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February 28, 2013

Local Voices from Around the Globe: The most modest places in Thailand are the most vibrant

As a curious exchange student always seeking adventure in Thailand’s distinctive culture, I’ve discovered that it isn’t at all hard to find colorful street life. 

The bold expedition into the city’s real culture requires only an appetite, a friendly disposition and

a bit of luck. Like any exciting place, the real Thailand lies off Main Street, where the guidebook’s pages seldom go and where word-of-mouth is the guide. That’s where the real adventures begin. It is here that I’ve discovered the Thailand I was itching to become acquainted with before beginning my exchange.

Looking forward to my exchange year I wasn’t craving shopping malls and super centers, restaurant chains or other established Western institutions in Thailand. I’ve always been more interested in the less mainstream life — that of mapless, exhilarating travel. Second-world places such as Thailand are perfect for those who wish to escape civilization as we know it, to get off the grid and dive into an untouched, unique and exciting world. And why not? There is so much to explore and, as I’ve found, most of it is delicious.

Street food has proved to be the largest incentive to explore the more remote parts of Nakhon Si Thammarat, my city. In itself, street food embodies exactly what it means to release one’s inhibitions in order to derive the most satisfaction from an exotic place. It’s not usually clean, the best of it isn’t hard to find and it’s always satisfying. The prices of Thai sidestreet snacks, also, are just too reasonable to pass up. After three bags of soft drinks (yes, they come in bags), more than a few styrofoam bowls of noodles and maybe an ice cream or two, I’ll fearfully check the remainder of my cash to discover I’ve only spent the equivalent of about six American dollars. My mantra: Eat until the money for the ride home is put into jeopardy, then come back tomorrow. All that having been said, the taste and the bargain of this food aren’t the only things that motivate my alternative ventures through the places that Fodor’s missed.

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