7 things you don’t want to know about Thailand

 

Thailand7 things about Thailand that might upset you

By now means I want to create a negative image about Thailand. It really is one of my favorite countries, but like every country it has some flaws as well. This article describes some of those flaws. Some facts are horrible, some are annoying, and some can actually be funny when you have the right mindset.

Make sure you prepare yourself for some horrible facts before you plan a trip to Thailand. it is better to not be negatively surprised while you visit this country, even though you might just want to close your eyes from some facts, and pretend you don’t want to know. Here is a list of 7 things you don’t want to know about Thailand. Do you..?

1. (Stray) dogs

Dogs where one of the reasons why I did not enjoyed the Northern part of the country O well, maybe it was more the lack of decent fences that where supposed to keep the dogs inside. I remember walking down a street in Lopburi once, every step I took seemed to alarm a new dog. Those monsters where surrounding me with a terrifying barking symphony, and there was still so much road to go.

Even though it was hot, the whole experience gave me the shivers. Those small pieces of wood that where pretending to be a fence would most likely not hold even the smallest dog. I was constantly expecting to see one of those monsters doing a horse jump over the fence. Now that is not a nice situation when you are walking with a heavy backpack. In fact it is never a nice situation.

2. bugs

Do you have an apartment in Bangkok? You would probably not like to know is what going on behind those walls in your nice apartment. Those of you who have been following me on Facebook, must have seen regular updates of my ongoing war with the bugs in my room. Luckily it seems quiet on the front recently. Maybe due to the compulsive cleaning regime of my girlfriend Dianna. Thank you honey. 🙂

Most of the times I am on a war with ants. Which proof to be annoying as well as fascinating insects. They seem to be very useful as natures vacuum cleaner. However, if your are not fond of invasions, then I do advice you do not leave food residues in your house. They will come after it with military precision and dedication.

3. Violence

Thailand might look like the perfect holiday destination. Friendly Thai people, lovely beaches, peaceful temples and a cheerful nightlife scene. However realize that it ain’t all sunshine, zen and rainbows. I am sure that most of you guys have heard of the ongoing battle with political protesters in Bangkok. There are also constant bombings and fights in the south of the country, and occasionally there are problems at the border regions of Cambodia as well.

You might not notice it as a tourist but the use of violence is common in Thailand, and not only on a large (political) scale. There are many weird and sometimes horrible stories of tourists and expats who encounter bad tempered Thais. Believe me a bad tempered Thai can mean serious trouble if you push it to far. For the sake of your own health, swallow your pride and just walk away.

4. Exploitation of children

For those of you who travel to Thailand because of its infamous adult industry. Please be aware. The girls could be under aged. Sometimes they are even really young children. The country enforces strict punishments against people who exploit children. Sadly enough, there are still many crazy criminals who seem to think that it is normal to ruin children’s lives.

5. Scams

Be aware of scams, especially in big cities like Bangkok. There are a lot of different scams. Some of them are more bad then others, but they are always annoying. Some are easy to avoid but sometimes you get tricked even though you are on your guard. To make you feel a little bit at ease, you will most likely be charmed out of your money instead of being negatively harassed.

There are various ways to get scammed, but there are also various ways to avoid scams. Trust your intuition, especially in touristic places. When you visit these places it is better that you ignore people who approach you on the street. Most of the time they want something from you. Luckily people seem to be more genuine in non touristic places. There are a lot of locals who are helpful, without wanting your money.

6. Criminality

Violence, (child) exploitation and scams are often practiced by criminals. Examples of places with a lot of organized crime are Phuket and Pattaya. In general you don’t have to worry of encountering any criminals. However, some of them are involved in touristic services like jet ski rentals and night live entertainment. Be careful not to upset criminals. Making a normal Thai angry is bad, but upsetting a Thai criminal can be especially unhealthy.

7. Rude behavior (land of the smiles?)

People talk about Thailand being the land of the smiles. However, sometimes you don’t want to know what is behind those smiles. The following sentence are occasionally spoken by Thai speaking people who accompany me on walks: “omg did you understand what those people just said about us.. so rude!” Sometimes I get an explanation at which point I feel the urge to turn around and make a fuss about it.

Learning a new language is great. However it  can be difficult to stay calm if you understand what is really being said to you. The worst thing is that they often do it with a smile on their face. When you approach them they might think or say that you are but ugly and a complete loser. However, you could end up walking away while thanking them and thinking: ow those where such friendly people.

What kind of experiences in Thailand would you prefer to have erased from your memory?

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Bangkok At Daytime

Traffic jams are one of the 5 reasons why you should avoid Bangkok during daytime.Bangkok has a lot to offer during daytime. However there are enough reasons why you should avoid this city during the day. While living there I always prefer to leave my hole after sunset, or before sunrise. In this article I will explain the main reasons that make Bangkok so unpleasant at daytime.

