I am a teacher from England who took a years sabbatical to experience life in the ‘amazing’ country of Thailand. I learned much about Thai culture and life in a Thai School . I now would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of those experiences over the coming months.
What is it like living in Thailand?
When you first step off the plane it is the heat you notice first. All day and all night it is hot but fortunately you can get out of the heat in air-conditioned rooms, shops and cars. I love the fact that you can walk around in a T-shirt and shorts 24 hours a day without feeling cold. The temperature never seems to drop much.
One thing I learnt very quickly was to slow down, to take things slowly and not to worry. Thai’s have a saying ‘mai pen rai ‘ (my pen rye) which means no worries/never mind. In England, I am used to working to a deadline, to rush here and there before going on to do this and that. In Thailand everything slows down. It is a bit like moving underwater. ‘If it doesn’t happen, don’t worry, there is still time’. ‘Mai pen rai’
I feel like a child visiting an amazing place for the very first time. I want to lap up everything around me. The beautiful golden temples dotted around the landscape, the elephants roaming the streets, funny little taxis that look like golf carts, the friendly people and the incredible food stalls. There is so much to take in. Most are new experiences but some the same, like the Shell petrol garage or MacDonalds which you see dotted around town just like home.
Like a child I find myself having to rely on others to show me when and how to go about the basic and ‘natural’ actions of daily life. The very simplest of things like posting a letter can become an adventure.
I rely on people to interpret what is being said. I often don’t know what is going on, what is funny or what is serious or what people are thinking or saying. It sometimes feels like the world is going on without me.
One of the hardest things for me to get used to was communicating what I want. Imagine being in a place where not everyone understands you. Every time you try to do something, you get a different result than the one you wanted. You feel powerless and frustrated by this. Sign language helps, but what could mean a good sign in English may be a bad one in Thai.