20 New Normals when Living in Thailand


Thailand is one of the best countries in the world. Of the 20+ countries I have visited in my life, Thailand is easily in my top 5 favorites. Yes, I may be a bit biased… but I love it just the same. As a tourist it is easy to fall in love with Thailand’s incredible weather, gorgeous topography (hello gorgeous mountains and picture perfect beaches), and delicious food. But as a local in a non-touristy city, we have learned so much more about this country. Some good, some funny, some not-so-desirable, and some just odd.


Here are just a few things I did not expect to become my new normal.

  1. Squatter toilets… there is just no getting around it. they are everywhere.
  2. BYOTP. that is, bring your own toilet paper. yes, I carry a roll of tp in my purse & in my bike everywhere I go.
  3.  Wild chickens. everywhere. but this also means fresh eggs are cheap & delicious.
  4. Laughing at everything. i don’t know if it is possible to attempt having a conversation with a local without laughing. laughing at our awkward attempt to speak thai, laughing at our daily routine, or laughing with our students. somehow, everything is funny. oh, and in the thai culture, thai people laugh when they get nervous.
  5. Traffic stops for cows. yes, we have found ourselves in bumper to bumper traffic because a heard of cows decided to walk down the highway… not just across it, but straight down the lane {and sometimes going the wrong way I might add}. yes, this has happened more than once.
  6. 2 lane streets are actually 4 lane streets. meaning 3 cars and one bike or some other crazy variation… yes i often ride with my eyes closed.
  7. Men walking their pet cows down the highway. who needs to walk a dog when you can just walk your cow?
  8. Men RUNNING with their bulls on the side of the highway. again, why run a dog when you can run a bull??
  9. Gorgeous homes with A/C next to one room wood or metal shacks. zoning is not a thing here.
  10. Everything is CHEAP.  granted, we get paid on the thai baht so we make practically nothing. but still, who can pass up $1 meals and $0.33 fresh coconut water.
  11. You can pay your bills and buy plane tickets at 7-11. and they are EVERYWHERE!!!!
  12. Non-refrigerated meat. you can buy your meat on the side of the road, at the night market, or in the non-refrigerated section at a western-style market. yes, I have pretty much become a vegetarian.
  13. Fitting a class of 20 + 2 teachers into an 8 person van and calling it a field trip. Or fitting 40 students into a 20 seater bus that doesn’t have closing doors. don’t worry- one of the teachers always sits on the steps by the door.
  14.  Google always reverts back to thai… even when you  change your settings.
  15. Cold showers. even in the heat, i wish our home had hot water…
  16. Wai. a wai is the act of putting your hands in prayer position and bowing towards another individual. it is a sign of respect. we wai everyone and they wai us. truly, i love it. the younger generation truly respects their elders.
  17. Morning & night markets. in america farmers markets are definitely a trendy thing to do. in thailand, they are our normal. if we want food- we go to the night market. and they are such a fun experience!
  18. Running breaks due to the cows/goats/hogs standing or walking across your path. sometimes there is just no getting around them.
  19. Bikes. i never understood the allure of riding a motorcycle knowing how dangerous they  can be. now, i get it. we drive our little motorbike everywhere. to the market, to school, to the beach. and it.is.awesome!!
  20. The joy. thailand is named the land of smiles for a reason. it is impossible to meet a stranger here. we have learned it is almost impossible to go somewhere without meeting someone new. whether someone is wanting to take a picture with us or someone is helping me as i struggle through a conversation at the bank. everyone wants to help and everyone is joyful. the people here are lovely.


Have you ever found yourself in a transition period with new normals? What did this look like for you?

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  • Reply
    Hope Engaged
    March 4, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    OMG I loved EVERYTHING about this post. It brought back SUCH good memories of when I lived in Thailand as an English teacher. I was dying laughing when you said shove 22 ppl into a van and call it a field trip! We did that so many times, and I could never stop giggling at the insanity of it! Seriously girl, I’ve loved following you on this adventure! I’m sad it’s coming to a close…how are you feeling about it?

  • Reply
    valerie budd
    March 5, 2015 at 8:37 am

    squatter toilets ugh!

  • Reply
    Tara Illy
    April 28, 2015 at 10:24 am

    It looks uniquely beautiful! And walking your ‘pet’ cows — that’s a first! Love seeing your posts on life abroad :)

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