By Brittany Rose
My mom and her sister came to visit me; they wanted to see “the real Thailand.” They wanted an Off-The-Trip Advisor-Experience. So I gave it to them.
We bypassed Bangkok to a little town in the north. There we stayed in a sweet homestay where the owner made us beautiful meals that she set up picnic style on the front porch. We visited an old Elephant village where all the homes were originally designed for everyone to have pet elephants, but now the homes were used for different purposes. One was a tiny school for only 10 children, another was the mayor’s house where his wife sells gorgeous paper flowers that she makes, and another home was converted to where animal excrement is turned into mulch and used for energy to keep the town running. Essentially it’s an incredibly small power plant.
They experienced the rice patty fields at sunset, my most favorite view in the world, and we met the local buffalo caretaker sitting with him and his buffalos for an hour. I was thrilled to share such a remote part of Thailand with them, but I was the only one thrilled.
After just one day, there was a mutiny. “Brittany-Rose!” My mom demanded, “You get us out of here now! I’m not squatting over that toilet one more time! I looked at her with complete confusion, “Mom, this home is nicer than my apartment in Central Thailand.” Her tone increased, “I don’t care! I need a blow dryer and I’m not looking at one more buffalo.” I had seen that face before, so we left.
We went to Pattaya for the rest of their visit. We lounged on the beach, took boat rides and enjoyed massages. My mom and aunt loved it and they left Thailand with wonderful memories. Whew! That was a close one.
But here’s what I learned: It’s one thing to desire to get a “local experience,” but it’s another thing to use squat toilets, eat on the floor and sit around watching buffalo…for hours.
I am drawn to living in a small town because I love how quiet my town is, I love that there are only ten places to eat, unless someone leaves on vacation, then there’s nine. I love that I only have two main streets and I can walk the circumference of my city in 2 hours. I have time to write, read, do yoga. I love this life!
However, most people, like my Mom and her sister, need a little more variety. They do want to meet locals, but some foreigners are nice once in a while. They like having more options for foods, and maybe even a hamburger joint (at least one). They like having a place to hang out after 7:30pm (which is not an option in my town). I can totally see why someone would need more than what my town has to offer.
The key to finding the right fit in Thailand is self-honesty. Consider the following:
*What do you want to do after work?
*What do you want to do on the weekends?
*How many friends do you want to have?
*Do you need a lot of food options (especially vegetarians/vegans)
*Do you want a gym, or shopping malls?
I can tell you that my answer to all of these was, “I don’t care, just not the big city.” I wanted room to think. But one man’s quiet is another man’s defining silence. Others might go nuts in a town like mine, absent of stimulation. And both are the “real Thailand.”
Be honest with yourself and your Media Kids Consultant so they can give the “real Thailand” for you.
For more information stories about Brittany Rose’s experience in Thailand, visit her personal blog: http://thewindowseat.tumblr.com