Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thailand Survival Kit for Newbies

My long time friend JJ is in flight right now (well she should be, and not reading this blog like she usually does)....due to arrive in Chiang Mai in the morning. It's her second time venturing out of Australia. The first time doesn't really count, because it was to New Zealand ;) say no more!

Anyway, I decided to put together a slightly 'tongue in cheek' survival kit, as a welcome gift and souvenir of her stay.

*A map of Chiang Mai with our hotel marked on it...in case she gets lost
*Our hotel card, with contact details and mapped location...in case she gets lost
*Hand sanitiser
*Purse size packets of Tissues
*Hong Nam (toilet) instructions - my way! with the all important phrase 'hong nam thii nai kha?'  with Australian transliteration - 'horng narm tea nigh car?'
  • Hang your handbag up somewhere secure...and no, you won't want to put it on the floor if there isn't a hook...I'm sure you'll figure it out
  • Make sure any reading/sun glasses, headbands or other paraphernalia can't fall off your person and into the bowl...you're on your own if they do!

  • If your bag is not within reach, make sure the packet of tissues I gave you, is.
  • You're probably wearing pants. Roll them up to about mid shin, because you don't want them dipping into the water on the floor
  • Step up onto the sides of the bowl, onto the foot treads and turn to face the cubicle door...if there is one...just kidding!
  • Unzip and pull down your pants...you'll work it out after a couple of times.
  • The challenge now is to keep your pants out of harms way...harm, being the obvious
  • Squat. Try not to lose your balance and if need be, stabilise yourself by placing one hand on the wall behind you...look first.
  • Finished?
  • Take the packet of tissues I gave you and use accordingly
  • Don't throw it into the bowl...there more than likely isn't a flush button or cistern and even if there is, Thai plumbing doesn't  cope very well with paper
  • This one had me fooled into thinking it was a western toilet, as I waited outside and heard it flush...oh well!
  • Hopefully there is a bin close by to dispose of it...yes, yes...I know! Ew!
  • To flush: There will either be a large container of water nearby with a ladle, if not, a hose. Use one of them to flush by putting water into the bowl.
  • Reverse the first seven steps and use the hand sanitiser you should have in your handbag, if there isn't any sink and soap.
  • Right about now you're wishing you were a bloke...aren't you?
  • Handy Hint – If you’re in a place where there is a clean toilet, use it, even if you think you don’t need to. The next hong nam you encounter might not be so user friendly.
*A pair of fruity looking indoor scuffs - because believe me, she'll want to take those shoes off after walking the streets all day and she's not treading that gunk into my apartment
*A face mask for when she's in or behind some of those tuk tuks and songteaws.
*Wet wipes
*Mosquito repellent
*A bottle of SiamSato, because I like it. OK, it’s not in the photo...I promise I’ll replace it by the time she lands.
*One of those nice long strapped Thai bags from the markets that can be slung across diagonally, so she'll look good and keep her belongings to the front and safe at the same time.
She'll be armed with one of those tourist ‘An Introduction to Thailand’ books when she arrives and of course I'll run through some of the do's and don'ts with her (the waai, pointing, feet, beckoning, stepping over things, patting heads, raising your voice etc). But, I think part of the fun is not knowing and discovering it all for yourself!

Lani, Catherine and Megan came up with some wonderful ideas that I won't be using...only because JJ will be under my wing and physically staying with me, while she's here...and she needs to have room in that bag for some shopping.
  • A mobile phone and or Thai sim card with relevant contact numbers already entered (remember the secret code for dialling home to Australia! Replace the + with 009).
  • Sunscreen and a hat
  • Antibiotics
  • Diarrhoea and Gastro medication, so you don't have to run out in the middle of the night if 'you know what' hits
  • A refillable plastic water bottle...the BPA free type
  • Girly things like Made In Thailand bath salts, lip gloss and soaps etc.
...and if I hadn’t over cleaned my Inbox out, I could've posted more of their suggestions...ssoorrryy!

What would you put into a 'Thailand Survival Kit for Newbies'?

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


Mike said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap you disappoint me ......toilet paper!

Come on you know what your left hand is for don't you.

Anyway there's a nice bum gun in your photo too, mind you I suppose the tissues might come in handy after all:-)

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Mike I refuse to go down the bum gun and left handed road. They may take away my western seat....but they will never take away my toilet paper! ;)

Talen said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap, I am disappointed in you...the bum gun is a wonderful thing! And it saves on toilet paper. And lets be honest here...the toilet paper in Thailand is usually quite thin and no better than using your hand anyway :P

I have one more thing to add to your newbie kit...a small note that reads "Keep and open mind and enjoy yourself".

Theodora said... Best Blogger Tips

Good lord! Even Z will go down the bum gun route now, though he did have a rather damp set of trousers the first couple of times he tried it.

Hope you have a fun time with your friends. I meant to say, btw, when you're on Twitter, follow the #teamcm tag. There's some interesting people on ther. All of them in Chiang Mai....

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Talen and Theodora...I may try the bum gun in the safety of my own home (one day) and well within reach of a dry set of clothes ;)

Talen...yes, of course "Keep and open mind and enjoy yourself", that's a must.

Theodora, thanks, I'll checkout the twitter link!

Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap I've been searching my brain a lot of the day on this one but can't think of much. The obvious is listed and the genius too.

I'd suggest a decent Thai phrase book, a camera is a must and some mosquito cream or spray.

I hope you all have a great time as well.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

If no bum gun,tissue and only a bowl I never figured out whether you position it behind you or from the front either way to enter the cubicle afterwards was at ones peril

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Martyn thanks for trying anyway. I'm happy to say I think I covered most of the bases (for a woman) without getting too serious. Sanook is the first priority :)

Anon, some (very few) of those cubicles are so perilous, I've done a quick U turn and high tailed it out of them. Worst was one I paid 5 baht to go into...but suspect the young bloke collecting the money at the door really had nothing to do with the non existant cleaning of the facility.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

@SnapHad no choice. Following a very spicy meal on the edge of a rather beautiful lake in the outer reaches of the Issan countryside I had to double quick into the only cubicle only to find no paper and no water! A full jerry can was quickly proffered and woosh hay presto the whole place became quickly condemned as a health and safety hazard to the laughter of a dozen Thai women standing within easily earshot who found the whole episode hilarious.

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Awk! I keep forgetting that you have two Thai blogs! I was waiting for this post to come around and missed it totally. Apologies.

Talon (1Dad1Kid) said... Best Blogger Tips

LOL The instructions on using the infamous squat toilets were great, although, as others mentioned, you left out the bum gun instructions. :) Entertaining and educational.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine Doh!!!! Sorry Catherine. The Welcome Kit worked quite well. Next time I'll definitley organise a Thai Sim Card. JJ was given one at the airport, but then the problem was getting her existing Aussie phone unlocked! Has never been a problem in the past for us.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Talon (1Dad1Kid) Talon, I'm sure I'm not missing out on too much Re: the bum gun...thank your lucky stars you're a bloke ;)

Megan said... Best Blogger Tips

Did I tell you about the prickly heat powder? I put together my own package for a friend the other day and thought about you--prickly heat powder is a must-have for me!

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Megan Prickly heat poweder is a good addition and as it's been cool here, I would never have thought of it, until too late. Ta!

The welcome kit was well recieved...I think someone could make a killing selling them here. And, perhaps they could include some of those off beat products you've been finding in stores around BKK!