Unforeseen Thailand Experience

Life barely ever goes according to plan, but my Thailand trip decided to have a whole new agenda, opposite of what I had in mind. My plan was to come to Thailand for a few weeks, play four tournaments and explore a new country before heading back to the States. Yet, currently four and a half weeks in, with only two tournaments played, a stomach virus and a bad shoulder tendon strain, an MRI in a random hospital, six covid tests, and many physical therapies and acupuncture treatments later… This trip might not have been the way I imagined or hoped for it to be, but it is definitely a life experience worth sharing.

It is my first time in Thailand, actually my first time on this side of the world, and even though I had an idea of what to expect after talking to my friends who grew up in this environment, it still was a complete culture shock. On top of never being here before, I dared to make this trip alone. Some people would say that was a dumb decision, while others would call it brave, and guess after my daily experiences here, I would have to agree with both.

When traveling on my own around the world, one of the things I try to do is blend in with the locals and culture of the city, and with speaking three languages that hasn’t been that hard to do, even in Mexico where I don’t look the part, the language really helps me out, but here… a tall blonde amongst Thai people… you can imagine how that went. At the start I was quite uncomfortable with the stares and cameras in my face, had instances where a person would pull up a phone mid conversation just to get a close up picture, but now, when I see a person coming up to me with a phone up, I meet them half way… or start running, really depends on the situation.

Although most of the people have been very sweet and helpful, no one speaks a word of English, and as much as I have tried to learn a few words, I managed to only remember word ‘thank you’ and my pronunciation is still not right. Everywhere I go, I have to use google translate and depending on their head nods and looks I try to assume if is translated correctly or not. Turns out most of their “mhm” answers ends up being a no for me. I feel like I’m stuck at a nail saloon where everyone is gossiping about me while smiling at my face, and no offense to Thai people, I have really come to love them as much as that is possible with a language barrier, just hard to assume anything else when they are not willing to use their google translates nearly as much.

When it comes to food, I could write a whole separate blog just about that. As much as the taste of it is amazing and it is for sure the best rice I have ever had, but when you are served rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner, eventually you get sick of it. It feels like everywhere I turn, I see rice. For breakfast, rice with eggs. For lunch, rice with vegetables and some sort of soup. For dinner, rice with chicken. Even every morning I open my curtains, guess what I see… a rice field! Little to say that after this kind of meal plan and a stomach virus during my second week, I can’t stand the idea of rice.

Their whole standard for food is very different. As a different culture, it is understandable they would prepare it in their own way, yet getting more of the skin and bones and barely able to find any meat every time I ask for chicken, really has made me stop eating that too. Their Pad Thai dish sure is delicious, but when staying in the same place for this long, there needs to be some variety. There were times where the way they handle food just made me lose desire for it all, and even though I know everyone’s experience and expectations are different, I think if you found a long black hair in your food and instead of them making you a new meal, they took out the hair and handed you back the same plate… you would be disgusted too.

On the other note… have you ever tried a Thai massage? It really is amazing yet not as relaxing as you might think. I made a rookie mistake of asking for strong pressure before even knowing what a true Thai massage is, thinking I’m used to massages and how strong can a small Thai woman really be… before I knew it, she was all tangled up in me, pulling my legs one way and my arms the other, and a minute later, walking all over me, with her heels pressing in my hamstrings while she’s pushing off the walls for additional pressure. Never did I dare to ask for a strong pressure massage again. I have tried to stick mostly to oil massages. Although, did you know when you ask for oil full body massage, it legit means full body and not just arms, legs, and back like in the States!? Well I found that out the awkward way.

Character wise, they are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Being alone, especially as a girl, a lot of people have tried to take advantage of me in other countries, whether it is charging me a lot more money, or coming at me with all these offers and willingness to “help” while trying to find ways to trick me, but not Thai people. They truly will help you whenever you need it, and will always give you the benefit of the doubt. Part of that must be staying in a smaller city with no tourists, Bangkok is a bit of a different story, but still for such an enormous city, I felt safe. Although, I won’t be going into my time in Bangkok in this blog as every environment and situation is different and wouldn’t be fair to them to generalize it all together. My takeaways and experiences are from a smaller city in Northern Thailand where I have spent most of my time while in this country.

Lastly, even though I didn’t get to play nearly as many matches here as I was hoping to, they organized some of the best tournaments I have been to until today. Yes, it was a mess with the practice courts and official hotels just like anywhere else at these kind of tournaments, but to have referees, side line refs and balls kids even in qualifying at this level, really made the experience so much better. The tournament staff was so kind and chatty, and always going out of their way to check on me and see if I needed anything. It probably came from feeling sorry that I kept having one thing after another go wrong, but still, their care was much appreciated, and even after everything, I hope I will have a chance to come back and play here again one day.


2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Draga Katarina, Hvala ti na divnom tekstu. Bas si imala adventure. Svet je pun zanimljivih mesta. Na nekima si verovatno bila. Zelimo ti sve najbolje i divna nova putovanja. Budi dobro. Volimo te i radujemo se svakom tvom slovu.

    Liked by 1 person

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