As soon as I stepped my foot on Thai soil, I knew there were things waiting for me that would leave me completely shocked and speechless. Not only because I had never left Europe before going to Thailand, but also because naturally I like to be comfortable as much as possible wherever I am. I have to confess that I hadn’t done much research before getting on a plane so everything I saw was extremely new and exciting to me.
Thailand left me speechless indeed – with its unique beauty, amazing people and, well, strange things that happen quite randomly. Here’s something from what I can remember:
When I first arrived in Bangkok’s guesthouse, I was taken to my room and was told there was a toilet and a shower shared with a room next to mine. I went to see and was surprised to only see one door – if it’s toilets then where’s the shower? Later on I found out the shower is actually installed right above the toilet using less space and being (probably) more comfortable. It took me some time to get over my first reaction of “Oh how gross!” To my greater surprise later on I found out they didn’t have toilet paper. I thought maybe they’ve ran out but as I traveled more around Thailand, I realized they just simply don’t use toilet paper. And obviously it became clear to me what that strange hose next to the toilet is for.
Living in the Czech republic, I am quite used to everyone minding their own business, not really looking at each other let alone talking to strangers on the street. It comes around to me as natural to just walk past someone without even noticing, maybe looking at them for a brief moment then looking away without expecting them to look back at you. You live your life here unnoticed and while someone might feel uncomfortable not being exposed to social contact while in Prague, the rest of us consider it quite likable. In Thailand, however, people do look at you. And when you look back, they smile. Whoa! And I don’t mean the “fake smile” I sometimes see here in Prague, the real smile that comes from the heart. I probably had more people in Thailand smiling at me in those 10 days than I had here in Prague the past year. Thais want to look at you, talk to you, get to know you. And while this might sound awesome (and it truly is), sometimes I felt like people were being too social. But maybe it’s just me not being used to it.
It’s not only crazy discos and clubs with loud music. Bangkok seems to transform into a completely different place at night. You go out there and it is as if you could feel life pumping all around you. We went out our first night in Bangkok and ordered Red Bull & Vodka. Well, this is it – Thai Style:
Yeah, they have Red Bull in small bottles and Vodka was actually Bacardi…
Sex shows and sex tourism in general would probably deserve their own post. Everywhere you go in Thailand (we did Bangkok, Pattaya, Koh Samet and Phuket) – there are girls waiting for customers. Or girls performing “ping pong shows” which means putting and getting out random stuff in and out of their vaginas. Nights in Thailand can get as crazy as nowhere else in the world. In my opinion, at least.
4. Just random stuff
Like a friend of mine (male) getting a neck massage from some random guy while washing his hands in Bangkok’s night club’s toilets. Just randomly.
I had never seen a transvestite before going to Thailand, but ladyboys are not transvestites. At first you don’t notice anything but when you look for a bit longer, you can usually tell. Reminds me of how we went to 7Eleven and my friend was like “Look at that guy”, I had no idea who he’s talking about until I noticed there was something strange about a cashier girl. There were ladyboys dancing on poles in night clubs as well. When I was flying back from Bangkok, I saw a book dedicated to ladyboys in an airport bookstore, still regret not buying it.
6. Muay Thai Boxers
There is nothing surprising about Muay Thai in Thailand, but I was shocked to see boxers of 7 years of age competing and beating up each other.
7. Stray Cats and Dogs
Everywhere. Especially on the islands. I talked to an owner of a small restaurant in Koh Samet and he said they were harmless, they just liked to live there. There are dogs on the beach, dogs in cafes, dogs on the streets,… There was one that would lie in front of our bungalow door every evening. They’re used to being around people and are quite friendly.
8. Food that is ABSOLUTELY delicious
I never really tried Thai food at home except maybe for “Thai Style risotto” that they have in a local Italian restaurant. I did expect it to be amazing but not THAT amazing. Food that you can easily get at every street corner blew my mind. Phad Thai, Thai ice coffee, Thai style pancakes, Thai Curry, noodles with shrimps,… Ahhhh!
Oh, Thailand… I miss you.