10 Household Things You Don’t Think About..

.. When you are constantly on the road.. until you are not:

– How quickly toilet paper gets used up,
– Likewise for paper towels, cleaning supplies, hand soaps,
– That you have neighbors,
– Which day of the week the recycling gets collected,
– How many channels exist on your cable package,
– How much cleaning you have to constantly do,
– How much you actually spend on groceries,
– How quickly food goes bad,
– How much petrol costs,
– How many errands you have to run all the time.

Things you don’t think about when you have a maid

I refrained from talking about hiring domestic help because, as an American, I see having a maid as a frivolous status symbol. As an expat living in Thailand, it is the norm. It took me a while to get over my reluctance to let in a stranger and hire a part-time maid. It took only one day of her working for me to be converted.

1. There will always be a clean towel on the rack when you step out of the shower.
2. Dishes do magically disappear from the sink and end up clean in the shelves.
3. Trash cans never overflow.
4. Walking barefoot at home is the norm because your feet stay clean.
5. Shower soap scum doesn’t exist.
6. Toilets never stain.
7. Fridge contents don’t turn into green science experiments.
8. You will never be left with a toilet roll that has only one square left.

Cambodian Tuktuks

I despise riding tuktuks in Thailand. But for some reason, I love the ones in Cambodia. Unlike the Thailand three-wheeled carts, these are carriages attached to a motorcycle pulling it. There are a couple single-vehicle units that are still made to resemble the pulled carriage structure.

The compartment is usually made of wood, sometimes so shabbily so we are afraid to really put our weight on the floorboards, in fear of our legs breaking right through the planks onto the asphalt below. There’s something about the carriage, though, that just feels rustic and old fashioned. Maybe it’s the poles supporting the hood that looks almost like a thin pillar. Maybe it’s the benches being not unlike the benches of the old horse carriages. Or the penchant for a lot of the drivers to hand up curtains around  the compartment, largely plastic rain shields, but an occasional fabric curtain or two.

As much as I am charmed by the vehicle, I vehemently dislike the process of being ripped off by the drivers. Fares generally are negotiated, especially when dealing with the mafia camped out in front of  the major hotels. There’s an organized element to the hoard of tuktuks that wait in front of the hotels. They follow a queue system, and they have a price point they try to maintain that is as much as four times the fair value. A gaggle stakes claim to particular street corner or hotel entrance and any one trying to join in will likely be bullied.

The tuktuk mafia hate me. Frugal to the fault, I believe in paying at fair value, not a penny more. It’s not that I can’t afford it.. but a lot of locals and NGO expats cannot afford raising tuktuk fares. So I don’t encourage the drivers.  Like taking taxis in Bangkok, I’ve learned flagging a tuktuk passing on the street is the best way. More often than not, the drivers don’t even haggle, they just accept what you pay at the end as long as it is fair.

The rides are not smooth. And often quite scary when weaving between huge SUVs in traffic that doesn’t stop for any light. With no suspension, riders have to be grateful the asphalt isn’t terribly potholed- yet.

It’s time to start packing..

.. when one says or thinks the following:

  • on tipping: Wow. That’s 30 cents more than I would have paid.
  • on visitors getting food poisoning: I don’t have medicine. Suck it up.
  • on people getting scammed: It’s not my money, it’s not my business.
  • on house chores: The maid comes in tomorrow.
  • on not getting hot water: Just turn the knob towards cold.
  • on cutting someone in line: Let him/her get a taste of his/her medicine.
  • on DVDs: Just get the pirated on across the street.
  • on traffic: There’s space for me between the freight truck and the motorcycle.
  • on wine: $63 for Turning Leaf? Awesome, it must be on sale.
  • on ordering food: Medium spicy, a touch of bitter, and no sweet. Double up the meat but substitute soy sauce with oyster sauce. And make the sauce more stewy than runny. Don’t scrimp on the ginger and don’t try sneaking in the MSG. Serve it hot but not until the rice comes out first.

Sadly, all these thoughts went across my mind recently. While all this may be acceptable locally, in my saner moments, I refuse to accept this to become my standard. Living overseas has given me the opportunity to experience and understand another culture, but it doesn’t mean I intend to be less of an American. I want to refine my values, but not change them completely.

Just don’t use the word “alarm”

A colleague called in late this morning, confessing to having forgotten to set his alarm clock last night. Too amused to let him get away with it, I composed a list of

10 Better Excuses for Why You are Late

– The A/C broke down and I had to take three Benadryl pills to pass out in the heat.
– I was rowing down the klong to work when I got swamped by a speeding fishtail boat’s wake.
– The BTS was held up by a royal motorcade.
– The taxi took me to the wrong place way out of town.
– Unexpected visitors knocked on the door at 3am.
– The motorcycle taxi tried to overcharge me and I had to hide until tempers settled down.
– The water pipe burst and no one would come until 10am.
– My last fish died and I had to bury it.
– The maid accidentally threw out the fish and I had to dig it out of the trash.
– My soi flooded and no one could get in or out.

Sadly, each of these can and have happened to many of us. As for the fish, it’s an inside joke- he bought a whole school of fish in a baggie in the market and most died within a couple of weeks. He’s down to his last original one right now.

dos and don’ts of dating and relationship with Thai girl, part II


1. Do realise that if she calls you she likes you.
2. Do invite her for dinner and a movie on your first date.
3. Do buy her small inexpensive gifts from time to time, she’ll know that you are thinking about her.
4. Do be clean and dress neatly (Thai ppl take shower twice a da) she wants you to smell and look nice.
5. Do ask her about her mom and dad and her family she wants you to care about them too.
6. Do ask to carry her bag for her, she likes a gentleman.
7. Do speak well about the Thais and her country, she’s proud of her country.
8. Do invite her to make merit at the temple, she’ll certainly love that (If she is strict Buddhism)
9. Do try and not smoke or drink too much, she will think that you are a drug addict or alchoholic.
10. Do realise that Thai girls are very close to their family…..
11. Do realise that to get into a serious relationship with a Thai means getting into a serious relationship with the whole of her family, she wants them to love you too.
12. Do realise that date with you is a serious thing for her.
13. Do realise when you become her boyfriend she will be thinking about getting married one day, and…
14. Do realise that if she sleeps with you, she will certainly be thinking about getting married one day.
15. Do realise that if she takes you to meet her parents, she knows that’s the first step to getting married in Thailand.
16. Do realise that she enjoys doing your washing/cleaning etc…, she wants you to know she would make a good wife.
17. Do realise that if she asks and cares about your health, she likes you.
18. Do realise that most Thai girls would prefer a guy that seriously loved her to an unfaithful guy with loads of cash, she wants you to understand that.

All typos came with the article. No, they are not my typos. Yes, I quadruple-checked.

What to dos and don’t, Part I

dating and relationship with Thai girl

from the “about: bangkok” ‘the ultimately free commuter guide’ v 23 Feb 09. I couldn’t find an online site for this publication otherwise I would have posted a link instead of fat-fingering this out. This list is aimed at farang men who want to date a “proper Thai girl.” Funny preface that author uses for that proper Thai girl is an introduction of “I am a pure Thai girl who is born in Bangkok and was raised like old proper Thai lady (you can imagine of Audrey Hepburn in Sound of Music).” Oh, all typos in the list, are not my typos.

1. Don’t arrive at you meeting place after her on the first date.
2. Don’t invite her to a bar on your first date and certainly….
3. Don’t ask her to bed after your first date.
4. Don’t misunderstand if she takes her friend along on your first couple dates, she’s still a little afraid of you.
5. Don’t sweet-talk too much with “Oooh, you are the only one I love..”etc, or she’ll think you’re a playboy.
6. Don’t visit her parents’ home if you don’t want to take the relationship too seriously, she doesn’t want to lose face if you leave her.
7. Don’t buy her chocolates or sweets she doesn’t want to be overweight for you!!.
8. Don’t invite her for a romantic walk along the beach or park she doesn’t want to be too darkened for you too!!
9. Don’t go complaining about all things Thai, or she won’t understand why you chose to live here.
10. Don’t dress like you stay along Khao Sam Road, she wants to feel proud of you.
(context: Khao Sam is also known as ‘backpackers’ road’ so the dress code would be very very casual)
11. Don’t tell her about any naughty past adventures in Pattaya, or she’ll worry that you will be getting up to some more naughty tricks again soon.
12. Don’t tell dirty jokesand swear out loud, she likes a polite man.
13. Don’t shout at the waitress when she gets your order wrong, she doesn’t want you to get all serious!!
14. Don’t boast that you have this and that, she’s heard it all before.