As mentioned a few times so far on the blog I recently went on Honeymoon to Thailand*. Naturally we had a fantastic time, we covered a lot of ground, and saw a lot of beautiful and crazy stuff. But it would be folly to travel all of that way, and see such a different way of life, if you could not bring home some lessons with you. Fortunately for the purposes of this blog, the Thais are an absolutely badass race of human beings and provided me with many a lesson to bring home, so i thought I would share some of my observations with you.
Thai people are very respectful to each other, which was a stark contrast to what I observe on a daily basis in the Western world. It’s hard to explain without experiencing first hand but the most convincing anecdotal evidence I can give you is their driving habits. Here is a quick comparison:
1. Situation: Two traffic lanes filter into one
Thai Badass Attitude (TBA) – You all drive at a sensible pace, leaving big enough gaps and each filter in turn. Result: Traffic keeps moving
Wally Westerners Way (WWW) – You go as fast as you possibly can until you are right up someones arse, then slam the brakes on. You might also decide to cut in ahead and jump the queue. Result: Lot’s of snaking traffic due to different speeds, ending up in one huge mess of cars grinding to a halt.
2. Situation: Someone pulls into your lane in front of you (i.e. being “mild cut up”)
TBA – They must be in a hurry. You brake to a safe distance and continue on your merry way
WWW – You get on the horn and flash your lights. Perhaps even chase after them so you can flick the V’s. Who do they think they are?!
3. General use of the horn
TBA – A friendly toot-toot is disbursed from the automobiles hornal cavity every so often. We later found out this is actually just to say hello to people! Also used if nearing two wheeled transport of any kind to warn them of your presence.
WWW – See example 2!
Some of you may have been to Thailand and experienced some crazy driving and don’t get me wrong, there was some of that as well. I am not saying 100% of drivers over there are safe, but on the whole, the respect they show for each other filters through in the calmness of the driving.
Also, it clearly does not end on the road, and I got an overwhelming sense of respect that the people feel for each other in all aspects of every day life.
It’s hot out there. My god it’s hot. We saw so many workers busting their ass off in the sweltering heat it was unbelievable. OK, so they are obviously used to it compared to us pasty Northern Europeans, but it was impressive to see nevertheless. While all the tourists are wearing shorts, sitting around doing sweet FA and still complaining about how hot they are, the Thai Badasses are wearing long sleeve shirts, trousers, and lugging your ridiculously heavy bags around, all without one hint of a whinge.
I saw a homeless man and gave him a small street snack that cost 10 Baht (£0.20 / $0.30) – he looked over the moon. We didn’t have any spare change to pay the full fare of a taxi one time, I gave him a bag of peanuts to make up for it – he was actually happy about this transaction. I can only imagine what the reaction would have been in a similar situation over on our side of the Earth! A very small tip is always gratefully received with heartfelt thanks, which leads me to the conclusion that that the Thai people are either great actors** or extremely humble and polite. Fellow Britons take note!
Well Thailand is called the Land of smiles for a reason and I am happy to confirm it more than lives up to it’s nick name! It goes hand in hand with everything else above but it is so nice to walk around and see people smiling so much. Coming back to the “no smile zone” of the Monday morning commute was a stark shock to the system. 🙂
I think I can count the number of obese Thai’s I witnessed on one hand while I was over there. When you see their diet and generally active lifestyle it’s pretty obvious why. These people eat salad for breakfast god damn it! A typical meal will consist of tons of veggies, a few carbs in the shape of noodles or rice, nuts and egg for extra protein and energy, and a small amount of meat. It’s pretty much a perfectly balanced meal, and (most of) it tastes bloody amazing as well. (Recipes to follow soon of my top 3 favourite Thai meals!)
I am sure the savvy readers of the firestarter already know this one, and I certainly have known this from way back when, whether it be from backpacking round South America in 2008 on a shoe string, or from our family holidays to Wales and the Lake District 25 years ago, staying in a little cottage or caravan. All of those travels whether near or far were fun because of the people I was with – family or (newly found) friends – and the experiences I was having. But it’s good to view this lesson from the other side of the coin. Yes… we stayed in some very fancy Hotels along the way in Thailand, and it was nice. I am not going to deny that! But still the strongest and fondest memories I take away from the trip are the sights we saw and the people we met. All of which of course had nothing to do with the number of stars attached to the building in which we slept, the quality of leather upholstery in the vehicles we travelled in, and the poshness of the dining establishments we ate in.
To sum this lesson up, our best meal cost £8 in a tiny open front restaurant with plastic chairs.
Mrs TFS and I both agreed we’d go back to Thailand in a flash, but next time we’d do it “the FIREstarter way” 🙂
*Sorry… I promise this post will be the last I mention of it. Back ↑
**Going by the soaps on TV we caught glimpses of… this is most definitely not the case 🙂 Back ↑