1. Traffic jams

Bangkok is famous for its traffic jams.Trying to take a taxi is a bad mistake during the rush hours in the morning and early evening. The city is crowded with cars,buses, motorcycles, trucks and tuck tucks, all fighting for a tiny spot, while they slide along the road, as if being in a snail race competition. Of course a lot of traffic is accompanied with health issues, which brings me to the next problem.

2. Air Poluttion

A lot of traffic means a lot of noise and air pollution. The motorized vehicles cough up nasty clouds of exhaust fumes. The factories also join in the party and so do the street cooks, who send large clouds of burned chicken and pork fumes into the sky. A lot of people are wearing protection masks while being outside. Not a bad idea when you stay in Bangkok for a longer period.

I doubt if there are much rules and regulations about things like diesel filters and toxic pollution concentrations. I can inform you with facts and numbers about the exact concentrations, but maybe its better if you don’t know. As a Bangkok expat you might get worried a lot. To make matters worse, pollution is even extra unhealthy when it is combined with heat. Which brings me to the next topic.

3. The heat

Bangkok is often recognized as the hottest city in the world. Is this really true? I could not honestly tell you, as I did not visit all cities in the world yet. However based on my experiences with Bangkok, I can definitely say it is often sticky icky hot in this city.

The problem is the humidity, which, in combination with the sun, makes you boil in your own sweat. The sun will blaze and the humidity will drain your juices away. Other people sweat as well when it is hot, which makes it extra inconvenient when you smooch with them in crowded places. And there are many of those during the daytime.

4. Crowds of people

Crowds of people are the cherry on the pie when it comes to daytime disaster in Bangkok. I recently decided to go to the Grand Palace. A famous destination in Bangkok. I bought sunscreen and went out into the heat. Then I took the sky train which transported me like a sardine in a can. After leaving the sky train I had to take the boat.

My hopes of loosing the crowd vanished when I arrived at the boat. It was also filled to full capacity. It is part of the game of course but it was just not something i enjoyed. Especially because the way back was exactly the same. I don’t like to shower my head in tourist armpits, or belly smooch with them. Situations like this always make me crave for the calm night.

5. Night live


Bangkok is a huge city and there are many things to do during the daytime. However I personally feel this city gets more interesting at night. Visit the sky bars and marvel at the sea of lights. Dance till the early morning in one of the many clubs. Go to the river to see the beautiful light decorated boats and temples or stroll around at the large night markets, without being bothered by the daytime heat.

Bangkok is a busy city and is, in my opinion, much more enjoyable when it calms down. Then it really shows it charm. Besides that, It is much more easy to get around by night because you avoid the traffic. Do you prefer the morning? Then try to join the early birds. A lot of Thai are already active at 5 AM. There is reason why they do this, and now you know why.

Tips to survive Bangkok during the day

So you are an optimistic tourist and you decide to ignore my advice.
Here are some more tips which you can follow, if you go out during the day.

  • Make sure you drink a lot of water. Obvious of course, but many people underestimate how quickly you can overhead and get dehydrated.
  • Use sunscreen. Also obvious but yes many people also underestimate how quick there skin can get fried. The sun in Bangkok is very strong
  • If you don’t mind being packed like a sardine then you can use the many boats or the ever expanding sky train and subway systems, to avoid being stuck in a traffic jam.
  • If you plan on doing some daytime sightseeing then I recommend visiting Bangkok in the relatively cold weeks during December and January. Around that time the temperature is really nice. However, the Thai will think differently and wrap themselves in warm sweaters, even though the temperature is often around a nicely 20 degrees.
  • There are many sightseeing options which are inside. By visiting those places you avoid the heat outside. There is a reason why this city is full of giant shopping malls. They serve as rescue centers for the Thai to escape the heat. Although then you have to deal with the freezing cold of air conditioners.
  • Did you ever go to Bangkok? How was your stay? Did you experienced any of the described problems?

Bangkok – Trouble at the gates

Bangkok - Hiding for a possible shooter in the buildingIt starts with a tip about a bombing and shootings at the MBK shopping mall, in the National Stadium area of Bangkok. Where the rational mind is saying stay away, the inside reporter in us is temped to get as close as possible. Excitement and curiousness win from reason, and so we rush to the scene. On our way to the MBK mall we pass the police and military control points, and eventually a man who gives us the advice to stay away. When we don’t make any attempts to listen to him he tells us its or own choice.

