It's funny isn't it how sometimes your habits change when you live in a foreign country for a period of time? I got to thinking of stuff that I used to do in the past but just don't seem to do anymore for various reasons.
I don't go on expat discussion forums.
One of my all-time favourite quotes is "the anonymity of the internet coupled with the basic human desire to always be right is a deadly combination". And I guess that's why I grew to hate expat discussion forums so much.
Years ago, I was active on several boards, but the trolls and the flame wars eventually wear you down. You find some great people on discussion boards, you really do, but unfortunately those same forums also seem to attract the most bitter, twisted characters out there. And Thailand has always had plenty of those types.
I used to read through numerous forum threads and think to myself, why can't everybody just get along?
I don't eat Indian food
Not by choice I hasten to add. I'm originally from Birmingham in England - home to some of the best Indian food in the world. There's one street called the Stoney Lane in an area of the city called Balsall Heath. Indian curry aficionados refer to it as ‘the curry mile' because that's exactly what it is - one glorious mile of nothing but cheap Indian curry restaurants. Eating Indian food is a way of life back in Brum!
I think there are some very decent Indian restaurants in the lower Sukhumwit area and when I worked on Silom Road many moons ago, you often found me in The Tamil Nadu at lunchtimes, scoffing down their 39 baht curry and rice specials off a tin plate. I've had some great authentic Indian nosh in Pahurat (The Indian district) as well.
Alas, all of these temples and shrines to Indian cuisine are much too far to venture to from my home in Samut Prakarn, regardless of how much I crave poppadoms, naan breads and some mango chutney.
There have been several attempts to open an Indian restaurant in my neighborhood but they've all been spectacular failures. There aren't enough local Thais who enjoy Indian cuisine and there just aren't enough expats in the area to keep the restaurants going. Very sad.
I don't subscribe to UBC
24,000 baht a year is a fair chunk of change, as I'm sure you will agree, but that's what I spent on a cable TV subscription for three years and hardly ever watched the damn thing - apart from Premier League football on Saturday nights.
HBO was a complete waste of time. I don't know if it's just modern life, but I seem to rarely get time to sit on the sofa for an uninterrupted couple of hours and watch a movie.
I even went through a spell of leaving the TV on as purely background noise - just so I could justify the subscription costs - but after hearing the same news stories repeated on CNN and BBC World hour after hour and suffering the irritating non-stop commercial breaks, I decided the cable TV had to go.
I don't buy fruit in supermarkets
Perhaps it's just me but when I first arrived in Thailand, fruit always seemed such a bargain. Nowadays, I can't get over how much not only imported fruit costs in the supermarkets, but also pre-packed local fruits.
A good friend told me that he chatted at length with a genuine Thai fruit-grower and the farmer told him that much of Thailand's fruit goes to the exporters these days and there's little left for the home market - or certainly not as much as there was in the past. I can fully believe that!
In my local Foodland supermarket - which is admittedly always a tad on the pricey side - they're asking 65 baht for a small tray of sliced pomelo. When did pomelo suddenly become one of life's luxuries? I've always wanted to collar the guy who prices up the merchandise and ask him if he lives in the real world.
It's not as convenient I'll admit, but some time ago I discovered the joys of shopping for fruit (and a few other things) in my local street-market. It's not really something foreigners do that much judging by the suspicious looks I was getting when I first started examining pineapples on one old lady's stall - but once my face got known, shopping like the locals became great fun. And of course you do save a fortune compared to the supermarkets.
I don't go to the movie theatre
This one is probably just pure laziness on my part because I used to love a night out ‘at the flicks'. I think back to my cinema-going days in England (and I was a regular at my local fleapit let me tell you) and I can vividly recall a packed auditorium standing up and cheering as the credits rolled at the end of ‘Superman' and three hundred people covering their eyes to get them through the scary bits during ‘Silence of the Lambs'
Now whenever I'm walking around a shopping mall and I'm passing a multiplex cinema, I look up at the ‘films showing now' and just can't get excited about any of them - certainly not enough to fork out for a seat and then an extortionate amount of money for a bucket of popcorn.
There are still some great films being made but because they only appeal to a minority of cinemagoers or the ‘art-house crowd', they don't go on general release. Perhaps I'm just getting old but gone are the days when I can sit through two hours of car chases, deafening explosions and actors who specialize in mumbling their way through a script.
I don't have clothes tailor-made
For most of adult life I was something of an odd shape. I had a slim body, a slim waist, a long neck and arms that any orangutan would have been envious of. And although I could tickle people from the other side of a room, off the peg shirts and trousers never fitted me. Frankly speaking, I looked ridiculous in department store clothes.
However, this was Bangkok - the Mecca for tailored clothes, delivered to your door in just 24 hours. Over a period of 10-15 years, I spent countless hours in various Sukhumwit Road tailors shops.
I was a fan of Ravi Sehgal's place on the corner of soi 10 for a long time but when he upset me with a batch of made-to-measure shirts that were clearly made for someone 30 kilograms heavier, I switched to using Sam and Jesse at Gulati Fashions on the corner of soi 3, where I remained a loyal customer for many years. There may also have been a few other shops I used in-between times.
I had a constant love-hate relationship with Bangkok tailors. I would hear people harping on about their fantastic new Italian-cut suit or how much cheaper it was to get a shirt made in Thailand than buy off the peg in Europe - but I never ever bought into it. I only had clothes made out of sheer necessity.
If there's one thing that's improved beyond measure over the past decade, it's the variety and selection of off-the-peg clothes in Bangkok's terrific shopping malls. Admittedly I've filled out a bit these days and on a good day I now look almost human, but I have no trouble finding clothes that look and feel good.
My favourite chain store at the moment for men's clothing is the Japanese firm, Uniqlo. With several large branches in Bangkok, they stock trendy clothes in great fabrics at very sensible prices, and I'm willing to bet considerably cheaper and better quality than your average Sukhumwit Road tailored shirt.
So how have your Thailand habits and lifestyle changed over the years?