When in Thailand - Drink Beer!
One of the most overused (but true) travel-isms is “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” Well, I think it’s equally important to remember that “when in Thailand, do not still do as the Romans.”
I learned this lesson our first day in Chiang Mai when I was at the pool, lounging in the sun next to a gorgeous little garden and four fat, smiling, water-spitting elephants. Pretty much in my happy place, except one thing was missing: ice cold white wine!
I strolled up to our B&B’s little bar and looked at the wine menu which simply listed ‘red wine’ and ‘white wine’ (first clue). Both 100 Baht or roughly three USD (second clue). The rest of the process went like this:
Me: Hi! What type of white wine are you serving?
Hostess: Um. It’s white.
Me: Yeah right, but do you know what varietal it is or who makes it?
Hostess (a little confused): Ummmm yes? It comes in a big box.
Me (feeling sheepish): Ah OK! Thank you. You know what? I’ll just have a Chang (local Thai beer)
See my point? What was I even thinking? Thailand isn’t known for their wine and they don’t really have a culture around it, so why would a small hotel have anything but boxed wine, let alone know much about it.
The moral of the story is this: I’m pretty sure that the boxed white wine would have been just fine, but I would have been acting like a Roman in Thailand. And why settle for ‘just fine’ when Thais are actually known for their beer and its freaking awesome!
It can be easy to stick to our established preferences and habits when traveling, and to do so almost unconsciously. But I think we get the best out of each place and situation when we shake off the usual and embrace the specialty, the uniqueness of where we are instead.
And PS- that beer was amazing by the pool…and it came in a liter bottle to boot! :)