I am planning on doing a 3 month trip to Southeast Asia alone. I am 22 year old guy and I need to do something alone and I love travel. I'm from a place where not many people I know travel or do anything out of the "normal daily grind". I've been researching a lot about backpacking and I have about 5000 dollars saved up which I think will be enough. Anyways, I am a pretty social guy. I have no trouble with conversations and meeting people at all. BUT almost all i've read about traveling to Thailand or backpacking anywhere seems to be everyone drinks a lot. I can't drink because I have a weird allergic reaction to mostly all alcoholic beverages. It's bad enough to put me in the hospital. It's been kind of tough but i've managed. I am able to go to a party and have just as much if not more fun than someone who is drinking, but it's always the PRESSURE and people always look down on me or think i'm weird or rude if I don't drink. Even if I explain i'm allergic. I just want to be able to go to hostels, meet groups of new people, and make friends without having the non-drinking be an issue. I just wanted to get some advice on this or any experiences with this from anyone? Thanks!
#1 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
Your best bet is to probably try heroin or other such drugs recreationally for the trip. All joking aside I think you'd be fine with it. I've never thought less of someone because they don't drink, and there are more people out there that don't drink or only have a couple.
As long as your comfortable with it I think you would be fine.
#2 Brute has been a member since 16/12/2012. Posts: 36
Another update, last time I went to thailand I went with the girlfriend. We didn't drink very often on the trip and had no problem meeting people. Most of the time I met people on tours, busses, trains or on diving, not so much in bars.
#3 Brute has been a member since 16/12/2012. Posts: 36
It shouldn't be a problem. Just order a fruit shake or a Sprite or something like that instead. The up side is that not drinking alcohol will help your already good budget go even farther. Plus, just because you aren't drinking, you can still buy a round now and then too.
If anyone pressures you to drink or do anything else when you don't want to - move on. People like that aren't worth it. Have a great trip.
I want to second everything said above - and add that you will often meet people over coffee in the morning at your guesthouse just as likely as beers at night. So if you are getting lonely on the trip, just wake up and stick around for breakfast.
Everyone is looking for something to separate them from the herd - I reckon not drinking is a great way of doing it.
Fer the record - I drink like there's no tomorrow (well someday that's gonna be right) but I kinda admire non-drinkers. You will fit in fine.
Thank you Brute, Tezza, caseyprich and exacto! You all really put my mind at ease. I never thought of it that way though as having something that separates me from the herd. Could potentially be a good way to meet someone too. Thanks again all
#7 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
If you are having issues then you are hanging out in the wrong places with the wrong people. Can have tons of fun and meet lots of people that either don't drink or at least won't pressure you into doing so.
Might have an issue if you go to say a full moon party but for me that is one of the last things I would actually want to do. Avoid the party locations and you should still have no trouble meeting lots of people to hang out with.
Also a note is that most people drink in Thailand etc because drinks are cheap. Some people with messed up priorities do go just to party etc but they are fairly easily avoided.
Thanks guys! I'm just really excited now.
#10 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
My medication doesn't allow me to drink alcohol either, but it's never presented a problem for me.
My only other comment has to do with your budget of $5.000. At current FX rates, that's only 1.573 Baht a day in Thailand at least. It's likely to be something of similar order in other SE countries. I don't know where you're planning to go, or how you propose to get there, but it'll probably mean travelling by road or rail rather than by air.
There's also the question of visas to consider, but you've probably already done your research on that score so I won't go into that now.
Hope this helps.
After doing some research I realized I may not be able to do 3 months on that budget, probably only 2. I figured to spend about 50 US dollars a day at most, which I think is about the amount of Baht you mentioned. Round tickets about 1800 from my location, as well as factoring in visas and transportation and hostels/etc. I also figure a lot of days I won't be spending 50 US dollars because of the not drinking haha and I am good at being on a budget. I was actually thinking of maybe getting a one way ticket, see how far I can go and when I only have enough left for flight home and some food and transportation I would head back. Still weighing all my options and doing research since I won't be leaving until next summer.Thanks for the heads up!
#12 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
I don't drink anymore, but I drank heavily during my first couple of trips to Thailand. I will say that the experience has been different after I stopped drinking, mainly because I just don't enjoy going to clubs with people who are getting hammered anymore. During my first couple of trips, I sometimes hung with people who were pretty much seeing their 'holiday' as an opportunity to get wasted all day, everyday. Thailand definitely does draw a good number of those people. I suppose that in general I've met less people while traveling after I stopped drinking, but the friendships that I have made have been far more genuine.
Most people don't come to Thailand only to drink, they come to go out and experience amazing things. As long as you're up for that, and especially if you're generally sociable, you should have no problem meeting people at all. I've also made 'friends' with a few people who ended up pressuring me to drink. At this point in my life I'm very comfortable with who I am and feel no desire to impress people or be 'cool' or whatever. As exacto said, if someone pressures you to do anything you're not comfortable with, move on and find someone cooler. Plenty of great people in this world, drinkers and non-drinkers.
As for your budget, 1,500 baht per day should be plenty if you're staying in cheap guesthouses and hostels, especially considering you don't drink!
If you buy a one way ticket, the airline will refuse to allow you to board the aircraft.
In addition, if you plan to apply for a Thai tourist visa which is valid for 60 days, but can be extended for a further 30 days, you'll have to provide a copy of your plane ticket. If that doesn't include a return date, your application will be refused, but you won't get refund.
Thanks for the insight. I definitely know what you mean about having more genuine friendships when not drinking, a lot of my drinking/partying friends complain about their friendships often. I definitely don't care to be cool or impress others, just get irritated with the pressure and the idea that people can't have fun without alcohol.
Oh thanks for letting me know! I had no idea. What do people usually do if they want to stay for an unknown amount of time? Or do people not really do that?
#15 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
"If you buy a one way ticket, the airline will refuse to allow you to board the aircraft."
My mother ran into this problem flying from the States. The airline did let her board (they actually created a fake ticket for her so she wouldn't have trouble getting through Thai customs) but I wouldn't count on this happening. As Xircal points out, they would be within their rights not to let you board - bad start for your trip. So better to have a type O visa worked out in advance and a return ticket.
As MADMAC suggested, you would need a Type 'O' visa for Thailand which is valid for one year if you wanted to remain in the country for longer than three months. However, the cards are stacked against you before you even start because in order to get one, you have to deposit 800.000 Baht in a Thai bank account. At current FX rates, that's $28.571 which is a bit over budget I think.
A Thai tourist visa is the only other legal alternative which you can apply for at any Thai Consulate in the US. It's valid for 60 days and can be extended for an extra 30 days for an additional fee of 1.900 Baht. If you plan to take a trip to another country, make sure you get a visa with at least two entry stamps because the visa expires as soon as you leave the country if it only has a single entry stamp.
If you remain in the country after your visa expires, you become what's known as an 'overstayer' and will incur a fine of 500 Baht a day for the number of days you overstay. Provided you don't overstay by more than 21 days and have a return ticket out of the country, you can pay the 10.500 Baht fine at the airport and leave Thailand albeit with an endorsement in your passport which might affect future visits. Between 21 and 42 days in a grey area though and you're effectively at the mercy of the immigration officer as to what happens next. But 42 days or more and you're liable to arrest and subsequent imprisonment.
MADMAC and Xircal,
Thanks for all the info! I will not be staying longer than 3 months so I will get the tourist visa. I was planning on hitting Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore so I will get two entry stamps. Definitely good to know these things. Actually one more question I had if anyone minds answering.. Really the only time I am free for longer than a month would be in the summer, but I heard that it was rainy season which means more mosquitoes, chance of disease, and hotter and rainier weather. But also would be cheaper since it's off season. Is it worth it to wait until I can plan a trip in the winter months or is summer(sometime May-August) fine?
#18 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
Just FYI Xircal - when you apply for a type O in consulates in Europe (like I did) all the rules go out the window. Show up, pay your fee, get your visa. I had to show zero documentation of anything. They just wanted to collect the fee and were willing to give me my visa. I know a number of other people with this experience as well. But for Mike, since his timelines don't matter, he should be good to go as is.