Arriving at the MBK shopping mall I am amazed to see how much this place has changed. A busy intersection looks totally different when it turns into a camping ground. Although having been here a lot in better days, I now feel disorientated. There are people everywhere. It is already late at night, and there are many people sleeping on improvised camping spots. At the stage, a little bit further down the road, someone is still shouting words into a microphone, taking turns with a band playing songs. There is certainly something going on here. However it seems not to involve a situation with bombs and shootings. Otherwise would people still be sleeping? would the band still be playing songs? Was the tip about the bomb a wrong one?

We walk around the big shopping mall, a little bit further away from the main stage. There it suddenly becomes noticeable that, at the outer rings from the locked down area, there is a whole different situation going on. There is a nervous tension hanging in the air. Something is happening. Then suddenly everyone in the street gets to the ground, and hides behind the parked cars on the side of the road. People start pointing at a building, a little bit further down the street. They use laser pens and flashlights to point at a window in the building. That puts the light on a very troubled situation. This is a fight where snipers often use bullets, when words do not seem to work for them. You don’t know where the bullets are coming from, and you don’t know now when a shooting is going to happen. This makes the people, in charge of securing the protest area, extremely nervous.

The people guarding the protest area gates are different from the normal protesters, who mainly seem to be at the protest area to have a peaceful experience by singing, dancing and making as much sounds as possible, in their colorful outfits. These guards have different tasks. There outfits show no signs of celebration. They are wearing black outfits, often combined with army clothes and body armors. There faces are tense, hard and nervous. They look tough, ready for a fight. This is where protest organisation is shown. With their transmitters, sticks, guns and willingness to guard or fight, these are the people that mean serious business. They don’t tolerate loud sounds, photographs and people that nose around. Without them guarding this area, the place would probably turn out in a bloody war zone.

It is a very strange situation. Even when there is the tension of deadly violence, there are still children walking around, food is being sold, and just 50 meters further down the road, thousands of people are sleeping, or listening to the band on stage. Who keeps playing songs as if there is nothing going on. Its a small and weird little world. The protesters seem to have locked them self in, when attempting to lock down Bangkok. Each protest area being its own island. In between those islands, the sharks are swimming around, with bombs and guns, instead of sharp teeth. They come out at night to hunt. Occasionally showing there aggressive nature, before diving away again in the deep urban ocean. It is a nervous cat and mouse game.

When reporting about all of this, I feel like I am walking behind the facts all the time. All night reports keep coming in from bombings, fires, shootings. You run to one place to find out that everything is already happened, and that they are now shooting from a place in the other direction. Being in this mess, I get the feeling that it could take a long time before everything turns out normal again in Bangkok and Thailand.

Your experience

Did you ever ended up in a place where there was a lot of tension? How did you feel while being in such a place?  Leave your interesting responses in the comments section below

Khao San Diaries: Trouble at The Club

Khao San Road - The ClubShe stares at met with mad eyes. The fact that she is wearing red contact lenses makes it even worse. The girl is dressed up like some vampire, and she is probably going to rip my throat off. I look around. On normal nights this place already looks like crazy town, but now I really ended up in Harry Potter land. Witches, zombies and Dracula’s stroll the streets, celebrating and drinking lots of alcohol.

Being the smart capitalists that they are, the owners of The Club have taken the opportunity to get some extra money out of this monster fest. It is a busy Halloween night, so they decided to charge an entrance fee. Not a bad idea if you want to make extra money, and prevent the dance floor from becoming over stacked with drunk zombies.

I want to pay to get in but somehow fail miserably. Almost immediately we start a discussion about how much money I payed. While arguing with vampire girl, I am once again reminded why I don’t really like these kind of places. Especially not on crowded Halloween nights, when the staff is even more annoyed then usual.

The entrance money is not really the problem. The problem is that most of the times, I am either pushed inside by someone with an annoyed face, when I pay, or pushed outside by someone with an angry faced, if I try something funny. Trying something funny in their eyes could be anything from asking where the toilets are, to wanting some customer service when there is a problem. Going into discussion about the big why is not always appreciated. Partly understandable at busy and chaotic moments. I should just avoid these places at those nights.

It often looks like the club and bar staff seem to think the same. Please do not show your face her you annoying, large amounts of money paying customer. It seems to be in the blood of people that deal with large crowds of drunk (tourists) every night. I am wasting their time for every second that I am not paying but complaining. ‘Customer service, yeah sure but we have customers now, please come back another time’. A lot of people except this attitude and keep showing up. Reason for the staff to keep acting like that. At the same time they shove someone outside, they shove a lot more people inside. Conclusion: they don’t need you. Especially if you are being difficult.

I am also guilty for this coming back behavior. Of course, at certain moments, I am also drawn to the dark sides of live. Then I want to go out to shady dance clubs, and do my part of irresponsible drinking and dancing. But I always end up thinking the same thing when I arrive. it is hard to find some friendliness in a club. I have also experienced this problem in the Netherlands, with these giant meatball bouncers. When I want to enter a club, they look at me as if I just stole their kids lunch money. What a way to make someone feel welcome.

