As you probably guessed, electrical standards abroad are different. The US uses 120v/60Hz. Thailand uses 220v/50Hz. That means if you plug an appliance that is set for 120v/60Hz into an outlet in Thailand, there will probably be lots of sparks and smoke, and possibly some charred flesh. I did this once in Uganda, and the resulting smoke and sparks were entertaining, if not expensive.
Now, this doesn’t mean that your US electronics won’t work abroad. Most modern electronics are dual- or multi-voltage, meaning it will work at 120v or 220v. Check the label on the power supply to make sure, but all of my electronics, including my MacBook Pro, Fujifilms digital camera battery charger, iPhone/iPad charger, cell phone charger, and my son’s Nintendo DS power adapter are multi-voltage. Typical multi-voltage label looks like these:
If it is dual voltage, it will say something like INPUT: 100v-240v, 50-60Hz or AC IN: 100v-240v, 50-60Hz.
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The Thai language is a unique language, only spoken in Thailand and not closely related to any other language with the exception of Lao. It has some unique grammar, 5 tones, and a very unique alphabet, making it a very difficult language to learn for Westerners. What gets me are the tones. You can say they same sound in 5 different tones, and they can mean 5 completely different things. And tones are subtle to us Westerners. A subtle raising of the tone to emphasize a point in English can alter the entire meaning of a sentence in Thai.
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Before you go this summer, do yourself a favor and get a guidebook. And peruse it before you go. They have lots of suggestions and recommendations, and if they are from a good guidebook, they are typically spot on. And the sections on culture, history, arts, etiquette, geography, weather, etc. are invaluable.
There are a ton of guidebooks, from a variety of publishers, including Fodors, Rough Guide, Moon, and a host of smaller publishers. I am partial to Lonely Planet. The audience that they write for seems to be spot on with the type of travel I enjoy (going on a budget, exploring on our own, independent of tourguides and tour companies, going to out-of-the-way places where typical tourists are scarce, using local transportation, etc). Fodors seems to be targeting a more upscale traveller, and Rough Guides seems to target the backpacker crowd. Lonely Planet seems to be in a nice medium. (By the way, these websites have a LOT of good information for travellers, so they are definitely worth perusing.)
Continue reading Thailand Travel Guide Books