Hi Mike, if you are tight on budget, maybe you can consider ticking off Singapore which is the smallest and the most expensive place in the region, it is also a cosmopolitan for your info, not bad a place to pay a visit but given your current budget, maybe save it for next time. Compared with other countries in SEA like Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, Singapore is less attractive. As for Malaysia, it is much less expensive than Singapore, and is quite different from the other Mainland SEA countries, it is also quite developed but still have some nature and traditional heritage to see.
I'd suggest you spend your 2 or 3 months in this priority: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos,Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore. If your time and budget can only allow you to go to the first 2 or 3 countries, by all means, take it slowly, and you will definitely have an unforgettable trip.
I think you were just lucky. Thai Consulates unlike the Embassy are not funded by the Thai government and derive their income solely by issuing visas. Maybe the one you chose was short of cash at the time.
The official view is somewhat different though as can be seen on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs site @ http://www.mfa.go.th/main/en/services/123/15385-Non-Immigrant-Visa-%22O-A%22-%28Long-Stay%29.html
I checked the Thai Consulate in Amsterdam where I live and although they don't mention anything about the 800k deposit, they do require proof of income amounting to 1.250 Euros a month which is about 600k over the space of a year. In addition, they also require a copy of the flight ticket. If you speak Dutch, the appropriate info can be found here: http://www.thaiconsulate-amsterdam.org/page3/page3.html
Interestingly though, I see that there appears to have been some changes to the normal tourist visa and it's now possible to obtain one for 180 days. To get one, the only requirement apart from a couple of passport size photos and a passport valid for at least another 9 months after arrival in Thailand is a copy of the flight ticket. This particular visa costs 90 Euros.
"If you buy a one way ticket, the airline will refuse to allow you to board the aircraft. In addition, if you plan to apply for a Thai tourist visa which is valid for 60 days, but can be extended for a further 30 days, you'll have to provide a copy of your plane ticket. If that doesn't include a return date, your application will be refused."
Both of these potential problems (certainly not guaranteed problems in either the visa application or flight boarding processes by the way) can be avoided by simply buying a $30 "throwaway" ticket from say, Bangkok to KL or anywhere else outside of Thailand to use as proof of onward travel. You do not need a ticket that shows a return flight to your home country. No offense, but the thought of getting a Type O visa for a three-month trip is absurd.
"If you plan to take a trip to another country, make sure you get a visa with at least two entry stamps because the visa expires as soon as you leave the country if it only has a single entry stamp."
Or, if you're planning on visiting a lot of other countries, you could get no visas and just play within the rules of the 30 day visa-free stay (if entering by air) or 15 day visa-free stay (if entering by land).
"Provided you don't overstay by more than 21 days and have a return ticket out of the country, you can pay the 10.500 Baht fine at the airport and leave Thailand albeit with an endorsement in your passport which might affect future visits. Between 21 and 42 days in a grey area though and you're effectively at the mercy of the immigration officer as to what happens next. But 42 days or more and you're liable to arrest and subsequent imprisonment."
This might be what it "officially" says on some website, but it's not the reality. You'll definitely have to pay 500 baht per day for overstays with a cap of 20,000 baht, but the experiences of hundreds of overstayers has shown that, even after two years of overstay, you simply pay the 20,000 baht at the airport and leave the country. Yes, you're at the mercy of the immigration officer and yes it's within their right to make your life miserable, but loads of people (myself included - not my best day) have overstayed longer than 30 days and walked back into Thailand the next week or even day with no problems whatsoever. Arrest and imprisonment pretty much only happens if you get caught overstaying somewhere other than the airport, like in a bar or on the street, or do something to seriously insult the immigration officer at the airport. I'm not saying that it's okay to overstay, just that this is the reality. Let's not scare people with inaccurate information.
"Interestingly though, I see that there appears to have been some changes to the normal tourist visa and it's now possible to obtain one for 180 days."
Six-month double entry tourist visas have long been available at many Thai embassies and consulates around the world.
I hadn't really considered the proof of onward travel too much. My mate and me get into Bangkok mid-June and plan on heading south over land into Malyasia, Singapore and Indo. We have a round the world ticket which means we have onward flights from Singapore to Oz but they're 6 months down the line.
We only plan on staying in Thailand for 30 days but as we'll be crossing into Malaysia overland we obviously have no onward flight to show them (other than the one to Oz 6 months away). You think we will have problems?
I'm sorry to have to contradict some of the things you've stated, but you've kind of taking things out of context to fit your side of the story.
First of all, the requisite proof of a return flight to one's own country is necessary if the traveller wants to obtain a non-immigrant 'O' visa. You have to take into account here that the OP was asking what visitors should do if they want to remain in the country for a year or more. Of course it wouldn't be necessary to obtain one for just for a three month stay and that can be achieved with a simple tourist visa.
Secondly, I consider my statement concerning a double entry tourist visa to be correct in context of continuing to use it after leaving Thailand, but returning again at a later date. Of course you don't actually need to do that if you stick within the 30 day visa exemption period. But due to the OP's budget, he's unlikely to be travelling by air and therefore arriving via a land border could present problems given the 15 day visa exemption allowance.
As to overstaying, I tend to err on the side of caution when addressing these issues. I don't want to encourage travellers to overstay because the reality on the ground may differ from the official position. One has to bear in mind that as far as Thailand is concerned the goalposts can move without warning and what has been accepted as the normal course of events i.e. pay your 20k Baht and you can happily leave the country may not apply anymore. What I stated merely quotes the official position and isn't intended to 'scare' anyone. I suggest you update your knowledge by reading this article: http://www.visabureau.com/worldwide/news/24-08-2010/government-to-jail-thailand-visa-overstayers.aspx
Last but not least, double entry tourist visas are valid for 120 days, not 180. If you require the latter, you'll need one with three entries which costs 90 Euros. But a triple entry visa has been underlined on the Thai Consulate in Amsterdam which indicates that this is a temporary measure and is likely to be subject to change in the not so distant future.
This is a case where you would need to buy a throwaway air ticket to another country to avoid problems at Thai immigration. Before your flight lands in Bangkok, you'll both be given an disembarkation / embarkation card. The details you have to enter are your name, the hotel or hostel where you'll be staying, your passport number and both the inbound and outbound flight numbers. When you go through immigration, you present that along with your passport to the immigration official. If you haven't got an outbound flight number, you'll likely to be refused entry into the country.
You can buy a throwaway ticket online from either AirAsia.com or Nokair.com Both of these are budget carriers and depart from Don Mueang Airport which is about 45 mins by free shuttle bus on the other side of the city. The flight needs to depart sometime within the initial 30 day visa exemption period in order to get you through immigration without any hassles.
"First of all, the requisite proof of a return flight to one's own country is necessary if the traveller wants to obtain a non-immigrant 'O' visa."
Maybe something has changed since 2007, when I moved here. But when I came to Thailand, I came to stay. I had a one way ticket. I told immigration I am coming to stay and live and retire here. I had a type "O". My first year I was obligated to leave the country every 90 days with that visa.
I don't know what the rules or law was, but Thailand isn't a nation of laws. It doesn't work that way here. It works that way in Europe and the US. laws here are guidelines that officials may choose to follow if there is a need to do so.
The earlier you book the cheaper it gets, but £24 will cover the cost on a one way ticket from Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur on http://booking.airasia.com/Select.aspx Hat Yai is located near the Malaysian border.
Also worth mentioning though is that you'll need to leave Thailand within 30 days of arrival. If you remain in the country after the visa exemption period (the 30 days) has expired, you become what's known as an 'overstayer'. The daily fine levied on exit amounts to 500 Baht a day. So if you were to overstay by say 14 days, it would cost you 7.000 Baht. At current FX rates, that's £159. So it's much cheaper to obtain a tourist visa which is valid for 60 days and only costs £25. You still need the throwaway onward flight ticket to obtain the visa, so make sure it's dated closer to visa expiry date.
