The longer I live in Thailand, the more I realize how easy it is to live here. Not as easy as do-everything-online-America, but safe, organized and in many ways, pretty convenient. I’ve now lived in Thailand for almost 6 years so I’ve figured out what I like the most about living here.
1 Took Lae Dee
I told a friend Took Lae Dee is my favorite restaurant because it’s good and cheap, and she told me that that’s what the name means: took = cheap, lae = and, dee = good. Took Lae Dee is inside Foodland, which is a grocery store that sells a lot of imported food. The menu includes Asian food and Western food and often features new items, like quesadillas! Service is very fast, free water is provided (this is the only restaurant I’ve been to in Thailand that gives free water), the servers are attentive, the prices are very reasonable and it’s open 24 hours, a feature we don’t take advantage of, but it’s nice to know it’s always an option.
2 Street food
How far do you have to walk out of your condo to find street food? No matter where you live in Bangkok, not very far. Grilled pork on a stick, sticky rice, papaya salad, fried chicken, Thai omelettes, mushroom soup, fried bananas, noodles, boiled rice, etc etc etc (but believe it or not, not a lot of pad Thai). Most of the places that make hot dishes like fried rice or fried noodles have cheap tables and plastic chairs so you can eat on the sidewalk or the side of the street. I love not having to get into a car to get something to eat; the US could really learn something from Thailand here. You don’t have to do a lot of cooking here, which is good, because many people in Bangkok don’t have kitchens or have very small kitchens; getting street food is often more convenient than cooking. Some people are a little wary of eating street food but we eat it often and have never gotten sick.
3 Public transportation
There ain’t no traffic like Bangkok traffic, so it’s good to have lots of transportation options. There’s the sky train, the airport link, the subway, taxis, buses, songtaos (pick-ups with benches in the back) motorcycle taxis, river taxis – we’ve pretty much got everything covered. Need to avoid traffic? Take the train, the subway or the river taxi. Need to go from work to the mall? Take the songtao. Have time? Take the bus, which is our favorite way of exploring the city (and some are sometimes free!). In a hurry? Take a motorbike taxi, but pray they don’t answer their phone on the way.
I might miss this the most when we leave Thailand. I’d never had a massage before I moved here, but for $6.39 (including the tip!) for an hour-long massage, we can get them once a week if we really want to. Which we don’t, but when our bodies hurt, we walk the 2 minutes to our favorite place, take off our sandals, change into the loose clothes and…ahhhh…
5 The market
Before I met Worchihan, I had never bought food at the market, just because you need to know something about food and feel comfortable enough to get what you want from people who don’t speak much English. Worchihan started going to the market when he moved here and I’ve learned from him how to market, though I’ve never gone on my own. The food – meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables – is fresh and much cheaper than it is at the grocery store. Is the market a little dirty? Do you see cow innards that you can’t identify? Yes, so get what you need and go home.
6 Chatuchak Weekend Market
This has to be the market of all markets. You can buy pretty much anything here: clothes, rabbits, used cowboy boots, jewelry, tableware, scarves, used books, purses, headbands, individual paper napkins, etc etc etc and most everything is cheap. There’s of course a lot of food too. My favorite finds include a painting of a village on the river, a $4.36 red striped Gap dress, $5 diffusers that last for a month and floral (but not old-lady floral) made-in-Thailand pillow covers. The market is easily accessible from Mo Chit BTS station or Chatuchak Park MRT station and is open from 9 AM to 6 PM on Saturday and Sunday. You definitely have to go in the morning because it gets hot and crowded quickly.
7 Lots of places to go
Oh, the places you’ll go! When you live in Bangkok, everything is close. The mountains of Chiang Mai? A seventy-five minute flight. The beaches of Krabi? An eighty-minute flight. Or there’s Kanchanaburi, made famous by the bridge built by Allied soldiers captured by the Japanese during World War II, 2 1/2 hours away by bus (and fun to explore by motorbike!). And then there’s Ayutthaya, the capital of the Kingdom of Siam from 1350-1767, when it was destroyed by the Burmese, full of temple ruins and fun to explore on a bicycle, an hour and a half away by van.
Want to visit another country, maybe Yangon, Burma? One hour and 20 minutes on the plane. Phnom Penh, Cambodia? One hour and 10 minutes. Hanoi, Vietnam? One hour and 50 minutes. I could continue, but that’s enough for now.
Jamba Juice came to Sacramento when I was in middle school, but my parents were cheap, so I could only envy my friends with more trend-conscious, full-walleted parents. The smoothies I can drink here more than make up for what I missed, because they’re everywhere, they’re made with fresh fruit (take that, Jamba Juice!) and they’re cheap, usually about $1. I used to consider smoothies a vacation treat, but then I found them close to where we live (I hadn’t been looking very hard) and I get them often. If Worchihan wants to make me happy with as little effort as possible, he knows it’s a banana smoothie with yogurt.
My list will probably be longer by the time we leave, but surely this is enough for now to encourage you all to come visit!