Reasons Why I Love Southeast Asia - and Thailand - So Much. Part 1
I am often asked what I find so wonderful about Thailand and Southeast Asia. Here, I would like to describe the main reasons that have brought my heart here and provide you with more insight into life and culture.
I believe that food is truly number one on this list, in my opinion. Thai food, for me personally, has taken the top spot by a long shot. The culinary diversity is incredibly vast, and dishes that don't consider bread or wheat as the main ingredient are a thousand times healthier. Moreover, everything is readily available in vegetarian and vegan options at every restaurant.
Compared to Europeans and Americans, the people here are very open-armed towards others - regardless of skin color, culture, or religious background. There is no racism here. Additionally, everyone is treated as equals, regardless of their profession; there is no class-based society here. This becomes especially evident when you need help; everyone is incredibly accommodating and helps each other wholeheartedly. I believe this is the reason there is virtually no poverty here, and no one goes hungry on the streets. Of course, there are thousands and thousands of people living on the streets, maybe without a fixed roof over their heads, but even these people get good food from street vendors and don't have to search for food in trash cans - sorry, Friedl 😅. People are always happy and, in comparison to other nations or cultures, often have something to smile about. It's no wonder Thailand is called the "Land of Smiles."
Here, like in other parts of the world, there is an abundance of stray dogs and cats. However, unlike stray animals in other countries, these animals are perfectly nourished and incredibly happy. I would say many animals have "chosen" to live on the streets and enjoy their freedom. The dogs or cats are not intrusive or aggressive (I have never encountered a single aggressive dog here). We have 2-3 dogs in our neighborhood; they simply relax on the street, move from house to house, and know us as "neighbors," wagging their tails to welcome us when we drive by. Of course, there is no winter here, and stray animals just need to find shelter when heavy rain begins.
I have never felt safer in a foreign country, and I believe that is a very important factor internally for people. When I wander the streets of Bangkok and my wallet or phone is sticking out of my pocket in a crowded shopping street, I have ZERO concerns. People here hardly steal from each other. There is no cheating or dishonesty. Everyone is fair to each other, and that's why no one feels the need to "get even" with someone else. I leave my phone on the scooter holder every day when I need to go to the ATM or quickly grab a drink at 7-11. I've also accidentally left my keys in the ignition a thousand times, and someone even chased me to remind me that I left my keys in the ignition. And right next to our house, there's simply a washing machine and a fan that someone in another country would have already stolen.
All the points mentioned above are attributable to Buddhism. There are five ways of life that a Buddhist should follow. I believe these ways of life are the pillars of this wonderful culture.
- Do not harm any living being.
- Take only what is given to you.
- Engage in sexual activities only with mutual consent.
- Speak only the truth.
- Do not misuse intoxicants.
That's why there is a significant movement of traditionally vegan people in Buddhist culture because they do not want to harm any living beings and do not take eggs/milk because it was not freely given to them.
The tropical weather feels consistently pleasant. Even at 40°C, you don't feel "oppressed" thanks to the high humidity. On the contrary, the high humidity probably allows the body to absorb a lot of natural moisture through the skin, keeping it hydrated. And there is shade everywhere, whether from trees or roofs. In Egypt, in the desert at 32°C, my mind almost "snapped" because I didn't see a single tree, shade, or drop of water. The hot, dry air makes you drink a liter per minute. Not a climate in which humans should live.
Since there are perfect conditions here for plants to thrive, everything is green and full of lush vegetation year-round. Mother Gaia is strongly felt here ❤️
First and foremost, I think the scooter is simply the best mode of transportation for humans. Why does every household need 1 or even 2 ton-heavy cars? That's just a waste of space, for roads, parking areas, and it's not good for our comfort either. With a car, you get stuck in traffic and then have to search forever for a parking space. With a scooter, you simply pass by the traffic (which wouldn't even exist if everyone rode a scooter), and you have a parking spot everywhere. Of course, you need to be prepared for all kinds of weather. Which is actually easier here than in Central Europe, I have to admit.
And the traffic here is just my thing. I love the fast movement and weaving through traffic, and everyone does that here. It's pure traffic chaos. But it works so much better than traffic in the Western world. Everyone shows consideration for each other. There's no "tailgating because the guy in front isn't driving fast enough", there's no sudden braking to show the person behind that they should keep a distance.
People are simply on an equal footing. And that's how it should be everywhere, no matter the situation or the other individual. So far, I have had the privilege of learning so much from this wonderful culture, and there is still so much more to learn here.
In the near future, I will address the not-so-good aspects. To be continued...