Yeah, they don't have "bless you" or "gesundheit" in Thailand. They don't have a lot of things in Thailand: the CDC, the FDA, animal control, and wheat beer, are a few of my most missed. But when people ask me if I like it here, I'm like "Seriously, would YOU like being a superstar?" (and I don't mean the tree licking, armpit sniffing kind).
I mean yeah, it can be a bit tough when I'm riding my bike through town to tell if the incessant honking is in any way related to traffic violations, which Thailand apparently doesn't have either. Wait, I take that back. My host mother is the only person I know to have gotten pulled over for anything here, and twice at that. Not for speeding or reckless driving (well I'M surprised) but for riding a motorbike without a helmet. Of course in Thailand it's ok to balance an infant on the bike as you speed around corners and pass truck bed's so full of people that they sprawl themselves across the roof, secured only by skinny brown fingertips. Of course it's ok to ride home squeezed between your two, large, slobbering, dogs and your groceries, but don't forget that HELMET!
So back to my life as a superstar, no helmets for me as I have 6 air conditioned, leather seated, freshly polished, vehicles at my disposal, and more than one driver in case Armand is on another errand. And the food... it isn't THAT great, I mean...the maids do their best, one is a retired chef whose specialty is roasted duck, so at least I've got that!
I've gotten pretty used to the staring now that I know there isn't something on my face. The screaming "I love Yous'" and "hello teachers'" can be a bit overwhelming after a while. It's so hard to figure out which direction they're coming from, and then there's the whole issue of how best to treat the situation: a simple emotionless nod, an aloof lack of acknowledgment, or a diplomatic smile and wave? What best exemplifies my role as a teacher but doesn't scare them into a fear of English?
The "suey" provides a whole different level of anxiety. The Thai word for beautiful, "suey" follows me everywhere I go. It's nice to hear it the first 100 or so times but after that the friendliest thank you that I can muster grows a bit bland. Thank you again for your compliments. Thank you. Diplomatic grin, thank you.
The touching is probably the hardest to get over. Like seriously, I know you've never seen blond hair before, but when I lean down to look at your paper it's not appropriate to stroke it repetitively. And the passersby at the market and temple who touch my arm and bow like I'm a goddess can be a little awkward.
Really though it's not so bad. Teaching English- my FIRST language basically means it takes me 1 hr. to do what takes them all day, leaving me to read and play on facebook until I go home to my air conditioned mansion, maybe take a swim in the private pool, watch some TV- in English, then head upstairs to my hot shower and freshly made bed.
Yeah I like it here, I love it here.