I was planning on travelling from Bangkok and just heading south seeing some different places along the way to Singapore. I've always wanted to see Singapore since my cousins told me how amazing it was when they visited there. But I am still in the early stages of planning so anything can change! Thanks for the advice though.
Haha it seems the thread turned from alcohol problem to visa problem. Thanks for all the insight guys. I am pretty sure I will be getting the tourist visa and also either getting a two way ticket or getting a plane ticket out of Thailand to wherever I decide I want to go next.
#29 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
Thanks for the cheap flight link. There's a Thai Consulate in Glasgow which is quite near me so will look into how quickly they can get me a visa sorted. We leave in a month so hoping that is enough time. Anyone any experience of this?
We'll be entering Thailand possibly 3 times over a 6 month period so may get the triple entry visa. I presume without a visa the same issue stands when entering Thailand by land, i.e. you need an onward flight booked, having buses or boats booked aren't relevant?
And regarding the throw away flights, I take it there are no eyebrows raised when you enter the country claiming you will leave by plane only to end up leaving by land at a border crossing?
It sounds like the goalposts have indeed been moved since 2007. Back then, the 2006 Thai coup d'etat had just taken place a few months previously and the country was still in turmoil. I can only assume that the consulate where you applied for your O-A visa were a bit lax in processing your documentation and somehow or other, you slipped through the net.
It also sounds a bit odd that you had to leave the country every 90 days since that isn't a requirement now. Here's the official view on the various visa types anyway: http://www.mfa.go.th/main/en/services/123
But although I'm a frequent visitor to Thailand and tend to stay 2 or 3 months at a time, I'm not a resident and haven't attempted to go the long term route. Thailand is OK in short bursts, but I don't think I'd want to actually settle there somehow. The positives don't outweigh the negatives for me, but others may think differently.
The Thai Consulate in Glasgow is located at 4 Woodside Place, but they don't have a site unfortunately. But you can d/l the tourist visa application form from the Birmingham site @ http://www.thailand-visa.com/ (click the link to "Tourist Visa")
Take that along with the same docs mentioned on the Birmingham site to the Glasgow consulate at the following address:
4, Woodside Place, Charing Cross, Glasgow G3 7QF
Tel. 0141 353 5090
You can also do it by post, but then you'll need to provide a return envelope.
It normally only takes 2 days to process an application, so plenty of time if you're not leaving until mid-June.
EDIT: forgot to mention that it won't raise any eyebrows if you leave the country via a land border even though you've got a flight ticket. People often miss their flights but can't afford the cost of another one and opt to leave overland.
My mistake on the '180 day double entry tourist visa' - that's not clear. 120 days, yes, but you can extend at the end of 60 days, then hop over the border and extend again at the end of the second 60 days, equaling out to 180 days.
The OP didn't ask about staying for a year or more. He asked about going for as long as budget allows, which given the budget stated, couldn't be more than 4 months or so. Even if he wants to stay in Thailand for up to 6 months, 2X entry tourist visa or 1X entry tourist visa then leaving the country and getting another would make more sense than a Type O, which normally requires a letter from a Thai relative, business, hospital, charity, law firm or some other organization as far as I understand (though obviously not in Mac's case). If he wants to really stay long-term, a non-imm ED isn't a bad option.
I'm not saying you're wrong to err on the side of caution when it comes to overstaying, but saying that an overstay of more than 42 days will land you in prison when you try to the leave the country is a bit dramatic, especially given the OP didn't ask about overstays. With that said, you're right that it's wise to assume the worst.
I certainly didn't intend to start a rue with you, just to clarify some of the options and explain my view, which is definitely not fool-proof by any means!
"Thailand is OK in short bursts, but I don't think I'd want to actually settle there somehow. The positives don't outweigh the negatives for me, but others may think differently."
Personal freedom. The longer I am here, the more I notice it. I have a ton of personal freedom. The petty rules and regulations that punctuated my life in Germany and the US are now unbearable for me. I hate it. When you've always lived there (like my mother), you don't notice it. It's been a gradual increase in petty rules. Living in provincial Thailand, I can do whatever I want. Rules... laws... they don't mean anything here. The rule is simple. Don't hurt anyone. If you do something someone perceived as wrong, say you're sorry and all is forgiven. I like that kind of personal freedom. When I go home, I notice right away I don't have it anymore. That one positive is so huge, it outweighs everything.
I noticed "Victory in Pattani" underneath your posts, which incidentally, I love to read because of the sense of humour you inject into them whenever you write something. Anyway, I guess you reside somewhere down that part of the world. I've read quite a few ex-pat blogs and it seems to be a favourite spot in spite of the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism in that part of the world. I've never ventured that far south though, so I can't really comment on what you perceive as freedom. Neither have I lived in either Germany or the US so I'm not aware of what 'petty rules' as you describe them, exist.
But where Thailand is concerned, here are some of the things which deter me from moving there.
First of all, the standard of driving is appalling. Whenever I take a taxi from the airport, I'm reminded of just how bad it is. Everybody drives in the outside lane and bumper-to-bumper regardless of the speed the traffic is moving at. This tailgating is especially worrying when buses follow you at little more than a meter away. And then you see motorbikes laden with three or four people riding along with some mothers carrying babies with one arm.
Secondly, Thais seem to have a complete disregard for safety especially where electrical circuits are concerned. I've travelled around there a bit and stayed in a village in the east of the country for a couple of months a few years ago. They had a washing machine which didn't have a plug; just two bare wires which they jammed into the socket whenever they wanted to use it. After the wash cycle was over, the dirty water was discharged into the garden since there wasn't any drainage system. The 'fridge did have a plug, but wasn't earthed and I used to open it with trepidation wondering if that was going to be the day I would die from an electric shock.
As far as safety is concerned, it's a similar story with the building industry. Scaffolding consists of bamboo poles tied together, but no boards to walk on. Workers, usually Burmese since they provide cheaper labour than Thais, have to climb up the poles and then balance themselves precariously on them in order to work. Transporting workers to the building site takes place in a pickup truck with up to 20 people jammed into the back of it. Drivers have no regard for their safety and accidents happen all the time which results in inevitable deaths as happened here: http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phuket-big-buddha-tragedy-die-crash-tourist-jeep-13963/
It's a similar story with schoolkids. They're transported to school on a converted pickup with a row of seats on either sides. But to save the driver having to make two journeys, the kids are squashed together on the seats and those who can't fit in have to stand on the tailgate and then hang on for dear life regardless of the weather.
There's a complete disregard for the environment in Thailand and the countryside has become a virtual rubbish tip with plastic containers, tin cans and remnants of plastic bags lining the roadside. Effluent is discharged virtually untreated into the sea and beaches are used as a dumping ground to bury waste.
Stray dogs are a constant problem and outside of the main tourist areas, you risk being bitten, possibly by a rabied animal if you decide to take a stroll in the countryside.
Also, there's no welfare system in Thailand to speak of and a lack of health care. The rifts in Thai society are vast and how Thais experience life depends on where they fit into it. In the village I stayed in, people lived in corrugated iron shacks with just a squat toilet and no running water. The water supply came from a central tank which was replenished every month by a water tanker. The tank was riddled with algae and chunks of it would frequenly seep out whenever you turned the tap on. There was an old lady living nearby who was 62 years old, but looked about 90. Her income came in the form of a state pension of 500 Baht a month. That's about US$17. She didn't have any furniture, just a bamboo plank to sit on and the wooden floor to sleep on. During the hot season, the temperature inside the building was unbearable. In the monsoon season, the roof and the walls would leak and it could get quite cold at night.
As a tourist, you don't see these things and unless you read Thai news media, you'll probably never understand or see that side of life. But do I want to live in such a country? No, I don't think so.
Is the driving any worse than Europe? Italy and Russia are pretty awful. Thailand is certainly better than Vietnam. That tailgating on the motorway is pretty scarey but it's no worse than the two countries I mentioned.
