Humidity, Toilets, Critters and More – Adjusting To Thailand

Heading in to this adventure, while seemingly confident on the surface, underneath I was a little worried.  Worried about how the family would acclimate to Thailand, the food, weather and culture.

Wagoners Abroad at The Emerald Buddha Temple Bangkok Thailand

Wagoners Abroad adjusting to Thailand

I had visited Southeast Asia 20 years ago, so I was also fearful that my memory wouldn’t serve me well. I also wondered if things had changed so much, would I still be fond of the area.  Even with these thoughts running through my mind, we continued with our plans.  Because it is exposure to those very things, that we were seeking on this journey.   We wanted to test our limits, challenge our comfort zones so we could learn and grow.

We have been preparing the family for culture shock for several months, advising that this would be a journey like no other.  We were stepping into a culture that would be very different from the USA and Spain.  Of course we have visited several other countries, but those are the two we have lived in the most. So with all of this, we have completed out first week in Bangkok, Thailand.

Rambuttri Rd Bangkok

The plan was to stay in Bangkok for 1 week to get used to the humidity and heat, to be exposed to the new foods (with American back up food nearby).  We selected the tourist area off of Rambuttri, near Khao San Road, the backpacker tourist area.  I figured it would be best to be exposed to the street food and other travelers right from the get go.  I didn’t want to tuck away in our own little apartment and have an isolated experience here.  It was time to dive right in and see how everyone did.  Not to mention that anything we want is just out the door.

I have to say, I am amazed as how easy-going and resilient our family is.

Food

As you know we aren’t a big foodie family.  Alan is likely the most selective eater in the family and Lars likes to try most things, even bugs, but still needs some sure things.  Anya and I are middle of the road, we will try some things, but not likely bugs.  Everyone is trying new foods and there has been no trouble feeding anyone. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. We have been excited to try things that are familiar, yet a little different.  Lars of course is going off of the deep end and trying bugs, fruits and more.  More on that coming soon.

Bangkok Thailand first meal out

Surprisingly, I am the one having the roughest time.  After cooking every meal in Spain for 2 years, I am having a rough time adjusting to eating out every meal.  Part of it is having to go out when anyone is hungry or trying to keep us on the same eating schedule.  The other part is the budget control freak in me.  There are so many temptations when you are out seeking food while hungry.

I know the 4 of us  have had complete meals out for a grand total of $10, for the entire family, that is cheap. The problem is, we aren’t on “vacation” and still have to live to our budget of our $100 a day.  So if we eat 3 meals out at $10 each, with snacks in between, that is about $35-$40 a day on food.  That is well over what we spent in the USA or Spain for eating.

We will find our groove and some meals have been far more than that too.  Also, with each meal out, there are those extra temptations of appetizers, treats and more.  I think we have hit the smoothie stand every single day, sometimes twice.  At least that is somewhat a healthy option and for only $1 for a 16 ounce fruit smoothie, I have no complaints.  I just need to get used to our new style.

Smoothie Time in Bangkok

Weather

You would think that coming from North Carolina, we would have no problem with humidity.  The heat and humidity here are like no other.  That thick damp air, in which you labor to breathe and you shirt is soaked with sweat, after just 10 minutes of walking.  It is great for the skin and body to cleanse, but only if we drink enough water.

We got off to a slow start staying hydrated, but now we don’t leave the building without that water bottle in hand.  We drink water all day, even when we aren’t thirsty.  After just one week, it doesn’t feel so bad to me anymore.  It is still hot and we are still as sweaty mess, but it isn’t as uncomfortable as it first was.  I am hoping this will be a good slimming experience for me, as it was 20 years ago, but we will see.

Bangkok Thailand first meal out (4)

Because it is so hot, we do have the AC running in our rooms. Thank goodness for AC!  Our hotel didn’t have a family room available, so we have 2 double rooms.  The boys have a bachelor pad and us girls are together in another room.  Our room (the girls) was either freezing with the AC on or hot with it off.  There was no in between.  This doesn’t bode well for a good nights sleep.

Sleep

We have all gotten way off track with any sort of sleeping pattern.  In fact we are nudging it in the wrong direction.  Each night we are up later and then wake up later the next day. So here I am writing at 3 am and I want to force myself to be up by 10am, to try to get back on track.  Yesterday, I woke up the boys at 1pm!  They too were up until about 3am.  Oh and we can’t forget about the rain in our room!

So we aren’t doing well in the sleep department.  Oh well, it isn’t like we have other plans.  We are just missing out on precious daylight hours.  Since we are closer to the equator, the sun sets a little closer to 6pm, not the 11pm like it was in Sweden.  We will figure it out. For now we are just night owls and the city doesn’t seem to mind.

Lars and Anya walking home from dinner Bangkok

Culture

I don’t know what I was so worried about.  Everyone in the family is just going with the flow.  There haven’t been many moments of shock or surprise, but part of that is due to us being in the tourist area too.  We do get a whiff of some odd smell now and again that just turns your stomach, but other than that not bad.  There is one thing that stands out to me is an experience at the Grand Palace with Anya.

