Somehow, the weeks just fly by and writing this Monday postcard just makes me realize how many things can be crammed into one week. I hope you all had a great weekend!
What Happened Last Week
After returning from Cambodia, I was busy working on all the posts and the video which will go online this week and with fixing some (ahem… annoying) website related issues for my other startup. In other news, I have started to learn Thai. Compared to many other cities, it is fairly easy to get around with English in Bangkok. However, I always feel a bit lost if I do not speak the local language. (You are also more likely to be ripped off if you do not.) Moreover, I think it is also a matter of respect. If you live in a country you should learn the local language. I am not saying that the aim should be to be fluent but I do think it is important to show some effort.
The worst thing I can imagine is to live in an expat bubble and not get in touch at all with the “real” city I live in. I remember when I lived in China, the number one excuse I heard for not learning Chinese was “because it’s so difficult”. Well, yes, it is not easy to learn it. But I think I am a good example that if you just sit down, study and do not give up, you can learn that language. (It definitely also helped that a lot of locals did not speak any English at the time I started learning Chinese). And think about all your local colleagues and friends: it was probably as hard for them to learn English as it is for you to learn the local language. See, there is really no excuse 🙂 And I am telling you from my own experience: even if you only manage to make small talk, you will see how welcoming locals will be. Call me a freak, but I love learning languages. It is so interesting to learn about the local culture, food and ways of life.
I was really fortunate to find an amazing Thai teacher quickly. She happens to be the same age as me and manages to make the lessons really engaging. Learning Thai reminds me a lot of learning Mandarin. A lot of the expressions sound fairly similar. But to make it a bit more complicated, Thai has not only four but five tones. Thai is based on an alphabet comprising 44 consonants and 15 vowels – the script looks really beautiful. It is a challenge to remember all of those though. As you see, I am learning the alphabet. Similar to my experience in China, a lot of foreigners only focus on the speaking part. Which is fine, if you aim at only having basic conversations. But sooner or later, there will be a point where you reach a plateau. Even though learning the Chinese characters was tough in the beginning, I was happy that I went through that phase. When I now learn new words, I can only remember them if I know the corresponding characters. And I guess with Thai it will be very similar.
I have set a goal a few weeks ago to explore at least one new coffee place per week in Bangkok. (Similar to my coffee guides for Hong Kong, Singapore and Vienna, I promise I will write a coffee guides with my Bangkok highlights.) So far, I have been quite successful with that strategy thanks to my partner in crime Ankita, a Bangkokian girlboss, working mum and fellow blogger (I am currently planning an interview with her, so stay tuned!). The two of us meet once a week for a “coffee update” and I really enjoy our inspiring conversations.
I am really fortunate to get all the local insights and that I had a friend in town right from the start. All those of you who have moved abroad know how hard the first few weeks can be; when you are trying to meet new people and build up new circle of friends. But I have to say, it has become much easier since I started moving around. I mentioned in my Expat Guide that using Facebook groups is a great way to look for apartments. I have also started to use Facebook interest groups for meeting new people whenever I come to a new city irrespective of my length of stay. This actually just makes me think that it would be great to write a post on how to meet new people when moving abroad (I already noted it down for my post line-up 🙂 ).
In other news, I had a spontaneous meet-up with my friend Rainer and his wife Kathrin from Germany. On my birthday, I got a text with wishes and then saying: “We will be in Bangkok in two days, do you happen to be around?” I was not sure if the two had some sixth sense because we had not talked in a while. But I remember telling Rainer about my boyfriend’s family in Bangkok. Maybe that was why they asked.
Anyways, we had a great afternoon. I took them to Baan Khanita, a beautifully decorated Thai-style house with amazing food. They were staying in Sathon and one of the restaurant’s branches was just a stone throw away from their hotel. But having lived in Asia for a while now, of course, I did not want to make them walk in the heat and called a Grab (the local Uber competitor). We were sitting in the car and suddenly the driver was asking if the highway was OK for us. That was weird, why did she need to take the highway? Well, I entered the address of the branch in Sukhumvit – on the other side of the city. Rainer and Kathrin got to experience Bangkok’s Friday afternoon traffic at its best. (It is actually the worst time to take a taxi). However, I later found out that the Sukhumvit branch is the original one and the food definitely made up for it.
What’s On For This Week
I am going to Hong Kong this week, I am soooo excited! Blog-wise this week still is Cambodia-themed with all the posts lined up. I hope you like all of them!
Have a great week ahead!