4 Months in Thailand: Random Observations

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After studying abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we came away with some interesting observations.


  • Toilet paper is a luxury..never a given.
  • On that note, dry toilets are hard to find..let alone toilets at all (many times you’ll have to use “squat toilets”)
  • Thais don’t necessarily follow a schedule..they are very “mai ben rai” about arriving on time for anything.
  • Traveling by motorbike makes the most sense in cities because it is easier to get around in a traffic jam. Wearing a helmet is suggested, not enforced.
  • The police are very chill as well, supposedly you can pay them off when getting a ticket on a motorbike (and probably for any other offense, I presume)
  • Skin whitening is very prevalent here – Thais value light skin (similar to Japanese culture) so many of them try not to go out in the sun.
  • Coffee shops are everywhere and most of the time they are uninhabited..which makes you wonder how they stay in business.
  • Selling sushi on the side of the road is perfectly okay.
  • Thais write out “555” when they are laughing, because 5 is pronounced “ha” in Thai language. 5555555…how clever!
  • Crocs. All ova de place.
  • Construction is happening everywhere in Chiang Mai, and presumably everywhere else in Thailand – it is a developing country and lots of businesses want in on it, apparently. It’s scary to think how different it will be in 5 or 10 years.
  • Thai food is SPICY unless you tell them otherwise. Made that mistake a few times too many.
  • Table salt isn’t seen very often. Sugar is much easier to come by.
  • You have to stand for the National Anthem at the movies – there is very much respect for the King. To talk badly about the King will put you in jail.
  • Thais will wait in line to get on an elevator instead of using the stairs.
  • In Chiang Mai, you can’t see stars too often because of the city smog. It’s a real treat to take a weekend trip away from the pollution.
  • Monks have Iphones sometimes.
  • Probably the most common food at street vendors is processed meats – pork balls, hot dogs, sausages. I rarely see people buy them, but they are everywhere.
  • Oddly, when we had Cambodian money (Reap), Vietnam and Thailand would not exchange it for their currency.
  • Cambodia is great with English and uses US dollars as their primary currency. It is all ATMs will give you. What doesn’t make sense is that they were actually colonized by the French.
  • We learned that when someone is an elephant keeper, it is a lifelong responsibility. Like a circle, in a way, the elephant depends on them for survival and they depend on it for the exact same thing. They are completely devoted to the animal.
  • Prostitution is huge in SE Asia. It’s all over the bar scenes in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Unfortunately, human trafficking is big business as well in these parts. Many young girls – even lots of young boys are bought for very cheap by foreign men..it can be for one night, or forever. You can see stickers on electricity poles around Chiang Mai that say “boys cannot be baht.” (Baht is their currency..it is a play on words).
  • In Vietnam, traffic never stops for you. You have to just walk and the hundreds of cars and motorbikes will adjust…it is suuuuper sketchy.
  • Thailand doesn’t have many beggars (the only people with bowls out are blind or disfigured people sitting at the night bazaar) but in Cambodia, people seem much more desperate and kids are very persistent.
  • In Thailand, 7/11 is the convenience store of choice. They’re everywhere.
  • Because of the US, many landmines and grenades lay in tact in Laos, and it is still a huge problem to this day. The cleanup effort is seriously lacking and you must not go hiking without a tour guide because you could easily become a casualty.




For more about our trip to Southeast Asia, check out the blog we kept while there! To see Grant’s awesome pictures (from more of our travels) browse his Flickr account.