Weatherford Oklahoma sunset

Things I Miss About America While Living in Thailand

51 comments
Expat Life, USA

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

Taco Factory.jpg

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

Leo 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

jeff clothes.jpg

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

Mexican Hot Dog

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 that 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.

6. Amazon.com

Uncle Sam Suit.jpg

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 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.

7. Autumn

Otto Lake in Autumn

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.

Cheap Thai Wine

Classy wine for classy people.

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.

State Champs.jpg


What do you miss from your place of birth?

 

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Currently living in Bangkok, I travel, write, take photos, and stalk street cats. ~ planetbell1@gmail.com

51 thoughts on “Things I Miss About America While Living in Thailand”

  1. This was so fun – your humor has me laughing – I like th me word changeover and the three beers there is crazy.
    And so you mean you miss “American-Mexican” food (depending on where you are from)
    And you mean “not a real
    Starbucks” in the B&N (oh how that used to be a big deal To someone I know)

    And what I miss about living in the city I was born – I miss running into folks from grade school and high school – miss that a lot

    • An earlier version of this post had the words Tex-Mex because although I do enjoy authentic Mexican food, what I really miss is the Americanized version I grew up with in Oklahoma. I even miss fast food Mexican like Chipotle, Qdoba and – gasp – Taco Bell. I can’t say that I miss running into my old classmates. Most of them have moved away so when I’m back home I rarely run into anyone I know, but I can see how that would be nice. Thank you for your comment!

      • Well when you describe the fast food Mexican maybe there are many versions of this cuisine – and I only know the Americanized versions – but never liked chipotle – they seemed like big fat rice burritos –
        There is a new fast food chain in the states called Mezeh – Mediterranean food and one price fills a bowl – three to four kinds of meat options (lamb meatballs A regular ones – chicken – steak- or gasp – vegan) but it is one of the few places I will dine out at – we have come to love home meals (keto eating and so it is hard to find non-industrial oils here in the states – canola oil and crappy oils that are so bad for us / I wonder if they use good olive oils
        Where you are in Thailand)

      • They don’t use olive oil here – the flavor would be all wrong. They just use vegetable oils. I need to write a post about how Thai food is both the healthiest and unhealthiest food in the world. They eat fresh vegetables, fruit and lots of chicken and fish, but also consume tons of sugar and unhealthy oils – and hot dogs on a stick.

      • So interesting that it is healthy and unhealthy – hope I am around for the post when it unfolds – 💛

  2. Haha! Great blog. I feel your pain. We’re going home after almost 20 months in Asia. I can’t wait for red wine and cheese. By the way, don’t buy that outfit😊

  3. Fun post and pictures. I think particularly missing the family and friends can be very hard. Thank goodness for Skype…can’t believe cheese and wine is so expensive?

    • Just about anything imported is expensive, plus I think there is an alcohol tax to make it worse. Yes, amazing how Skype allows us to connect with those around the world so easily. Thanks for the comments.

  4. I would be absolutely lost without Amazon.I dislike shopping immensely so I get almost everything there. Could you brew your own beer? Hotdogs on a stick would be ok without the sweet/sour sauce, that’s just wrong! How much longer would the list be if you wrote about what you don’t miss?

    • We take for granted how easy it is to get little things through Amazon. My wife has been on the hunt for a watch battery for a while but can’t find the right one. Amazon will have it for sure.

      The list would be quite long, and maybe that is a great follow up post. Off hand, I don’t miss Wal-Mart, strip malls, Fox News/CNN playing all the time, winter. I can still watch NBA basketball games here, and I can get most everything I want, so living here isn’t all that strange at times.

  5. Debby Stine says:

    I love your take on things and your humor. I’ll never get to that part of the world so I appreciate hearing about it from you.

  6. Kyle says:

    Great post.

    That’s a super cute onesie you are trying on in the selfie. I hope you got it.

    • That is a Japanese inspired onesie. We are stopping over in Japan this summer and I need an outfit in order to blend in 🙂 I didn’t get it (I got something even better).

  7. A fun read! I appreciate American culture all the more after reading this. It is easy to take for granted, but fall and affordable cheese are awesome.

    • In the last two days, the weather has finally changed – rainy season is here! The temperature has dropped 10 degrees and we’ve had afternoon thunderstorms. I still miss fall, but this reprieve from the heat is most welcome. Now, if I could just get affordable cheese.

