Here are some examples of new norms (and yes the first three are all potty issues!):
1. Not being able to flush your toilet paper at many public restrooms. It's all too common to see a sign in a public restroom that says "please do not flush toilet paper" I'm now pleasantly surprised when I'm in a public bathroom and there is no sign and the little waste paper can isn't filled with soiled toilet paper. It leads to some bad smelling restrooms...There are even some bathrooms that say "urine only". I guess if you need to go #2 you are out of luck.
2. Or all too often there are no public restrooms. Sometimes it's really hard to find a bathroom. If you're out and about and feel a potty crisis coming on, you start brainstorming where the nearest place that is likely to have a public restroom is.
3. No toilet paper. It's always good to have your own tissues with you because public restrooms often do not provide it. Instead there is often a little water hose connected to the toilet that you can use to "refresh" yourself. Or sometimes a person standing outside selling toilet paper.....
4. Driving on the left side of the road. This one is just second nature now. Occasionally when I am the driver I still get into the passenger side of the car though and sit there for a moment, like "hey where's the steering wheel?" Not too often anymore though.
5. Stray dogs- they're everywhere. I used to be appalled that they just sleep in the middle of the road in the middle of the day. Now I just drive carefully around them or in some cases rev my engine to let them know they better move. And actually most of them aren't stray. Almost all of them have some sort of caretaker, but they are allowed to roam freely for much of the day.
6. No central air. It's pretty much non-existent in homes in Thailand. Most people don't have air conditioning in the main area of their homes at all which is odd considering this is a country that only really dips below 90 degrees for 2 months out of the year if that.
7. No heat. Okay based on what I said about average temperatures in the last one, this isn't that surprising, But on those odd nights where it drops down to 50 degrees and your car and house both don't have heat, you are shivering a little and there is nothing you can do other than layer up.
8. No central water heater. Individual showers have individual water heaters that actually heat the water as it's coming out of the nozzle. It actually amazes me that it can heat it fast enough for showers, but it does!
9. No dishwasher. I realize there are plenty of people in America that don't have dishwashers....but in my experience they have become pretty standard among middle class Americans. Here it is crazy exceptional if you have one.
10. Line drying. Okay this one could almost be left off the list as a decent number of my friends now own clothes dryers. We are not one of the lucky. Occasionally it crosses my mind that we should buy one, but the sun does a really good job of drying our clothes 9 months out of the year. The other 3 are the rainiest parts of rainy season and sometimes it becomes a challenge and we end up with drying clothes hanging all over our bedroom while we blast the air conditioner. Sadly the sun is pretty harsh on our clothes and I do think it shortens the life span of many of our clothes....especially anything with spandex or elastic in it. If I can convince Josh it is a good idea we might someday splurge on a dryer.
11. Speaking Thai. Okay really my Thai is still terrible, but I'm thankful that I feel closer and closer to being able to express what I want to occasionally.
12. Having a maebaan (English translation: house helper or house mother). This was super weird to me at first. Why would I hire somebody to clean my house when I always cleaned my own house in America? Just because it's cheap didn't seem like a very good reason to me. That was before I realized that this country is just plain dirty. And every day your floors end up super dusty. And hanging each clothing item on the line one by one takes a LONG time (especially if you cloth diaper like me). And doing all the dishes by hand takes a LONG time. And making every single food item you eat including salad dressing and stuff Americans take for granted FROM SCRATCH takes a long time. And bathrooms need to be cleaned way more often as most of them are the kind that the entire bathroom gets soaked each time you take a shower. So yeah houses need to be cleaned way more often and everything takes way longer. Unless you've been here and seen how quickly everything gets dirty, it's hard to understand. We have one who helps us clean, cook, watch children, or do laundry 3 days a week.
13. Monks. We see monks walking around in orange robes all the time, but one thing that was really weird at first was their morning ritual of walking around the neighborhood with their little pot receiving food offerings from people who bow down and chant in front of them. It's my understanding that they believe they will be blessed in return for giving the monks food. The monks cannot say anything about the type of food that is offered, it all just gets mixed up in their pot and they eat it later. I always want to take a picture when I see this, but I wonder if it's super disrespectful so I never have. The guy pictured below was just taking a walk, he was not doing one of the morning food walks.
Some of my comments might sound like complaining, but that was not my intention as most of this stuff just kind of rolls off of me lately. Here are a few more pictures of odd but normal everyday sights in Thailand.
Buying a crib mattress for Hailey. Yep we couldn't find one so we went to a foam factory and had a piece cut, and then took it to a seamstress to have a cover made for it. It was cheaper than a real crib mattress, but a lot less convenient and there is no safety standard....
These giant snails are everywhere during rainy season. You will frequently crunch them under your truck or foot...
I suppose this isn't all that different than a farmer's market in America, except it is....really different. Vendors line the streets for about a half mile behind our neighborhood selling their stuff and really congesting traffic once a week. There are many similar markets open every night.
I have actually seen way more people than this in the back of a truck this size many times but never have my camera ready. Just know that this is not that extreme.
And this is also not the most overloaded truck I have seen...
This is the cutest cow I ever saw in the back of a pickup truck! :-) Love the big floppy ears cows have here!
And that's all folks! We love Thailand and all its differentness. Although somedays the differentness still stresses us out slightly! Even after 2 and a half years!