Thailand, in the eyes of a TCK (part 1 of 2)

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BEING a Third Cultural Kid (TCK) - a child who grew up in a different culture aside from his or her parent's culture - in Thailand allowed me to see it as a resident of the country and not as a passing by traveler.

Briefly, My family and I moved to Thailand as missionaries in 1997. I spent four years in Bangkok and another four in Khon Kaen City. In 2005, I came back to the Philippines for formal education since I was homeschooled there. Every now and then I visit my second home. Last year, my family moved to Udon. I speak the language and have adopted the culture.

On my opinion, here are the things and places you should experience when you visit there:


1. Try their crepes

Crepes in Thailand can be bought in almost all major food complexes unlike what I experienced here back in the Philippines wherein we can only get it in restaurants or cafes. You can buy crepes from 20 baht (B) to B45 or P27 to P61 (B1 = P1.36). Most of the crepes I have had here are either purely savory or sweet, but in the crepe stalls in Thailand you combine both savory and sweet. Vendors would ask you to choose three fillings for your crepes ranging from crab sticks to pork floss and chocolate spreads to chili paste. Add B5 or B10 I usually go with this combination: egg, ham, prok floss, and ketchup.

2. Go to Nong Khai

Simply because it is where the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge is located and that is your gateway to Laos without spending thousands of pesos to go from one country to another. Last time I travelled to Laos through the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge I spent only around B700 and that's from Khon Kaen City to Vientiane, Laos. It might probably less if you travel from Nong Khai to Vientiane. You can also cross the boarder and go to the duty free shop in the Lao boarder for a shopping spree. There are tons of first class imitations you can buy from there. If you do not want to go to Laos, you can always go shopping in Nong Khai at a bazaar near the mekong river.

3. Travel by bus around the country

Imagine in-flight service on board the bus. To date, Thailand has one of the best bus service I have ever experienced, thanks to their leading bus company, Nakhonchai Air. They have onboard attendants who serve you food, snacks, wet wipes, and even provides passengers with route information. Plus Nakhonchai Air's terminal looks like an airport terminal. Their busses come in four classes First, Gold, Silver, and Economy. All classes have comfort rooms, overhead television, massage seats, and passengers are provided food, drinks, and beddings. First class though, has video on demand on all its 21 seats, passengers have food and drinks choices, and the seats are like the ones you see on first class in planes.

4. Great Thai food is found on the streets

A lot of people love Thai food. If you want to taste delectable homecooked Thai food you have to eat at the street restaurants (aka carinderia) or stalls. These restaurants can strectch for kilometers of unending deliciousness. Their dishes are lutong bahay and that is when you can truly appreciate Thai cuisine. It is in these stores wherein you can buy somtam narok (loosely translated as: papaya salad from hell), it is simply papaya salad with sugar, garlic, lime, fish sauce, dried shrimp, brined crabs, shrimp paste, pla ra, yardlong beans, thai eggplant, hog plums, and two to three handfulls of red hot chili, which makes it so spicy. Some would go the extra mile and put four or five handfulls. Other delectable street foods: Khao man kai, Khao phat, and Mu yang. My favorite are the dishes from the northeastern part of Thailand where you can pair them always with sticky rice. Don't worry about food safety, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Ministry of Public Health strictly monitors them.

Ironically, though I lived in the country for eight years, 17 for the family, I have never actually visited or spend time in major tourist destinations like Phuket, Krabi, or Ayuthaya. But living here allowed me to understand the country's culture and traditions and enjoy the simple things found along the streets or malls. Those are just some of the experiences I want you to experience when you go there. Final word of advice, stay for at least a week.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 16, 2014.


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