One thing I noticed when I moved to Thailand, was the ever-present logo of Pornhub everywhere. Mostly in the form of stickers, affixed to motorcycles, cars & even backpacks. I assumed people just liked it and didn’t think too much of it.
Last weekend while travelling in BTS, I saw the logo, of all places, on a kid’s T-Shirt.
On the other arm, the kid has a Durex logo and in the front the logo of the beer Chang. I really didn’t understand why anyone would dress up their kid like this, so I started digging around on the interwebs.
However, considering how people are dressing up their kids in this and how “porn” is a popular syllable in last names here, I am pretty sure most Thais don’t even know what that website is and what they are endorsing.
Not much unlike the presence of Nazi insignia everywhere in the country.
In Thailand, I see EV everywhere. I had even been on a few EV Taxis. But, before, this, I had never driven an EV before, in Thailand or elsewhere. My association with EVs started and ended with this article I researched 14 years ago.
This week, we had many holidays, so we decided to take a day-trip to a nearby beach. Opening the car rental app, I was surprised to see that the cheapest car for that day was an EV. Normally I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, but the deal was too good to pass up. So I went ahead and booked it, an Ora Good Cat.
The first few hours after booking were a bit stressful. I had never driven an EV before, much less a rental. So I started researching everything about how to drive an EV in Thailand.
First, I made a list of EV charging providers in Thailand.
The below providers do not allow expats to register at all, because a Thai ID number and verification is necessary.
Using this information, I was able to locate charging stations near the beach, on the highway while coming back and near the rental agency to charge it before returning.
Having completed my research, now it was time to finally drive an EV in Thailand!
The first impression of the car is that it is actually much bigger than it looks. It is the size of a Suzuki Swift or Hyundai i20. The rental came fully loaded – Apple Wireless CarPlay, wireless charging, Sunroof, partial autonomous driving assist.
The CarPlay display is big (and wide). Apple Maps can even detect that the car is an EV and overlays EV charging stations all over the map. Apparently it can even take range information from the car and warn you if you are too far from the nearest charging station, but I didn’t dare test that out.
Anyways, this is not a car review, so I will now focus on the EV aspects of the drive.
The first thing that comes to mind when driving an EV for the first time is – power. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I had driven high-end ICE cars and this low-end EV blows them out of the water. The torque is instantaneous, linear and never-ending. If the cheapest EV feels like this, what do the premium EVs feel like?
Overtaking on highways is a breeze. Just a tap of the accelerator and the car races ahead, pushing you back in its seats. I pushed the car up to 180kmph and it still felt like it had more torque left.
However, all this was marred by range anxiety. I couldn’t help but notice the range indicator all the way to the beach, counting down kms as we drove. Am sure seasoned EV drivers have trained themselves to not notice these things too much, but it was always on my mind. I even felt guilty playing music – will it discharge the battery even faster? The biggest power draw (after driving), though, is the AC. It easily takes away 20-30% of the promised range.
While on the way to the beach, we stopped at a gas station to pick up some coffee. There was an EV charger there so I decided to top up for 10 minutes. Unfortunately the charger was out of service. Bad sign.
We reached the beach exhausting 60% battery with 40% left. I immediately went to the charging station I had decided on in advance. Fortunately, there was an empty slot. Charging the car was easy. I had already downloaded the EA Anywhere app and a quick scan of the QR code opened up the door on the side with the charging cable. The app guided me through the rest of the process and I was up charging in no time.
This was a 40KW DC charger so I went from 40% to 95% in less than an hour. There are faster DC chargers available as well (I couldn’t find one near the beach) but most other chargers are AC and much slower.
Technically I could have left my car to charge and gone to the beach (the app would have notified me when charging was finished), but I was afraid someone would disconnect the charger so I hung around. Later I found out the charger gets locked while charging and cannot be removed without stopping manually from the app. There’s also an overtime fee if you don’t disconnect the charger within 5 minutes of finishing charging.
Fast charging an EV is a dramatic affair. The EV’s cooling system is on full blast, the charger is blowing wind like a hurricane. An MG4 in the next bay overheated twice and stopped charging.