You are right about electrical safety though building sites don't concern me. We stayed at the Tokyo hotel in Ubon and I noticed the water heater had bare wires. They sent someone up and he took one look at it and retreated. We were moved into another room but what if I hadn't noticed the faulty wiring?
The garbage problem is endemic all over Asia. You should see the trash on the beach at Sihanoukville on the weekend. A disgraceful mess. Eventually they'll get around to educating people not to throw it. They could start by teaching the students in schools the importance of keeping the environment clean.
No country is perfect.
Yeah if you have a special reason, by all means go Singapore, it is not bad a place, maybe 3-4 days will be enough.
It seems you are planning to cover areas of southern Thailand from Bangkok down to Malaysia and Singapore. Do bear in mind that the North and the East of Thailand are quite different from Bangkok and the Deep South. For me personally, I like the North the most, coupled with Laos and Cambodia - this would be my most favourite areas in SEA. Of course this is only my personal preference.
Anyhow, you'd definitely be fascinated and overwhelmed by SEA if this is your first Asian experience, no matter which parts you focus on, and no matter whether you drink or not - you will make a lot of great friends along!
Have a great trip!
I think that is about the amount of time I want to spend in Singapore. Hmm do you mind telling me what you liked about the North over the South? I am up for change of plans I'm really just excited to go anywhere myself and experience the world. I was planning on doing Bankok, then going up to Chiang Mai, then going back down the west gulf for some beaches because I heard it's less rainy there in June/July which is when I will be going next year, and then just down to Sinagpore.
#39 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
"As a tourist, you don't see these things and unless you read Thai news media, you'll probably never understand or see that side of life. But do I want to live in such a country? No, I don't think so."
Everything you wrote is true. Thailand isn't as safe as western Europe or the US. But I'm not a safety first guy. If I were, I wouldn't be a competetive fighter and I wouldn't have served in the US Army forever.
In terms of personal freedom, let me put it this way. If I don't rape someone and I don't kill someone, nobody is going to bother me. It's that simple. Whatever else I do with my home, with my driving, with anything - nobody is going to screw with me. If the police stop me (for speeding, or driving while drinking, or whatever) they are not going to fine me or arrest me. Guaranteed. I know them all. They're going to say "Go slow". That's it. I'm not going to get harrassed for J-walking. I'm not going to be hassled by building codes and inspectors. No tax man is coming to screw with me. I won't be fined for not separating my trash (like my mother was) so it can be recycled. And on top of that my neighbors are cool and will help me out whenever I need it. Life her is, as the Germans say "Genial". It ain't for everyone. If you are a safety first person, or hate trash on the street, etc. etc. don't move here. It depends on what's important to you.
And no, I don't live down south. I just had insurgencies. Having fought in one. I live in Issan. I'd like to move back to Somalia one day, maybe, but not now. Got a little girl to take care of.
I read a report on Bangkoknews.com a few months ago that Thais don't consider corruption to be a problem provided they either benefit from it, or it doesn't work to their detriment.
But a lack of law enforcement can work against you as well as in your favour. You mention drink-driving as an example in that nobody's going to haul you up before the judge for exceeding the alcohol limit. But doesn't it bother you that innocent people are needlessly killed and maimed every day by drunk drivers?
Also, the lack of proper safety checks on the roadworthiness of public service vehicles is a major source of concern. There's almost a daily occurrence of brake failures on buses which often lead to crashes where people are killed or injured like this one a short while ago: http://www.ttrweekly.com/site/2013/04/bus-falls-into-ravine/ or this one more recently: http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phuket-runaway-bus-crash-patong-hill-dead-injured-17737/
You probably don't see that much traffic where you're living now and maybe for you that part of the world fits your idea of Utopia. I've experienced that relaxed atmosphere myself and understand how appealing it is. Isaan is almost like a different country to the rest of Thailand and maybe you're right: maybe we do concern ourselves unnecessarily with petty rules and regulations. But laws to help prevent the carnage on roads caused by drunk drivers and bus drivers who dose themselves up on Ya-Ba (Methamphetamines) just so they can drive 13 hours at a stretch without stopping for a break are a necessary part of life IMHO.
To me Northern Thailand has friendlier people (to be fair, all Thais are friendly, just that some are more so), and more soft spoken. While the South has more tropical islands, my personal opinion is that you can choose two from amongst the best and that should be enough. Whereas the north has a lot of hilly regions like Mae Hong Son and Mae Salong where you can meet minority tribes, do lots of trekking, visit ancient capital at Sukothai, lovely towns like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pai, and Lampang. Their lifestyle is quite different from the south. It is not for no reason that people say the north and the east have more Thai feel than other areas.
All said, the south and Bangkok are definitely worth visiting too, but I suggest you to spare at least equal attention to the north, or else you would have missed a big part of Thailand. And if time permits, while in the north, you can take a short trip (say 7 to 10 days) to Northern Laos too - go there earlier before modern tourism deface it, not many places like that exist now. You can read travelfish, Lone Planet or the Rough Guide to have an idea. That's why I suggest that you focus your short 2 months to Thailand, Laos (and perhaps Cambodia), and save Malaysia and Singapore for a second trip to SEA - which, I'm sure you would after finishing this first trip... :-)
Well said Xircal.
#43 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
"I read a report on Bangkoknews.com a few months ago that Thais don't consider corruption to be a problem provided they either benefit from it, or it doesn't work to their detriment."
Things on this subject are changing. But not rapidly or radically. It's certainly more tolerated here. Having said that, I have never paid a bribe and never been asked to.
"But a lack of law enforcement can work against you as well as in your favour. You mention drink-driving as an example in that nobody's going to haul you up before the judge for exceeding the alcohol limit. But doesn't it bother you that innocent people are needlessly killed and maimed every day by drunk drivers?"
Airplane crashes bother me, but I can't do much about them. It is what it is here. Every rule and every petty regulation we have back home is done with the best of intentions. There's always some great social good. Let me tell you what I don't want. I don't want Thailand to become like the US or western Europe. I don't want that. I know the risks of driving drunk here. I know when the risk factor is high and when it's not. I know if I go out at night I'd better be careful, because everyone on the road is drunk. I assume the risk when I go out. I'm OK with that.
"Also, the lack of proper safety checks on the roadworthiness of public service vehicles is a major source of concern."
Public service vehicles? You mean all vehicles. And passive voice, very bad. It's a major source of concern to you. Again, if you want a safe environment, this ain't your place. Like I said, it's not for everyone. I wouldn't leave if you paid me.
"You probably don't see that much traffic where you're living now and maybe for you that part of the world fits your idea of Utopia. I've experienced that relaxed atmosphere myself and understand how appealing it is. Isaan is almost like a different country to the rest of Thailand and maybe you're right: maybe we do concern ourselves unnecessarily with petty rules and regulations. But laws to help prevent the carnage on roads caused by drunk drivers and bus drivers who dose themselves up on Ya-Ba (Methamphetamines) just so they can drive 13 hours at a stretch without stopping for a break are a necessary part of life IMHO."
We have quite a bit of traffic actually. It's not Bangkok, but the roads are busy. I live in a city. But like I said, it is what it is. For those who think the risk isn't worth the benefit, they are free to stay in Europe or the US. For me, this is a no-brainer. I'll take Issan any day.
I've never really noticed the north having more friendly people. People are people and you get good and bad everywhere. Sure some of the Thais on Samui and Phuket aren't so good, but that's because they are in hardcore tourist zones. In Krabi and Trang the locals are nice as pie mostly.
Not sure about Chiang Mai being a lovely town - it's a city and it's built up and mega touristy. Pai is a backpacker ghetto and Rai offers little to do. The best thing in the north to do is hire a car and drive around and explore parts away from the tourist meccas.
"a few months ago that Thais don't consider corruption to be a problem provided they either benefit from it, or it doesn't work to their detriment"
And that surprised you? C'mon people take bribes the world over. It's only a rort if you're not in on it.
"I know the risks of driving drunk here. I know when the risk factor is high and when it's not. I know if I go out at night I'd better be careful, because everyone on the road is drunk. I assume the risk when I go out. I'm OK with that."
