One of my colleagues, let’s call him Ben, asked me the other day if I would ever write about things I didn’t like about Chiang Mai/Thailand. I said, “No, I don’t think so.” I mean, I have written one post in particular about it already. Then he shared his top 5 things he hates about Thailand. His list:
3. Service “mai mee”
Ben is a 30something Brit married to a Thai woman with an adorable little boy who has been living in Thailand for many years. And you know about me, American Asian, easy on the eyes, funny, sexy cute, blah, blah, blah, but I think it’s important for you to understand and have a little background about Ben.
I have a tendency to write a lot of warm and fuzzy posts about how expat living is wonderful and was going to write ANOTHER one, when I thought back to our conversation. I know I like to be positive, but let’s be honest. Living in Thailand is not always a cocktail on the beach. It’s not a 7-11 vacation holiday as some folks home would like to believe. And as I am enjoying another day of band saw construction noises, here’s my list:
2. the NOISE
3. Customer service (see mai mee)
4. the trash
5. Poor air quality
It’s not the other side of the road thing. It seems like that would be the biggest challenge but that novelty doesn’t last long. It’s the “I have no idea what the people around me are going to do” feeling. Even with these driving tips, I find myself swearing like a sailor driving a big rig in Honolulu Hawaii.
Yeah, I get real uppity or American. Sorry. Thais don’t look when pulling out into traffic because it is the responsibility of person behind them not to cause the accident. Motor biking encourages all sorts of weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, drinking and driving, exciting risk taking, and frankly, they don’t know how to drive cars here.
Or park. I once witnessed a driver pull out of a parking spot in an attempt to leave (?) and had ended up parallel and trapped between the rows of parked cars. Magic.
Part of the problem is the roads are not made for these Fortune 500 cars, not everyone has power steering and the “driver’s test” is a thin bowl of jok. Oh, and the red trucks, rot dangs are looking for customers, not you on the road, oh, no, yes, please stop in middle of the four way intersection while a Chinese tourist talks to you.
Jesus H. Christ, I could write a 4 page post on this alone, so I better stop. Everyone says, “It’s their country, they can drive how they want to,” but I say, No, don’t kill or butcher me with your lack of situational awareness, courtesy and care for everyone else on the road. And please spare me, Bangkokians with your “it’s so much better up here” talk.
#2 the NOISE.
I never realized how quiet America was until I moved here. Trucks rolling around town with speakers blasting the latest sale or advertisement. Public announcements in the countryside or neighborhoods, the Thai anthem being played at 8am and 6pm. The douche baggies with their loud mufflers. Packs of soi dogs. Roosters crowing at all hours of the day. Construction noises. Lots of construction noises. If you are booking a guesthouse I’d ask, if there is construction going on. Of course, they might not be honest or things might change at a notice, but you can at least ask.
ATMs are a little different here. The big difference is you will get your card after you receive your money. So if you are forgetful, well, you might not want to be. It is easy to leave with your cash and forget your card. Also, have a little patience. I don’t know why but Thais have a hard time with these machines, and consequently take FOREVER.
ATMs must be non-intuitive for Thais because my mom always needs help using them. Maybe it’s an older generation thing?
#3 Customer service.
Oh dear. Anyone who has lived here has endured the waiting for the serviceman to show up, the trying to figure out what is going on. It’s not easy for us Westerners. We’re spoiled. There I said it. But if a roof is leaking then show up, if a pipe is broken, fix it. And if my internet is down, then don’t tell me you’ll come by tomorrow when I’ve been waiting all day for you to show up.
That said. You will learn to be more patient than you’ve ever been. Jing jing.