Sunday, March 20, 2011

Culture Adjustment

When I left New Zealand I was sad to leave but also very nervous about the trip I had planned in Asia.  It was a very unknown place for me and with that came fears.  Once I landed in KL I quickly realized that I had very little to worry about.  However, it doesn't mean that there haven't been adjustments to the differences:
Snorkeling near Koh Tao
  • The people really are more petite than every place else I've been.  I tower over many of them at 5'7".
  • I've said it before, but the motorcycles really are everywhere!  They pile entire families on one motorcycle.  They have side cars with small mobile food carts attached or trailers to carry anythin from more family members to bags of food.
  • My new qualification for a good bathroom is whether or not it has toilet paper.  The plumbing isn't made to handle toilet paper here so most places don't even have it available.  Instead they have small hoses you can use to wash off (sort of like a bidet).  Since we are not accustomed to this we've taken to carrying it with us.
  • The showers are in the same room as the toilet (without a separate tub to stand in).  Most of the shower heads jut out of the wall just above or around the toilets.  Which means that the question is where to put your clothes and towel so they don't get drenched along with everything else (there aren't any shower curtains around it either - the bathroom door serves as the divider).  
  • It's hot.  And when the sun is shining it's really hot...and humid.  I knew to expect it but even preparation doesn't help someone that isn't a fan of the heat.  I've managed to get a heat rash once already and I expect I'll get it at least one more time before the end of this trip. Apparently the Thai people aren't as affected by it though - I've seen at least a dozen wearing stocking caps.
  • With the heat comes the bugs.  The mosquitos are relentless as soon as you step into an even slightly wooded area.  Fortunately they seem to be unable to penetrate the cloud of OFF that is constantly hovering around my body. 
  • My world is constantly rocking.  I didn't really think about this as I planned the first two weeks out but most of my time so far has been spent on or around the water.  Nearly every day since arriving in Thailand I've spent time on a boat.  Fortunately I don't get seasick but there have been several times when the room is still rocking when I lay down at night.
Tonight I'm on my way by train to Bangkok (which means I'm still rocking) where we will stay for a few days before my mom flies in and Malena heads home.  I expect there will be even more to adjust to when I change travel partners but I'm hopeful the big adjustments have been made.

Things to be thankful for:
- Well, there's a lot right now but the first thing that comes to my mind is a nice shower


  1. Be sure to go to the weekend market (only open on Sat/Sun) - it is amazing - my favorite market in the world.

    And go to Wat Po (temple) and get an 8 Baht massage at their massage school. Do not believe the touts who might try to tell you that the temple is closed.

    And, finally, be sure to take a long ride on the water taxi - amazing way to get to see the city and super cheap!

  2. Tell your mom hi for me. Post photos of her.
    I hope you have fun and take good care of her.