While returning, I was more frugal with performance and drove steadily at 90. I needed to return the car with at least 40% charge, so I was a little anxious, still. I even switched off the AC for the last few kms when the charge dropped below 50%. Luckily, I was able to return the car with 46% battery left.
Overall, driving an EV was both fun and stressful. I have never driven anything quite like it. However, the stress is too much for someone like me who already suffers from anxiety. But I am sure the second time will be easier than the first.
It is now 3 years since the beginning of the COVID pandemic and since we started wearing face masks. Luckily, me and my family haven’t been infected till now. In India, most people didn’t take masks seriously to begin with. But now, masks are a mere distant memory of more inconvenient times. Which is why, it is such a culture shock to see how serious Thais still are about them.
In Thailand, it seems like masks are here to stay. Although, the government has removed the compulsions of masks, the Thais have decided to stick with them for now.
Almost every Thai wears masks, all the time, everywhere. On the streets, in shopping malls, at restaurants, in pubs and in offices. In offices, they wear masks even when sitting at their desks all day. When eating or drinking something, the masks are temporarily lowered for the bite/sip and then pulled back up. Basically, the exact opposite of Indians.
I assume Thais take off their masks when they are at home and while sleeping, however I have no evidence for the same. Overall, I think it is commendable how Thais are so serious about protecting their health and of those around them.
Of course, none of this compares with the Chinese, who have taken COVID precautions to whole new (crazy) levels. I still see people in full hazmat suits at airports everywhere and I know that when I look at their passports, they will turn out to be Chinese.
A few months ago, I joined a gym. I was not getting any younger and thought I should take better care of my health. I started going 2 months ago, and thankfully am able to maintain discipline. In these 2 months, I had a chance to observe the other patrons and categorise them.
The Gym Bodybuilder
The bodybuilders are serious about working out. One look at their physique and it is clear that they have been working out for years. They don’t come to the gym to undertake in any kind of nonsense; they know exactly what they want to do, do it and leave. They hardly talk to anyone.
Mostly men, the sole aim of these guys is to lift as much as possible. Form be damned. Looking at them, it is clear that they are lifting way beyond what they should. In fact some of them have movements which are borderline funny. Almost like dancing. Or like fits.
The Gym Grunters
These are mostly men and with each rep, they let out a savage grunt which can be heard well outside the gym. The surprising thing is that they grunt like this even when lifting lighter weights. The only reason I can think they do this is for attention. They want everyone to look at them while they are lifting, so end up sounding like cavemen. At the end of each set, they also throw their barbells/dumbbells with such force as to shake the floor.
The Social Media champs
These people spend more time on their phones than working out. Most of the time they are glued to their phones and in between their social media chores, manage to do a few sets. They also ask the trainers to take pictures & videos of them working out.
The Technical Guys
These guys calculate everything. They calculate exactly how much time it took for them to complete a set. Time their rest period to the second between sets. They also obsess over their heartbeat rates and select their weights according to it.
These guys are always busy doing something. Between sets they are always fiddling with their weights continuously or doing some light exercises. They never sit still and always fidgeting around.
The Swole Ladies
These ladies are seriously ripped. They are the female versions of the gym bodybuilders. They are no nonsense and take their workouts very seriously.
The attention-seeking ladies
Mostly Thai women, who spend at least an hour getting ready for the gym. They all come in expensive cars and have personal trainers at their disposal. They spend less time working out and more time being massaged/fondled/chatted up by their trainers. Most of them are already in good shape so for them, the gym is just a social get together. I find them the most irritating.
The Gym clean freaks
Mostly Thai men and women, they use sanitisers to wipe the bench/seat before and after every exercise. Not only the benches, they also wipe the dumbbells/barbells/handles. They have accepted that no one except them will go to such lengths to maintain hygiene and are cool with it.
These people are morbidly obese. They confine themselves to the cardio section of the gym and rarely waddle into the weights section. They dress inappropriately as per their body shapes and are always dripping with sweat. Strangely, they don’t exercise too much. They move very slowly on their treadmills/bicycles/rowing machines; their exercises are very low intensity. However, they are in the gym for hours. When leaving, they always act as if they had a very intense workout and are beat. It doesn’t bother them that they have made no progress in months.
I love coffee. In fact I love it as much as I love beer. However, unlike beer, I need coffee. I need it desperately to start my day and function as a human.
