefoot. Shop assistant has nothing to do, because he/she has no customers? I bet he/she is brooming. No? So he/she has just finished brooming. It was raining and there are leaves on a pavement? They will be broomed shortly. Selling brooms is probably the best business in Thailand. And one more thing: I’d really like to know how to make all woks and bowls as clean and shiny as they are in Thai food carts. Seriously.
Expectation no.4.: Thailand will be a slightly chaotic country
Reality: I have an impression that Thailand is a country where everything just works… It works by itself. It seems like there’s some magical System, created by a society so that everyone can live easily and happily. Something like an invisible hand of a the market, but in everyday life. Everything seems to be a bit chaotic, but surprisingly everything works just fine. System works. Do you want to cross the street and you’re scared of cars? Just cross it (just be careful but determined) and no one will hit you. Do you have something to throw away but there are no bins and the street is clean at the same time? For sure you’ll find few big trash bags in one spot in the street. They will be picked up in few hours and people will start collecting new ones in the same spot again. Do you want to buy something or ask about something but no one around speaks English? No problem, you will agree on something, because it’s both sides’ business. Do you want to go somewhere by bus but have no idea where to buy tickets? Oh come on, you want to go by bus, so it’s pretty logical that tickets are sold ON THE BUS, isn’t it? And yes, on the bus there’s a driver and a lady who sells tickets. And she will make sure that you leave the bus exactly where you want to leave the bus, because that’s where you’re going so why would you leave on a wrong bus stop? Do you want to visit a temple but you’re wearing shorts? They’ll borrow you long pants because you came to visit a temple, you’re paying a small fee so why would they forbid you because of shorts? It’s easier to have few pairs of long pants and everyone will be happy. System works. And it will work, because everyone wants to survive and they want tourists to survive. Tourism is 10% of Thai GDP, so it’s pretty obvious…
Thai System is based on elementary rules of being nice to each other, taking care of your surroundings and making life simple. And it works amazingly. The only thing that doesn’t work is taking care of environment. I’m not an eco freak. I’d say that I’m somewhere in the middle of the scale of eco awareness, but it simply didn’t feel right when I saw that they’re giving you a plastic bag for every single purchase you’re making and a straw for every bottled drink you’re buying (water included).
Expectation no.5.: I’ll have no problem with communication in English
Reality: well, not really 🙂 unfortunately English is not Thais’ strongest asset. Speaking, grammar, writing, it may all be a bit funny (I won’t forget “please take out your shoes”). It doesn’t help that they’re talking quietly. Fortunately, as I mentioned before they want to communicate and even if they don’t speak a word in English, it’s not an issue. You can even bargain over prices with someone who doesn’t speak English, what are calculators for? But it’ll be better to avoid complicated grammar structures and long questions. KISS rule all day every day.