18 Things You Will Get Accustomed To While Living in Asia

Topic I: Proper Toilet Rules 

1. Squatty Potties. (see fig.1) 

2. No toilet paper in bathrooms. Anywhere. For any reason.

3. If you bring your own, throw it in the trash, not the toilet.

4. Toilet paper will be found, instead, on the table at restaurants intended to be used as napkins. Ah-ha! We’ve found the national Toilet Paper Caper!

5. The standing water on the floor in bathrooms? Best not to ask.

Topic II: You’re a Farang!

6. You will be followed around in stores. By sales reps who stand there patiently with hands crossed behind their backs. Don’t fret. They’re just hoping to catch a few phrases in English with you.

7. You will be a magnet for curious glances from anyone on the street. Who is that light-skinned, big-eyed foreigner? Which also means you might be the subject of Thai Subject of Homework Assignment at the town's biggest Wat students’ English homework. Go ask the farangs a barrage of questions and then take a photo with them.

8. Thai people will comment on your appearance, including features you didn’t know you had. (I’ve never had so many people compliment me on my nose before.)

9. You will be actively ignored by other foreigners living in the same city. (More on the strange farang-to-farang relationships in a forthcoming post…)

Topic III: Driving

10. Only two rules:

#1-If a moto can fit, a moto will go.

#2- If it’s got wheels and you don’t, it goes first.

11. Common sight #1: Three twenty-something boys stacked back-to-back-to-back on a pink Scoopy-i moto.

12. Common sight #2: An entire family of five (mom, dad, and three baby bears) stacked on a moto, riding up to the nearest street food stand.

Topic IV: Wildlife

13. Don’t be alarmed by wandering wildlife, usually a cat or dog, sometimes a wild pig. They may wander where you least expect–under your table at a restaurant, out of a hair salon, around on the 4th or 5th floor of your school, just outside the open classroom doors.

14. Gekkos will slink around on the walls in school, at home, in restaurants. They’re quite harmless.

15. Ants. Everywhere. Including but not limited to: restaurant tables, your bathroom sink, window ledges in ferries, or snacking on an aforementioned gekko who unfortunately “kicked the bucket” smack in the middle of your tiled-apartment floor.

Topic III: Navigating the Social Landscape

16. You will find yourself speaking in some sort of broken configuration of Thai-English (occasional few words in Japanese) to order food, buy a shirt, get on a songtaew Songtaew in Nakhon Si Thammarat(pronounced: song-tay-oh), negotiate directions with a moto-taxi driver, etc.

17. You will get rides from Thai people, some familiar, some strangers. (Note: asking for directions might instead lead to getting a lift to your destination in the back of a beat-up pickup truck in the rain.)

18. Speaking even just a little Thai will get you incredibly far. Opportunities will knock, doors will open and suddenly you feel just a little more welcomed than before.

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About KShaw

English teacher in Thailand. Global Traveler. Amateur linguist. Reader. Writer. Photographer. Musician. Friend.
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