I spent 2 years in Thailand. One year in Bangkok and one year in the
Northeast. I have had more experience with getting sick and throwing
up and running it out the hind-end than you could possibly imagine. I
have gotten sick from all sorts of eating places. Be brave and be
smart. Eating oysters anywhere can be risky. I used to eat these
grilled cuttle fish off the street often and never got sick off of
one of those. They’re quite tasty! I got sick at a fancy New Years
Eve party at a fancy resort so getting sick isn’t limited to the
Be aware that Thais love MSG (monosodium glutamate)! If you are
sensitive to MSG be very careful. I learned how to say “my si pong
chu rot” which means no MSG. Always ask like you hope it’s in it so
when they say yes go on. If you ask like you don’t want it in it some
places will tell you no it’s not in it just to sell it to you. Don’t
eat Beef because it is saturated in MSG. Chicken and pork are
typically safe. The Thai’s love spicy HOT food. I went from Las
Cruces, NM where I built up a tolerance for jalopeno peppers and
thought I could handle the dishes in Thailand. WRONG!! Even dishes
where you say “my pet” which mean no hot pepper has still put me on
One of my favorite dishes and one that never got me sick was the
mango with sticky rice and coconut milk. OMG that was heavenly! So
yummy I want some real bad!!
Thailand is wonderful. Bangkok is a concrete jungle with smog so
thick you can cut it with a knife, but once you get past a few
unpleasantries it’s a beautiful place with beautiful people.
I advise you take the red and white city busses without air-
conditioning. Why? Because most taxi rides I’ve had have not been
very good. Get the bus map for sure. The bus I’m describing is great
because it will stop if you need to get off. The fancier buses
(aircon ones) will only stop at designated stops so it’s not good to
be on one of those when you realize you’ve gotten on the wrong bus.
Basically the most dangerous part of being in Thailand is the
potential for getting hurt not by bad people if you keep your nose
clean, but by unsafe circumstances (e.g. a big whole in the sidewalk
and you step in it and fall into the canal and drown or you lean up
against a live wire and get electrocuted or you are in a bus or
automobile accident. Mostly you can’t get killed in an automobile
within Bangkok because you can walk faster than the traffic moves,
but up country it’s possible.
Oh, yes, carry your own toilet paper.
Be aware that 50% or more of the dogs roaming the street could very
easily be carrying rabies. Don’t make eye contract with the dogs. You
know that saying “let sleeping dogs lie”? Well, I understood what
that means while I was in Thailand. Don’t be frightened, just
cautious. Having insight can help keep you safe. Oh, yes,
the greatest thing is to watch people’s reactions to two dogs stuck
together! I was on Sukumwit and saw two dogs stuck together. The
western folks laughed and made a to do about it. The Chinese/
Japanese would act like they didn’t see it, but position themselves
so they could get a picture of the mating dogs making it look like
they were just taking pictures of each other and not having anything
to do with the dogs. Thais are great! Once my Thai student and I got
off the buss and I pointed out the dogs (I had heard about this
happening with dogs, but never have I ever witnessed such a sight so
I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm). As I pointed the dogs out to my
student she pushed my hand down and said “Don’t look, Don’t see”.
That sums up my dogs stuck together in Thailand story.
When I was over there Thai people loved Americans (1996-1998). Thais
basically want you to love their country and go home with a good
impression. That said there are a number of Thais who will take
advantage of you and will given the opportunity (e.g. over charging
for taxi rides etc.).
All students take 12 years of English. That doesn’t mean they know
it, but most are familiar with the alphabet. Many of the teachers
who teach English in schools especially up country don’t know
English, but teach it anyhow. They are so cute.
Well, enough of my reminiscing of the good old days. I’m certain
you’ll be fine over there as long as you don’t go looking for
trouble the likelihood of you finding it is small.
Saw was de kha,
Pamela G Gregory
Weslaco, TX 78596