We visited the Grand Palace the second day we were in Bangkok.  We hadn’t quite figured out the hydration thing yet and Anya had a bit of an upset stomach, likely adjusting to the new foods and spices.  We were just renting our skirts and pants to enter the palace and Anya had that look on her face of sheer panic.

She quietly announces, “Mom, I have to go to the bathroom now!”  Uh oh, I don’t even know where it is.  We quickly ditch the boys and have no plan to meet back up with them.  We find the nearest staff person to direct us to the bathroom and off we go.  We make it there, accident free, and there was an open stall at the end. Phew! We made it!

It was crowded and hot in the restroom, so I informed Anya I would wait out at the entrance.  A moment later out comes Anya and she didn’t look happy.  That same miserable and pained look was still on her face.

I asked, “Do you feel better?”

She replies, “No, I didn’t go.”   Huh?

Of course I need to know why not, after that mad dash to get there.

She said “I don’t know how to go in a squat toilet.”

Oh my goodness, that poor thing.  (At least I prepped her enough before our arrival that she knew what a squat toilet was.)

I went inside to inspect and sure enough, it was a hole in the floor with to foot pads to stand on.  Ha!  I opened all of the stalls and found 2, at the very end, sporting a western toilet.  Her eyes lit up and lifted her frown into a big smile.  She raced in and the rest is history.

The remainder of the day, she was a bit tired and didn’t feel well.  It was very hot and the day just got the best of her.  Lars is so caring and comforted her, when we found shaded spots to rest.  People were passing by saying “awww” and it was just adorable.  I just had to capture the moment, without them knowing.

Sweet siblings Grand Palace Thailand

 

Sidenote by Alan:  I was bitten by a bug!  Not the love bug.  And not one of the myriad bugs they sell on platters here (Ewww!).  I was bitten by a stomach bug!  As stomach bugs go, it wasn’t too bad, but it kept me in the hotel room for a day as I didn’t want to venture too far away from a bathroom.  Even though I’m officially over it, my appetite hasn’t returned, but that’s a good thing.  The money saved by me not eating gives me more money to spend on clothes.  I’m really digging those monk robes!

Other than that, the entire family seems to be fine. Of course I keep asking them and they said I made it sound worse than it is, so it’s not bad.  I am not sure if I embellished too much to over prepare or if we have just traveled to different cultures enough that it just doesn’t shock us as much.  I just remember when I was here 20 years ago, it was a bit of a shock to me.  Again, we are in a tourist area of the city, so this may all change when we get our big kid shoes on and head out to the smaller towns.

Remember to watch the video of the kids our first day in Bangkok.

Next stop: the island named Koh Chang, about 135 km from Cambodia. 

Some random photos of our first week in Bangkok:

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About Heidi

Heidi has a passion for travel and has been exploring the world with her husband and 2 kids, since August 2012. She's visited more than 50 countries and loves to write about their family adventures, mishaps and costs. She has been an inspiration to others wanting to live their dreams. Her travel tips, planning posts, cost breakdowns, accommodation, and product reviews are also very popular. Her current home base is in Spain. Any post on this site may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, there is no extra cost for you and we may receive a commission.

20 thoughts on “Humidity, Toilets, Critters and More – Adjusting To Thailand

  1. Heidi, you’re eating in the wrong places if you’re spending that much! Try the little street places, go right out of you hotel, there is a good one on the left there, at the end of the temple, you can eat for almost nothing. But food in Bangkok is more expensive than “real” Thailand, wait till you get to Kanchanaburi, better and cheaper. But on the beaches it’s more expensive, so be ready for that, too.

    • That’s good to know Alyson. You know me and the budget. I am also having trouble adjusting to the cash culture and keeping track of the spending. UG! I think we may hit Kanchanaburi after Koh Chang, still plotting and planning. Hey go ahead and share the link of the place where you stayed if you like. Only if you have it handy. Otherwise, I can look it up later. Nice to know it will get a bit cheaper and then maybe I will love the no cooking part of life. I already love the no cleaning part. 🙂

  2. Wow sounds like things are going alright. That’s great! Can’t wait to hear about your adventures once you leave the big city. What hotel are you staying at in Bangkok?

  3. I’m glad to hear you’ve already settled in and are having fun. I’ve been in Thailand so long I’d forgotten all about the culture shock. But now I think about it, it was a little disorientating the first few days. Seems completely normal to me these days, but still more fun than back home. One thing I don’t like is that it get dark around 6 pm all year. I miss those summer nights when it’s light until very late.

    • I know what you mean Manfred. Hey so many of your articles are helpings along the way. Thanks for all you have written. I do like the long summer days too.

