After two years of living in Thailand, I picked up some useful (and some comical) tips about life. Here are 7 of them…
1. Don’t point your feet at Buddha
Did you know that pointing your feet at a person (or more importantly, a Buddha statue), is considered insulting? The head is the highest part of the body and thought of as sacred. The feet, on the other hand, are the lowest part of the body and considered dirty. Showing the bottoms of your feet should be avoided, so try tucking them behind you.
2. Stop worrying about what people think
There was one day I was in the 7Eleven with my (Thai) boyfriend. It was a particularly heavy day for rainfall. A woman entered the store wearing a shower cap. “Look at her wearing a shower cap out in public”, I scoffed. He turned to me completely straight faced and replied, “It’s raining outside”. Still leading with my (awful) judgemental Western foot I continued, “But she looks silly”. He replied, “Her hair is dry, yours is wet. Who looks more silly?”
3. Chill out
I caught on pretty quickly that the Thai’s are in no hurry to do most things (Thai time). Tourists would become agitated fast. Why was the boat not leaving when they said it would? I overheard a local boatman saying to someone, “Why are you getting so angry? You are getting this boat to an island to lie in the sun and relax. Why do you think you can’t do that here whilst you wait?”
4. Being called fat is not an insult
If you’re in Asia and someone tells you you’re fat, enjoy it. Being told you’re fat isnt thrown around like an insult the way it is in our part of the world. Many rural areas see it as an indication that you are wealthy enough to feed yourself. I found (most of the time) it was being used to refer to the fact that I looked healthy. If I had £1 for every time someone told me I was a “big lady”… (I’m a UK size 8).
5. Don’t take your medical system for granted
Whilst living in the South of Thailand, I got a urine infection. At home, I’d have nipped to the chemist and picked up one of those cranberry powder sachets that go in your water. Job done. Thailand didn’t have that. The pharmacy couldn’t help, and after 2 days of trying my best to flush it away naturally, it got so bad that I went to A&E. Here, they refused to believe I had a kidney infection, charging me for expensive kidney stone tests before sending me away. A day later, I paid for a boat to take me to the International hospital who ended up putting me on a drip to clear my (out of control) kidney infection. It cost me £200. I’ll never slam the UK NHS system again.
6. Be content with what you have
I met a lady at our local market who was selling AMAZING up-cycled vintage shirts. I bought a few, put them on Ebay, and doubled the cost. I went back to her, explaining that I was heading back the UK, and that there was business potential if we could set up a bulk posting arrangement. She refused, explaining that her small stand made enough to pay her rent, buy her food, and take care of her family. She didn’t need anything else to make her more happy.
7. The bum gun is king
In a lot of local establishments, toilet roll was replaced with what we call ‘the bum gun’ (essentially a hose pipe). You wash, rather than wipe. During a weekend stay at a boutique hotel in Bangkok, my (previously mentioned) boyfriend had a small melt down mid toilet visit, after discovering the lack of bum gun. Afterwards I asked him, “Why such a fuss? why not just use the paper?”. He replied, “You guys are disgusting. If you had sh*t anywhere else on your body, would you wash it off, or wipe it off with paper?” My mind was blown!
A huge thanks to my pal Katie for sending me immediate bum gun shots on demand (haha). Check out one of my favourite Thailand post: 7 secret things to do in Bangkok.
I love hearing about both the funny (and the serious) things that people have learned on their travels. Please send over yours.
Number 2 was a funny story and makes you think. Number 6 was nice to hear that we can be happy with what we have. And yes! to number 7. I also used the bum gun in Thailand 🙂 Japan too.
Number 2 is my favourite… The simplicity of it was mind blowing!!!
Interesting list. I like the 2 and the 3. People worry too much and judge easily.
Were raised to be so superficial 🙁
It’s funny how one thing can be/mean something totally different depending on where you are. The shower cap is classic. I might need to incorporate that into my travels 🙂 The bum gun is also funny. They have them in Brazil too, mostly I think because they don’t flush toilet paper.
They hot temperatures Defo make the bum gun more appealing! In Scotland, it wouldn’t be warm enough for you to dry off and you’d be walking about with a cold wet butt .. Haha
Yes! Very good point ?
Such lovely stories! Thailand is definitely one of the places that I would love to go (and hopefully I will!) Thanks for the insides 🙂
Thank you so much! It was an easy post to write, as it bright back such lovely memories
Thank you so much! 🙂 xx
Currently living in Isan, using the butt gun when i am not destroying them (I don;t know, I am an about to break butt – gun magnet) and i have been struggling with the why use it, but i will never again wonder why! I would never wipe it off i would indeed wash. lol.
It was most the simple answer I’d ever heard.. and he didnt even think about it!!! hahahaha
Denise | ChroniclesinWonderland
Hahaha love the article!! It made me laugh. I was a “big girl” in Thailand, too. I did not know it was the feet that can’t point towards the Buddha. I’ve written an article about Things not to do in Thailand. I think you would enjoy reading it 🙂
Thank you! I’ll check it out… it took me years to make sense of stuff (or just accept it.. haha)
I live in Thailand, so I can appreciate your funny observations, and agree with them (I actually have come to love the “bum gun”, although my family members are not fans). I am, however, an American expat, and find the medical care here in Bangkok superior to my experiences in California. I have had to visit doctors here for a bone fracture, an infected abscess, and my son has seen the dermatologist – all of this is much easier and less expensive here than in the states. And I’m with you – I prefer wet hair as opposed to the plastic bag on my head or holding an umbrella at the same time I am trying to ride a motorcycle.
hahahaha! I LOVE the bum gun!! I felt totally lost without it when I came back to the UK!
I found the international hospitals to be just fine.. but the rurals ones were an utter nightmare for me.
Ha! I came to appreciate plastic 7eleven macs more than I thought I ever would when using my bike!!!!! 😀
Haha I loved it, very good points 🙂 However I didn’t fall in love with the Bum Gun haha
Oh nooooooo?? really?! haha.. but its so clean!! haha
From all the cities I’ve visited in my Indochina holiday this summer it was probably the least clean^^
Thanks for the ref 🙂
We have been here for over a year already and wish I had found your blog sooner. Great tips, thank you 🙂
Thank you so much for your kind comment! 🙂 What are you doing there??
We are teaching at an International School but trying to do as much travelling in between. Your adventures sound wonderful!
I wish I’d spent some time teaching. I got my TESL but then never used it as I was offered work with a Thai travel agency. I wish I’d done it your way (haha). Grass is always greener!