I love my country and I'm proud to be a travelling Canuck. Yet, having spent the last month and a bit in Thailand, I have started to notice a few things that Thailand does better than Canada. Here are, in my opinion, 10 of them:
1. Access to a Doctor
When Shane developed a rash about a week after we arrived in Thailand, I got a little nervous. So many things can go wrong. So I urged him to see a doctor if only to put my mind at ease. It took a few days of nagging on my part, but he finally went (you can read about it here). All in all, he had seen a doctor, gotten a diagnosis and received his prescriptions in less than 2 hours. Compare that to a minimum of 15 hours in Canada (particularly in Quebec) and Thailand wins this round.
2. Cheap Food
For the first few weeks here, we went to the supermarket and bought food to cook at home. We soon realized, however, there is a reason Thais barely ever eat at home: Street food is incredibly delicious, abundant and cheap! So we now hop on our scooter to get dinner at the local market or walk a few blocks to one of the many restaurants on our street. All in, two main meals and water will cost about 100 Baht ($3.50 CAD). Not worth the hassle of cooking at home.
3. Electricity Bills at 7-Eleven
There are about as many 7-Elevens here as they are cars. OK, not quite. But almost. Electricity bills come once a month and are left in a covered plastic holder outside everyone’s door. To pay it, you walk a few paces to the nearest and pay at the cash. Yeah, you pay your electricity bill at 7-Eleven. Incredibly easy.
4. Collective Taxis
“Song-taa’s” are everywhere. Instead of big-city buses, Thailand has pickup trucks outfitted with a sort of cage in the back and two rows of seats. They can fit up to 20 people or so, come every few minutes, cost next to nothing and go everywhere. Super useful!
5. Cell Phone Plans
In Canada, we paid about $75 CAD each a month for a regular plan. In Thailand, the equivalent plan costs about $5 CAD. That’s right: $5 CAD. It’s more of a pay-as-you-go setup, with “top up” stations near grocery stores and other central areas so you can add money to your account whenever you run out. Coverage is excellent and just about every business has Wi-Fi so you rarely need to use your data. Thailand 1, Canada 0 on this one.
I don’t need to say much about this. There is no comparison...
Although Thais seem fairly tolerant about short shorts and skirts, they are overall a relatively modest people. Most of the time, shoulders are covered, and clothes are adjusted but not too tight. From their quiet and polite personalities to their choice of clothes, Thais do modestly well. They are not conservative and old-fashioned at all; I simply enjoy not seeing belly buttons, lacy bras and butt cheeks everywhere.
8. Hot Springs
Hot springs abound in the area where we live. The closest one to us is the Raksawarin Hot Springs, a free, government-owned facility that is open to the public. Our favourite, however, is about 10–15 minutes south of town, in a national park. Cost is 100 Baht ($3.5 CAD) per person. It’s big, beautiful, clean and incredibly hot!
Driving in Thailand is a little crazy. To start, Thais drive on the “wrong” side of the road, which we’ve adjusted to. The craziness, however, comes from the cohabitation of cars (mostly pickup trucks) and scooters. Scooter weave through traffic masterfully and scare the living s**t out of them. Remember: I’m driving a pickup truck, on the wrong side of the road, in tiny potholed streets… Still, there are barely any accidents. Scooters (with up to 4 people on them!) fly by us and make it home safely. Kids (as young as 8–9) drive on the streets, no problem. People go up a street against traffic if needed, to reach the street or business they want, no one bats an eye. It’s organized chaos, and it works.
10. Pace of Life
Thais are a relaxed people. Walk along Ruangrat Street (Ranong’s main street and the one on which we live) for a few blocks and you’ll cross about 100 shops. Most of them are empty. Staff are one their phones, chatting with each other, having a nap on a chair or staring out on the street. Nobody seems to fret. That’s life. People have time. People take the time. It can be infuriating for us, Westerners, who need to buy something or want to get our bill but, in time, you slow down too. Yet, within a few weeks of being exposed to it, you start doing the same: You take a nap in the afternoon, you sit on the front steps and let the world go by, you go for a smoothie across the street, you read a book. It’s nice. You should try it.
Have you been to Thailand? Do you have anything to add to this list? If so, let us know! We’d love to hear about it!