The Learning the Uniqueness of a New Place List

Moving to a new place involves a lot of learning. Here are some of the more unique observations we’ve made:

  • 7-11 is everywhere. Apparently Thailand is home to the second highest concentration of 7-11’s in the world. You can pay bills, buy plane tickets, and get a slurpee at 7-11.
  • Thai has 21 vowel sounds and 5 tones. Sometimes a word can be spelled exactly the same way, but the tone makes it a completely different word (the words for “news”, “rice”, “old”, “knee”, and “white” require excellent pronunciation to make yourself understood).
  • depending on where you are going, time of day, and how many people are with you, a taxi can be cheaper than public transit.
  • irons are expensive here because appearance is important and so irons are well used. Throw in poor water quality, and those household appliances take a beating!
  • apartments, new and old, are often built with maid’s quarters. Ours is home to our empty suitcases.
  • hello and goodbye are the same in Thai. Sawadii is the Aloha of Thailand. Sawadii Ka when spoken by a woman and Sawadii Khrap for men.
  • traffic laws, or adherence to them, are flexible.
  • Thailand follows the Buddhist calendar making 2559 the current year. You will find this date on everything from government documents to your internet bill.
    • Thai new year, Songkran, is April 13th and is celebrated with massive water fights. Interestingly, Thailand does not change the Buddhist year on this day, but rather on January 1st.
  • “Bangkok” is not the Thai name for Bangkok. The proper Thai name is “Krung Thep Maha Nakhon” (กรุงเทพมหานคร) but it is most often called Krung Thep.
  • the full ceremonial name for Bangkok is: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit
  • in Thai: กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์)
    • it roughly translates to: “city of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra’s behest”
    • Guiness Records recognizes it as the longest place name in the world.
    • Thai children are taught a song to memorize it and it is sung much like English-speaking children are taught the ABC song.
  • the Thai word for “diarrhea” are the words “stomach” and  “death” put together. Accurate.
  • administratively, Thailand is separated into 76 provinces (the Thai word is จังหวัด  – pronounced “changwat”) and one special administrative area.
    • Bangkok, the capital city, is that special administrative area (not unlike Washington D.C.).
  • Bangkok’s minimum wage is 300 Baht (THB) for an 8 hour workday. That’s the equivalent of $11.40 CAD or $8.45 USD.
  • Bangkok is the most touristed city in the world.
    • The architecture, history, shopping, and food make that understandable. There is also a darker side to tourism here, often washed in red light.
    • Pneumonia and broken ankles have also introduced us to Thai healthcare and “medical tourism”. There are massive private hospitals that look more like hotels which draw customers from around Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It’s expensive and beyond the financial reach of many here who instead rely on government hospitals.
  • “farang” (ฝรั่ง) is the Thai word for foreigners with white skin. It does not carry any derogatory meaning. Oddly enough it is also the word for “guava”.

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