What to bring to live in Bangkok
On Facebook forums for Bangkok there are often people moving here from home who want to know what they should bring. Seriously, people make some mental suggestions. These are honestly real:
A frozen turkey wrapped in tinfoil ready for Thanksgiving. Because obviously, you’ll land with a freezer big enough to put it in as soon as you arrive after you 20-hour flight. Not mentioning that places sell cooked turkey and trimmings for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Breakfast cereal. How many boxes of shreddies can you actually fit in your suitcase? You can buy porridge oats, weetbix and other cereals here. Just might not be your favourite brand.
Napkins. Because the ones here can be really thin. You can take your own to bars and restaurants with you. Won’t make you look weird at all.
Whey powder. For those bodybuilders and protein lovers out there. Pretty heavy. You won’t get many in your suitcase. And you can buy it here.
Stick deodorant. Because roll on won’t do. OK, there are a lot of products with whitening chemicals in them, since Asian people like to use them to make their skin paler. However, Whatever people say, you can buy non-whitening body products here.
Blueberries. How many you’d need to bring for the length of time you are going to stay is mind boggling.
Soft loo roll. Because the Thai stuff is too rough. I don’t know where these people are shopping but we buy our, perfectly soft, toilet roll from Tescos. Here. In Bangkok.
Cheese. Again, you can buy cheese from all over the world here. It might be more expensive than you are used to paying, but you can buy it.
Craft beer. My parents once brought Kris some cans London Pride of real ale to Odessa as a present. One burst and the clothes were covered in brown liquid, which seeped out on the baggage claim carousel, looking rather like poo. You have been warned. You might not be able to get your very favourite craft beer or real ale here, although you can get many types. But there is a big craft beer scene in Bangkok, so try something new.
Underwear. OK, if you have bigger than average boobies, you should probably bring some bras, cos it will be hard to find them. There is Marks and Spencer’s and Victoria’s Secret. But then, who moves to a new country and doesn’t bring their bras with them?
Tampons. For me, this is weird. In every country I’ve lived, people have said that they can’t buy tampons. I have always managed.They might not be the same brand you use at home, but why does that matter? Are people that precious about their sanitary protection? Seems so. In Bangkok, there is Boots the Chemist and they sell own brand tampons, made in the UK. 120 baht a box – but they regularly do buy one, get one free. Bargain.
OK, I’m being a bit cynical here. But you are moving abroad. You only have a limited about of luggage to take on that plane. Even if you are one of those lucky ones that have a shipping container sent over, how much space will you have?
So what should you bring?
It’s hot in Bangkok. Very hot. So you’ll need summer clothes. However, it can be colder than you would expect in other places in the region. North Vietnam can get a bit chilly in winter. The north of China is really cold. If you are planning to travel around, include some slightly warmer clothes in your luggage.
The shopping centres and cinemas here have air con and it is often set quite low. It’s best to wear long trousers to go and see a movie, or you spent the whole thing hunched in a ball, shivering, or trying to get as close as possible to the people next to you to share their body heat. Aeroplanes and airports too can be cold places. Always best to travel with a fleece or jumper.
If you are going to work in Bangkok, find out the dress code for your workplace. Teachers are usually expected to dress smartly – so men will need shirts, smart trousers and smart shoes and women will need smart trousers or skirt, top, or dress and smart shoes. Some schools expect women to wear skirts, which is odd in this day and age, but still. Some schools, however, have a uniform you may have to buy, or a specific colour scheme for teachers. It’s best to ask.
You can buy smart clothes in Bangkok, of course. There is international shopping here. The shopping centres have Dorothy Perkins, Zara, Marks and Spencer’s’ and many more. We became teachers after leaving the UK and bought all the clothes we needed here. But to save you some time and money, you might want to bring some stuff with you.
If you have a weird body shape, like very big or wide feet, massive boobs, or are taller or wider than average, it might be harder for you to get clothes and shoes to fit. I found swimwear to be a real issue. After an unforgettable time trying on swimsuits in a changing room with Kris laughing uncontrollably as the very helpful salesgirl brought me tiny bikinis with ‘sexy’ across one breast, I’ve always bought my swimwear back home.
Wellies might be useful, especially if you like the pretty kind with glitter and flowers on. It rains a lot in wet season. And areas of Bangkok can flood. If you don’t like wading home with wet shoes, or in flipflops with wet feet, bring some wellies.
Obviously, with communication technology being what it is these days, you’ll want to bring your phone, tablet, laptop etc. along with the charging cables. You can buy cables etc. here, of course, but it might be a hassle if you want to charge them up when you first arrive. One of the best things we were given recently was a multi charger. One plug into the wall, then all the USB cables into the one box. You can charge everything in one socket. Since budget accommodation can be lacking in plug sockets, it’s very useful.
When we first came travelling, we had brought books. Real paper books. With pages and everything. I love books. I had bookshelves full when we lived in the UK. Flipping heavy to carry, though. We’d read them, and then exchange them at bookshops, guesthouses and bars as we travelled. There’s a great bookshop on Soi Rambuttri, near Khoa San Road, where you get 30% back on any books you buy. We used that a lot. We still do actually. I bought Kris’ birthday presents there.
These days there are e-books. I love books, but I also love my Kindle. It’s brilliant for this lifestyle, because any books I want to read can be carried on it. Much lighter and less bulky.
At the end of the day, Bangkok is a huge, international city. You can get almost everything here. There are several big import shops, like Villa Market, Tops and Gourmet Mart. Tops stocks Waitrose food, for those Brits out there missing it, and Tesco Lotus sells some Tesco own brand food. Stupidly priced for own brand food, but there you are. It’s come a long way.
There are also foreigners making and selling food that people miss, such as pies and pasties (the pastry kind, not the nipple tassels, although sure someone here is making them too), roast dinners, real sausages, lasagne, fresh bread…..the list is endless. It’s often more expensive than you would pay at home, but it’s rare. And that makes it more valuable.
There are British pubs selling pub grub, Mexican restaurants, burgers, Indian, expensive and cheap Thai places. There’s fast food from all around the world.
You might not be able to get the exact brand that you like. But look where you are. You live in Bangkok, Thailand. You’ve got this far out of your comfort zone. Try something new. You’ll probably like it.
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