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The International Writers Magazine:Thailand

Common misconceptions about travelling to Thailand
• JWest Hardin
You will most likely leave your home in the west with a distinct set of preconceived notions about Thailand and Asia in general. You will have been schooled on your national film-boards or public broadcasters interpretations of Asian life and lifestyle. If it is your first time away you will have gleaned every source you could avail and made a plan according to what you have read. Chances are the information is outdated or too generalized to be of any use to you.

As an extreme example I have seen people leave their hotels in matching jungle camouflage outfits. The ‘tropical inspired’ clothes that you will buy in New York or Vancouver are designed for ‘the outdoors’ of North American climates, not the tropics.

The ‘wick-away’ techno fiber that may be appropriate for hiking the Grouse Grind or the Adirondacks is going to turn you into a sweat bag in the tropical heat and humidity. Think light blowsy cotton and loose fabric when you come to Thailand. Bangkok shopping is the envy of the world. I suggest bringing a one or two day selection of changes and buying everything else here. The fabrics sold are right for this climate and at price points far below your average chain store in the west. All your brand names are available in Bangkok, from underwear to personal products. Thai women are getting larger and the benefit to western shoppers is that is has become much easier to find your size.

Rest assured there are no dangerous safari’s to be led in Bangkok. You won’t be needing a pith helmet or two dozen ammunition pockets between the two of you. Bangkok might be described as a human zoo by some of the more jaded of us but it is definatley not uncivilized. Fortunately the big game hunters of today’s tourism industry have replaced their elephant guns with comical arrays of tele-photo lenses.

Bangkok is a modern megalopolis, home to approximately fifteen million people. I have heard it said that the population swells to over twenty million during the working day as an influx of commuters pours in and out of the city like the tide. At any time you might see the most stylish people on the planet and turn to see a gaggle of European travelers dressed in 1960′s inspired balloon pants and tie dye T-shirts  having their hair cropped into holiday dreadlocks before heading off to the southern islands for the baptismal ‘full moon party’ package experience.

Strangely, backpackers in 2012 are still set in the notion that bringing all your favorite clothes from home will see you through a trip to exotic Asia. Many have brought along camp stoves and cooking equipment as well as arctic quality sleeping bags. The mountain sized backpacking duo’s stand out in the sidewalk crowds like Bactria camels. Here’s a helpful hint, it is cheaper to buy a new T-shirt ( one dollar and less) than to launder one in Thailand. Food is so abundant that you might want to leave those pots and pans at home. You can get a standard meal at a clean air conditioned food court for under one dollar which will be as good as anything you’d find in the street. Bring a mosquito net instead, at least these are useful. Everything you will need can be found instantly here at less than a quarter of the price you will pay for it in the west. Yes, they do have toothpaste and shampoo in quantity in Thailand. Do yourself a favor, travel light. This is not your grandparents Asia.

© JWest Hardin aka Wayne Olson- Poet, Novelist,Travel writer, Travel Blogger, You Tuber
March 2012

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