It’s time for another post in the “Quirks” series. This time we are talking about Thailand Quirks. Here we identify and comment on some of the stranger differences between the country we’re visiting and our own, England. Whilst we try to avoid the most obvious differences of language, currency etc. – sometimes that’s all there is!
So onto the Thailand quirks!:-
The local inner city transport is great. Everyone has heard of a tuk-tuk, the three wheel motorcycle based vehicle with seating for 2-3 people and not a great reputation. But have you heard of a Songthaew or Rot Daang? These are basically shared taxis, and look like pick-up trucks with covered seating on the back. They operate like buses or taxis depending on where you’re going. We have also seen people getting around sitting in motorcycle side cars. The side cars aren’t seats, they are just boxes designed for carrying stuff, but people climb in for the ride anyway!
Swings for chairs
The “in thing” at the moment in restaurants and cafes, seems to be to have a swing for seats. Rather than a traditional chair, stool or even a comfortable sofa, they have opted for a wooden plank held up by some string. Sure they look cute, but they’re hugely impractical.
Ridiculously cheap food
The food in Thailand is outrageously cheap. We have eaten dinner on most days for less than £1 each. Kebabs from street vendors cost in the region of 20p each and even in the slightly more costly restaurants, you will still be paying no more than £5 for two meals and two drinks. The food is also amazingly delicious, if a bit spicy.
You will know from our Week in Bangkok blog that one of D’s things he most wanted to do, was go to a floating market. A market taking place on the water with people buying and selling things from boats – genius! The one we went to wasn’t exactly what we were after, but sitting on a pontoon whilst the food was cooked in a boat was pretty quirky too.
Scooters are king, even on the pavement!
You can’t go anywhere without seeing one and more than likely you’ll see about 20 at a time. Scooters rule the roads (and in Bangkok the pavements too!)
Secondary currency never used
The main currency of Thailand is called ‘Baht’ however this is not what we consider a quirk. The smaller denomination of currency is known as a ‘satang’. The quirk is that we have not seen a single satang coin since we have been in Thailand. Everything is priced to the whole Baht and its not surprising given the value of 1 satang is 0.02 english pence!
You will find Spirit Houses on the corner of any plot of land, occupied by a house or a business establishment. They are miniature houses standing on raised platforms; they often contain models and are covered in offerings of incense and, amongst other things, red Fanta. The Spirit Houses are built to appease the spirits that would have resided in the land being built on. Thai people will often ‘wai’ or bow to these, as a sign of respect for the spirits.
the National Anthem (Before a Movie)
This is D’s favourite new oddity by far. We recently went to the cinema and between the adverts and the actual movie a message appears on the screen inviting everybody to stand. The National Anthem then plays accompanied by a video showing memories from his life. Then everyone returns to their seat and the movie begins.
When the National Anthem was played over a loud speaker at a street market, everything came to a standstill. The people stood still listening in silence, before carrying on with their day as soon as it finished. It was eerily awesome and like a scene from a movie. Apparently at that time it would also have been broadcast across all TV channels. We love the level of respect that is shown towards the King and Queen here.
Wrapping fruit on trees individually
We know how annoying birds can be, eating the fruit straight off the trees, from our experience on the farm. Usually farmers would erect a net over the entire tree. But in Thailand, they individually wrap the fruit in either little plastic bags or newspaper!
Chopsticks, rice spoons or forks are the cutlery of choice in Thailand. You will be hard put to find knives being used. By knives, we mean regular knives that you would spread butter or jam with. Even in the hostels and our furnished western style apartment, only spoons and forks are provided. Most of the time we are more than happy to eat with chop sticks or rice spoons, but sometimes it would be nice to have a knife.
Have you been to Thailand before? Did you encounter any of these Thailand Quirks yourself? Can you think of any more Thailand Quirks that we have missed? Get in touch, we would love to hear from you.