The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone who is thinking about living in Thailand, or I guess anywhere you are living in life, but especially in Thailand, is to GO WITH THE FLOW. This mentality will save you a whole lot of stress, sickness and possibly tears.
Here in Thailand, there is an expression that I learn while teaching in Thailand – “Mai pen rai” that loosely translates to “no worries” or “it’s all good”. This expression is used for anything and everything. The Wifi at your favorite café is down? Sorry, mai pen rai. The restaurant you are at doesn’t have any toilet paper? mai pen rai, should have brought your own. Your students accidentally smash you in the face with a volleyball as your walking to class one day? Ouch but mai pen rai.
Basically, you have to roll with the punches here, literally. Things are not going to go your way and you’re going to have to learn how to be OKAY with that. The better you can master this way of life BEFORE coming out here, the easier the transition will be.
The Thai Market
This go with the flow mentality can be translated into something as simple as walking through a Thai market. There are a ton of people, a lot of intense smells (often times not the most pleasant), and generally a lot of questionable looking things. It’s not uncommon to see a table full of raw meat, flies all around it, with the Thai local just sitting there swatting them away waiting for the next buyer who will ACTUALLY buy the meat.
You will see some incredibly gross options for food like rats on a stick as well as some possibly delicious items that only require a little bravery to try. Needless to say, your first time walking through a Thai market might be a bit alarming. Especially if you’re in a small rural town like me where EVERYONE is staring at you too.
Getting A Lot of Attention
Walking into the market, all eyes are on you. The people are wondering who you are, what you will buy, how you speak, and much more. At times, it can be a challenge to not be annoyed at all the stares. Sometimes I just want to shout, “I AM NOT AN ALIEN!!!” Other times, it’s kind of fun to be looked at like a celebrity. You’re literally getting a taste of what its like to be famous. Regardless of if you enjoy the stares or not, walking through the market is when going with the flow is an important tool to thrive here.
You need to go with the flow in order to maneuver through the masses of people. You need to go with the flow when you’re trying to ask someone the price of something and get no definite answer. You need to go with the flow when everyone is stopping you to take a photo of you. Going with the flow is the best and do I dare say THE ONLY WAY to survive around here.
Everything about living in a foreign country can be an adventure. This includes the small task of walking through a market. Yes, you need patience, but it will only help you grow as a person. After living in a foreign country, you will learn to not sweat the small stuff and focus on what matters about the culture. The one thing that is for sure about living in a foreign country is, you will leave a completely different person than when you entered with possibly a new motto to live life by – Mai Pen Rai