Startups

My 4 month Journey in Southeast Asia as a Digital Nomad: Thailand

A paradise for foodies, travelers and minorities.

I only stayed in Thailand for one month. But in a few days, it became my #1 place to work remotely.

If you’re curious to know why I decided to work in Southeast Asia, read here.
If you missed the 1st series of my trip to Malaysia, no sweat. I got it here.

With zero knowledge of the culture and 100% fear of what could happen, here’s my take on how it feels to wander around Bangkok, Thailand.

Thailand, the kingdom that never sleeps

People would often tell me, the craziest s*** happens in Thailand. And the funny thing is, they’re right!

Quick story:

The first night I arrived in Thailand, my Airbnb host (Bulan) took me to a tattered street filled with food carts. While the aroma of fresh herbs and spicy chilis enticed my appetite, the ghetto sight of the place terrified me.

Bulan told me not to worry though. Just to prepare my stomach for legit Thai food. But once we placed our order and sat down to chat, her cheery grin suddenly became horrified.

Wondering what might’ve caused her sudden reaction, I turned my head around.

My eyes locked onto a frail, half-naked man, crawling towards us. Trickles of blood ran down his face, as if he got beaten up by a gang, leaving a gruesome trail behind. He mumbled something in Thai to Bulan and me (I’m not sure what).

I turn back to Bulan, confused and deeply disturbed.

Bulan: Don’t look at him! I don’t know why he’s on the floor, but just pretend everything’s okay.

Me: Umm….Bulan? Is this what Thailand’s like?

Bulan: NO! This is the 1st time I’ve seen this.

*phew*

For a moment there, I thought I’d be stuck living indoors for the rest of my time in Thailand. Because no way was I going to put myself at risk, especially when everyone said that Thailand is a dangerous place to travel alone.

The street Bulan took me that first night.

The truth is, Thailand is relatively safe to wander about. I stepped out of the house maybe 2–3 times a day (for work, for food, for shopping), and not once was I harassed, pick-pocketed, or held at knifepoint.

Thank god.

As long as you have Google Maps, 500 baht (~$14 USD), and some street sense, you’ll be fine. Of course, there might be times when your phone dies or you really can’t find your way.

So what’s the next best alternative?

Asking the local people.

Thai taxi driver | Photo Credit: Unsplash

Just to let you know, Thais are some of the nicest, most down-to-earth people you’d ever meet. They generally mind their own business and give you enough personal space to make you feel at ease. But if you need help, they’ll do everything they can to help out.

Maybe it’s because they’re so used to helping tourists. Or maybe it’s because 95% of them are Buddhists.

Buddhist monks | Photo Credit: Pixabay

Personally, I believe it’s because they treat everyone like their own kind.

I remember this one time a local (a security guard at the train station) asked if I was Thai. I shook my head “no” and said I was Chinese. Thinking she’d brush me off as one of those folks, she simply smiled and said I’d totally pass as a Thai.

It’s hard to describe what I felt at that moment, but seeing her smile made me feel like I was one of them. A rare feeling as a foreigner.

It’s just shocks me how open Thais are to other cultures. Because most people on this world aren’t — they tend to favor and stick to their own kind, where they deeply believe their country is best.

I’m not saying Thais have a weaker sense of nationalism and don’t care as much for their own kind. In fact, they’re extremely devoted to their country. I remember how their King passed away on October 13, 2016, and the next day, almost every Thai dressed up in black!

From what I heard, Thais have to wear black for a month to show respect for their King.

They even plastered billboard-size pictures of the king on almost every skyscraper. And displayed his portrait inside every mall.

A devoted Thai paying his respects to the King at the MBK shopping mall.

It’s just incredible to see the amount of patriotism Thais show. I mean, many have sobbed their hearts out. A few have even flown thousands of miles and waited under the scorching sun, just so they can properly mourn the death of their King.

A sad day in Thai history. But one where I realized how closely connected Thais are.

Anyways, enough with the sad stuff. You’re probably wondering what the Thai lifestyle is like.

It’s pretty much the same as the U.S. where people work 9–5, Monday to Friday, in business suits and skirts.

Rush hour at 3:30pm | Phloen Chit Road (main street).

