No. 8: Complaining.
'Why are you complaining at me, I can't do anything about it'.
Thais don't complain much. They tend to just get on with things. For the umpteenth time our water pressure is almost zero during the day. It has been like this for four days now. If there is a grumble I haven't heard it. Except from me - to Ploy.
When we had the floods, government help was non-existent, but people helped each other. Yes, they grumbled about why this happens every year and nothing is ever done about it - but they know the answer to that, and know nothing they do or say will change things, so they don't waste (much) effort moaning about it.
It is an admirable trait. Trip over and sprain your ankle - it was your fault. No immediate call to some solicitor to get compensation. Taking responsibility for your actions. Try and look on the positive side of things.
I will never be able to stop my moaning - it's what I do best. It is futile, except it does act as a pressure release valve; here I tend to keep things bottled up which is not good. There is still nothing like setting the world to rights over a pint or two of old and filthy.
No. 7: Cockroaches.
We have a cockroach in our kitchen. Cockroaches in Thailand are quite big and some can fly. As I go into the kitchen for my first coffee of the day I often hear it before I see it, scuttling over the worktops.
Years ago I would have hunted the thing down and tried to kill it. Now I just shoo it to one side. It watches me make my coffee, antennae twitching. This tolerance of such creatures comes after time living here. Sharing your house with mosquitoes is inevitable, so it makes sense to allow the small lizards in as well as they feed on them.
Thai houses are rather open affairs and over time you learn to accept sharing your home with other creatures - field mice, noisy gheckoes - two days ago we had a praying mantis in our living room. This beautiful tree snake was staring at us as we sat on our balcony (it is non-poisonous).
Living in Thailand, you feel more a part of nature, like it or not.
No. 6: Cost of Living:
We've made many mistakes with the business while we have been in Thailand. And while it may not be conducive to our sort of business, it has allowed us to make those mistakes and continue to put food on the table.
When I tried to do everything by the book I paid myself the minimum acceptable salary to get a work permit - 50,000 baht/month (about 1000 pounds then). I paid about 6% tax on that. I got free health care (and as a short hospital stay proved, it was free). This amount is much more than we needed to live here. The house is paid for. That's it, no council tax to pay. Nothing. Gas is a 400 baht bottle every few months. Water is 300 baht/month. Electricity is more because we use the air conditioning more now, about 2500 baht/month. Our bins are collected 3 times a week for the princely sum of 20 baht/month. And food from the markets is good and cheap.
Thailand allowed our business to make these mistakes and survive. I won't be able to make any more mistakes when I'm back in the UK.
No. 5: Mornings.
I'm typing this at 4 a.m.
I love the early mornings here. And being near the equator they occur at mostly the same time. So it starts to get a little light by 5.30 a.m. and the neighbourhood begins to wake. I let the dogs out for a run and watch the same two people go to our local exercise park. The old lady down the road waters her plants. The monks do their alms rounds.The food stall people pass by with their laden transport nodding or waving as they pass by me. The lady down the road lets her dogs out and Perky goes to play with them. By 6.30 a.m. the sun is up. At this time of the year the mornings feel quite cool, about 23degC, especially if the sky is clear. Sunrises can be colourful affairs and I watch Jupiter slowly disappear. I look around our garden to see what is growing and I feed the fish. Then I call the dogs back into the house and get another coffee.
No. 4: Bathrooms.
In Thailand your typical bathroom is large and tiled from floor to ceiling. The floor will be tiled concrete and there will be a couple of drains in it. In other words it is waterproof.
Contrast this with the West, where the floor will often be wooden, and even sometimes carpeted, or with those hugely absorbent fluffy mats that are used to absorb stray urine around the toilet. Tiles are limited to a couple of rows around the bath. Because of this no water can ever be allowed to escape the confines of the bath or sink else it will seep through the floor, be absorbed by the plaster ceiling below until it reaches sufficient mass to fall onto your sleeping granny.
In Thailand you can have a sprinkler party in the bathroom with no detrimental effect whatsoever. Bathrooms in Thailand are fit for purpose.
When I was young, I doused my food in mustard or horseradish. I'd eat bottles of pickled onions. I loved spicy food. Little did I know all this was conditioning for eating in Thailand. I love the Thais attitude that food should flavoursome - whether spicy or salty or sour (or sweet, but I am not so fond of the sweet stuff). The only machismo thing about me is I can eat spicier food than the Thais can, and enjoy it.
No. 2: Fruit.
Sweet, succulent, cheap, juicy fruit. And not just cheap, but often free as neighbours and friends share the over-abundance of crop. I wonder what a whole jack fruit costs in the UK - even our little tree gives us ten or so each season? Last week Ploy was given 3 whole durians. Fruit sellers pass by daily, their pickups full with mangosteens or watermelons or rambutans or dragon fruit.I could eat my two favourites, luscious and sweet mango and pineapple, every day.
No. 1: Baan Gluay (Banana House) restaurant.
On one of my first visits to Thailand with Ploy she took me to this restaurant in Saraburi. Ploy and her friends ordered the Tom Yum soup and they all watched as I devoured it - it was too spicy for most her friends to eat so how come this foreigner can eat it?
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