I really love my life in Bangkok and unless we get deported, we will live here for the foreseeable future. Even though I can get almost everything I want here, there are a few things I sorely miss from my home country. Without further ado…
9 Things I Miss About America
1. Mexican Food
I miss going to a restaurant with a name like Abuelas or Ramiros and eating 1500 calories worth of chips and cheese before the meal arrives. I miss the waitress putting down a massive plate of chili and cheese covered enchiladas and saying, “Be careful, the plate is hot.” I miss touching that hot plate and burning my fingers. I miss looking at my plate piled high with beans, rice, tortillas, cheese, and salsa, and thinking, there is no way I can eat all of this, and then eating it all anyway.
I realize that I live in one of the food capitals of the world, but I really do miss Mexican food.
2. Craft Beer
Thailand has three domestic beers – Singha, Chang, and Leo. Singha is the most popular and supposedly best of the three but to me it tastes like watered down Corona with a hint of lead. Chang has the delightful flavor of stale Heineken and produces a headache so severe that the term changover has been coined to describe the sickness felt the next day.
Leo is quaffable but I’d never order it in a real pub in America. Mr. Bartender, I see that you have an assortment of craft beers on tap, but do you have a bottle of Leo back there?
Thailand does have a growing craft beer scene, but the good stuff is hard to find and the prices are extortionate. Whenever I taste a good IPA my tastebuds ignite with excitement and serotonin floods my brain. It is joyous. Then the bill comes and I realize I’ll need to get a job if I keep drinking real beer so I switch back to Leo.
3. Clothes Shopping Without Being Depressed Afterwards
The clothes here don’t fit me. I am an American medium and a Thai x-large but I can never seem to remember this. As a result, every time I try on clothes I squeeze my body into a shirt made for a child and stare in the mirror at my shrink-wrapped body wondering where it all went wrong. I always vow to stop drinking those Thai beers in an effort to drop a few pounds.
Once I extricate myself from the medium shirt I go back in the store and get a large but it clings to my body like a vacuum-sealed bag as well. If I really like the shirt I’ll make a shameful walk back into the store a third time for an XL but otherwise I just leave and go drink beer to make myself feel better.
4. Hot Dogs
Thai people eat processed meat in cylindrical form all the time. I see what resembles a hot dog on food carts all over the city, but they dip them in a sweet and sour sauce and eat them on a stick. I miss a real American hot dog which can range from a gloriously simple dog, bun, and mustard, to a chili and cheese covered orgy of deliciousness with enough calories to nourish a village. Perhaps I have an opportunity? Jeff’s Chili Cheese Coney Cart may be coming to a Thai neighborhood soon. They have no idea what they are missing.
5. Barnes and Noble
Other than coffee, does anyone actually buy anything at Barnes and Noble? I feel like all the books are props placed there to boost the sales of the in-store Starbucks. Anyway, I miss going to B&N and gathering a few Lonely Planets, photo books, and magazines to peruse while I drink a large cafe latte. That is a great way to spend an afternoon and I feel like a B&N would be a huge success in my neighborhood because starting shortly after sunrise and continuing past midnight it is too hot to be outside. We could all take refuge in a book store and drink coffee. Writing this post is giving me lots of business ideas.
After I go to Barnes and Noble, I buy my books on Amazon.com because I am a terrible person who doesn’t support local stores. Looking back at my orders from Amazon the the last few years, I bought a camera, shoes, an Uncle Sam costume, drug paraphernalia, a MAGA hat, a microwave, and a refrigerator. Amazon.com has it all, and with Prime you get next day shipping!
In Bangkok we have Lazada and other delivery options similar to Amazon, but I don’t even know my home address and I just assume whatever I buy would never make it here. As a result, I have to go to markets and shopping malls and interact with humans to make purchases in Thailand.
I do not miss the cold. I never liked winter much and I’m happy to be rid of it. I don’t miss spring or summer since I live in a perpetual spring/summer. But I do miss autumn. I miss the changing of the seasons as the leaves turn yellow and fall from the trees. I miss the smell of a cold front blowing in, American football games on Saturday afternoon, and outdoor cookouts. I miss wearing sweaters and jeans. I miss nighttime temperatures below 80°F.
As I write this paragraph, I feel a real sense of loss for autumn, as though a close friend has died tragically. I am sad now. A tear just ran down my face, or maybe that was sweat?
8. Not paying a million dollars for wine and cheese
I can get wine and cheese in Thailand but I have to call my stock broker and sell off part of my IRA every time I do it. Almost all the drinkable wines cost well over $20 here. There are wines that are more affordable but instead of being labeled as merlot or cabernet they are labeled as red or white, have an amateurish label, and taste accordingly.
9. Watching my nieces play basketball
Probably the thing I miss the most is watching my nieces play basketball. One of the highlights of my life was seeing my two oldest nieces win a state basketball championship a few years ago. Now, they are both playing college basketball and my younger nieces are hooping it up in little league. But what I really miss about watching their games is the hot dogs at the concession stands and going out for Mexican food afterwards.
What do you miss from your place of birth?