Going into discussion with the Thai staff om Khao San Road always makes me feel unpleasant. When something is wrong there seems to be no reason for discussion. No matter if I am are right or not. They usually get really angry. Vampire girl is a good example. After exchanging some yes and no’s back and forth I start see her getting more furious by the second, and I get a hopeless feeling. Defending my point any longer and she will probably go Muay Thai on me, followed by her colleagues and random Thai, who want their piece of the disrespectful Farang.

Not much for me to do then excepting my defeat. I lower my head and give up. The guard behind me recognizes my body langue and shoves me, how lucky for me, into the direction of the entrance to hell. Another security guard grabs my arm, and stamps me with the mark of the devil. I stare at the black entrance allowed stamp, feeling frustrated. Once again I belong to The Club. I feel slightly embarrassed, thinking of  all those previous moments when I cursed this place. I wish I was a real witch. That would certainly improve the cursing part. Now they win again, because I decided to show up once more. Again I am drained from my money with an unpleasant feeling, and I haven’t even seen the Halloween beer prices yet.

Your experience

Did you ever been to Khao San road or The Club? Tell us about your experience. Do you have stories about other bars and clubs, where you experienced bad or really good customer services? Leave your interesting responses in the comments section below.

Bangkok – Going Completly Local

Local street in BangkokGetting lost in a strange city. It has happened to me many times. I often try to walk around, instead of using public transportation. I do this with the purpose of getting to know the city. Getting lost has many benefits. The next time I have a bigger chance of knowing the way.

I strolled for hours and hours true large city’s like London, Tokyo and Bangkok. There is always this urge to put my feed to work, and just start walking and walking, in no particular direction. Getting sucked up by a strange city is a fun and adventures experience. The reward is often satisfying. When you step off the beaten tourist path, you suddenly enter the world of the locals.

Stepping into a side alley

Many main roads are crowded with tourists. Those places are often busy, loud and dirty. They give me the feeling that I could be anywhere in the world. Prostitutes, taxi drivers and street vendors, all try their best to annoy me as much as possible.

It all changes when I decide to walk into a side alley. Suddenly everything seems to calm down. Often I end up being the only foreigner in the street. I like strolling true local markets, living area’s, hidden temples and small parks. Sometimes these places are situated nearby main tourist roads. But not so many tourists notice or enter them. Sometimes it looks like the locals are hidden away from the main (tourist) crowd. And I am happy about that. The most precious gems are hidden away. Protected from a crowd who can steel it’s identity.

All cities have their own vibe and local surprises. Bangkok, for example, is an amazing place to go strolling true local food markets. A real food adventure, full of amazing smells, colors, sights and sounds. I like to wake up early and walk around, while the markets are just starting up. It is an amazing food experience, seeing all those exotic products being stacked up in huge piles. However, In the early morning, most of the food still needs to be killed. I often find myself surrounded by buckets and buckets of fish, little turtles, and frogs. Thousands of little eyes looking at me with the expression of help me please.

Then there are the mazes of local neighborhoods. Walking true small streets, where the locals live, I often feel like an exotic product myself. Especially when I am the only foreigner. Or farrang as the Thai like to say. Surprisingly, the locals mostly leave me alone. They are busy doing there own thing and are not pushy trying to sell me something. Something which happens so often at famous touristic areas. Most of the time the locals only tap each other on the shoulder and say ‘hey foreigner’, and  that’s it.

I enjoy seeing the Thai local families, living their normal daily lives. It is nice to see the families joining together at big tables, full of food. The little children are running around. Music is being played. The dogs stroll around looking for food. Mamma is cooking, surrounded by pots and pans. The people are smiling, and enjoying each others company. Often you get a warm smile as well. They seem to appreciate it, when you take the interest to really dive into their culture.

It is a much better sight then having to scroll true groups of drunk and half naked tourists, which at their terms are strolling true groups of  drugged and half naked prostitutes. An uncomfortable mix of bad and bad. But you can make it all disappear, by stepping into a side alley, with the intention of getting lost.

Then I walk further into that maze of small streets, and suddenly a beautiful hidden temple pops up. Hidden from the tourist crowds, these temples feel much more authentic. They are as beautiful as the big and famous temples,  but I often have them for myself. Thank god for the main tourist areas. They suck up the big crowds and create some calm spaces, which I can explore alone. Going completely local and lost. I would not like it any other way.

Your experience

Did you ever got lost in a big city and had an amazing time by just wandering around, enjoying the scenery? Which city do you like to explore the most?  Leave your interesting responses in the comments section below.

 

Useful links