I’ve been lucky to get to do some traveling outside the U.S. over the years, but I realized today it was pretty “safe” traveling.
I’ve been to Ireland, London, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Paris, and Barcelona. It doesn’t take long to notice what all those places have in common – they’re all in Europe.
Which means that even if the people of these countries don’t speak the English language (I’m looking at you, Edinburgh 🙂 ), at least they use the same alphabet. Plus it’s usually pretty easy to find someone who can speak English (I am so jealous of people that can speak multiple languages…)
I’ve also been living in Singapore the past few weeks, and while it is obviously an Asian country (and my first time to visit Asia), English seems to be the default language. Nearly all the signs around the country are in English, and most people seem to speak English fairly well.
So traveling around Europe or Singapore is fairly safe in that I can get by pretty easily as an English speaker.
All that changed dramatically when we arrived in Bangkok today for a four-day visit.
English is not the primary language (and there’s no reason why it should be). Plus the Thai language does not use the same letters as the western alphabet.
This has made it a bit harder to get around. I’ve already tried to speak to a couple of people to ask directions, but they had no idea what I was saying, and vice versa. (Even my confused look didn’t help too much…)
So this is what “real” foreign travel is like, and I have to say, I love it.
We managed to survive our first day – we left our rental unit, took public transit, had something to eat, and found our way back to the apartment, all without causing a scene.
Once again, I’ve learned how universal a smile, a thumbs-up, or a wave can be – at least I hope such gestures mean what I think they do! (By the way, Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles…)
I am much more confident about our ability to make our way around Bangkok over the next few days.
Now I just have to get used to the idea of a beer costing 100, baht that is…