10 habits you will loose when you move to Thailand!
There are certain habits that you will lose without a shadow of a doubt when you decide to move to Thailand.
After living here for a while and one do some reflecting on your life abroad and realized that there are definitely some Western habits one lose after moving to Thailand. From being more low key and flexible to not taking life so seriously! You will see how the Thai culture has rubbed off on you, and you know what, it is not a bad thing at all!
1. Having High Restaurant Service Expectations
Having worked in restaurants when you were younger, contributes to your forgiving attitude when you eat out and treating waitering staff with respect and patience. In Thailand, your patience will grow even more because no longer do you expect the attentive service like you had growing up back home
Service? Yes. But good service? No.
What you will learn is that:
Food arrives at the table when it’s finished being made in the kitchen. That means there is really no timing difference between an appetizer and an entrée. And sometimes people may be taking the last bites of their meals while others are just getting theirs.
Don’t expect your servers to tend to your table after your food is delivered. If an order isn’t right, if we’re missing a side or condiment, or if we need a refill, we catch our server’s eye and call them over. The check is only delivered when we ask for it or if the place is closing.
Special requests to the menu are acknowledged but are either completely ignored (even though your server is nodding their head and say they understand us) or it comes out wrong. Once I ordered a cheeseburger but the menu only offered hamburgers. What I got was a bun with a slice of cheese without a burger – no joke!
And you know what? You will learn that it’s not a big deal!
2 Relying on Big Brother Warnings to Keep Us Safe
Caution: Wet Floor signs in clear view after someone mopped the tiled entrance of a hotel? Nope.
Guard rails on steep trails, foot paths, or overhangs on cliffs? Not really.
Red tape or warning signs around crumbling sidewalks or two foot wide uncovered man holes? Nada.
I do admit seeing a Caution: Hard Hat Area sign where construction was being performed. Yeah, several times, actually.
At first you will be startled to see such lack of warning signs in Thailand. How could people properly function in society without being spoon fed safety warnings?! But the longer you lived here, the more refreshing it was. One can argue that Thai citizens and foreigners are expected to open their eyes and take responsibility for their own actions.
And you know what? Using common sense works!
To this day, no one I do know has gotten hurt by their own lack of awareness and tried suing the life blood from the company or property where the accident happened. Americans, take a hint!
3. Depending on a Car and All the Road Rules That Go Along With It
Owning a motorbike and using it as the main vehicle seems to be pretty common in Thailand but oh-not-so-much back home. We jumped on that bandwagon and got ourselves a motorbike since the weather is motorcycle friendly year round and we don’t have to drive hundreds of kilometres a week anymore. We also walk more and use public transportation such as trains, buses, and songthaews/tuk tuk’s that are plentiful in many Thai towns.
Yes, you give up car-related luxuries like being able to listen to the radio, cool off with air conditioning, protect ourselves from the rain and sun, style our hair without fear of it matting from a helmet, and having plenty of trunk space for groceries.
On the flip side, I think it’s pretty great keeping your expenses down (I could afford to buy our bike in cash and now spend less than 1,000 baht per month on gas), I love being able to zip through long lines of traffic, plus park wherever I want.
As far as road rules, I am still a safety nut and wear our helmet when riding around on our motorbike. I also carry with us our International driver licenses and motorbike registration/green book if I get pulled over.
But beyond that, I have learned to drive like the locals do. Strictly abiding by road rules is definitely one of those back habits I have lost after moving to Thailand. Sometimes it’s actually safer to break conventional road rules and just go with the flow of traffic.
4. Wearing Shoes Indoors
In Thailand I wear shoes in most buildings, but I always remove my shoes when entering someone’s house and leave them at the entrance. Always.
In fact, your shoe purchases are based around whether they are easy to slide on and off. Buh-bye laces!
Now a days I have an inner battle when someone says “Oh, it’s ok if you leave your shoes on” and they proceed to walk into their house wearing shoes. Gah!
I just can’t do it and default to taking off my shoes. In fact, if there’s carpet, we’re downright squeamish at the idea of wearing shoes inside because of how filthy the soles are.
5. Being Carefree in the Sun
Back home, golden bronzed skin is often seen as the symbol of having leisure time and vacation money. In Thailand, untanned skin is preferred. Combined with the fact that you are just about to hit our 30’s and can see evidence of those infamous fine lines, you are more conscious of sun exposure.
