Note: When I moved to Thailand to teach English last year, I found myself in a tiny town in Eastern Thailand called Wangchan. One of the first questions my friends and family would ask was what life was like living in rural Thailand. Since I could go on forever about it, I’m breaking it up into a few different posts. Today’s is about what there is to do for fun in rural Thailand.
You might be wondering, “What do you do in the middle of nowhere?”
The answer? Not a whole lot without people to help make it fun. When you can cross your entire town on foot in less than ten minutes, your entertainment options are admittedly a little limited. I’ll be the first to say that living in rural Thailand often wasn’t the most exciting.
The sun set at 6 p.m. every day, and with it the rest of the town shut down. As soon as it was dark, all the shops and restaurants closed and there was no one on the streets. I didn’t feel comfortable walking around after sunset, especially not alone. Besides, there wasn’t much to do anyway. As a result, many of my evenings were spent attempting to cook on the single burner in my kitchen. Or, I watched Netflix and FaceTimed people back home.
Most days after school, I tutored. While this sounds like work, it really meant that I spent an hour hanging out with my favorite family in Wangchan. I tutored an 11 year old girl. We did do some work, but we also spent plenty of time playing with her cat and goofing off. Her mother is basically my adopted Thai mom, and every day she would bring me new snacks and desserts to try and talk me through all of the Thai things I didn’t understand. It was definitely my favorite hour of the day.
Sometimes in the afternoons I would go to a friend’s coffee shop to soak up some air conditioning and learn some Thai. When it’s a million degrees outside, you can never have enough iced coffee.
On a typical weekend, I traveled around Thailand. Though my town was teeny tiny, it did have a pretty reliable bus system. (As is true of all of Thailand.) Not spending money on anything except coffee and food during the week meant that I always had money to travel Friday-Sunday. I was a three hour trip from Bangkok. It was only about an hour and a half away from the closest island.
If I didn’t travel on the weekend, I often spent it hanging out with a friend who owned a restaurant across the street from my school. She taught me (or tried, at least) to cook Thai food, supplied me with endless Chang beers and wine coolers, and gave me motorbike lessons. She and her family even threw me a fabulous birthday party.
I also took some other fun weekend trips with my Thai families, like a water park and a floating market. They were also super generous about treating me to all sorts of delicious meals alllll the time.
As unexciting as my weeks often were, I definitely miss the simplicity of it. I loved that I was within walking distance of all of my friends. I’m so lucky to have been so readily welcomed in to so many families. I expected my favorite memories of Thailand to be traveling or lounging on an island. But when I think about the things I miss the most, it’s all of the things I talked about here.
Is there anything else you’ve wondered about living in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country? Let me know in the comments.