Most people are used to lots of amenities that are overlooked on a day to day basis. Whether it be hot water that comes from your sink, a functioning fridge and stove combination, or great insulation in the house. It could be the convenience of the grocery store being a walk away or having a shopping mall in your town. Great cellphone service wherever you go, or lots of restaurants with amazing food at your very finger tips.
I’ve come to realize that I’ve failed to notice just “how well I had it back home”. I’m not saying in any way that living in my home city was any better than living in the village, both have pros and cons. It just became more of a convenience in my mind, where I could walk down the street and pick up a pizza, whereas in the village the closest pizza place is about an hour walk away.
So further a-do, here are some amazing ways I’ve been roughin’ it in the village of Banmai, in Northern Thailand (all have taught me a great deal of how to appreciate the little things in life, and also how to get creative with living a simpler lifestyle):
- Scrubbing clothes by hand: I feel one of the greatest amenities that is taken for granted back at home is laundry. I’ve always lived either in a home that had the full deal washer and dryer, or in an apartment with one less than two minutes down the road. Here, is a very different experience. Our village has one washing machine on the side of the road, about a 10 minute motorbike drive from the house. It thinks it’s a joker, only wanting to work on days it feels like it. So normally the choice is to roll up the shirt sleeves, put on the gloves and scrub all my clothes in the bathroom, then hang to dry. Or pay a pretty penny and take everything to a laundry mat in Chiang Mai 3 hours away on the weekends. It’s not the most ideal scenario, but I’ve come to learn exactly how to wash clothes by hand and it’s been a great learning curve.
- Bugs, spiders, and salamanders, Oh my!: They ain’t joking when people tell you the amount of crazy, insane looking bugs you’ll see in Thailand. I’ve gotten used to the fact that they will be everywhere no matter what you do – in the shower, the kitchen, even the bed. I used to be a huge scaredy-cat of all bugs, but I’ve come to adapt to all the little critters in my home. Spiders on the other hand – never. Goodbye, leave me alone. Normally the small ones are just fine, but when you have a huge Goliath 8-legged freak in your bedroom, you best know I’m going to be running down the street screaming. On the other hand, we got our little salamander friends in our house! Harmless and cute little creatures, who love to eat the bugs and keep us sane. They like to come and visit me in my bedroom every night, but as long as they keep far away from my bed, they’re welcomed to stay.
- Grocery store, where is that?: The village is lucky to have so many family runned stores full of amenities such as rice, cookies, sweets, and other snacky food. There are plenty of areas around to sit and grab a bite to eat, but are there any places close by to actually grab a cart and stroll the aisles? Nope, not so much. It’s about a 40 minute drive away to get to our closest store – Tesco (kind of like Walmart) and Makro (similar to Costco). It has become a luxury to be able to get a drive every few weeks and stock up on some goodies and food. Every week there’s a Wednesday night market full of fresh foods, and other than that we find creative ways to eat and stay healthy in any way possible!
- Cooking is not a thing: Yep, I rarely ever cook while living in Thailand, but that’s like most locals here! I’ve come to buy a huge bag of rice, oatmeal, and noodles for small snacks. But other than that, most lunches and dinners are eaten throughout the village for very, very cheap. The favorite place is Mei’s, who has many meat and veggie options, lots of rice, and the best Thai omelette I have ever had. Also, a family area full of gyozas and Chinese pizza, and a spicy shack with warm soups and fried rice. We make do, and it’s been amazing. There are so many options back at home, but the limited amount here has been so cheap and filling, I couldn’t imagine paying anything over $3 for a meal ever again…
- City views, no mountain views: Last “roughin it” example in living so far away from any close city. On a local bus costing less than $2, it takes three hours to get to the city center of Chiang Mai on a bumpy, windy road. But if living in the mountains is roughin’ it, I’d do it all the time. The views, the people, the lack of cars and hustle n’ bustle is exactly the way I love to live. Give me the mountainside any day, it’s the most relaxing way to live.
It takes some time to adapt to new environments, especially when they are so different from what you are used to. But eventually, your body and mind become so used to it, it becomes a lifestyle. It’s important to experience new areas and ways of life, to fully appreciate things that are normally overlooked.