15 Things I Learned (or Want to Learn) About Thailand

football in Thailand
 Football at Surin Beach

8 things I learned about Phuket/Thailand/Thai people: 
  1. Thailand is the only nation in SE Asia that was never colonised by Europeans. I think perhaps they are quite proud of this. 
  2. Cultural tolerance is important to the Thai people - which is why you'll see Mosques next to Buddhist temples next to Christian churches, and why 'lady-boys' are universally accepted - and in the case of the boxer Nong Toom idolised. (I'm planning to check out the movie made about her - Beautiful Boxer - when I can). 
  3. The Thai are crazy about football. As in, you'll see it played everywhere - beach, paddock, empty lot, and even street. 
  4. Phuket drivers are considerate, and I'd even consider driving there myself (unlike Sri Lanka, which was kind of terrifying, but that's another story).
  5. There is something extremely disconcerting about walking to dinner under and alongside low-hanging bundles of humming, buzzing electricity wires. 
  6. The Thai love sweet-faced blond children, as evidenced by the smiles and attention Nelle garnered wherever we went. I'm fairly certain we got our room upgraded (for free) because of her. 
  7.  In Thai Buddhism, people born on certain days of the week may associate with particular images of the Buddha for meditation. We were told that Buddhas corresponding to each day are doing the opposite of the characteristics people born on that day tend to have - the purpose of this is to remember one's weakness, and seek balance. I can totally get into that, balancing myself. You can read more about the images here
  8. Thai food is all about the variety and the sharing. You share a multitude of different kinds of dishes (rice + curry + salad, etc) with your dinner companions, or at school, your friends. Schoolchildren may even plan out what they'll bring for lunch so friends don't accidentally bring the same thing. Ordering and eating one curry for dinner? No. way.
traditional Thai kitchen
 Kao To Sae, Phuket, Thailand
1. Traditional Thai kitchen :: 2. Photographic macaque at Kao To Sae

But we only had a week there, like an appetizer for the place. I want to go back, and travel the mainland, find the remote places, eat more food, meet more people. I want to learn.

7 things I want to learn about Thailand
  1. How tiny ladies can dig into your back with such force that your muscles literally melt.
  2. How to make a kick-ass green mango/papaya salad (I'll get back to you on that one).
  3. How to say hello and thank you and no thank you properly in Thai. 
  4. Whether anybody in Thailand gets peanut or seafood allergies, given they're used extensively in the Thai diet.
  5. What is sea gypsy culture? How do they prepare their food? (More on the sea gypsies, soon)
  6. Who are the other indigenous peoples of Thailand?
  7. What's the rest of the country like? The mainland? The borders? All of it? 

I have too many questions to define here, I think. I'll just have to go back.
Amanda xx

sea gypsy village, Thailandsoccer in Thailand
Thai houses in Surin Beach and Phuket Town
parade in Phuket
low-hanging electric wires, Phuket
1. A sea gypsy village, Phuket :: 2. Thai football :: 3. Houses in Surin Beach (L) and Phuket Town (R) :: 4. Nelle practically joins a parade on a tuk-tuk ride home one afternoon :: 5. The soft, persistant buzz of electricity. Right there. Next to you.