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You Know You Live in Thailand When…

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I’ve been in Thailand on and off for years. Here is a list of funny shit, weird shit, bizarre shit, and some other shit that you might encounter if you stay here or live here long enough…

You Know You Live in Thailand

– When umbrellas are more prominent when it’s sunny instead of rainy.

– When cartoony things such as Hello Kitty and Doremon really are for all ages.

– When you try to decipher what they could have possibly meant when they plastered “Cat work, everyone for you” or “Strweberry life every else” on a t-shirt.

you live in thailand when
“The sweet emotions of the soul r.n.c”      “Get it to gears”

– When you can see another 711 from outside of a 711.

– When you use 711 as a landmark.

– When you end up at 711 after a night of drinking. Every. Time.

– When you go into a 711 just to get in the air-con for a minute.

– When you say air-con instead of A/C or air-conditioner.

– When air-con is a luxury.

– When you have to look both ways regardless of traffic, and continue looking both ways constantly until safely on the other side of the road.

– When putting ice in your beer is actually the preferred way of drinking it.

– When you shake your head at the 19-year old tourist ordering a large Chang and think to yourself…Do they know about the Chang-over yet? Or maybe they are one of those weirdos who can actually drink it?

– When toilet paper is a regular thing to be on the dinner table, but rarely in the bathroom.

– When you have mastered the proper squat over a “squatty potty.”

– When you can finally tolerate about half the amount of chili a Thai person can handle.

– When you know what you’re getting from the market before you even get there because you know every food stall by heart.

– When the person you order food from knows what you want before you finish walking up to them, because you’re one of the few consistent foreigners who order from them.

– When you have feelings for the street dogs and cats that live in your area and maybe even pet them despite the obvious skin infection, copious amounts of fleas, and extreme drooping nipples.

– When you check for whitening agents in any toiletry item you buy.

– When you prepare for a power outage when it starts raining.

– When you get excited if your apartment comes with a “kitchen.” AKA a fridge and maybe a water spout outside to wash dishes at. You’re happy you only need to get a hot plate and your kitchen is complete!

– When you haven’t eaten a real baked good in months. Or real cheese for that matter.

– When you have been cool as a cucumber during the frightening minibus ride around cliffs and speeding through traffic laughing on the inside as the tourist next to you is holding back tears and sending prayers.

– When you have cursed your passport like it’s the passports fault that you need to do a visa run.

– When you know what a visa run is.

– When flagging down a motorbike taxi, songteauw, or tuk-tuk, is second nature. You know exactly how much it should be, and you can ask how to get there in Thai.

– When you have cursed their tone-based language for being so same same!

– When you know what same same is.

– When you use same same in conversation on a regular basis.

– When a bucket goes down much too quickly for your health.

you live in thailand when
This is probably going to be a messy night…

– When your bucket is usually filled with Sang Som.

– When you know asking for directions can end up in two different scenarios: 1) You get the correct directions. 2) They give you directions even though they don’t know because they don’t want to tell you no.

– When you realize they gave you wrong directions and you don’t get mad or surprised, you just turn around.

– When you know to order your iced coffee “only a little sweet” because you know they pour sugar in their drinks.

– When you don’t kill the placid spider that has been living in the corner of your room.

– When you consider a gecko your roomie.

– When you say “no thanks” to the person who is about to take your satay that is already in a bag to put it in another bag or when you’re in 711 and buying a mini candy bar. I.don’t.need.a.bag!!!!

you live in thailand when
More bags please

– When you say “no thanks” to the straws….because you bought a LARGE water… /  Really? Do we need a straw for any bottled drink?

– When you have injured yourself on a motorbike and have received a “free falang tattoo.”

– When you turn around when you hear the word “falang.”

– When you use “mai ben lai” in conversation.

– When you add “mai” at the end of your questions even when you are speaking English.

– When “Na,” “Kaa,”/”Kap” often also get added on regardless what you’re speaking.

– When you feel like your English has declined because “you speak English little and slow for understand.”

– When seeing a fire show on the beach, a blind person singing karaoke as they stroll through the busy market streets, and braving through a gang of street dogs are totally normal experiences.

– When dogs on a motorbike are also a common thing to see, as well as a family of four including the newborn. MAYBE, if the baby is lucky, there will be a makeshift “baby seat’ at the front. If not, mom will hold it at 80km an hour, mai ben lai.

you live in thailand when

– When crazy things are transported in crazy ways via motorbike such as a huge basket of fruit with granny hanging off the edge or a person sitting backwards on the bike while wheeling a dolly full of items.

– When you are used to your nose running as you eat.

you live in thailand when
Technically this pic is from Cambodia, but this is a typical scene in Thailand as well.

OMG. I could probably add several more, but maybe I’ll make a second version when my list piles up again.


Don’t want the list to end? Here’s “You Know You Live in Thailand Part Song (2).”  

Where will you go after Thailand?

Laos | Malaysia | Singapore | Indonesia | Philippines | Cambodia | Vietnam

What would you add to my list?

PS- Thanks for being so awesomely bizarr-o Thailand! Chan raak khun mak mak! Korpuun Kaa!

(I love you very much. Thank you!)



