After two months living in Thailand it’s time to write down my impressions about this country. The jump from Europe to Asia was very long in distance but… hey… here is not as different as I was imagining!
Here a list of few things that surprised me or that I want just to comment.
Thailand can be very cheap but also expensive. Thai food in street market is cheap (50 baht – 1.40$ – for a Pad Thai, for example). But if you go to a normal Thai restaurant or some particular place (Italian or Japanese restaurant) you can even pay 1000 baht (27$) for some dish. Of course you choose what to eat but if want to stay here for a season and with a limited budget, you have to integrate yourself in the Thai world.
Alcohol is expensive. Apart of Thai beers (Chang, Singha and Leo) that are cheap (like 80 baht – 2.20$ – in a normal pub), the rest has the same price of Europe. A cocktail can be between 300 baht (around 8$) and 500 bath (around 15$).
Also, most of the times, they have different prices: one for the farangs (foreigners) and one for locals. Also always bargain over the price, unless you are in a shop of a big chain.
Thai people are always smiling. That’s why Thailand is called the Land of the smiles. On the other side, many times they do it just to sell you something. I am still trying to understand how many are happy smiles.
There is almost no unemployment in Thailand. Or at least I haven’t met any unemployed. Everyone does something. Of course many jobs are not the best, but at least they earn money.
If you have a house, for example, you can open a small restaurant on the road in front of it. Thai government is very helpful with small business in terms of tax. Or you can go to pick fruit from trees, open a laundry, sell food in the road… Most of locals lives on agriculture and tourism.
They know exactly how to get money from tourists. Every place is plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops, tuk tuk (taxi), etc. In tourist places you can’t walk 5 meters without someone asking you: “tuk tuk?”, “do you want a new suit?”, “Massaaaaaaage?”. This is great for their economy. But at the same time they are destroying many amazing places to build new hotels and resorts. Will they pay this in the next years?
Thai food is very tasty. As I wrote above, if you choose the right place it is cheap. On the other side everything is fried and they add sugar to any receipt. So even if you think that a dish is very healthy… probably it’s not.
But at least fruit is amazing. I eat every day mango, coconut, watermelon, etc. And I discovered new fruits: guava, durian, etc. Just a tip, if you don’t want to kill people around you, eat durian far from other human beings!
When the police stops you while you are riding or driving get ready to receive a penalty. And to bargain over the amount to pay. Corruption is very common. Once they stopped me and tried to ask for 2000 baht (around 55$), after 500, finally 300. At the end I paid 200 baht (around 5.5$)!
Also every single time the police organises a checkpoint, they stop me. Maybe I look like an international drug dealer 🙂
Every country has a different standard of cleanliness but I think here sometimes is a bit deficient. Flies and other insects\animals are very common and they touch the food without anyone tries to get rid of them.
Sometimes the sewer drains directly to the road so it doesn’t smell very well and can generate an health hazard.
Also at the cinema, before every movie, a promotional video of the government (and Royal Family) is shown.
The roads surprised me. I was expecting very bad roads but the 90% are in very good condition. Not many holes. Maybe Sicilian roads are worse than Thai!
Sometime you can find soil and mud because nature is more powerful here. The work in progress along the roads are sometimes dangerous because they are not well marked, especially during the night.
I am still not used about the electrical cables. Everywhere they are out of the ground. You can see these high poles with dozens of twisted cables along every road. During the night and especially if it is humid you can hear the loud noise they produce.
I am surprised about how almost everyone can understand English. In Italy mostly can’t understand if someone asks some basic question in English, even in the tourist cities. Here almost everyone can help you. Even if it’s a small task like ordering food or helping for a direction.
The mobile internet coverage is amazing. Almost everywhere you can connect using the 4G net.
The prices are not expensive: 800 baht (22$) with True Move for 12GB. Over the limit you will just browse at a slower speed.
Many told me that it was possible to find free wifi everywhere. It’s partially true. Many places have wifi but the most are not free (for example Starbucks), most are free for a limited lapse of time (like Mc Donald’s for only 30 minutes). In general the wifi quality is very poor. I generally work using the tethering of my mobile phone.
Ladyboys and prostitution
If you go to tourist places during the night, expect many ladyboy and woman asking for sex (of course paying). There are two types: you can pay at the moment or you become the “boyfriend”. It means that the woman will follow you as a girlfriend for the rest of your travel. And you will pay for everything: food, drinks, gifts, etc…
It is very sad to see many middle-age man with very young girls.
Beaches are amazing. Clean water, wonderful sand. But the most tourist are overcrowded and plenty of companies offering winter sports. That means that they are noisy and sometimes it’s almost impossible to stay into the water because they pass very close to people swimming with massive motorboat!
It’s common to see Muslims and other Asian people wearing long t-shirts and long trousers to swim. The firsts because of their religion, the seconds because they don’t like to tan.
Also a tip: be careful about currents. Ocean is always dangerous especially for the “Rip current”.
Where are most of the tourists from?
Russian, Asian and Australian.