Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Thailand
By: Libby O’Reilly
As I sit on a China Air 747 coming home from Thailand reflecting on our trip, there are so many things I wish I knew before the trip that could have even further enhanced my experience. So this is for all the future Westminster Thai travelers, some words of advice from my friends and me that I hope you can take on you with your travels to Thailand.
-Eating family style rocks. No other way to do it.
-Thai phrases: take the time to learn (and practice saying) some common things in Thai. Here are a few that we used the most, after it took most of us half of the trip to get the pronunciation down:
Hello: sa-wat-dee (feminine) sa-wat-dee-ka (masculine)
How much?: tow-rai
Thank you: korp kun (feminine) korp kun ka (masculine)
Bathroom: horng nam
Ajahn- professor I.e. Ajahn Han/Ajahn Peter
-Practice your Wai: The Wai is a palms together Thai greeting. Practice doing it, my first Wai was to the checker at the grocery store and needless to say I was caught off guard and ended up embarrassing myself.
-AIDS hospice gifts: a lot of emphasis is placed on bringing gifts and treats to the villages and schools we visit. I think it is equally important to have something to give the terminal AIDS patients we interact with. When you visit the HIV/AIDS hospice in Lopburi, you will have the opportunity to interact one on one with patients in the last stage of the diseases. Having gifts or treats to share with them would mean the world to them.
-Practice baht conversions: currently the exchange rate between US dollars and Thai Baht is right about 30:1$. Thus, you must become a master calculator to be able to come up with on a whim what an item costs in American money. 700 baht = _______$? 240 baht = _______$?
-It will be hot, hotter than you could ever expect.
-You will be going from sun up to sun down, prepare to be exhausted.
-Close your mouth and simply take in your surroundings
-Bring LOTS of bug spray. You will get eaten alive.
-Don’t even bother with a hair dryer and straightener, I carried both around for a month and all they did was take up space and get in the way.
-Try all the food, it will grow on you. The first few days will be a tough acclimation, but you will learn to love it.
-Your first move once you get on the long flight should be to claim a purple China Air blanket and make it yours for the trip. They are soft, take up barely any room in your backpack and are so nice to have around. It will be ridiculously hot outside but inside the vans and at night you will get cold. My original plan was to leave my purple blanket on the return flight but it’s been such a lifesaver it’s coming home with me forever!
-Make a conscious effort to befriend your driver, buy them a treat at rest stops.
-Don’t judge another culture just because it is different than your own.
-Bring snacks from home. You will like having food you are comfortable with around to snack on and share with your friends for a midnight snack.
-Every time you see a Dairy Queen, you must order a mango and sticky rice blizzard!
-Get to know the Thai nursing students as well as you can. I wish I had made a better effort to get to know them better and learn from them.
-Watch and learn how to cook on the floor like a real Thai person whenever you get the chance. Write down recipes.
-Let the fish eat your feet at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity that will leave your feet softer than ever. Beware though; it tickles….bad.