  4. Sounds like an adventure! Things will be much cheaper once you get out of the tourist part of Bangkok. The islands are more expensive and can really break the budget. That is one of the reasons we like Chiang Mai so much…it still has all of the western conveniences but you can live quite cheaply there. Enjoy!

    • Oh Amy, did you just hear my big sigh of relief? 🙂 We should be in CM later in August and plan to stay there a few months (3-6). We have absolutely no idea about neighborhoods or areas though. I think by then the kids will be tired of sharing rooms with us and each other. I know it is next to impossible to find on a budget, but we may want a 3 bedroom for a while. That may have to take us out of the old city a bit and without transport, I’m not sure that is wise. I guess we will see when we get there in a few weeks. Any tips you have for us are appreciated.

  5. my two favorite photos are the ones of alan smiling with the food (love that smile!), and lars comforting anya. that is SO sweet. hope everyone gets better, and i’d LOVE one of those fruit smoothies for $1! wow!

    • I know what you mean Jessie. It was such a relief to see Alan find food that he liked. He is our picky eater. Lars and Anya are so adorable together, through the good and the bad. He is such a caring big brother.

  6. Great post. Really makes me ache for Thailand. And Ko Chang!!! You’re going there next? I really wanted to go there and didn’t make it. Can’t wait to hear all about the place. How can one not have fun in a place call Elephant Island. Enjoy!

    • Hey Mark! Great to see you here. Yes, Ko Chang is nice. We are here in the “green” season, so it has been overcast or rainy. That said it is very chill here and we are adjusting. We aren’t used to not having a car to go explore, so that is odd for us. We are thinking of renting scooters, but the roads are slippery. Decisions! We will be heading to Chiang Mai for a few months. I am not sure if it will be next or in a week or two, but coming soon.

      • Chiang Mai is one of my favorite places in the world. Our longest stay there was a two-month stretch during my birthday one year. Doi Su Thep is the best. But I think my favorite visit was when we brought Scout there as a child. I expect to get back there again one day. I know you’ll enjoy yourselves. We rented and rode scooters many times and I think you’ll do fine. It’s a good way to get around. Just be careful and don’t be in a hurry. Not hard to do in Thailand.

        The rain in Ko Chang sounds nice to me about now. We are sweltering in Zihua and wishing for some rain. Have you seen any elephants on the island? Or is that just a name? Ha!

        • It is kind of nice to have the rain, though it isn’t cool rain. Still very hot and humid, but nice when swimming in the pool. Maybe it is time you guys head back over to SEA and our kids can speak Spanish together, Ha!

          Koh Chang has the name based on the shape of the island. Apparently it resembles the shape of an elephants head. That said, they do have elephants on the island for show and a little play. We haven’t ventured to see them, as we plan to in Chiang Mai. We have been just relaxing near the beach and at the hotel pool. Catching up after about 6 weeks of rapid travel in Europe and then Bangkok.

  7. Loving that you are keeping it real by sharing the good and bad! The others are right, you should be able to get meals for all of you for about $7, including drinks. Try shopping centre food courts, little restaurants. I’m lucky as I have a friend who has lived there many years and can speak Thai, so he showed me the ropes.

    • Oh thanks Bonnie. We are now on the island of Koh Chang and it is even more expensive for food. That said for an American on a vacation, it wouldn’t be. We did find some more reasonable prices last night. We also found out where the street vendors set up at night, so that was good.

  8. I’m so excited to see that you guys are in Thailand! I’m glad that (minus the humidity and some stomach bugs) you’re adjusting and having fun. I can’t wait to get back to Asia now in a couple of weeks, we’ll get just one night in Bangkok before flying on to Hanoi in Vietnam – hope we see you there! If you’re still in Bangkok and want a blast of good, healthy western food try Chomp (check it out on Tripadvsior) 🙂

    • Amy we would LOVE to meet you guys. We left Bangkok late last week and came to Koh Chang. Tomorrow we are making our way to Chiang Mai via Bangkok, so not sure we will be there when you are. We will be floating around SEA for a long time, so hopefully we can connect at some point. Is Hanoi going to be your home base? We are thinking of Vietnam in Dec or Jan along with Cambodia too. Perhaps we can meet up then?

      I bet you are excited to get back in the travel mode, but I am sure you loved your time visiting family and friends as well.

  9. Very nice blog to read since we are going to Thailand for the first time in january 🙂
    What was the name of the hotel close to Khaosan Road. Were you satisfied?
    Best regards!

    Lisa

    • Hey Lisa, Thanks so much for stopping by. We stayed at Rambuttri Village and it was a great location. We had 2 rooms with 2 twin beds, as the family rooms were all booked up. We stayed for 1 week at the end of July, so it was hot. They had a nice rooftop pool and easy access to everything! excluding public transit, but nothing a quick tuk tuk or taxi ride didn’t solve. It is a backpacker place and the phots are much nicer than it really looks. That said, you can’t beat the location to be in the action and have a pool too. The staff was very friendly too. I hope that helps.

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