You live in a smallish town though so the roads aren't super busy. Far more dangerous driving around the busy spots. There's a lot of idiots on the road from Hua Hin-Bangkok-Pattaya.
Well, I suppose we've reached an impasse now. You have your views about Thailand and I have mine. I guess there's no point in pursuing the subject any longer because we're poles apart on the way we think.
Also, Mike (the OP) might like to get his thread back.
By the way Mike, you won't see much of the countryside if you travel by bus in Thailand even in broad daylight. Passengers like to keep the curtains closed because of the hot sunshine coming through the windows and that prevents you from seeing what's going on outside.
Also, you might want to pack a good supply of earplugs because bus drivers tend to play their favourite Thai hits at full volume while driving and that can get on your nerves a bit after a while.
Nearly all Thai music is centred around sad love songs and if you get to watch Thai TV, big dramas between teenage girls and boys are the main feature with tearful breakups happening all the time. Thais seem to love that stuff. Here's an example from Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ_1FCX6sto
Haha thanks for the tip Xircal, I can see that song getting really annoying. I am definitely thinking of doing more of the North now that you guys have mentioned these things. Then hit up a couple beaches as well. I'll try to find a way to get off the beaten path and see the countryside and less touristy areas. I know I will be doing a lot of research and have a general plan, but i'm really thinking of seeing what happens when I get there and hitting my main destinations, but if something changes i'll let it happen. I definitely would love to meet the locals though and not be too absorbed in all the touristy attractions.
BTW the only time I can really go is in the summer sometime between end of May to August. Is the rainy season really that bad? I've read that it's hit or miss but it mostly rains for a couple hours and then it's fine. I also think it'd be nicer since there's less tourists and cheaper prices. Hopefully mosquitoes aren't too bad in the rainy season.
#49 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
"Well, I suppose we've reached an impasse now. You have your views about Thailand and I have mine. I guess there's no point in pursuing the subject any longer because we're poles apart on the way we think."
And there's nothing wrong with that. Two reasonable people can look at the same information and draw different conclusions. We're not all the same.
I don't like Laos particularly either. But some people love it. I love Issan - some people think it's a backwater. Everyone has their own preferences. I've live in eight countries in my life, and this is one of my favorites. I have a foundness for European architecture, and like international cuisine and I miss those living out here. There are trade-offs. It's much cheaper to live here. It's another major factor.
I also love living in Somalia - but there the safety issue is so extreme that with a family the risk factor was too great. Here I bought a house and westernized it, with top notch electrical system, fire alarms, extinguisher, good lighting, sound structure. I know the roads well, I know the drivers. I know how to minimize risk to my family. In Somalia - just too hard. If I were single, that's where I'd be.
As for Thai TV - total and utter crap. It's infantile. I hate to be so harsh, but there's no point in calling a pig a dog. My wife watches this **** and so does my daughter. I can't stomach it. I remind my daughter all the time that what she's watching is absurd. I don't want her thinking otherwise. But yeah, all Thai women are addicted to the ****. Or almost all.
As for music - this is why I prefer Carabao and that genre. The love song thing just gets old.
I've been to Thailand in virtually every month now and haven't found the weather to be a problem. If anything, a torrential downpour helps cool things down and settle the dust. Even when a cloudburst hits, it seldom lasts more than an hour and then the Sun comes out again. I was enthralled the first time I experienced a Thai storm. We don't get torrential downpours like they have over there where I live and I found it fascinating to see Nature at work in the raw.
Mozzies can be a problem though and I'd advise you to take a good supply of insect repellant containing DEET with you. Stick form is better I find and easier to store. "Autan" which you can get in the US is a good one: http://www.autan.com/nqcontent.cfm?a_name=Products Oddly enough though, very few shops sell anything containing DEET in Thailand.
Thais don't drink milk. I don't know why and once you get out into the sticks, you'll have to learn to do without it I'm afraid.
Also, you cannot buy toothpicks anywhere in Thailand. The only thing available are cocktail sticks, so if you value your dental hygiene take a few packets of those with you.
Meeting the locals though might prove a bit difficult because outside of the tourist hotspots, very few Thais speak English. Maybe you could try learning a few Thai phrases like how to say hello and stuff. There are free online lessons on this site: http://www.thai-language.com/lessons/ It goes down well with people if you can speak a few Thai words and you'll make many friends among them that way.
If you do go to some remote part of the country, you may find yourself being stared at by the locals like you're a monkey who just escaped from the zoo....lol. But don't worry, it's just that many Thais have never seen a foreigner before and they're just curious about you. Just smile and they'll usually respond the same way and wave at you.
Thais smile a lot. It's their way of being non-confrontational. So when you're gobsmacked by some stunning looking chick who gives you an enormous smile, it doesn't necessarily mean she fancies you (although she might), so just respond the same way. That's one thing I do love about Thailand. It's as if all the most beautiful girls in the world have all been concentrated in one country and nowhere else. Takes a bit of getting used to grim looks I get from people when I get back home again each time. Oh well...
On the subject of Thai TV, I couldn't agree with you more. But the box permeates their lives and they're like junkies needing a fix when it comes to Thai soaps. I can't stomach them either.
And then there are Thai superstitions to deal with. I bet those drive you bonkers as well.
Coupled with predictions about the future sown by soothsayers which caused mass panic up by the Bhumipol Dam, predicted to collapse on New Year's Eve last year and your insanity is guaranteed sooner rather than later I fear.
Have a nice weekend.
I remember in the 1980's when milk was hard to find and only available in those little envelope-like plastic bags. But that was a long time ago and milk is readily available at any 7-11 or similar shop these days in a variety of sizes and flavors. Same goes for toothpicks. The ones in my house right now I got in Thailand. Thai writing and all on the small dispenser. They may not be readily placed on restaurant tables, although that isn't universally true either, but you can certainly buy them in Thailand.
I remember too in the 80's when children would burst into tears at the site of me and older ladies would approach me, fascinated by the hair on my arms and actually rub my arm. Well, children might still cry when they see me, but that has nothing to do with being foreign I'm afraid. Still, I haven't been stared at like that for decades, even in the most remote places. I'm just not sure that is true anymore...
If you want to see rural Thailand and want a part time tour guide for free, come out to Mukdahan and drop me a note here. I'll be happy to show you around. I've done it before with other travelfishers. No problem.
@ Xircal - I don't know when you were out here last - but Issan has changed rapidly in the last five years. Basically, aside from some food, anythign you can get in the States you can here within reason. Even Ducatti is selling motorcycles out here now. There's a dealer in Ubon Ratchathani. In Mukdahan we have a Big C, a Macro and a Lotus. The only thing I can't get out here is swiss cheese and those little Maggi Schweinebraten packets I like. Otherwise... pretty much good to go.
"Thais don't drink milk. I don't know why and once you get out into the sticks, you'll have to learn to do without it I'm afraid."
Xircal, not anymore. The worm has turned. Thai children drink milk. I have a country house in Ampur Saimun, in Yasothon province. There's a 7-11 there AND a Lotus Express. In the village itself there are TWO shopettes both of which carry those little hermetic Danish milks. You can get milk everywhere now. Globalization has come to Thailand in a major way (thank God).
"Also, you cannot buy toothpicks anywhere in Thailand. The only thing available are cocktail sticks, so if you value your dental hygiene take a few packets of those with you."
I'm not sure what the difference is between a "cocktail stick" and a toothpick - but using the definition I grew up with, toothpicks are available in every restaraunt in Mukdahan. Or almost every. You can get dental picks at the drug store around the corner from my house.
"Meeting the locals though might prove a bit difficult because outside of the tourist hotspots, very few Thais speak English. Maybe you could try learning a few Thai phrases like how to say hello and stuff."
Meeting them is easy. They want to meet you. Now, having a real conversation, that can be another matter. University towns can help overcome this, because a lot of students speak solid English. Not a majority, but many. But my first year living here I couldn't speak Thai to save my life, and I still met lots of people and interacted with them.
