Don’t Look Up
Thailand is a country very in touch with nature. It is ingrained in their culture and made apparent through the presence and acceptance of strays in the streets, the number of restaurants that are essentially outdoors and even in traditional Thai architecture which allows many critters to come in and share the home. An occasional cat will wind its way through our legs while out at dinner and no one bats an eye. That being said, the Thais are incredibly clean. They remove shoes before entering homes, temples and some businesses (yes, even where they serve food).
But you can only do so much to clean nature. The floor is always immaculate, but that doesn’t mean the rafters are in the same shape. One important lesson I have learned since moving to Thailand is to not look up. Don’t look up. I mean it.
This is most important when using the restroom where you are probably better off not looking anywhere at all. This isn’t because the mess of those before you is left on the floor or because the seats and counters have probably never been wiped off, it’s because bugs. And lizards. And things that you have never seen before but some demon has granted wings. Bathrooms usually have weirdly tall ceilings here, and I guess they are just too high to reach, because 90% of the time they are covered in spiderwebs and other things that I can’t really describe because I no longer look up and have blocked them from my memory entirely.
I’m not scared of bugs. Ok, I’m not scared of most bugs that are not cockroaches and that are smaller than my thumb. The biggest bug I’ve shared a space with is a cicada and those are harmless and sing the sounds of summer. Since moving to Thailand I have seen cave spiders as big as my face, even larger moths, and a huge unidentified grasshopper/moth/beetle which landed on my shoulder just a few nights ago at the market.
Don’t look up. It’s a great rule for the bathroom, but also for pretty much everywhere else. During our last visit to Huay Tung Tao lake near Chiang Mai we decided to have lunch in one of the little floating huts. I looked up. I’m not afraid of snakes, either, but no one wants a possible water moccasin sleeping directly above their head. I spent the rest of the meal praying he wouldn’t wake up and trying to be silent.
I have no problem with the hundreds of lizards we see every day. They are pretty cute and it’s amusing to see them hang upside down from the ceiling. All these other guys I could do without.
I guess I am just revealing my city colors. Eric and I have talked about how people describe Chiang Mai as incredibly busy with an almost overwhelming amount of constant activity, and oh, the traffic! Coming from D.C. the traffic hasn’t fazed us one bit. Not even when sitting in a line a mile long to get through the light in front of the huge Maya mall do we think, “Wow, this is crazy.” The bugs, though. Those are crazy.