Thailand Things – Chiang Mai

This is just a combination of small random things I noticed and learned from my time in Thailand. This is from my perspective as someone who has lived in the United States my whole life and with very little exposure to South East Asian cultures.

Songthaews

2015-11-06 13.37.18

These are like red taxi trucks. They are one of the cheapest ways to get around. You just flag them down, tell them where you are going and then climb in back.

Usually you will want to negotiate price before you get in. Usually between 20-40 baht ($1ish) or maybe a little more depending on how far you have to go, or depending on the time of day.

Sometimes they will try to rip you off for being a foreigner but that hasn’t happened to me more than once or twice and as long as you know what price is fair and negotiate the price up front then you are good. I have even had a driver give me money back because it was a short ride and I gave him too much. So most of the drivers are cool.

Sometimes they will turn you down if they are not heading your way or something but if you hit them up on non-peak hours then many of them will be empty and will take you just about anywhere for the right price.

Tuk Tuk

Tuk_tuk

You will also see these tuk tuks everywhere. They are usually around 5 times the cost of a Songthaew.

Straws

2015-11-06 13.40.27

I feel like the thai people have a higher than average love for straws. Like if you buy a bottle of something to drink, often it will come come with straw. Like, you buy a coke and they throw a straw in the bag. They also give you straws at like all the restaurants no matter how short the cup is. I’d heard that part of the reason may be that they view the lip of bottles to be dirty which would make sense. But I just thought the sudden increase of straws in my life was mildly interesting.

Cable Management

2015-11-06 13.30.49 HDR

2015-11-06 17.17.19

2015-11-06 17.19.22 HDR

There just big clumps of cable lines everywhere. Not necessarily bad or anything, just interesting. Not sure if these are all power cables or if they are also data cables or something but they are everywhere.

I’d heard that this actually makes it quite easy to upgrade their infrastructure. Which makes sense. When you need to run new fiber optic cable in the States you have to dig up stuff and its a whole ordeal. To run a new fiber line in Thailand, you just tack it up to the telephone poles and you are good to go.

7/11

There are 7/11s everywhere. This turns out to be very useful. They are basically like 7/11s in the states but smaller. You can do everything at 7/11. You can pay bills, you can even pay cash for stuff that you purchase online. Its crazy. Plus they have drinks, snacks, personal hygiene products, etc…

Here is also where you can get a tourist sim card. Remember to bring your passport. It takes a few minutes to set up, they have to take a picture of your passport and submit things through a smart phone app but then you will be connected to 3G. I think there are other providers you can get as a tourist, maybe even a 4G network, but the TrueMove network you get at 7/11 is good for a 3G network. I have found it very adequate for navigating me around town and accessing twitter and facebook and stuff.

Dogs

2015-11-06 17.33.48

There are stray dogs around. And they like to lay around in the most inconvenient places.

Construction

2015-11-06 13.31.00
A Chiang Mai apartment building being renovated.

At least at the time of this writing there is a lot of construction going on around Nimman road. Most of it, as far as I can tell, it is mostly apartment/hotel building renovations.

There are a few of these places that have already finished being renovated. They are really cool. They are well designed and trendy, but are also quite expensive. Like 3-4 times what I am currently paying for my cheap apartment.

Power Outlets

2015-11-07 10.08.12
The wall outlet in my apartment in Chiang Mai.

So most of the power outlets look something like this.

** However I have seen some outlets that DO NOT have the 3rd grounding hole (only two holes) so you may need a little converter to reduce the 3 prong connectors to two.

Khao Soi

2015-11-10 10.40.35

If there is a dish that Chiang Mai is known for it is Khao Soi. This is a northern thai dish. You typically wont find it in any thai restaurants abroad or in the southern parts of Thailand. It is egg noodles with a sweet, curry-like coconut based broth. Then they top it with crispy noodles and usually add some sort of meat like chicken or beef.

Napkins

2015-11-07 12.22.12

So the napkin situation is different. Usually, if there are any napkins at all, it is like 2 ply toilet paper like what you see in the picture above or like one ply stacks of napkins. Its interesting.

Water Machines

2015-11-08 14.50.33

Its important to stay hydrated in Thailand.

You can buy big like 1500 ml (about 1/3 gallon) bottles of water for about 14 baht (about 40 cents) but you can refil that same bottle for 1 baht (about 3 cents). So you may want to save a few bottles and just start refilling them instead of buying new ones.

You can, of course buy even bigger bottles and refil them. But I just used the 1500 ml ones since I thought they were easier to deal with once I got them home. Plus I could take one with me if I needed to.

Just keep your eye out for a machine like the one in the picture above you just put in a 1 baht coin and press the green button and water will come out of the spout.

If you are having trouble finding a water machine, you can try asking around. They are not that uncommon, chances are there it always one within a couple blocks of where you are staying.

Also, the tap water is not safe to drink. Some people report being fine brushing their teeth with tap water but I usually just keep a bottle of water in the bathroom for my toothbrush.

Night Markets

2015-11-07 19.32.06

There is a night market on both Saturday and Sunday.  Usually from like 6:30 to like 9:00ish, I think. The Sunday and Saturday markets happen in different places. They basically just block off an entire street and they set up booths on either side.

Expect it to be crazy crowded, everyone goes to these things so think traffic for both cars and bodies. In bottle necked areas it is shoulder to shoulder penguin shuffle kind of movement.

They sell everything you can think of here. Food, juices, smoothies, knick knacks, souvenirs, soaps, bags, clothes, shoes, sandals, lanterns, wallets, belts, scarfs, basically anything.

You can also get a foot massage when your feet and legs get tired from all the walking/penguin shuffling. There are foot massage areas spread evenly up and down the market.

There are also street performers that camp right in the middle of the crowded road. The crowd just moves around them which is kind of interesting.

Also expect to pay more for transportation to and from because the drivers lose time dealing with the traffic and crowds.

Thai Massage

2015-11-07 17.54.00

There are many massage places around. They range in price from 150 baht (about $4.20) to 300 baht (about $8.40). They often offer many types of massage but the most common are going to be a thai massage or a foot massage.

You are going to get the best prices from a shop that only does massages rather than a spa.

7/11 Stamps

2015-11-12 12.16.05

When you buy things from 7/11 they give you these stamps. You can trade these in for discounts towards your next purchase.

Big Size

2015-11-13 11.59.55

Usually if you think a normal sized portion wont satisfy your hunger, you can ask them for a big size. Usually is it only like 10 baht or so more to get a little extra food.

Laundry Service

2015-11-12 17.01.22

There are laundry shops all around. They will clean and fold your laundry for you. Usually for around 30 baht per kilo. If you want them ironed it will be a little more.

The Government

So Thailand is not a place where the people can talk freely about the government. In fact, everyone will tell you to be very careful when talking about the King. There are regular stories of people getting sent to prison for small stuff like posting a photoshopped picture of the king on Facebook.

But you will notice pictures and billboards of the king all over the place and if you see a movie there will be a part where you are asked to stand for the national anthem to show respect for the king.

Although the king and princess seem to be loved by much of the people, the prince is not. And the king is rumored to be quite ill. And the country is run by the military at the moment. Though I’ve heard that the northern part of the country is not affected much by any of that.