Part 1: Cheapdisgusting Coffee
The earliest I can remember drinking coffee is during college, to stay up at night to pretend to study. Since we were poor, it was Nescafé Instant coffee that we had. It was disgusting, but it was stimulating enough to keep one awake. The cold coffee at Anna’s was slightly better, although he didn’t put enough of the powder in, unless you nagged him. Anna also used the same Nescafé instant shit, so there was a theoretical limit to how good it could be.
Now, I would rather have an injection of caffeine directly into my veins than drink this cheap shit.
For the real brewed version, we went to Café Coffee Day or Barista. My favourite drink at Café Coffee Day was Iced Eskimo, a kind of slushy which took a long time to melt and finish. At Barista, I almost always had a Vanilla Frappe. Needless to say, we couldn’t afford this regularly.
During the first few years of work, I alternated between Nescafé instant at home and the office coffee machine. Around this time I also went lactose intolerant so started having my coffee black (Americano).
Part 2: Switch to Brewed Coffee
Eventually, I bought my own cheap brewing machine. I used to buy beans from Barista and used a grinder to grind the beans. I remember once I got coffee beans from Brazil and they were amazing and strong. After I switched back to my regular beans, I had caffeine withdrawal for a week.
Soon, I started suffering from acidity from the strong black coffee.
I read about cold brewing and how it is easier on the stomach, so started doing that. The results were great, but the prep was too troublesome and messy.
I also stopped having coffee after noons, as it didn’t let me sleep at night. I also discovered that the Chinese don’t really drink much coffee and view it as an unhealthy drink; preferring tea instead.
Eventually, we almost stopped going to Cafe Coffee Day and almost always preferred Barista.
No prep required, all one had to do was mix and drink.
It was easy on the stomach, while still packing a punch.
For the next few years, Sleepy Owl poured over ice was all I had at home. I remember during the COVID lockdowns, I was once almost out of it and had to ration till I could get another box delivered.
My Sleepy Owl recipe (after a lot of trial-and-error) was:
2 cubes of sugar
75ml Sleepy Owl Cold Brew
I carried Sleepy Owl’s brew bags when I travelled, too.
During this time, I also developed a morning coffee ritual. I wouldn’t look at my phone after waking up. Instead, I would make myself some cold brew and then sit next to the window with my coffee, looking out. I would do nothing else during this time, except sip slowly on my cold brew and savour each sip. I would do this for up to an hour before I would check my phone and start my day. It was beautiful.
Alas, it was not to last forever.
Eventually I moved to Thailand, along with the last 2 boxes of my Sleepy Owl cold brew. They lasted over a month, but eventually I had to look for alternatives.
Part 4: Thailand andNespresso
I looked for Cold Brew in Thailand, but it was rare and not easy to get as concentrate. A fiend of mine suggested Nespresso; so I got a Nespresso machine. It combined the advantages of freshly ground coffee (pods are sealed) and convenience (just pop a pod in and press a button). To keep my acidity in control, I stick to pods with strength levels of 5 and below.
It is no sleepy owl, but at least it tastes good and I can have different flavours every day. My favourite pods are Tokyo Lungo and Shanghai Lungo. My recipe is:
2 cubes of sugar
A shot of Nespresso Lungo
There’s no Cafe Coffee Day or Barista here, but I love Cafe Amazon, a Thai coffee chain. I love their Iced Espresso.
My morning coffee is still the best part of my day. I can’t wait to return to India once again and get myself some Sleepy Owl & Barista.
When I was making a Facebook account recently, it asked me what my Hometown was. I thought about it for a while, but didn’t have an answer. Looks like I have had such a nomadic life, I don’t have a Hometown.
I sold my last motorcycle back in 2015 & since then have not experienced a motorcycle road trip. A few weeks ago, I bought a new(ish) motorcycle from a departing Expat. Its the Stallions Centaur CT400 with a 400cc single cylinder 4 valve engine. I have ridden it many times since then, but only local short commutes. It goes without saying, the feeling of wanderlust has been building up inside me since.
Today morning, I went about my usual schedule and even started my office work. After taking stock of my work, I realized I had nothing too urgent to finish today. I decided to take the day off and head out to the highway on the motorcycle.