  8. Ha ha ha! Love this post! I don’t miss anything from my home country of America because, well, I live here, but whenever I go to France I revel in the price of wine over there, and it suddenly seems painfully expensive to buy it here.
    I know you’re writing about Thailand, but I’m going to assume the same is true about Lao and Cambodian wine and perhaps avoid them while I’m there (I don’t drink beer). Let me know if I’m way off base and those two countries have an amazing secret wine culture.
    One final thought: chili cheese dogs are the main reason I go to Minnesota Twins games. The baseball is secondary.

    • Since Cambodia and Laos are former French colonies, you may fine better and more affordable wine there. Thailand doesn’t have much of a wine culture – they drink whiskey and the aforementioned beers. If your husband drinks beer, he will likely enjoy Beer Lao – it is a step above our Thai beers.

      There are some excellent French restaurants in Luang Prabang. You’ll enjoy it very much there.

      • They make a great Asian/French fusion sandwich which is basically stir fried meats and veggies in a bun. In Vietnam they call it a Bahn Mi, not sure what they call it in Lao. Don’t feel guilty – it is awesome. And treat yourself to a nice French meal in LP for 1/4 the price you’d pay in America. Otherwise, eat all all the local foods and enjoy!

      • Ah yes. Bahn mi. There’s at least one Vietnamese restaurant that I know of around here that serves it, but I can’t recall if I’ve ever eaten it. Will definitely have it over there. Along with every French pastry I can get my hands on, and all the local food I can eat without drawing attention to myself! 😉

  9. Wow Jeff, you are enthusiastic about those hot dogs and Mexican food! Mike is with you on the beer (and we’ve just experienced this in Sri Lanka too). Your clothes sizing description is hilarious. Gotta ask…what’s with the awesome Uncle Sam costume?

    • Sadly, I quite liked Lion beer in Sri Lanka because it is better than what we have here in Thailand! I wear the Uncle Sam costume whenever I travel overseas so that people know I’m an American 🙂

  10. I think us expats that live in countries other than where we grow up, always miss something. When I first left South Africa for America, there were SO many foods I missed terribly and would stock up on them during trips home. And living in Sri Lanka we miss things from the States like berries, kale, peaches, figs, cherries.. okay its not quite a match with your list of hot dogs and Mexican food!

    We are here in the US visiting family, and a visit to Whole Foods was like a trip to Disneyland for us! We could NOT believe the huge amount of choices and variety of produce and the like. The overall consumerism though is NOT something I miss. Actually I wrote a post that is the polar opposite of yours and addressed all the culture shock that we experience in the US after life in Asia.

    The photo of you in the matching shorts and top is well, priceless. MAGA hat? Seriously? One word… WHY?

    Peta

    • I can see why you miss those northern fruits in Sri Lanka – we can’t get those in Thailand either without paying a fortune. I never cared that much for fruits, but I love vegetables. I can get very fresh broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, onions, and peppers here.

      What were some of the food you missed from South Africa? Do you have a link to the post you mentioned? I think I read it but I’d like to see it again.

      Sometimes I insert things in my posts to see if readers are paying attention. Yes, I did actually buy a MAGA hat. I need a disguise when I visit my family in Oklahoma.

  11. Uh, Jeff? You live in Bangkok, you can’t complain about Mexican food. I live in Rayong where there is very little farang restaurants (I don’t want Swiss or German foooooddd!), I can complain 😛

    Have you tried Sunrise Tacos? I think they might be your Taco Bell fix. Also, my friend and his brothers (they are from Mexico) have an excellent restaurant called The Missing Burro. You may thank me later.

    Cheese and wine? Again, we have it at Tesco and Tops, so you must have it too. Yes, I miss a $5 bottle from Trader Joe’s, but hey, it could be worse, we could live somewhere really remote where we don’t even have access to it.

    Hot dogs. Yeah, but you know what I recently discovered? S & P Bakery does hot dogs with mustard relish on Weds. Not Kosher, but better than those other hot dog concoctions with pork floss that you usually find.

    B & N. Don’t you have English bookstores over there? Jeff! Go brave the heat and humidity! We only have Thai bookstores over here! And Amazon, I’m pretty sure, now delivers to Thailand.

    Clothes – yeahhhh, nothing like being an XXL in T-land. So good for the ego. Nice outfit by the way. Sometimes export shops have clothes for us peeps. And I’m going to say it because I’m half Thai and get away with it, some Thais these days are getting BIG, right? You look fine! It’s just a label! 😛

    When is your next trip back? Maybe planning to go will help soothe you over. Or, have friends or family bring stuff back! My friend D smuggled bottles of craft beer in her pockets! Hahahahhaa.

    I could go for some Cheese Nips and Grape Nuts right about now.

    • I live in a neighborhood called Sammakorn in Saphan Sung. We have a Villa Market but nothing in the way of English bookstores or Mexican food. However, one of my best friends lives hear the Missing Burrito. I’ll have to give that a try!