"And then there are Thai superstitions to deal with. I bet those drive you bonkers as well.
Coupled with predictions about the future sown by soothsayers which caused mass panic up by the Bhumipol Dam, predicted to collapse on New Year's Eve last year and your insanity is guaranteed sooner rather than later I fear."
I just ignore that kind of nonsense and when my wife brings it up I remind her it's nonsense. She gets mad... then she forgets about it.
Thai pop music is no worse than Justin Bieber. I would say it's better.
A lot of Thai TV shows are pretty tragic but again you get lots of rubbish shows in the west.
True most Thais don't drink much cow's milk but they love soy milk. But it's just a matter of introducing them to milk like anything at a younger age.
Lots of Thais believe in ghosts but that comes down to poor education. PNG still has witch doctors and everybody in the village believes it due to poor education.
Xircal, thanks for all the tips man! Actually the main thing I am worried about in my trip is getting some dengue fever or something. But i'm going to take all the precautions and probably wear pants to cover my legs because mosquitoes love me. Milk thing doesn't bother me a bit though because I only really drink milk with cereal or protein shakes. Some of y family lives in Jakarta and Philippines and when I went to visit them, I noticed that people there are so much friendlier than in the US. And I noticed the smiling thing there too. I do agree that Thai women are one of the most beautiful.
MADMAC: That would actually be awesome! When next summer comes around I'll definitely remember that and let you know of my plans closer to when I would leave.
LeanoardCohen I agree with you on the Justin Bieber thing.. And actually a lot of the stuff they play on the radio now.
#56 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
"Thai pop music is no worse than Justin Bieber. I would say it's better."
Oh, and I love Justin Bieber. He's one of my favorites.
"A lot of Thai TV shows are pretty tragic but again you get lots of rubbish shows in the west."
Leonard, it's way worse in Thailand. I have seen ONE, excatly ONE Thai movie that had some sort of reflection in reality, and I think you know that. Needless to say, I get a lot of exposure. Some of the kids movies are OK. Suck Seed was pretty good. The only movie I really liked was "One Take Only". I thought that was well done with the exception of the bathroom scene, which was ovedone.
"Lots of Thais believe in ghosts but that comes down to poor education. PNG still has witch doctors and everybody in the village believes it due to poor education."
I had to go to the witch doctor once (blow doctor). My neighbor Mi Yai took me. Everyone insisted I go to clear up a skin infection I picked up on the farm. So I went to the dermatologist and got some actual meds, then went to the witch doctor and tried not to laugh. At least he was kindly and cheap (and drunk).
@ exacto / MADMAC,
You're both talking about the availability of things like milk in populated areas. But in the village I stayed in, population about 150, there wasn't a bottle of milk to be seen anywhere. You had to drive into the nearest town which took about an hour to get some. I managed to find some UHT milk there and used to buy a truckload of it at a time to last me a couple of months.
As regards toothpicks, I'm talking about this type which aren't available in Thailand: http://www.tandeninfo.nl/houten-tandenstokers/ You insert these between your teeth and use a kind of sawing motion to harden your gums and remove any debris which has accumulated.
Dengue is transmitted by a small mosquito called Aedes. It's recognisable by the black and white stripes on its body and it only bites in the daytime. Unfortunately, there are no vaccines available to prevent infection by the virus and all you can do is to use insect repellant containing DEET to make it harder for the insects to detect you.
The primary method of preventing the spread of this type of mozzie is to eliminate its breeding grounds such as stagnant water which collects in discarded tins and buckets. But out in sticks, people save water in large stone urns due to the lack of running water and this is where you find them mostly.
I was lucky that I didn't go down with the virus considering the amount time I spent there although I did pick up some nasty skin infection which made me break out in big red blotches. They itched like crazy, but any attempt to scratch them brought on a violent pain, so I wasn't a happy muppet back then. I never did find out what caused them though and once I got back home, they disappeared.
I'd forgotten about the ghost thing. Yes, that's very true. In fact every Thai has their own spirit who sits on their shoulders and is supposed to protect them from their enemies in a former life. They often buy presents, usually toys to keep the spirit happy.
Also Thais believe that every home and business is inhabited by both good and evil spirits which have to be appeased. They do this by providing a spirit house which can be a carving bought from a local store, or just a part of the house dedicated to the spirits use. Offerings of food and drink and fresh flowers are placed there every day.
Amusing for Westerners, but taken very seriously by Thais.
Fair enough. I guess you meant there was no milk at all in the small, rurual village you visited instead of Thais don't drink milk. The rest of the 70+ million Thais appear to drink plenty of the stuff - it wouldn't be so readily available everywhere else in Thailand otherwise.
I checked that link to the dental picks you mentioned and I see what you mean. I agree that no matter where you are travelling in the world, it is smart to take along a supply of any specialized items that you think are essential, like these dental picks. I'll bet they are available at some stores in Bangkok, but why would you spend part of your holiday trying to find something you could so easily bring with you from back home. Best wishes.
"In fact every Thai has their own spirit who sits on their shoulders and is supposed to protect them from their enemies in a former life. They often buy presents, usually toys to keep the spirit happy."
Every Thai? I've never heard of this shoulder theory and seen no Thais buy presents for shoulder spirits.
"You had to drive into the nearest town which took about an hour to get some."
An hour??? Xircal, I'm not saying I don't believe you, but what village isn't closer than an hour from it's ampur? I've driven all over Issan and never experienced such a thing. In any case, I doubt Mike is planning on finding a place that remote - which would take a lot of work to find.
As for those dental picks (we had them in Germany) I'll have to ask my dentist if they are available here. Like I said, Thailand is changing and almost anything you can get back home (providing it's not a cultural centric item like Williams Christ) you can get here now. Even out in provincial Thailand where I live.
"But out in sticks, people save water in large stone urns due to the lack of running water and this is where you find them mostly."
This is true, but Dengue is more of an urban disease. The reason is (according to our physician and the health inspectors who blasted our neighborhood with insecticide when my wife and son got sick) because the insect contracts the disease from a human, then subsequently transmits it to another human. It's easier to do this in densely populated areas. When my wife and son were infected, they got sick on within a day of each other (along with another little girl on our street who was sick the week before). So your risk is actually greater in urban areas than in the sticks. Having said that, I never wear sandals, never wear shorts, and very seldom get bitten. I don't leave my skin exposed. This is also because I ride, and riding a motorcycle in shorts and sandals is - well - not very bright.
"Also Thais believe that every home and business is inhabited by both good and evil spirits which have to be appeased"
None of the Thais I know do anything like this in their homes. I'm not sure where you are getting your info from - book? The main thing that Thais do in homes is have images of Buddha plus some royal family photos perhaps. Special ceremonies are reserved for temples.
I want to wear pants to be able to cover up from mozzies but how hot is it to wear pants? I hope it's not too bad. What kind of pants are the best for the heat?
#64 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
It's hot and humid so jeans aren't much good. Thin tracksuit pants will do or army cargo long pants if not too thick. I rarely wear long pants in Thailand. Mozzies aren't that big a deal. Malaria is now rare in Thailand and Dengue fever while it happens isn't that common either. As long as you don't walk along beaches after 5pm you shouldn't have too much of a problem. You can buy good mozzie sprays in Thai 7/11s.
Oh that actually puts me at more ease. I was getting worked up about dengue fever reading some forums and blogs. I'll see how comfortable I feel in some light pants and if it's too hot i'll just go to shorts.
#66 Mikeg500 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 12
You asked me where I'm getting my info from about Thais appeasing the spirits. No offence, but your response makes me wonder why you don't seem to know anything about the subject (?).
It's a regular feature practically everywhere you go in Thailand. My own info comes from personal experience having stayed with a Thai family who had a table in a corner of the room adorned with food, drink and flowers. Even in Phuket which is predominantly tourist orientated, you'll find food and drinks placed on trays outside restaurants. Maybe you just thought the object was to illustrate what's on the menu inside?
As for spirit houses, you'll find picture of them in this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_house They can be found everywhere in Thailand and you'd have to be blind not to see them.
