You’re heading to Thailand? Great. You read the headline with the list of things you are not supposed to do, so I guess you are
1) really obeyant and don’t want to do anything wrong, then don’t worry- you wouldn’t probably do any of these anyways; or you are 2) very rebellious, then I welcome you to my page, my dear friend! I dare you 😉 But leave out the part with elephants, please!
#1 TOUCH A MONK
Yeah, monk touching! As a guy: skip this one. As a women: Don’t you dare touch a monk! Women are dirty, unholy and tempt men into doing things that are not holy either. Just kidding, but … seriously! Just don’t touch them!
When I started to work at a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai, I hadn’t had my cultural introduction yet. I have to admit, that I was more concerned about my memory loss than doing proper research. Well … I did not know how to act around monks, which backfired pretty quickly.
Me and some other volunteers were teaching English and the habits of western culture to those monks. Hollywood, Popstars, Cities … etc. … Can you believe they were actually studying those topics? Haha, yeah. They seemed to ADORE Brad Pitt, I can tell you! Apart from that they learned how to pronounce letter: AIII BEE SEEEEE DEEEE … this was kind of fun as they were laughing a lot! Just picture seventeen year olds, dressed in orange, sitting at their desks with shaved heads. They’re still seventeen! They were no different to teenagers that age back in Europe. The only thing that was different was a serious looking old monk who sat in the corner, tipping his stick on the floor when it got too loud.
A lot of people in Thailand send their kids to a monastery, because they cannot afford to finance them. There they have free food, an education and a proper place to sleep. Are they all there because they volunteered to do so? Definitely not, but what other options would they have?
I had this one eager student whose pronunciation was so well! I was walking past him … and I touched his head. I don’t know why- It just happened. Less did I know that he had to go through a 3 hour cleaning ceremony after. Ooops, pardon! What made it worse was that I had touched his head. Heads are considered holy and you do not touch them! Lucky him I hadn’t used my left hand … same as in Indonesia: that one is considered the dirty one. Check out this disgusting 😉 article if you want to know more… 😉
Anyways! Don’t touch the head, don’t touch the monk, don’t touch anything with your left hand, besides … (just kidding).
In Thailand there are also fake monks! Believe it or not! Those sneaky bastards will try to sneak on a picture with you, stand in front of you and then try to touch your boobs with the back of their arms! Not kidding here! Kick them! So if they touch you- they are fake and it is totally fine to kick them!
#2 SIT ON TOP OF A SONGTHAEW
A songthaew- what is that? Well I’m still not quite sure if I am writing it correctly, but I can answer the question: It’s some kind of minivan bus that drives through Thailand and has a ladder on the back … What what?! … hahaha yes!! Sounds tempting! I know- been there! The fact that no-one actually cares where you sit lets you draw the logical conclusion to sit on top of this songthaewthing while driving. There is some kind of railing plus a lot of space to sit. And let’s not forget it’s hot as fuck in Thailand, this wind up there is just the best!!
But…. there is one twist: People in Thailand like to throw buckets with water out of the window or let’s just say inside those buckets is some kind of brownish water and you do not want to sit on top of that minivanbussongthaewcarthing when this happens. Or unlike me, you just wear a rain jacket!
#3 ORDER “A LITTLE BIT SPICY”
“A little bit spicy” will basically have you killed.
#4 SWIM WITH ELEPHANTS
I took a trip to an elephant camp with a friend of mine. It started with a cute elephant that had little hair on his head and our guide, a 7-year-old boy who looked like Mowgli and rode on the elephant’s head. The first part of the tour went straight through the jungle. An elephant, a trail and a little bit of jungle. An elephant, a trail and a little bit more of jungle. An elephant, a trail and still jungle. Gosh we were bored!!! Then we both caught each other staring at our watches we started laughing. Life could be worse than being bored on top of an elephant.
The second part got more exciting. We could swim with the elephants in a lake and got a small brush to clean them whilst they waved around their trunks to blow water in the air. This looked like so much fun. For me and the elephant! I was sure he had just as much of an awesome time as I did. I jumped off the elephant into the water and swam back towards him. Daaamn he was big!!
And he was under water and I got a bit scared… until I looked back into his eyes. He was more scared than me. This was not right. Back home I researched a bit and found out that the stages to tame an elephant are also referred to as “breaking an animal”. It is done with horses, too, but since elephants are a bit stronger and bigger it starts quite brutal. At a very young age baby elephants are taken away from their moms and are violated with sticks that had moon shaped knives on it. I remember little Mowgli carrying one, too. They are tame as soon as their will is broken. They are chained up at night and are afraid of humans. The Mahout- the person the elephant later belongs to is not involved in this taming process. He will be the one who brings the elephant its first food and water, whereas the elephant starts to bond with him.
I want to throw up!
#5 DRINK SNAKE BLOOD
Throwing up! Yup. This is a good transition to drinking snake blood.
We’ve all seen The Beach and we’ve all seen how badass Leonardo appeared whilst drinking fresh snake blood. I wanted to do that, too! But unless Leo I did not want to choose and kill a snake for it, I just went by the cheap mixture of snake blood, some alcohol and a dead snake in a bottle.
I had a shot and was sweating for 2 hours straight! Not kidding! This was either extremely detoxifying or so poisonous my body just refused to work properly after. Sweat and extreme heartbeat.
I did not throw up, because I guess my body wanted to punish me longer.
Guess that was my last snakeshot.
#6 FALL IN LOVE WITH A SUGAR GLIDER
Yeah! That is probably the hardest one. They are cute, they are fluffy, they can glide through the air and they are squeezable. But they are also afraid of daylight and since humans tend to be awake during day this does not seem to be a good match. So, don’t get too attached! This poor thing will probably die pretty quickly and you’ll be left with a terrible heartache.
What have you done in Thailand yet? Any more not to-do recommendations? Let me know in the comments section!
Still thinking about the elephants? Here is a good article about how to travel with those cute, big giants in a responsible, but trust me, fun way 🙂