Traveling opens our eyes, and we see things we normally may not notice or give much thought to.
While some things may feel familiar, other things feel unique or special to a place. We call these unique things curiosities…things that are different enough to make us shrug our shoulders and go “hmmm…what is that about?”
Lluís has done a great job keeping a running list of these curiosities during our month of walking in Thailand, and you can read it here in Catalan. I ran out of time translating the draft before we crossed into Myanmar, so I’ll offer up my top 10 list instead, working backwards as David Letterman did.
10. The people. The best thing about Thailand is it’s wonderful smiling people. They always–nearly all of them–seem to be happy. And, they seem to have a built-in responsibility to take care of visitors, and go out of their way to help us and make us feel at home in their country. Maybe it’s something in the rice??? Whatever it is, I hope it rubs off on us.
9. The dogs. Ugh! They are the worst thing about Thailand. I’ve never had to deal with so many dogs in my life! One day, we ha a record 15 or 20 dogs circling and barking at us…we heard them howling behind us for more than 500 meters after we passed them.
8. The pickup trucks. I used to think the U.S. was the pickup capital of the world. No way. Thailand has a lock on that title. They are everywhere. And, the way they pile stuff on them makes the mind boggle! Thais are masters at making the best use of that back cab space.
7. The lack of smokers. We’ve seen very few people smoking in Thailand, a nice surprise.
6. The exercise equipment. Nearly every park we strolled through has an assortment of free exercise equipment. Some of the machines are pretty basic, but they pop up enough that we think there is some national incentive to keep people fit (Of course, many people probably take their moped to the park because sidewalks around Thailand are designed without human mobility in mind…sidewalks are places to sell stuff or park mopeds).
5. The chefs of the street. There is no shortage of food in Thailand. Any one who has a rice cooker, a few pots, fish sauce and some meat seems to have converted their front porch into a restaurant lined with plastic tables and chairs. Sometimes they even make cute shapes out of the food (feature picture).
4. The monks. We’re grateful that we were allowed to stay in many temples along the way, but it struck me funny how many of them had tattoos. I particularly admired one monk’s gecko-salamander tat. Hey, I’m a fan of body art and I’m a fan of finding the good way forward. It’s nice to see them linked together.
3. The water. Sure, you can go to the 7-11 (yes, 7-11s are common here) and spend about 14 baht for 1.5 liters of bottled water, Or you can go to your neighborhood water dispensing machine and pay 1 baht for safe, clean drinking water. Thailand has made lots of progress, but I still wouldn’t drink the water from the tap.
2. The Wi-Fi. Thailand has better Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G connectivity than we had at home in Barcelona. Fast internet is everywhere – on phones, in cafes, and in guesthouses. Hope Barcelona catches up to Thailand by the time we get home.
1. The toilet paper. Oddly, there is almost never toilet paper in the bathrooms. There, you’ll find a hose near the toilet to do the job of toilet paper. Toilet paper, though, is on every table. It’s the equivalent of the paper towel or napkin.
We’ll see what else we’ll along the way.