In addition, I think it's morally wrong to play down the threat posed by the dengue virus. There appears to be a resurgence of the disease in Thailand this year with up to four times the number of infections than in 2012. See http://www.mcot.net/site/content?id=50ea2fa5150ba01d32000113 which has a nice picture of the Aedes mozzie to help you recognize the buggers.
"offence, but your response makes me wonder why you don't seem to know anything about the subject (?).
It's a regular feature practically everywhere you go in Thailand. My own info comes from personal experience having stayed with a Thai family who had a table in a corner of the room adorned with food, drink and flowers. Even in Phuket which is predominantly tourist orientated, you'll find food and drinks placed on trays outside restaurants. Maybe you just thought the object was to illustrate what's on the menu inside?"
You stayed with a Thai family? Wow, I've been married to a Thai for years and have many Thai friends and visit their homes often. They put flowers in a corner? Wow, women all over the world do that. The whole thing with placing items in a certain place is a Buddhist thing and it's not some thing that normal Thais obsess over. It's more of a thing to do at temples rather than homes. The average Thai in 2013 is more interested in playing with their mobile phone than worrying about ghosts.
Could you please explain how the shoulder fairy works?
The big thing is on the spirit issue the spirit house outside. In cities and shophouses they are less common. In villages, more so. But none of this is particularly important. My wife has offerings you described above (though not for "spirits" per se, but rather for some Bhudist something or other). But the prevelence in the believe in what we would call ghosts is very common and in fact I don't know a Thai with whom the subject has been broached who didn't believe in them (and are always astounded that I think it's hokey nonsense).
"It's hot and humid so jeans aren't much good."
I wear jeans as often as not. It's not too hot - at least not for me. I was wearing them today as a matter of fact. If you are a heat guy, you'll be OK with long pants of whatever type. If you don't like the heat, then lightweight army ripstop pants are the way to go.
Leonard - do you ride? I mean, I only know two guys who live out here who don't ride. And riding in shorts is really a bad idea. Doubly bad if you're wearing sandals.
"Even in Phuket which is predominantly tourist orientated, you'll find food and drinks placed on trays outside restaurants"
Haven't been to Phuket for some years but lots of seafood restaurants place seafood outside so that people can see what's on the menu :-)
The average small Thai restaurant has nothing outside their restaurant but a well worn pavement and a wall that needs painting.
Not everyone goes to Issan. Like a mentioned a few posts ago, I went East, not Northeast. The nearest town was Sakaeo, which is about 3.5 hours out of Bangkok on bus #9961. The nearest village where you could buy provisions (but not milk) can be found here: http://goo.gl/maps/r0wBl
You take the 3462 out of Sakaeo and then the 3485 to that spot my link takes you to. Not recommended unless you have transport since there aren't any taxis in Sakaeo and buses only travel back and forth to the main cities. But there's a national park called Pangsida close by which has a nice waterfall and is well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.
The roads aren't too good though and you have to be careful at night because of the potholes, some of them quite deep. Beautiful countryside though and I miss that.
The roads must have been really bad, because on the map it's only 15 miles or so.
Be that as it may, in general milk is available at every 7-11, and they are everywhere now. Even dumpy little towns like Ampur Saimun. So Mike won't have a problem finding it if he needs it unless he plans to really go out into the sticks. Even then, the little mom and pop places now often carry those little "Danish Milk" hermetic things because they take forever to go bad. So I think he's good to go on that score.
I never get down that way though. I'm an Issan guy pretty much.
If you're going to spend a day or two in Bangkok, this is video of a hotel I stayed in which is located near Pratunam Market and also on the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi rail link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIjL8bya3Pk
It's called Metz Pratunam. Nothing special mind you, but very comfortable beds and they have non-smoking rooms too. This link will open in Google Street View outside the hotel: http://goo.gl/maps/y8Oox
This is the hotel's location on the map and if you zoom out a bit, you'll see the airport rail link a couple of blocks further north. A tuk-tuk will take you from the station to the hotel for about 40 Baht (about $1,35 cents). http://goo.gl/maps/D9K7S
Airco room with flat screen TV costs about $45 a night.
You really do need to brush up on your Thai folklore don't you. How can you live in a country without delving into its culture? Thailand certainly has an abundance of that.
The Royal Thai General System has it written as "Chao Kam Nai Wen". As you're probably already aware, Thais are Buddhists and Buddhists believe in Reincarnation. That being the case, the person concerned has lived before and may have made enemies in their previous life. Folklore has it that Chao Kam Nai Wen sits on the person's shoulders to protect them from the bad spirits of those previous lives.
The milk war drags on...lol
You're an Issan guy and maybe in your part of the world, 7/11s sprout out of the ground like mushrooms. But these businesses are franchises and in order to recuperate your initial investment, you need a good location where you can make a a reasonably good living. A village of 150 people is not a good location, hence no 7/11s and definitely no milk simply because there's no demand for it.
Don't be deterred from going to Thailand because it's a wonderful experience and one not to be missed.
I'm also a target for the mozzies and frequently get bitten. I was in Bangkok in 2012 when the dengue virus was making the rounds, but none of the bites I received were of the dengue flavour, so don't be too concerned about it. As long as you saturate yourself in DEET, you're unlikely to have too many problems.
If anything, infection with DENV 1 has its advantages in that it gives you lifelong protection against catching it a second time. Unfortunately though, it doesn't give you cross protection against the other three types (DENV2, 3 & 4).
Maybe keep an eye on the CDC outbreaks site @ http://www.cdc.gov/dengue/travelOutbreaks/index.html
As for clothing, I wear both short sleeve shirts, sandals and shorts all the time. I've tried wearing long trousers and long sleeved shirts but gave up on the idea because I sweat a lot and don't like the material clinging to me.
For sure, but remote villages that are not close to their Ampur are rare. The vast majority of the country is living with short driving distance to their Ampur. That's where they do the bulk of their administration and connect with the rest of the country. And almost every Ampur now has a 7-11 or a variant thereof. Like I said, ten years ago it was different. But now, in Thailand, you can get almost anything you can get in Europe or the States.
That village in Sakeo sounds interesting. What were you doing there? I dated a girl from Sakeo when I lived in Bangkok, but we never made it out to her village. She wasn't too interested in going back there, particularly with her foreign boyfriend in tow. But what she described sounded pretty similar to your description. Do you know if they spoke Khmer there or Thai?
I was staying with my girlfriend's parents. It's a long story, but one that didn't work out primarily because it soon became apparent that they saw me as a husband for their daughter who I'd only known for a few months at the time. Being a traditional part of Thailand, marriage meant a hefty dowry - "Sin Sod" in Thai - for her parents with the usual amount quadrupling just because I was a "farang" (means "foreigner" in Thai but applied mostly to caucasians of European descent). Foreigners are always perceived to be stinking rich as you probably know.
They spoke Thai all the time at home, but I don't know if they understood Khmer or not. But Cambodians working in the area would often take a shortcut to where they were going by wandering through the garden, showing no respect at all for the sanctity of private property. But her parents never said a word to them, so maybe they couldn't speak the lingo.
I found it quite irritating though that they never used my name when talking about me. I was always the "farang" and that word kept cropping up whenever a discussion took place. I know there's a Thai fruit called a "farang" which I believe is a Guava, but people don't usually discuss fruits at length, so I'm sure the conversations were about me.
It's a very peaceful part of the country though and if I were to ever move to Thailand, it would be the kind of place I'd be willing to settle in.
Xircal - you got to haggle man. My wife's mother wanted a ridiculous amount of money for her dowry. I responded with a sturdy "**** no". I told her she'd get 25,000 baht and like it. This was back in the day when it was 40 baht to the dollar (miss those days). Yes, she thought I was a cash cow, and I constantly disabused her of that notion. My father in law was cool though (still is).
"But Cambodians working in the area would often take a shortcut to where they were going by wandering through the garden, showing no respect at all for the sanctity of private property. But her parents never said a word to them, so maybe they couldn't speak the lingo."
