When most people first arrive in Thailand, they are often taken back by the amazing culture, the “Thai hospitality,” and the beauty of the country. Whether it’s the amazing food, unique culture, stunning landscapes, or cheap prices, there is always something that hooks most people into wanting to stay longer.
Just like any newly formed relationship, once you get over that honeymoon period, those cute quirks that you once thought were cute will start to annoy you after a while. If you have stayed long enough, you will come across articles like, “21 signs you’ve been in Thailand too long” and realize that this person really doesn’t know what he is talking about. They are probably a backpacker who ended up staying 3 months instead of 2 weeks.
Just like any long-term relationship, there is good and there is bad. But for most people in an unhealthy relationship, the bad often starts to jade their way of thinking. For those individuals, here are 10 signs that you’ve been living in Thailand for too long.
#1. You Don’t Feel Bad For Not Leaving a Tip
In North America everybody tips. If you take a taxi and pay the meter, you are expected to leave a guy a tip for doing his job. This is especially true if you go to a restaurant. Not leaving a tip in North America is one of the biggest taboos you can possibly do. You will often have servers chase you down and remind you that you forgot to leave one. When you first arrive in Thailand, most people continue this same tipping philosophy and tip at most restaurants you eat at.
After prolonged period of time, the tipping becomes less and less and eventually, it deteriorates to nothing. You know you’ve been living in Thailand for too long when you grab that 20 baht (70 cents) change that the server brings back and you don’t feel bad doing it. It’s not that you’re cheap, but you get use to paying the price listed. Trust me, stay in Thailand long enough and you won’t be tipping at all.
#2. You Avoid Driving on the Roads at Night
As a general rule of thumb, 80% of the people driving on the roads late at night are drunk. Both Thai and foreigner drivers tend to drive under the influence, especially on weekends. If you happen to be on the roads after 12 pm at night, the majority of people you see on the roads are all smashed.
Don’t get me wrong, the Thai’s are actually pretty good drunk drivers because they are so used to it. But if they get too hammered it can usually result in an accident as they become over confident.
What blows my mind is how many expats and tourists also drive drunk. I’m not sure what the logic behind it is, but I guess it’s the old when in Rome philosophy being put into action.
No matter how many people die on the road, most people still think they are invincible when it comes to their own safety and well-being. If you stay in Thailand long enough you will probably end up throwing caution into the wind and join the party of drunk motorbike drivers. If you can’t beat them join them, right? No seriously, your probably better off being smashed so you don’t realize how dangerous the roads really are.
#3. Seeing a Motorbike Accident Doesn’t Faze You
If you live in Thailand and drive on the main roads every day, you are lucky if you go a day without seeing a motorbike accident. Most of the time you won’t see it happen live, you will just drive by and see a crowd of people surrounding a body on the ground or you will see the remnants of a smashed bike that is lying on the road in pieces.
The police will have probably already arrived on the scene and start waving people past the accident. If you are unlucky you will be involved in an accident yourself, having someone cut you off while you are driving or a drunken encounter.
Did you know Thailand was one of the top five countries in the world with the highest number of motorcycle-related deaths?
Motorbikes and accidents are two words that go hand in hand. If you drive a motorbike for a prolonged period of time be prepared for some sort of fender bender. Knock on wood, that it is only something minor. Driving a car is the safest way to be on the dangerous Thai roads.
#4. You Don’t Want To Go Out On Songkran
Yes, that’s right, the famous water festival that all the tourist books say is the biggest holiday in Thailand (It definitely is) will eventually be your most dreaded day. There was a day when you really did look forward to buying a water gun and getting drunk at the bar. Running around spraying random people is a lot of fun, but that gets boring fast.
Eventually, after a few years in Thailand, the thought of being soaked continuously throughout the day doesn’t sound too appealing. After a couple hours of being wet, you’d think everyone has had enough water for a day, but that never happens.
The only time I ever been in motorbike a accident in Thailand was on Songkran. I was driving down a main road and a guy jumped in front of my motorbike spraying water in my face. I ended up crashing into another motorbike that was in front of me because I couldn’t see him stop. Fortunately, it was a minor accident, but for many people, these accidents are deadly.
Especially on Songkran, most people drive the roads wasted or have taken some sort of drug. If you are a girl, expect to get groped in the name of Songkran. Songkran is an excuse for most people to get out of control and do “crazy stuff.” There is the highest amount of deaths on the roads during Songkran. The highway death rate always skyrockets by at least 10x because of all the drunk drivers. The best thing you can do is stay close to home and avoid driving on any main roads. Trust me, most people in Thailand know someone who has been in an accident on Songkran, don’t let yourself be a statistic.
#5. You Look Forward to Cloudy Days
For the short term tourist vacationers who are in Thailand for a few months, soaking up the sun is a rite of passage. You will probably spend all of your days lying on the beach, darkening your skin, hoping the SPF 30+ will keep the skin cancer at bay.
After a prolonged period of being exposed to the hot sun, you begin to realize that the sun isn’t going anywhere. You are going to wake up in the morning and if it’s not sunny today, it will be sunny the next day. The longer you stay in Thailand, you will begin to associate the sun with being hot and sweaty and you’d much rather be in an air conditioned room.