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  1. Well some tourists dont get a Chang-Over… Guilty as charged 🙂 Come to India ill make you try some really potent special brews here

  2. This is my 4th trip in 4 years. These are my personal revelations.

    When the Thai ask “where you from?” and my answer is “Americaa” .
    When other tourists ask you “where are you from” my answer is”the states”.
    When an American asks “where are you from?” You mistakenly assume they’re American but they are actually Canadien.

    When 1 out of every 100 people that you meet is an American and at first you’re really excited that you met one of your own kind but soon realize that you find their Americanism really annoying.

    When you go home and your vocabulary has been permanently altered, now its motorbike instead of scooter, Holiday instead of Vacation, mochaa rather than mocha.

    There’s so much more! The timing of your article is right on point as I was sitting in a small Nai Harn restaurant the other day it occurred to me that those huge jumbled mess of telephone/cable lines always amused me, but now I never notice them.

  3. You know you have lived in Thailand when you strike up a convo with the cleaning lady at public toilets, while having a leak! and think nothing about it.

  4. I’ve lived in Thailand for two years with my girlfriend and I would add this to your very accurate list:

    When you no longer sweat while walking at night.

    When you start to use the same tones Thais do for English words, otherwise they won’t understand you.

    When you still use those tones while speaking to native English speakers.

    When you start to consider that maybe corn is a desert.

    When you start to call limes lemons.

    When you start dreaming about what bread used to task like without sugar.

    When you start wondering what anything tasked like without sugar.

    When you realize it’s actually cheaper to just go out for dinner.

    When you learn that the polite thing to do when somebody falls and hurts themselves is to ignore them.

    When an hour long foot massage becomes an almost daily thing because it’s only 3 dollars.

    When you get used to having a loud TV in every restaurant, even the nice ones.

    When you watch a Thai person setup speakers in a quiet area to blare loud music for the sole reason that no one else had already done so.

    When going to McDonald’s makes you feel comfortable in moments of culture shock.

    When you realize that Starbucks really is everywhere.

    When you start to refer to street dogs as soi dogs.

    When you’re no longer surprised when dogs are obeying the street lights.

    When you’re no longer surprised when motorist don’t obey any rules.

    When you look both ways when crossing the sidewalk to avoid getting hit by the motorcycles driving on the sidewalk.

    When you call motorcycles motor-cy.

    When you realize that taxi-Thai is about as far as you will get in terms of learning the language.

    When you organize your activities around the BTS.

    When you realize that people back home don’t smile enough.

  5. I can relate to the blog post so much.. I have been on and off in Thailand for the last two years now.

  6. Oh wow! I was only their 5 months and experienced at least 80% of this list. I miss Chiang Mai, especially, and I cannot wait to return. Great post and thanks for reminding me of the funny little cultural adjustments I had to make. That experience has totally changed me and now living in South Florida has me griping over spending $8-$10 for fast food and way more for eating at a restaurant. Kitung Chiang Mai mak mak krap 🙁

  7. Hahahaha, this was awesome – thanks Nino – I lived in Phuket for 2.5 years – and have been back in my home country (Namibia, Africa) for 6 months now – I miss Thailand dearly, especially after reading posts like this one – hahahaha – what a place – I sure miss the food, the scooter rides and the language 🙂 Chan raak Muang Thai mak mak ALSO 🙂 🙂

  8. when texting/emailing/Facebooking, you add “555” at the end to indicate laughing, same same LOL. been here nearly 6 years now. all you wrote is so true. well done! got a good giggle this morning. thank you!

  9. Omw! I’ve been back in South Africa for 8 months now and this just made me miss Thailand even more. I totally love it 🙂
    When my boyfriend came over for a holiday, he couldn’t get enough of 711, seriously, I think he tried ALL the funny cakes they have there.
    Really enjoyed this!

  10. You know you’ve lived here too long:
    When you go to a late night noodle joint instead of 7/11 because otherwise Somchai/Suthep/Pi Om would worry about you… Then get a toastie afterwards…
    When you know that what you’re spooning onto your lunch plate is congealed blood/chicken hearts/intestines, but you were enjoying it for so long before you knew, that now you can’t quit…
    When your flip flop breaks and you have three options for a quick repair in your handbag…
    When you carry different types of condoms for thai guys and falang guys…
    When you can’t walk through a group of people without dipping your head…
    When you’ve mastered the one-handed wai…

  11. Ohhh, I miss cheese so! I was excited when I went to Bamboo Bee last night and saw they had an avocado-cheese sandwich. When I asked what kind of cheese, I was told, “plastic.”

  12. “You know you live in Thailand when you know what a Tokay is and why it is called a Tokay”
    “You know you live in Thailand when water monitor lizard show up in your back garden as if a normal thing”
    “You know you live in Thailand when you order Som Tam ma muang instead of Som Tam”

    1. Hahah! Nice! When I first came to Thailand I accidentally called them a “minotaur” and didn’t live that one down for a while :-p

  13. Dear Nina,
    Your list is soooo true! I share a lot of your experiences too!
    I would add: “You know you live in Thailand when there is a Thai price and a falang price for almost everything!”Mai ben lai …
    Will be following your adventures from now on. Pop gun mai

  14. Nina! I love this. It takes me right back to all of my emotions there. Enjoy a few days on the beach for me and inform a few (only a few) of the tourists about the chang-over! ha 🙂

  15. Haha, love this post, even if I don’t actually understand half of it yet! Can’t wait til I get to experience it all myself 🙂