Expat · Thailand

Thailand for the directionally challenged

After spending 2 weeks in Austria, returning to Thailand was quite the departure. It was dark and I was travel weary but I still had to explain where I lived in pasa Thai. The good thing is I live close enough to the 700 Year Stadium, and at least it puts drivers in the right direction.

If you haven’t figured out already, nobody here really knows street names. Sure, there are a few main roads but overall, red truck, taxi and tuk tuk drivers decide to well, just look around and see if they can find what you’re looking for.

This was so different than my experience in Vienna. Taxis were BMWs and Mercedes, in fact, all cars were luxury except for a few that blended in because they looked so nice; and the taxis had GPS systems, so drivers would just punch in the address and away we went.

One of the most important things I’ve learned about getting around in Thailand is telling drivers where something is close to. Before I motorbiked it, I used red trucks, a lot. Wats or temples are great landmarks and known by more drivers than you think.  And they are everywhere! Major hotels, shopping malls, markets are good to use too.

The thing about directions is hand gestures go a long way as well. Most Thais will try to help you if you need it, but they are not usually map savvy. I think with the younger generation this will change but don’t get frustrated.

Worst case scenario, you can be like me, directionally challenged. My first day in Cuenca Ecuador was a disaster. I’ll start here: it was raining, cold, and I spent a very long time walking in circles trying to find my way back to the guest house. In the process of maneuvering around the cobblestone streets and sidewalks, I twisted my ankle just to ensure my complete misery.

Eventually I found my way back. And eventually you will too. Thailand is much more English friendly than Ecuador is and there are a lot of tourists and expats here, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Sometimes I go up to people who are hovering over a map or holding one looking from side to side. I’ve been lost so many times, I can sympathize!

My brother was helping me with my map reading skills while we were in Austria and he told me to orient the map, so turn that thing around and make it face true North, look for unusual street shapes and other landmarks to help get you sorted out. Remember in Chiang Mai, Doi Suthep or the big mountain is to the West.

I won’t apologize if this is too simpleton for some of my readers. I used to depend exclusively on my ex to drive everywhere because I knew my sense of direction was really bad. Then when we broke up,  I was in a big wide world of figuring out left from right, and it hurt. My mom didn’t want to learn to drive when she first got to the US but my dad insisted. After he died, I’m sure my mom realized how much of a gift he had given her in this.

In Vienna, my sister in law and I got separated from my brother so we had to figure our way back to the hotel. We got on the wrong bus and asked a lot of questions, but eventually we got on the right bus. We had two kids and my mom with us too! It was stressful, but this is life, and you never know what is going to happen next around that street corner.

Here’s to getting lost, learning to fold the map back correctly and finding your way back home again.

เลี้ยวขวา
líeow kwăa
turn right

เลี้ยวซ้าย
líeow sáai
turn left

ตรงไป
dtrong bpai
go straight

ผ่าน
pàan
pass

ข้างหลัง
kâang lă
behind

หน้า
nâa
in front of

ติดกับ
dtìt gàp
next to

ใกล้ๆ
glâi glâi
close, near

ไกลๆ
glai glai
far

and just because I like this word,

วงเวียน
wong wian
roundabout

u turn = u

🙂 have fun!

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2 thoughts on “Thailand for the directionally challenged

  1. I have a problem with the tones and hate words like glâi glâi, glai glai. I don't hear the difference but it seems I always say far so nothing in Thailand is close for me.I just say mai glai if it is close. I enjoyed the post and have a few new words I will try and add to my ovocabulary for my next trip to Thailand.

    Like

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