After traveling for a few weeks, I’ve learned quite a number of new things about this country I’m traversing.
1. Wounds take forever to heal
Even if it’s just a pimple you popped or a small scrape you got along the way, the humid climate significantly slows down the healing process. Not too bad for minor abrasions, but I feel bad for those with “Thai Tattoos” (motorbike accident victims) or whoever scratches their mozzie (mosquito) bites.
*Update – well, it happened to me, though it wasn’t my fault. I was in Laos and riding w/ a Canadian guy and he took a corner too fast on a rocky, dirt road and we skidded out. It could’ve been much worse, but it still sucked. My knee didn’t start healing until 3-4 weeks later when I was swimming in salt water every day in Vietnam.
2. Thais are all about eggs
I never knew that eggs were such a big thing in Thai culture. They eat them with everything.
3. Bum Gun
A Bum Gun is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a spray hose next to every toilet that you use to clean your nether regions after your business. Many places don’t have toilet paper (always a good idea to bring your own). I was hesitant at first, but now actually quite enjoy the ever present Bum Guns. And it’s not just Thai culture that has them – bidets, anyone?
4. Eating bugs is normal
With a sub-tropical climate, bugs abound and are an excellent source of protein. It’s really just perception. I wasn’t raised eating bugs, so I was weirded (and, to be honest, pretty grossed) out by seeing bug vendors on the street.
But, in my effort to get over my own fears and boundaries, I tried a bit of true Thai food:
It was the crunch that did it for me…
5. Tamarind is Nature’s Warheads
This is a tamarind tree:
The pods are filled with soft, slightly jelly like fruit with pips that taste incredibly sour but also slightly sweet. Just like Warheads! I thought.
Some of the eles at ENP really like tamarind, too! Each elephant has their own particular diet, and we would make tamarind banana rice balls for some of the older gals.
6. Garbage cans are impossible to find
You won’t find trash receptacles conveniently placed on every corner. In fact, be prepared to carry trash with you all day until you get back to your hostel or hotel.
7. That being said, strangely, the streets aren’t completely covered in trash
While there are places that people have just decided to throw their trash, I am surprised by how relatively clean the roads are.
8. You will be hot, sweaty, and gross 24/7
It is normal. Occasionally, you will look like this:
But after about three days, you’ll spend the rest of your Asian adventure looking like this:
9. Bugs are everywhere
You will also get used to them. If I saw in my NY bathroom the amount of ants covering the sink and walls as here in Thailand, I’d flip and hire an exterminator. Here, you’re neighbors. They have as much right to life as you – so let them be.
Also, there’s nothing wrong with a little extra protein in your meal.
10. Try the street food
Farang (foreign) restaurants are all over priced, and Thai food is basically street food anyway. Most local Thai shops will take their delicious meals to the street come the cooling dark of evening. Meat on a stick? Universal.
Though if you buy your meal in a bag, you need to bring your utensils with you, or take it home. I made the mistake once of buying street food in a bag, thinking to eat it right then and there. What ensued was definitely not the most elegant meal I’ve ever consumed.