5 Things I Love about Thailand
I love having a pool
I went down to the pool in my apartment building today after work and swam for a while. When I got back to my apartment, it struck me that having my own pool (okay, I do share it with the other people in my building but I am usually in it by myself) is one of the things I love about living here in Thailand.
It is hot enough here in Bangkok that I can swim all year round. I am sure I'll get to the stage that I feel it is too cold for that one month of the year when the temperature sits at around 23C (73F), but I have not acclimatised to that point yet.
The pool in my building is maintained by the building manager's staff and cleaned every morning. I can decide to go down there anytime and sunbathe (not that I do this much, I'm a New Zealander and as such quite aware of the damage this can do), swim lengths or read a book in the shade.
I love Thai food
Thai food is very spicy, but has a balance of many flavours. Every meal is a gastronomic feast for your taste buds. The seafood is always fresh and I love it when it is prepared in tasty curries or soups.
The first meal I learnt to order was Phat Thai Jay, a traditional noodle dish that is a staple on most menus. I order it 'Jay' which means vegetable. This is not a spicy dish, but it is full of peanuts, so it's no good for people with a nut allergy.
But Phat Thai Jay isn't my favourite Thai dish. That's reserved for Gang Kiew Wan Jay, Sweet Green Vegetable Curry. I would eat this everyday, and have had guests come and stay with me who did! This curry is not spicy by Thai standards, but sometimes it nearly takes my head off.
I love Thai food so much that I went to a Thai cooking school when some friends came to visit last year. You can find Thai cookery schools all over the country, wherever you are likely to find tourists. The courses are inexpensive and available in a number of languages. Usually you cook your own portion of the food, then you sit around with your classmates and eat it. This week when I was on vacation in Chiang Mai I did a second cooking course and learnt how to make Phat Thai Jay!
I love bargaining
When you buy something at a market in Thailand, you get to bargain the price down. To me, this isn't only about the money. I love bargaining. I consider it a challenge to get the vendor to come down on his/her asking price. Often in the past I have paid the vendor their original asking price, if it was a reasonable one. I just enjoy the experience of bargaining.
I find it especially rewarding if I can do it in the language of the vendor. Here in Thailand learning to say the numbers in Thai was a priority for me. I can now bargain quite successfully in Thai. When friends come to visit they usually tell me what they want to pay for something and get me to do the bargaining for them, they like the price I get for them and I have some fun with the vendors.
I remember being at a night market looking at some cushion covers that I wanted for my mother. It took me about 15 minutes to bargain the vendor down to my price, she was great fun. She made no allowance for the fact that I didn't speak very much Thai, I had to guess what she was talking about from her body language. When we had settled on the price, I paid her the original asking price. It was well worth it for the entertainment she'd given me.
I love Thai people
The Thai people that I've met here are happy and contented. The Thai people are gentle and friendly and kind. The culture here is to 'keep a cool heart', which means don't get angry. I am a calmer person here in Thailand and could count on one hand the number of times I've been angry in the 18 months I've lived here.
Even when I haven't been able to communicate well with people here, they have, without fail, smiled and helped me.
This has a knock-on effect into my professional life. The children I teach are polite, respectful and cheerful. I really get a kick out of walking into school of a morning to be greeted by smiling children left and right on the way to my classroom. Teaching at an international school is how I support my lifestyle in Thailand, and it's a lot easier than the teaching I've done in state schools in the UK and NZ.
And not all the children greeting me in the mornings are Thai, so there's a knock-on effect on other expatriates and their children too.
I love being female
Thailand is a great country in which to be a girl! Thailand is abound with shops to get foot massages, full body massages, manicures and pedicures, facials and everything else you can think of.
I have one colleague who always has immaculate hair because she gets it washed and blow-dried a couple of times a week!
Last weekend I got all dressed up in a ball gown and went to the NZ Society Ball. In May I might go to the British Embassy Ball. If you like going out, dancing, eating great food and wearing posh frocks, then Bangkok is the place!
All in all, I'm happy here in Thailand. Happy with my teaching job, happy with my apartment and happy with the experiences I'm having while I live here. If you're considering moving abroad, you should definitely consider coming here.