Often I wear sunblock or make it a point to stand in the shade. Sometimes I wear long sleeves or light jackets in the blazing sun so I don’t burn, even if it’s over 30° degrees Celsius Cecily goes nowhere without her rain coat and /umbrella. What I used to think was silly when people walked around under an umbrella on a non-rainy day, now I think it is very practical. I prefer that small circle of shade to the burning Thai sun.
I don’t go as far as slathering on whitening lotion on my skin, though, which is all too common in Thailand.
6. Living a Fast Paced Life
Life has slowed down a lot in Thailand! I am a very much a go-go-go type person but now I have a much more laid back attitude. It’s because I have a flexible schedule (teaching and freelancing at home sure beats long commutes and 40+ hour work weeks in an office) and the Thai mai bpen rai attitude has rubbed off on me, too.
With an open schedule, you aren’t pressured to do anything. This means leisurely taking care of adult responsibilities and errands, but it also means you don’t feel the need pack your weekends full of activities, either.
7. Being On Time
About that… You are no longer punctual and don’t expect others to be on time either. Meeting friends for coffee or lunch? Even if you arrive 15 minutes late and your friends aren’t there, you don’t stress about it just wait patiently until they arrive. It used to be that you would get a slew of texts or calls if you are two minutes late. Now you are on Thai time.
And what if you are going to a café or restaurant that advertises its opening time at 8:30am, but it’s 9:00am and the lights are still off? While you might be a bit irritated because you can’t get our morning caffeine fix, you would simply try again on another day at a later time. Back home, the attitude would be more along the lines of: “How dare they not open on time. That’s unprofessional. We ain’t never coming here again.”
There are times where it is important to be on time in Thailand, such as catching the bus or a flight, because those still leave on schedule. We can’t get too lax!
8. Paying with Credit Cards
Thailand is a cash-based society. So aside from whipping out credit cards to make a rare purchase at a major grocery store or mall, I had to get comfortable with handling paper money and coins.
That meant recognizing the new currency (and heaven forbid not handing over a 1,000 baht bill instead of a 100 baht bill), picking through coins in our wallet while people queued up behind us, and correctly doing mental math, typically in Thai, in our head for the correct amount or change.
It also meant planning ahead for an evening out or other expenditures and asking ourselves, “Do we have enough cash on us or do we need to swing by the ATM? Do we have enough money at all, or do we need to wait until next week when we have more funds?”
9. Needlessly Spending Money
We have better control over our spending habits. Without the constant bombardment of commercials (none here on our English channels or on Netflix), magazine advertisements, or radio commercials (we can’t listen to any on our motorcycle), we don’t feel the urge to buy the latest gadget or service.
We’ve also scaled way back on impulse buying. This is one of those American habits we lost after moving to Thailand and don’t regret it one bit.
Most of all, after spending over six months selling our belongings and whittling everything down to two checked bags and a carry-on each before moving to Thailand, we still have a lingering fear of collecting too much junk and having to do it all over again. Before we buy anything, we usually ask ourselves if we would feel like selling it later. The answer is almost always “No.”
10. Relying on Modern Day Appliances for Domestic Chores
We don’t own a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, a tumble dryer, or an onsite water filter. We also don’t have all of those fancy dancy kitchen appliances that are in most homes back home.
We hand wash our dishes and are careful to keep the sink strainer in place so food bits don’t clog the pipes. It’s not as convenient, but at least we’re thankful that the kitchen is inside our house since that is not often the case in traditional Thai houses and even some apartments.
We line dry our clothes because we don’t have a tumbledryer. And while we prefer the smell of sun dried laundry, we’ve learned that clothes fade faster if left out in the direct sun and they definitely stretch out without the high heat of a dryer to shrink them back into shape. You should see the size of some of our ankle socks! We also have to schedule our laundry around the weather and can’t do it on rainy or cool days or else we have to bring the drying rack inside and point our floor fan on it.
One thing that’s tedious is planning ahead making sure there’s enough drinking water in the morning after a night out or enough cooking water after we’ve settled in for the evening and want to cook rice or pasta.
And as far as kitchen appliances like toasters, blenders, coffee makers, or food processors, we don’t have any of these. Since we have no idea how long we will be living in Thailand or even how long we’ll be in the same house or apartment, we rather not have to deal with boxing them up and shipping them every time we move. Toast is overrated and we use a small French press, anyways.
Cecily and I Don’t Regret the Back Home Habits We Lost After Moving to Thailand