A year in Europe followed by a move to Bangkok

Life In Bangkok

Moving from the US to Bangkok has been a pretty incredible experience.  If is funny because sometimes I stop and think that I could easily be in the US (like when sitting at one of Bangkok's many Starbucks).  And other times I feel like I am in an entirely different world (usually when walking down the street).  Here are some things I've learned and observations I've made about life in Bangkok.

Most malls and hotels have employees who stand by the door and salute you as you enter and exit.  They often throw in a heel click as well.

"Khun" is the Thai equivalent of Mr. or Ms. used before the first name for both genders.  For example:  John Smith would be Khun John.  Jane Smith would be Khun Jane.  Rhymes with June.

I never drink tap water in Bangkok.  However, I do brush my teeth with the tap water (without swallowing any) and have never had any issues.  Restaurants offer bottled water at a fairly reasonable price and there are 7-11s all over the place selling inexpensive water.  We use a water service at our apartment that brings the huge bottles for our water cooler which I think is very common here.  We pay about $3.00 for a 5 gallon bottle.

A Few Words
"Hello" - sounds like: Saw Wat Dee Ka (if the speaker is female) or Saw Wat Dee Krup (if speaker is male).

"Thank you" - sounds like: Korp Koon Ka (if speaker is female) or Korp Koon Krup (if speaker is male).

Ka and Krup are added to the end of many phrases to denote politeness.  No need to remember if a word is masculine or feminine like in French or Spanish.  Ka vs Krup is determined by the gender of the speaker.  Females always use Ka and males always use Krup.  The gender of the person you are addressing does not make a difference.

When visiting Bangkok, you will quickly become accustomed to the sound of the contract security guards' whistles.  You will hear the piercing sound at all hours, usually with the purpose of directing traffic in and out of parking lots.  For the first few weeks I was here, I thought I was hearing a whistle happy coach or referee on our apartment's basketball court.  I couldn't figure out why they played in the middle of the night.  It turned out to be the guard at the hotel 100 yards away (and many floors down) from our apartment building.

Be aware that motorbikes are often driven on the sidewalks and quite fast.

Compared to the US, stores and restaurants in Bangkok seem to have many more employees.  For example, a small food kiosk in the mall that would normally be staffed with two employees in the US  would have about eight employees here.  It seems that Bangkok has about four retail employees working for every one person that would be hired in the US.

Being Watched
When you are shopping, you will notice that a store employee will often stand a few feet away from you, watch you shop and follow you around the store.  Even if you say or motion that you don't need any help, you will still be followed around.  I dislike it but assume that it is simply what the employees are trained to do.

Bangkok has a love affair with tape.  If you buy something, the bag will be closed with a piece of tape. Stores find all sorts of ways to tape your purchase, especially food.  Opening things can be a struggle.

It is common for an available taxi driver to hear where you want to go and turn you down.  They aren't supposed to do this, but it happens often and is extremely frustrating.  Also, very few taxis have seatbelts in the back seats.  I've learned to always know the directions to my destination - it is not a good idea to assume that the taxi driver will know how to get there.


  1. I would like to visit Bangkok someday ♥


  2. ohhh them motorbikes.. the ones jake loves right? LOL and btw, i couldn't agree more about 'being watched'. i really hate it too! but i guess it's only so if we need any help they can quickly be at our disposal. anyhoo, i've missed you kimberly! i know you have your trip coming up soon and your parents visiting - hope alls been well! x