But when the sun goes down, people don’t just go home and flick on the TV. Hundreds, if not thousands, scatter through the streets to:

  • Get some real Thai grub — I’m talking about the ones cooked on the streets!
  • Work up some sweat at the nightclub
  • Chill at the bars
  • Shop at Bangkok’s most modern, multi-story shopping malls
  • Get a massage at a nice parlor
  • Negotiate at the night markets
  • Seek fun time with Thailand’s beautiful girls

Oh boy, about the last point. I encountered so many incidents where I’d see a sexy, petite Thai girl (usually in her early 20s) hold hands with a big, beefy Caucasian guy. It’s pretty common, believe it or not, to see this kind of “courtship” in Thailand. Except this would only last a day.

Think “Tinder” — except both the guy and girl are straightforward with their intentions.

The guy would pamper the girl with nice stuff, like ice cream, pastries, little snacks. Buy her clothes. Then treat her to dinner.

In return, the girl would dress up in her best outfit, hold his hand, and be his “girlfriend” until the day was over — which usually ends when the guy invites her into his room to…

Well you know what!

And then late at night, the more populated streets would be lined up with girls, dressed up in short miniskirts, backless tops, and heels . Waiting. Just waiting to snatch the right guy who might be interested in them for the night.

It’s an interesting sight, because Asian girls usually come off as passive and shy.

Not these girls though.

Thai girls are blunt when it comes to what they want. Which is actually a good thing, because then it saves you the guesswork of knowing what she likes or hates, or how she’s feeling.

Thai food in 3 words

Flavorful.
Cheap.
Unforgettable.

Ask me what my last meal would be before I die, and I probably answer with a Thai dish. Maybe som tam (papaya salad) or pad kra pao (holy basil stir-fry).

There’s just something about Thai food that makes it impossible for anyone to get sick of. And I think it’s the amount of attention Thai chefs put into their food.

It’s light, refreshing, and a mouthful of flavor.

Don’t aim for restaurants though if you want authentic Thai food. Unless it has high ratings on Wongnai (a restaurant review site for Thailand). Because honestly, you can get yummier foods from the street stalls. At 1/3 of the cost.

You really can’t beat that.

And in Thailand, there’re street stalls practically on every corner. Meaning you won’t need to worry if the munchies strike, because there’ll be food within a few mins walk.

If you’re curious to know what foods Thai people eat, which I’ve tried and would totally recommend, I wrote them all here.

Places worth visiting in Thailand (Bangkok)

Of course, Thailand won’t feel like Thailand if you don’t go to these places.

My last thoughts about Thailand

Thailand has definitely won its place in my heart, especially with its open-minded culture and cheap, tasty food. You can live a pretty good life there if you don’t care too much about brands or eating extravagant meals.

Not to mention, it’s very easy to get around the city — whether that’s by train, taxi, or on foot. Normally I take the BTS (Bangkok’s Airtrain), and can get to the center of the city within 30 minutes from the outskirts.

The only things I worry about is the sun. It can get outrageously hot from 11am to 3pm, ranging from 88–94 degrees F. And that’s just average! And since there’s not much shade around, your best bet of staying cool and hydrated is to hang out at the malls or cafes, and get yourself a cold drink.

The second thing I worry about is the language. Even though Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and one of the most visited places in the world, most Thais don’t speak English. Or are very limited in their words. That’s why I always keep my Google Translate open, so I can tell them exactly what I want.

But despite those difficulties, I still felt at home in Thailand. And sometimes I’d surprise myself when I realized I’m not Thai.

Overall, Thailand has been a wonderful experience for me. It’s seriously the best paradise for foodies, digital nomads, and first-time travelers.

The serene side of Bangkok, Thailand

My rating on Thailand

Accessible and fast wifi — 8.0/10
Food — 9/10
Convenience (getting around) — 9.2/10
Fun — 9.3/10
Cost of living — $500/month

✈️ with Cheapflights (the cheapest place I’ve found for plane tickets)
🥝 Kiwi occasionally has some great flight deals — worth taking a look!

7 random things you didn’t know about Thailand

  • Leaving the house without wearing underwear is illegal.
  • It’s also illegal to step on Thai Baht.
  • Among all the Southeast Asian counties, Thailand is the only one that has never been colonized.
  • One-tenth of Thailand’s population live in Bangkok, the nation’s capital.
  • Thailand is known as “The Land of Smiles” because Thais smile for almost everything, from personal embarrassment to fear and remorse.
  • Feet are considered unclean and should never touch people or point in their direction.
  • The head is the holiest part of the body in Thailand and should never be touched.

Published by Tiffany

I’m a digital nomad who travels the world to write, learn and eat. I’m usually blogging my soul away or sharing my adventures on Youtube.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *