Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Survive Bangkok as a Single White Female

1. Be Twitterific.
2. But try not to become an internet zombie.
3. Traffic and internet bandwidth will simultaneously bottleneck.
4. Get in the back of a Hoopdee.
5. Look Ma, No Hands!
6. Go ahead, flip him off if he’s tailing you.
7. Eat the street food.
8. You’re going to get sick, deal with it.
9. And the hospital may overcharge you. Go any way.
10. Tit jokes are the best.
11. Dance, lip sync, and be ridiculous with your iPod in public. Everyone is already staring, you’re a white girl in Asia.

1. How do you find out what’s going on in Bangkok, or elsewhere in Thailand? You might get some clue from the two English language news venues. But for the real down low, fellow expat’s twitter feed. Seriously. First responders.

2. You’re going to have to learn how to play work. Yeah, we actually work, but sometimes there are gaps. Very, very wide gaps. Which, when it’s functioning, turn into surf the internet time. Try not to let your brain turn to mush watching Lonely Island’s “Like a Boss” for the umpteenth time. No matter how much you laugh out loud. Though, I am curious to see how all the foreign teachers fare as SIMS living in the same house, as programmed by the South African teacher. Yeah our job rocks.

3. But, the internet won’t always work. And it’ll stop working in some sort of horrible synchronization with the ebb and flow, or dead standstill, of Bangkok traffic. And it is maddening. I understand why everyone here is constantly staring at their smart phone. That is their internet surfing unwind time, because it is so late by the time they finish their commute home.

4. Hail the ricketiest taxi you possibly can. He’s been around the block a few times, he knows his stuff, and he’s less likely to harass and/or molest you. On that note, get in the back, especially as a single white female. Screw seatbelts, unfortunately.

5. Yeah, motorbikes are dangerous. But they are efficient, fun, and hey look, he has to keep both his hands on the handlebars to drive! Bonus!

6. So you’ve got another guy tailing you. He’s not getting it. From a blog post I read the other day, even North Koreans understand a good clear, “F&$# Off!” and flash of the bird. Sometimes guys can’t take any other hint. Screw cultural understanding, there are limits no one should have to put up with.
On that note, after months of such advances from Thais and avoiding clubs, you might forget how to respond to being hit on by a white guy. Wait what just happened there? Did I ever actually know how to process that? Brain are the dumb.

7. It’s not just the street food that will make you sick. You might get sick from a restaurant, breathing the air, obviously working with students…stop living in a bubble. You don’t have to eat everything, but avoiding everything is overkill. Some of my best I’m sick comfort food is the Chinese style soup sold out of metal carts on the sidewalk.

8. You’re going to get sick. Or rather, I’m going to get sick. It doesn’t particularly matter what country I live in. As my colleague put it, “yeah, but everything makes you sick!” Don’t let that stop you. I waited long enough fearing I couldn’t deal with SE Asia with all of my health problems. Now I wonder why I waited so long.

9. The white person overcharge. It sucks, it especially sucks when you’re sick and don’t realize it is happening. But it’s not US prices, and if you really need to go, don’t spend 10 days hugging the toilet in denial that you need to go. On that note – that 7 kilos you lost was good health insurance!

10. When all else fails, remember, ‘This Is Thailand’ explains everything. And nothing. And everything.

11. You want to fit in with the culture. Well get over that. You are white. You are ‘sui,’ you look like baby, you are all kinds of odd observations, stereotypes and representations of all of the countries that white people hail from. But you are always farang. And singing along to your mp3 player, skipping and dancing as you walk down the street is certainly not the worst you can do to represent your fellow white man.


  1. Also, don't expect to get anywhere on time if traveling via roadways on a Saturday.... neat article Jenny! :)