It’s January. Here in little Dan Chang that means massive trucks filled with sugarcane roaming the streets, and “black snow” ash flying through the air from the burning of the sugar cane fields. Ahhh, small town life.
No, even though I’ve been gone for so long, I haven’t been hit with any massive waves of homesickness and I’m not dying to return back to Uncle Sam. Sorry mom. The closest I came to missing home was around the holidays. Even though my friends & I attempted to make the holidays feel festive, something about 85 degree weather after spending 21 Christmases in Chicago just doesn’t feel like the most wonderful time of the year.
I tried everything – I baked cookies, I started playing Christmas music the second Halloween was over, I over-ate to the point of hating myself on Christmas day…nothing. My friend Nicole & I pampered ourselves on Christmas while we were in Siem Reap, but it just wasn’t the same.
Aside from the holidays, there are a few other things that I miss from the states. Appreciate what you have people. Although I am pretty lucky, you can find almost any Western comfort (except for candy corn) in Bangkok. If we’re speaking about food items Tops, a slightly upscale grocery chain in Thailand, has almost everything your little western heart could desire. Except for hummus.
Things I Miss from the USA
1. American-sized coffee…
Black like my soul, and as hot as the hell it belongs in. Thailand is cute when it follows Western-trends like locally-owned bean-sourced-however-you-describe-them coffee shops. They seem to understand the idea of a trend, but they never quite nail it.
“Coffee” is pretty popular in Thailand. Even in little Dan Chang we have a few cute “coffee” shops. I’m using quotation marks because by “coffee” I mean iced, sugared, whip-creamed confections that come in a plastic cup and look good on Instagram.
Every time I ask for a hot latte mai wan(not sweet) at the tutoring agency I work at, they look at me like I have 3 heads. The vast majority of people here drink their beverages cold, and with a 2:1 sugar to coffee ratio. It’s taken me months to FINALLY find a cheap coffee stand that doesn’t either a) dump Carnation sweetened-condensed milk into their beverages and b) doesn’t dump sugar syrup into coffee. I should get some kind of medal of recognition.
2. Free water/ice
Unexciting, this one is obvious and is something that I also missed while I was studying in Italy. Land of the free, home of the super-sized agua.
3. Hot sauce
Yes, you can find an abundance of hot sauce at western stores and at inflated Western prices, but on a teachers’ salary I’m too peasant to get it on a regular basis. I’ve considered jacking it from the western restaurants I’ve eaten at multiple times, but Thai people are so nice I couldn’t bring myself to take anything from them.
4. Traffic laws that are actually enforced
Last week I saw motorbike accident #93033849 since getting to Thailand. And it was in tiny Dan Chang. At least this time the person I saw sprawled out on the ground surrounded by people was moving, even if it was to writhe in pain.
I sound sarcastic, but I’m actually serious, the lack of motorbike safety here is a problem. I even considered doing a lesson for my students on it. At least one new student comes in all bandaged up every week. One of our students died in an accident this year, and apparently one did last year too. Losing one student a year to a motorbike accident is not okay.
5. Buying groceries without an audience
Referring to the incessant staring I receive on a daily basis from the residents of Dan Chang. Ah, the joys of living in a small town. I also miss buying groceries at an actual grocery store, as in a store that always has exactly what you need stocked in the same spot. Most of the time that I go to the market I have to hope that the vendor I need isn’t randomly closed. I haven’t figured out Thai scheduling, and I don’t think that Thai people have either.
6. Actually being able to talk to my parents
The wifi connection at my apartment is part-time(my parents & I keep in touch via Skype), so it’s hard to tell a funny story when you’re constantly saying WHAT? WHAT? ARE YOU THERE?
7. Chilly weather
90 degrees & humid isn’t January. And hangovers SUCK when you’re trying to get around Bangkok despite the heat and dehydration.
8. Trying on clothes before I buy them
Luckily, I’ve only had one instance where I bought something and it didn’t fit. But most vendors in Thailand don’t let you try things on, and none of them have changing rooms. Also, everything is one-size fits all. As in one-size-fits-all-tiny-Thai-people. It’s such a tease seeing so many cute clothes for so cheap that are almost child-sized by US standards.
9. Nice makeup
Nicer slurge-worthy brands like Urban Decay are not even the same price as they are in the states and elsewhere, they’re MORE because Thailand import tax is insane. The same goes for ordering anything you need on amazon and such, the import tax makes it not worth it. Also, anything that costs the same in baht that it does in dollars is already more expensive, because money goes farther here than in the states.
10. Being able to call my bank/a bus service/any public facility at my leisure
The language barrier really makes things difficult sometimes. Most bus schedules don’t really run on a schedule and can’t be found (at least in English) online, so most of the time I show up to the bus station and hope for the best.
11. My friends
The Bachelorette just isn’t the same.