It’s All About the Little Things

We call them “small YES victories”. They are the moments that make exchange worth it. The moments where you realize, wait…I’m actually living in a crazy exotic far away land right now. It suddenly hits you…that you’re doing something that used to just be a crazy fantasy. These moments are totally different, not just between countries, but between individuals. As I approach 3 months in Thailand, here are a few of mine…mixed in with random things that are great about Thailand.

  • Driving over the Ping river. I live on the opposite side of the river from my school, and from the main part of my host city…so driving over it has become a central theme of my exchange. This river is gorgeous. I mean, it is unbelievable. It’s slow, winding, shimmering…in the mornings there are little fishing boats gliding along its length. In the evening the shops that line it’s banks light up, and the water reflects their bright reds and yellows. There is a market nearby, and all along one side of the river a wide stone walkway and steps where you can eat and relax.
  • Clouds. What Thailand lacks in stars, it makes up for in clouds. Insane, huge, billowy clouds, complete with perfect sunsets. The sky here turns colors I never even imagined in the US.
  • Understanding pieces of conversations. There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you hear your friend’s dad ask in Thai if America has Big C (a mall type thing that’s prevalent in Thailand) and your friend answers no, and you realize you understood that 2 sentence interaction.
  • Buying cheap pants. I’ve made it my personal project to collect pants in Thailand. I have 3 pairs. 2 from a might market in Bangkok, and 1 from a textile museum in phitsanulok. The second pair is handwoven and cost only 150 baht. That’s like 5$. For pants that are handwoven.
  • Taking the night bus. I’ve only done it once, to go to a party at the ambassadors house in Bangkok (yeah, that’s right. I’m hella classy). It takes about 6 hrs. to get to Bangkok by bus, and it costs 300 baht. For a 6 hr bus ride with free water, snacks, plentiful air conditioning, and a blanket. That’s less than 10$.
  • Biking to 7-11. I finally got a bicycle. I’m only allowed to use it on my side of the river, and I don’t know my way around at all…But I can get to 7-11. For those of you who don’t know, 7-11 is god. It is a convenience store with everything. If you need tissues, water, coffee, weird cake, Chinese buns, microwaved ham and cheese sandwiches, bread, chocolate, strawberry milk, shampoo…7-11 has it. If that’s not perfect enough, my bike ride takes my past the local elementary school. That means that if I go at the right time of day, I have to stop at the crosswalk to let tiny children in uniforms cross the street. And they wave and smile and sometimes speak very cute English to me.
  • Motorbikes. You haven’t experienced Thailand until you’ve put at least 3 people on a motorbike. Preferably 4. No helmets allowed. There is NOTHING more fun than piling onto a motorbike and going to the market to stuff your face.
  • Not wearing a seatbelt. This probably shouldn’t be a victory, but it’s really fun. No one wears seatbelts in Thailand, except occasionally the person in the driver’s seat. When I first arrived everyone laughed at me, because I would frequently forget to NOT not put on my seatbelt.
  • Successfully buying something. It is a great achievement to ask the seller how much an item costs (in Thai) and then pay for it.
  • AFS camp. Making friends with Europeans is fun. Nothing makes you feel cosmopolitan like having friends all over the world. Plus, you get to bond over hilarious exchange stories.
  • Farang alert. Freaking out every time you see a non- Asian who you haven’t already met. This only really applies in smaller cities… but I fangirl hard core over every foreign looking person I see. It’s hard not to make assumptions though…just yesterday I spotted a black man in the mall and was about to run over and start chattering away in English when I realized he was speaking French. I, of course, had assumed he was American.
  • Green tea. It has enough sugar to kill a cow and enough caffeine to kill several herds of cattle. And it’s delicious and addictive and comes in flavors, like honey lemon and lychee.
  • Fruit. It’s cheap and awesome. Pineapple in Thailand is a completely different experience. It’s about 10x sweeter than the sweetest one in the US. There are also tons of yummy things that don’t exist in the US, like mangosteen, longan, and rambutan. And you can buy peeled coconuts with a straw stuck in them on the side of the road.
  • Buying stuff on the side of the road. People have stands next to the highway and you can just pull over and buy food through the car window. This is how you get breakfast on school mornings as well.
  • Coconuts everywhere. I just never get over the giant palm trees full of coconuts. I should have by now, since it’s the equivalent of going crazy over a medium sized oak tree in the eastern US…But I still think they’re awesome.

3 thoughts on “It’s All About the Little Things

  1. vancesinsouthamerica says:

    I love this! So much of it resonates with our time in South America. Seatbelts, food on the side of the road, craycray folks a plenty on a single small motorbike, little kids in uniform who want to speak English to you. ❤ I love all of it! Thanks for sharing!


  2. Zoe taddie says:

    I’m so glad! It seems to be every bit the grand adventure you were hoping for. I want to bring the entire-family-on-a-motorbike tradition here. And the roadside coconut vendors!


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