      That laughing Bird wine at Tesco for 500 baht for a big bottle is affordable but it is pretty hard to drink. I’m not a wine snob or anything but that isn’t the best. Sometimes Wine Connection has good deals and those wines taste infinitely better.

      Yeah, some Thai people are getting big. It is all that sugar people dump in the food, and those amazing iced coffees with sweetened milk. And the deep fried chicken. And the…I could write a whole blog post on how Thai food is the healthier and unhealthiest cuisine in the world.

      Thanks for the tips and comments!

  12. Well I don’t know why, but I never imagined you were soooo American! Beer/Mexican food/hotdogs! I don’t know why this comes as such a surprise to me. I guess because for as long as I’ve known you you been living in the Alaskan wilderness (bet there’s not many hot dogs there) or in Bangkok, or travelling the world. Missing your nieces I get that, and the price of cheese and wine though I can easily live without either.
    What do I miss about Australia? OMG the birdsong – there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. The heat. The landscape and the bush. The wildlife. Family. Think I’m due for a trip home.
    Alison

    • You can take the man out of America, but you can’t take the American out of the man, I suppose. In Thailand I drink beer out of necessity – the food is so spicy I need beer to dissolve the heat. And I was raised on Tex-Mex and do miss it.

      I forget that you are Australian – I think of you living in Vancouver or the Yukon. We are two of 250,000,000 people on Earth living in a country that we were not born in.

  13. I’ve never lived anywhere but in Canada, but I can appreciate the sense of loss for things from home … however I doubt hot dogs would ever make my list 😉
    I laughed at the line “I miss nighttime temperatures below 80°F”. I’m definitely not a hot weather person and I wouldn’t last long anywhere that didn’t promise cool nights and the glory of fall (LOVE the photo!!)

    • Bangkok doesn’t cool down at night especially during the hot season and that is one of the hardest things. The rainy season started about 3 days ago and as I look out my window here at 8am huge storm clouds are rolling in. All my windows are open, a nice breeze is blowing through, the cats are asleep on the porch. A few days ago I’d have been running the A/C already and dreading going outside!

  14. Jeff that image of you in the change room is now branded in my memory. I hope you took that one. Perhaps in life there are things we take forgranted until we can’t access them. I haven’t had a hot dog in a lot of years but just reading how much you miss them had me craving one. I hope you get to see your nieces play ball again soon. that tugged at my heart. Perhaps you could arrive at Mr America.

    • I didn’t get that outfit, but I got one that is even better. When I showed my wife she was shocked. I don’t think I’ll be allowed to clothes shop unsupervised again.

      You make a good point about not knowing what we miss until we can’t access it. I should have listed that I miss the mountains of Alaska and fresh air, since I can’t get that here.

      If I make it back to some basketball games I’ll have to wear the Uncle Sam costume to thoroughly embarrass them.

  15. Melissa Rosaaen says:

    Jeff! So perfect. The only thing I would add is drinking water straight out of a tap with no need to get your biome in shape……

    • Good point. We have a filter in our kitchen but when we travel I hate having to buy bottled water because the tap water is bad. What do you miss about Thailand now that you are gone?

  16. I’ve never tried Thai beer. How would you describe those three brands compared to Bintang? Or Beerlao — the only other Southeast Asian beer I’ve tried so far. I had a completely different experience about clothing size. One time when I was still living in Bandung (the city where I went to college) I bought an L-sized shirt. But apparently it was supposed to be exported to North America, so I ended up having a very loose shirt instead (I did try it before buying it, but for some reason I realized it was way too big for me only after I got home).

  17. I think Beerlao is a little better. I can’t remember Bintang but it is probably comparable. On a hot day with spicy Thai food the beer here is drinkable but to drink it for the sake of drinking isn’t all that great. There is defiantly a growing craft brew scene but the prices are often 4 or 5 times higher.

  18. Thanks for the laughs and for perking up my spirits as I consider the possibility of sailing homeward next spring. Totally miss Mexican food and autumn and family and friends. And I dream of being able to have Amazon orders delivered to my door rather than rely on the kindness of visiting friends traveling 1/2 way around the world, charming their way through customs to bring us boat parts (just as Lexie Klein about her trip to visit us in Madagascar last year). If you had a boat, I’d tell you to sail onward to Langkawi to stock up on wine, but that probably isn’t very helpful here. Perhaps a friend with a boat …..

    • I’ll start an international smuggling ring to sail in wine from Australia! Thanks for the tip. Lexie bringing you boat parts is one of the best stories I’ve heard here in the blogosphere.

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