You look forward to those few days where a storm passes through and the temperature drops, allowing you to leave your house and not be drenched in sweat. Because most of the year is sunny, the odd cloudy day is greatly appreciated the longer you’re down here.
Are you looking to move to Thailand? Make sure you check out our guide to finding cheap accommodation in Thailand.
#6. You Signed up For a Thai School That Doesn’t Teach You
Have you ever wondered how a lot of people stay in Thailand for a long period of time? Since the Thai government makes it difficult to get long term visas for the country, even limiting the number of tourist visas you can obtain, getting an education visa is the next best thing.
The best way to stay for an extended period of time is to sign up for a Thai Language school and learn Thai. While the ideas of learning Thai at a school sounds awesome in theory, the reality is most of these schools aren’t interested in teaching you Thai, they just want your money.
While most Thai schools will start out by giving you a class schedule at the start of the term, you will quickly find out that the classes are often canceled and the teachers don’t show up. While you pay for 100 hours of Thai lessons at a school, if you manage to squeeze in 20 hours of lessons, consider yourself lucky.
#7. You Show up Late for the Movies so you can Skip the Commercials
Just like back home, when you go to a cinema in Thailand, you have to sit through commercials before the film. I’m not sure how long they have commercials back home, but in Thailand, the previews usually last between 25-35 minutes. Some of the ads, I’ve seen consecutively for the last 3 years. Yes, I’m talking about that SFX coke and the Isuzu X Series commercials at the end.
If you see enough movies at the cinema you will start buying your tickets early and showing up 30 minutes after the film “officially starts” to skip the ads. Trust me, as much as most people love watching the Thai Royal Anthem before a film, after seeing it countless of times, you will want to skip it.
#8. You Know the Entire Royal Thai Anthem by Heart
Ok, so maybe you haven’t memorized it word for word, but you definitely know the tune. This is one of the side effects of going to the cinema to watch the latest releases. Seriously, if you watch enough movies, you can sing along to the Royal Thai Anthem without even knowing the words. I mean, it’s a pretty catchy song, so imagine after hearing it for the hundredth time, it does stick to you.
This anthem is also played before most events, so be prepared to have it ingrained in your head after your first couple years in Thailand.
If you haven’t seen the Royal Thai Anthem then click here
#9. You Can No Longer Eat Spicy Food (at least you shouldn’t)
Don’t you just love hot and spicy food? Well, stay in Thailand long enough and those spicy Tom Yum dishes will start to have an impact on your stomach. After a while you will start feeling pain after every meal, eventually thinking that there is something wrong with you.
Make sure you check out our list of the 15 healthiest Thai food dishes in Thailand
The good news is the peptic ulcers are very treatable, and the bad news is, they are caused from the spice and acidic foods. This means you have to put a stop to your favorite Spicy Mango Salad (Tam Mamuang) you’ve been eating every day and start eating more basic stuff. The truth is most people, especially myself, will eat their way through the pain because they’re addicted to spicy food.
#10. You Avoid Taking Antibiotics at All Costs
If you ever get sick in Thailand, whether it’s a cut, bruise, scrape, or even feel under the weather, the doctor will prescribe you antibiotics. Why? Because at the end of the day, it does solve most problems and it’s an easy way for the doctor to treat you.
In a year, you can expect to take at least a couple of rounds of antibiotics for a variety problems. You go to any pharmacy and they will prescribe you antibiotics for whatever you have. Because infections are so common and likely to spread, they prescribe this drug like it’s a pain killer.
Unless you have a serious problem that needs to be tended to, you won’t bother going to the clinic. No matter what you say or have, you will be given some form of penicillin to help treat your ailment. Because most of the people walking into the clinics are vacationers, prescribing antibiotics is easy and they can charge more money for it.
#11. You Understand the Importance of Saving “Face”
One of the most important things you will learn in Thailand is the importance of “face.” Here is a quote that accurately describes the concept of “face:”
“the abstract concept of “face” can be described as a combination of social standing, reputation, influence, dignity, and honor. Causing someone to “lose face” lowers them in the eyes of their peers, while saving or “building face” raises their self-worth. Although in the West we tend to appreciate people who are “brutally honest” or who get to the point quickly, the opposite holds true in Asia.”
What does this mean? It means you don’t get into a yelling match with someone even when you know you’re right. While people in the West always think it’s important to be brutally honest, the Thai culture prefers indirect forms of criticism.
The reason you want to ensure someone doesn’t lose “face” is because when “face” is lost, all hell breaks loose. Once someone loses “face”, there is no stopping them from doing anything to you. Let’s just say you don’t want to venture down that road.
#12. At Some Point, You Have Lost “Face”
Not everyone is perfect, especially those of us that have lived in Thailand for a long period of time. At some point, there will be a moment you lose “face.” Often it’s over the simplest thing, but that moment will come where you will lose control.
For example, it might be a situation where you are eating at a restaurant and realize there is a piece of glass in your food (yes this happened to me). In a normal situation, you’d speak up and expect an acknowledgment, however, in Thailand, this is easily dismissed.
These are the moments where it’s easy to get into a yelling match, however doing so won’t get you anywhere. Don’t expect a refund or a discount. Save yourself the embarrassment and walk away. The only thing you can do after that never go back to the restaurant, which eliminates your favorite eating joint. #truestory
What Do you Think? Is there anything missing on this list? Let me know in the comments below.