There is no sanctity for private property here - expecially in villages. That's not a notion organic to Thai village life. They didn't say anything, because the people wandering through were not doing anything wrong in their eyes. At my father in laws house, people wander in, take stuff from the fridge, wander out, hang around - that's just normal village life. It's more communcal than typical western society. It took me a while to get used to it. Now I do it too. I wander over to the neighbors and just start eating their food with them.
"I found it quite irritating though that they never used my name when talking about me. I was always the "farang" and that word kept cropping up whenever a discussion took place. "
Be happy they weren't calling you "it". I was "it" for quite a while until I finally voiced objection to being "it". Being called Farang here is normal. If you can't deal with it, you are right, you are not put down to stay here.
"I know there's a Thai fruit called a "farang" which I believe is a Guava, but people don't usually discuss fruits at length, so I'm sure the conversations were about me."
Of course they were. Kind of natural actually. You're banging their daughter and they want to know what's in it for them. Rules of the game here.
Sin Sot is usually paid back to the couple of at least 50% but you really shouldn't pay it as a farang. If a woman can't comprise and expects you to adopt Thai culture 100% then she's not worth marrying anyway. There's no way I would ever pay a sin sot. Dinner and drinks yes, sin sot no. BTW sin sot only applies to a 1st marriage so if it's her 2nd and she wants money paid to family then you are being scammed.
"You really do need to brush up on your Thai folklore don't you. How can you live in a country without delving into its culture? Thailand certainly has an abundance of that."
I don't need to do anything or be told what to do. Especially by someone who has a warped sense of culture.
Chao Kam Nai Wen is supposed to sit on the back of a person but it's bs and only silly superstitious people really get into those sort of beliefs full on. While most Thais believe in ghosts the average Thai isn't totally paranoid about ghost stories. It's like Christianity - fundamentalists fully believe in the stories while the average Christian is skeptical about a lot of it.
The most significant offerings given by Thais is food to monks.
Interesting thread. Wondered from alcohol to spirits
(suppose there's a connection :-) )
I just want to second Leornard. I never paid Sin Sot and my son in law from Petchaburi never paid us. An out-dated concept. Just a way of ripping you off. You guys who paid it were just sold a heap of horse manure.
I am more familiar with the Cambodian version.When you pay there you get most of it back in little envelopes at the wedding. The Khmer are rather behind the Thais though.
Old western culture (only a couple of decades old though) the bride's father pays for the wedding. If any farang gets asked for sin sot simply fire back that piece of culture for them to digest and see how they like it. If the woman wont budge on her beliefs and expects you to just accept Thai culture and abandon your own beliefs then what kind of marriage will that be? She'll be out the door at the first sign of trouble.
Maybe I could have reasoned with her I don't know. She didn't speak a word of English though and my knowledge of Thai at the time was restricted to "hello, how are you" type of stuff. Marriage wasn't at the forefront of my mind either at the time.
But this is all history now. I go to Thailand these days to get away from the cold weather in my part of the world. If the situation crops up again, I might respond differently, I don't know.
I gave a substantial sum to my daughter to help her buy a house in Bangkok.Helping the next generation I can understand but giving money to the old people so they can drink themselves under the table I'm not into, therefore no sin sot. ;-)
Although Sin Sod is regarded as an outdated institution by modern urban dwellers, I can understand the concept of trying to find a way of escaping the kind of abject poverty most rural dwellers have to deal with throughout their lives and from which there's very little chance of escape.
Thai villages aren't exactly what you'd call slums, but they don't have the modern amenities the rest of us are used to and very few of the inhabitants will ever be able to afford to be able to buy a decent home for themselves.
Although I wasn't in the market for settling down back then, I did buy them a few mod cons to improve their lot and they seemed a lot happier afterwards. I probably even gave them as much as Sin Sod would have cost me come to think of it, but I'm a lot older now and being a charitable kind of person, I'll always help someone if I feel that they're genuine.
'find a way of escaping the kind of abject poverty most rural dwellers have to deal with throughout their lives and from which there's very little chance of escape.'
I haven't seen that sort of poverty.
My mother in law has just moved into a new house with pretty decent furnishings. With free electricity as well life seems pretty sweet. It doesn't have air-con but personally I feel this is unnecessary in Isan.
I hate it anyway and lived quite contentedly in Malaysia, a hotter and more humid place, with only ceiling fans.
'very few of the inhabitants will ever be able to afford to be able to buy a decent home for themselves.'
I can only speak from personal experience. My daughter bought a house in Bangkok, admittedly with my help but most of the neighbours have very ordinary, unskilled jobs and can afford the repayments.
'I'll always help someone if I feel that they're genuine.'
By all means help someone if you feel there's a genuine need but never get arm twisted into parting with money.
Hey Frick and Frack (Sayadian and Leonard). I paid Sin Sot and I didn't consider myself scammed. I attended a marriage just last year in the same village (and no, the groom was not a farang) and sin sot was paid (and of course brandished about). It was more than I paid. Now, I don't doubt there was a kick back - but something was paid. The concept is still alive and well.
"Old western culture (only a couple of decades old though) the bride's father pays for the wedding."
Dude, in the US this is still the norm. It's not "old western culture" there. It's current culture.
As for poverty I agree with Sayadian. My father in law doesn't have a lot of material things - but he doesn't have a bad life either. He owns his own rice fields, he owns his own house, he has zero debt. He owns his own motorcycle. His cost of living is very low, and he grows much, if not most, of his own food. He works at his own pace. He has a girlfriend with a big rack. He has a low pressure existence. I know a guy who lives outside Pattaya who's a corporate lawyer who works mostly outside of Thailand. He has a nice house, in-ground pool, you name it. But I'd bet my father in law is happier than he is. In fact, I'd bet a lot. For those who are in debt and don't own anything - it can be tough for sure. But not all village dwellers are poor unfortunates.
As I said above:
By all means help someone if you feel there's a genuine need but never get arm twisted into parting with money.
I was never even asked to pay it. It was second time round for both of us. I think under those circumstances there is no Sin Sot.
You say you haven't seen that "type of property" like you think it doesn't exist or something.
Well, I guess some peeps just won't believe it until they see it, so I've uploaded a couple of images for you. One of the house - note the absense of windows - and one of the toilet. The same room also functioned as a shower. However, due to the absence of running water, in order to take a shower, you filled the black bowl you see in the pix from the urn and then poured that over yourself to wash the soap off.
"Dude, in the US this is still the norm. It's not "old western culture" there. It's current culture."
With the US economy still weak how does a father avoid to pay $20,000 on a wedding? Heck some spend $50,000 on a wedding. You'd be stuffed if you had 4 daughters.
"I was never even asked to pay it. It was second time round for both of us. I think under those circumstances there is no Sin Sot."
Second time around for us too - but my wife was still young and there was no sin sot first time around (my wife's first marriage was worse than mine - which is saying something). She was still young back then. I was OK with it, as I had money.
"With the US economy still weak how does a father avoid to pay $20,000 on a wedding? Heck some spend $50,000 on a wedding. You'd be stuffed if you had 4 daughters."
Depends on the family. Some will do an inexpensive wedding. Some will borrow it. That's not to say that if the boyfriends family has money and the woman's does not they won't pitch in, or even pay for all of it. But the tradition is alive and well. My parents gave my sister a nice wedding and they helped me with my univeristy education (although I had a scholarship, so fortunately didn't need too much help).
"Rare in Thailand but good if you can get it."
But more common than with the Chinese. My wife is also well endowed. But you live here, so you must have a feel for that subject (BWAHAHAHAHAHA that was a good pun).
'You say you haven't seen that "type of property" like you think it doesn't exist or something.'
Perhaps i should have qualified what I meant being I haven't seen it in the village I go to.
Yes I have seen abject poverty in Cambodia, Philipines and even U.S.A. Though i haven't visited anything like that in Thailand since they knocked down the slums in Bang Na.
OoTF is Frick and Frack?
'my wife's first marriage was worse than mine'