I settled on Ko Lan, an island around 160km away. To get there, you need to ride till Bali Hai Pier at Pattaya and then take a ferry to the island. I hastily collected a few things, put on Pink Floyd’s Pulse and headed out on the highway. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that the fastest highway to Pattaya doesn’t allow motorcycles on it. Fortunately, the other highway which does allow Motorcycles was also more suitable for Motorcycle rides. Highway 3 is a winding 4-6 lane road which hugs the coast and passes near many beaches.
After escaping the mad traffic of Bangkok, I was finally able to open up the throttle on the highway. The motorcycle performs very well on the highway, cruising easily between 100-120kmph without too many vibrations (For a single cylinder engine). There’s ample reserve power for going faster for overtaking, too. I was able to reach Pattaya in 2.5 hours.
I was quickly disappointed to find the pier deserted and learnt that boats to Ko Lan were stopped because of the pandemic. Dejected, I decided to explore Pattaya instead and headed to Pattaya Beach. Thankfully, Chonburi province allows dine-in and I was able to have lunch at the beach.
After getting my feet wet in the water and relaxing for sometime, I headed back to Bangkok. I wanted to stay and watch the sunset but the constant attempts by she-pimps to persuade me to get a “massage” got on my nerves. My phone ran out of battery on the way back, and I lost my way twice on the outskirts of Bangkok but eventually reached home.
After going on a motorcycle road trip after so many years, I feel exhilarated. Needless to say, there will be many more road trips in the months to come.
For as long as I have had a career, I have lived off of credit cards. I handled my expenses using these cards and paid it back at the end of the month. Using these cards, I also purchased things that I couldn’t afford and paid the money back over many months. At one point of time, I had up to 4 credit cards in my wallet, all maxed out.
With my recent move and a long overdue financial reset, I decided to get rid of credit cards from my life once and for all. I was anyways going to get rid of my Indian cards, but I also decided not to get any in Thailand.
At first it was scary and I almost ended up applying for one during a weak moment but eventually pulled through. Now it has been more than a month without a credit card and I couldn’t be happier. For the first time in my life, I am actually sticking to my budget goals.
I hope I am able to stave off the temptation and maintain this going forward.
I have been living in Thailand for around a month now. I have visited here many times before, but this is the first time I am actually living here. As such, my interaction with Thais has been quite different from other times and for most part, I have found them to be inscrutable. However some aspects of their (unique) character has struck me, which I would describe below:
Most Thais have their main social circle at work. Unlike people who come to office just to work and then go home, most Thais are actually pretty good friends with their colleagues. They even spend extended hours at work (even if it is not needed) just to be close to their colleagues/friends. I found this very weird for the first few days; people at work well past dinner, but then I realized it is more of a “social” thing rather than an “overwork” thing.
Thais love ice in everything. All their drinks are 70% ice. Even some of their desserts are full of ice. Whatever ice is left after enjoying the drink/dessert, they happily eat.
Thais are extremely polite. Most Thais (especially in the service industry) will go out of their way to be courteous. On top of that, they are also very non-confrontational which means you will hardly see fights or arguments on the streets.
For some reason, most of Bangkok malls are full of banks. Most malls have branches of all the major banks and they are open for extended hours and over the weekend. Strangely, the main branches elsewhere have short hours on weekdays and are closed on weekends.
Thais don’t seem to be very fond of wearing jewelry. Also, jewelry stores are not very common in markets or malls (Unlike India) and can only be found in some specific areas.
Thais love the colour pink. Unlike other countries, where the colour Pink would be considered overtly feminine, in Thailand, pink is common everywhere. You will find things like pink clothes (common among both genders), pink cars, pink branding, pink bikes, pink buildings everywhere.
Thais love air conditioning. Be it offices, restaurants, malls, taxis, air conditioning is typically dialed down to an insanely low temperature. Most people from other countries would find indoors too chilly.
Out of all the countries I have been to, Thailand easily has the highest ratio of women in the workforce. Almost everyone in the service industry is a woman, in the tech industry, the ratio is much higher than other countries & women are present at all levels. In fact 15-20% of taxi drivers I get here are also women, which, frankly, I have never seen anywhere else.
Looking forward to getting to know them even better over the next few years.