I went to the pool today after work, swam for a while. It struck me that having my own pool (I do share it with the other people in the building, but I am usually in it by myself) is one of the things I love about living in Thailand.
Bangkok is hot enough that I can swim all year round. I’ll probably not want to swim for that one month of the year when the temperature is at 23 Celsius, I have not acclimatised to that point yet. The building manager's staff maintains and cleans the pool every morning. I can sunbathe any time. Being a New Zealander, though, I am aware of the damage this can do. So I stay in the shade as much as possible.
Thai food is spicy, it has a balance of many flavours. Every meal is a gastronomic feast for your taste buds. The seafood is fresh, many times prepared in tasty curries or soups. The first meal I learnt to order was Phat Thai Jay, a traditional noodle dish that is a staple on most menus. Jay means vegetable. It is not a spicy dish, full of peanuts, though, so it’s not good for people with a nut allergy.
Phat Thai Jay isn’t my favourite Thai dish. That’s reserved for Gang Kiew Wan Jay, Sweet Green Vegetable Curry. I eat it every day, guests have come and stayed with me who ate it too. This curry is not spicy by Thai standards, but sometimes it nearly takes my head off!
I like Thai food so much I went to a Thai cooking school. Thai cookery schools are all over, especially wher you are likely to find tourists. The courses are inexpensive and available in a number of languages. Usually you cook your own portion, then you sit around with your classmates and eat it. This week when I was on vacation in Chiang Mai, I did a second cooking course and learnt how to make Phat Thai Jay!
When you buy something at a market in Thailand, you bargain. For me it isn’t only about the money. I like it. I consider it a challenge to have the vendor bring down his/her asking price. Often I have paid the vendor the original price, if it was a reasonable one. I enjoy the experience of bargaining.
I find it especially rewarding if I can haggle in the language of the vendor. Learning numbers in Thai became my priority. I can now bargain successfully. When friends come, they tell me what they want to pay and I take it from there. I have fun with the vendors.
I remember being at a night market looking at some cushion covers. It took me about 15 minutes to change the vendor's price. She made no allowance for the fact that I didn’t speak much Thai, I had to guess what she was talking about from her body language. When we had settled on a price, I paid her the original asking price – well worth the entertainment.
Those Thai people I met were happy, contented, gentle, friendly and kind. The culture, to "keep a cool heart", meaning "don’t get angry" is at the core of Thai life. I am calmer in Thailand. Even when I couldn't communicate well with the people, they smiled and helped me.
This new tranquil me affects my professional life. The children I teach are polite, respectful and cheerful. It warms me to be greeted by smiling children. Teaching at an international school is how I support my lifestyle in Thailand, a lot easier than the teaching in state schools in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Not all children are Thai, so the effect on other expatriates and their children is huge also.
Thailand is a great country in which to be a womanl! It is abound with shops for foot massages, full body massages, manicures, pedicures, facials… One of my colleagues gets her hair washed and blow dried a couple times a week!
Last weekend I dressed up in a gown for the New Zealand Society Ball. In May I might go to the British Embassy Ball. If you like going out, dancing, eating great food and wearing posh frocks, Bangkok is the place!
I’m happy in Thailand – with my teaching job, with my apartment, happy with the whole experience of living here. If you’re thinking of moving abroad, definitely consider Thailand.