Holidaying or living in Thailand is a fantastic adventure that is life changing. However, as with anywhere around the world there are opposing hackneyed stereotypical things and situations you’ll commonly encounter. Here are some of them . . .
Hotel California in Your Head
Expats who have been in Thailand for more than a few years will easily identify with this point. The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ song and The Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’ song are played very often (understatement alert 😉 in restaurants and bars where live bands are playing. So much so that the lyrics become permanently ingrained into many frequent holidaymakers’ or expats’ minds. However, there is one song that always elicits a big sigh from people who often visit or live in Thailand . . . and that song is . . . Ronan Keating’s ‘When You Say Nothing at All’. Without a doubt, there will be a handful of expats in asylums humming this song over and over with a glazed blank look in their eyes. This song really takes you to breaking point after one hundred or more plays.
Just from the above subtitle you have probably guessed that I am referring to a conversation you will have had many times over when taking taxis. If you are not into football the pain of trying to sustain a conversation based around Wayne Rooney will be doubly exhausting, and will zap you of all your life force by the time you reach your destination.
The Spicy Food Thing
If you are someone who actually likes spicy food you will have no doubt had to explain ardently that you in fact, yes, shock horror, are an expat or holidaymaker who can eat spicy food. After which you will be asked if you are ‘sure’ about that. Many times, if you don’t state that you like spicy food when ordering, the spice will be omitted, leaving a bland version of an otherwise delicious Thai curry arriving at your restaurant table. On top of this is the hackneyed belief that all Thai people love spicy food, as you’ll know that in reality there are many Thai people who don’t like eating spicy food. Add to this images of westerners crying on comedy shows after eating ‘Som Tam’ or going red in the face with steam billowing out of their ears, and it all adds up to a stereotypical quagmire of predictability.
The Thai Lady Thing
This one is for the guys . . . If you enjoy going out in the evenings to Thai ‘Moo Ga Ta’ barbecues, or restaurants and bars etc, you’ll be more than familiar by now with this question . . . “Do you like Thai ladies?” It is not only a hackneyed stereotypical question but also a kind of trap; as if you answer “Yes” you’ll look like a playboy, who is out there trying to play the field with any female being fair game who happens to be within range. Whereas if you answer “No” it will be interpreted that you like men instead, and you will also get disapproving looks from all Thai females within earshot. In reality, most sane guys will be pretty choosy when it comes to looking for a life-long partner, which will depend not only on looks but also on inner beauty, personality and whether or not they can be best friends as well as a couple. This is very hard to explain in Thai for most people, but even for expats with advanced Thai language skills it will take way too much energy to explain every time they are asked this question, especially after the 50th time.
Elephants, Tie-Dye Shirts & Muay Thai Shorts
For seasoned visitors or expats in Thailand a trip to Khao San Road is like taking a time machine journey back to the very first time they came to Thailand. Meeting people who have a shopping bag with a wooden elephant carving, a tuk-tuk made out of tin, and of course, muay Thai shorts is all too common, but it’s okay as it’s new to them. The tie-dye grunge fashion is a micro culture in its own for visitors to Khao San Road, but for expats in Thailand it is like a multitude of hackneyed coloured patterns slapping them rudely in the face after seeing yet another stall selling tie-dye T-shirts.
There are many very reasonably priced places to stay at throughout Thailand, so a tent is decidedly not needed unless you really are into tents big time. Food is inexpensive, so there is no need to carry a lunchbox; plus clothing can be left in the hotel room. So, this begs the question: “What on Earth are those holidaymakers carrying in those huge backpacks?” Apart from transferring from hotel to hotel it is just plain unnecessary to carry huge backpacks around. From a safety point of view, it’s completely unsafe and sets people up to be robbed.
“Do You Come Here Often?”
Stereotypical things have a kind of unique charm about them, such as Elvis impersonators or fluffy dice, leopard-skinned seat covers or the chat up line “Do you come here often?” So, instead of grimacing when we meet a stereotypical situation head on, let’s just smile and appreciate the hackneyed mundane situations in all of their un-colourful forms that contrast and paint originality and uniqueness so brightly.