After our little stint in Laos, we headed over to Chiang Mai and Bangkok because why not? Besides, it’s impossible to enter Laos without going through Thailand or some other stopover first. Despite being neighbours, the two countries couldn’t be anymore different. Unlike Laos, Thailand was constantly bustling with people and traffic. Having spent a year in Asia, I honestly didn’t think many things could surprise me anymore… but boy, was I proven wrong. I guess with travelling to any foreign country culture shock is all just part of the fun! Anyway, here are five surprising things I discovered about Thailand:
1. People stand on the right side of the escalator. In Australia it’s basically ingrained in us to keep left at all times, so this one definitely took some getting used to. At first I assumed it was because traffic also flows in that direction, but nope! As it turns out, everyone in Thailand drives on the left-hand side of the road. What the heck is up with that?!
2. Seat belts aren’t a thing. I learnt this fact on my previous visit, but that doesn’t make it any less surprising. Taxis don’t even give you the option of buckling up, believe it or not! Some cars, and definitely no tuk tuks will have seat belts, often forcing you to abandon them altogether. It made getting from point A to B that much more thrilling, that’s for sure.
3. Thai time is in a league of its own. If you wanna grab breakfast at the shops before 11am (or if you’re lucky, 10) forget about it! I can guarantee that Starbucks will be the only thing open, so don’t stress about waking up early. The amazing night life in Thailand kinda makes up for it, though – that’s when the locals come out to play, so most shops are open well into the night. Oh, and did I mention that every hour is basically peak hour here? It’s actually kind of insane how packed the trains in Bangkok get, no matter what time of day it is.
4. They love Japanese stuff. Case in point – the Bangkok LINE store featured in the first picture! There’s no shortage of Japanese fashion brands in Thailand, not to mention restaurants serving up sushi, ramen, and any other type of washoku (Japanese food) you can think of. They even have Japanese convenience stores, like Lawson and Family Mart! Of course, all the products had their own Thai twist on things. More often than not you’ll find durian chips, spicy squid snacks and flavoured milk populating the shop aisles.
5. The food is even better and cheaper than I thought. Obviously I had high expectations, but the food courts in Thailand blew me away. Craving pad thai? How about some paw paw salad, dumplings or every type of noodle soup under the sun? Servings may be small, but the quality’s still impressive for plates that are max $3 AUD. Fruit lovers will also rejoice – during my trip I was basically consuming watermelon smoothies, coconuts and mango sticky rice 24/7. I was sad to discover pad see ew is less common than I thought, though!
Sorry, this post became a little more food-centric than I intended… but seriously. I probably could’ve dedicated my whole trip to eating, there was so much to choose from! By the way, if you’re wondering what that white orb is it’s actually a coconut minus the shell. This was one of my favourite things, along with every pad thai I consumed… I hate to say it, but I think I may be ruined for life. Anyway, I’m still in the process of catching up with travel photos (terrible, I know) but bear with me!