Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thai Travelers

Crossing into the second continent of our journey, we expected to notice differences in culture. Clearly we stand out as tourists with our pale skin and general appearance here more so than in Europe, but we also stand out in terms of other travelers. In Europe, we were on a longer trip than most of the people we met. Other travelers were Americans studying abroad and on a weekend trip, or Europeans on holiday from school or work. We met the occasional traveler who was spending a few weeks wandering the continent and the rare world traveler, but our trip was longer and broader than just about anyone. In Thailand, however, that could not be less true.

In our two weeks here, we have not met a single American. The closest we have come was a number of Canadians on Koh Phangon, but not a single person from the States. Bizarre, right? Most of the people we have meet are European, several from the UK and Sweden. And most of them are on much longer trips than us, traveling from six months to over a year and a half. Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Nepal are frequently where these travelers are coming from or heading to. It is a different kind of travel. A gritty, honest kind of travel that I have come to love.

The Thai people are also quite different. Still very nice, but being constantly approached by tuk tuk and taxi drivers is getting quite old. They start off by asking where you are from, because clearly we are not from here, but it quickly becomes apparent that they just want you to agree to pay an outrageous amount for them to drive you somewhere you don't really want to go. We were walking to Burger King and a man approached us asking where we were headed, we told him hoping that he would leave us alone as it was only a few streets away, but no. He tried to convince us that it was closed and he could bring us somewhere else. No thanks, guy. We walked to BK and of course, it was not closed. A rather strange way to acquire customers... We have also come into contact with several very friendly and helpful Thai people, especially at our hostels which have made our stay in Asia a pleasant one but the differences is demeanor and interaction are very apparent.


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