So this is Part 2 of my FAQ, hopefully this, and Part 1 will be helpful for your travelling and volunteering 🙂
Once again these aren’t in a finite order but I have tried to bunch them all together in a vague sort of order; sort of; just go with it haha
Do we get air con? – The houses that volunteers stay in don’t have air con but each room does have fans in it.
I like this funky old lock 🙂
Do I need locks on my stuff? – When travelling anywhere I would always advise people to lock their luggage, both hold and carry on, as well as any backpacks they will be taking with them. This is just to be safe, after all you don’t want anything to go missing do you? In terms of the houses volunteers stay in, I would say you don’t need to lock anything, when I was a volunteer I had a MacBook Pro, and iPad and an iPhone and I didn’t lock them away. It is obviously up to you if you choose to further lock your belongings when at the volunteer houses.
Can I bring laptops/tablets/iPads? – I have mentioned before that I brought all of these things with me when I was a volunteer and didn’t come up against any issues. It is up to you if you want to risk expensive equipment but as long as you are safe with them and don’t flash the cash a lot nothing will happen to them. Tablets and laptops are great ways of keeping in contact with family and friends and an even better backup for photos and video that you certainly don’t want to loose.
What is the voltage in Thailand? – The voltage in Thailand is 220-240AC, 50 Hertz.
Either of these plugs will work perfectly in Thailand, if your plugs aren’t the same then get a converter that turns to this plug type
What kind of plugs does Thailand have? – Thailand doesn’t have standardized plugs as most other countries do, you can get double or triple pronged plugs. If you are bringing plugged devices with you then get an exchange plug that goes to an American standard pug. These work perfectly here, but as with the Thai issued plugs be careful when using electrical items in Thailand, you often get surges when you plug something into the mains and some appliances will often build up huge static energy or simply just electrocute you. Just be careful 🙂
Do the volunteer houses have WiFi? – Yes they do. It is a standard modem though so don’t be downloading loads of stuff and thinking twenty of you can all be on Facebook and Skype at the same time. Be respectful of others and log off the wifi when you aren’t using it, if someone mentions they are having issues with the Internet then log off and let them use it, they might want to talk to their family and friends as much as you do. Make sure you don’t just restart the router when there are several people using the Internet as this is selfish and often people can loose valuable information when this happens. It can also reek havoc with the router, so just leave it be.
Internet cafes in Thailand are great, they have really fast connections, comfy chairs and are SUPER cheap
Are there Internet cafes? – Surin has hundreds of Internet cafes, the closest being by the side of Big C, so only a 5 minute walk. They are 10฿ an hour and are normally Skype enabled with cameras and microphones, these are great alternatives to getting online if the house wifi is proving to be problematic. You could also cross the street outside the volunteer accommodation and visit Cafe Amazon, a coffee shop that has free, fast wifi.
Is there a post office? – Surin does indeed have a post office that you can pick up and send from. It can be a bit of a confusing place so if you need to visit then I would advise you to take a Thai member of staff with you so that you get or send exactly what you need to.
What do I do about getting a phone? – Phones are very easy to pick up in Thailand, Big C, as well as several local vendors sell cheap phones that are perfect for a stay in Thailand. They are normally around 500฿, which is around £10, and they come with a Thai number. The people who sell them will normally change the settings to English if you ask the, nicely as well 🙂
Typical phone that volunteers pick up in Thailand
What is mobile phone coverage like? – Surin has great mobile phone coverage, even in the mountains at Khao Yao and the jungles around the elephant village I have never had a issue with getting signal. Mobile Internet coverage is not as good as it is in Bangkok but that is due to our geographical location; my iPhone normally has ‘E’, not that I know what that means, but that loads reasonably fast when I am not on wifi.
Can I get camera film? – In all honesty I haven’t ever seen camera film in Thailand but this is probably down to everything now being digital. If you do need film then I would recommend you bring it with you from your home country, just be careful that it doesn’t get too hot and effect the film.
One of the age old questions about Thailand; Tap Water?
Can I drink tap water? – Water in general is always a topic of concern for volunteers. People hear horror stories about dysentery and all sorts of other horrible waterborne infections and I can tell you that I brush my teeth with tap water and shower in regular pumped water everyday. It obviously gets in my eyes, any cuts and I have used it only tattoos and I certainly don’t have any horrible infections. I wouldn’t suggest you drink tap water on a regular basis but if you are brushing your teeth then you will be fine. The water in all street restaurants is fine to drink as is the ice, they are normally brought in from an outside seller so are perfectly safe.
I am vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian, what can I eat? – As much as I hate to admit it, Thai people don’t understand vegetarians, every time I take a vegetarian or vegan to a restaurant the staff can’t quite come to grips with the fact that a customer doesn’t eat meat. But don’t worry, you can eat food in Thailand still. It is much the same as it is in the Western world, just make sure you tell people you are vegetarian and they will supplement oyster sauce for mushroom sauce, chicken for tofu and fish sauce for soy sauce. It comes across as daunting to be a vegetarian in Thailand but it really isn’t too bad.
I have food allergies, how do I know my food is safe? – Volunteers must always tell us if they have any allergies or intolerances so that we can make sure that you know what to look out for when going for food without a Thai speaking individual. One of the best things you can do is have a piece of paper with your allergies or intolerances, written in Thai that you can show to restaurants or vendors so that they know what not to give you. You can also just learn what the Thai is, something that I would advise in case you loose your piece of paper; learning one phrase might be the difference between a reaction and a safe eating experience.
Everyone’s best friend; Mr Mosquito!!!
Do I need to being malaria tablets? – I am not a medical professional so everything I tell you in terms of medical advice is not verified by a doctor, my is just my own experience and that of the Thai staff here. I didn’t take malaria pills and still don’t, I have been here for 7 months and haven’t gotten malaria 🙂 Pills often have very bad side effects including headaches, dizziness and can even make the mosquito bites you will get even worse. You don’t want to look like a red Dalmatian so me and the Thai staff would advise you not to take them whilst volunteering in Surin; other places in Thailand will obviously have a different threat level so research any individual travel locations before you leave. Borders and major jungle areas and mountains are the sorts of places you will need malaria pills.
Medical kits are a good idea but something this size is a little excessive haha
Shall I bring my own medical kit? – Being prepared is never a bad thing, I would always encourage volunteers to bring maybe a packet of paracetamol, plasters or their equivalent and also some diarrhea and stomach settling tablets. Chances are you will get Thai tummy in your first few days and having tablets will just make you feel so much better. I would also recommend people to have re hydration sachets on hand but these and all other medication can be purchased in Thailand so don’t freak out if you didn’t pack any.
A dog that salivates does not constitute Rabies. If you do ever get bitten by any animal, you do need to make sure that you inform a member of staff immediately.
Do I need to get a rabies shot? – For my degree I was working very closely with dangerous and exotic animals and I didn’t have a rabies shot, I am famous for playing with every animal I come into contact with, and I still haven’t had a rabies shot. There is the tiniest chance that you will ever come into contact with rabid animals whilst on one of our projects, obviously if you go on to do other work with animals then it might be advisable to get your rabies injections. It’s entirely up to you, but it is an incredibly expensive series of injections that I think you realistically don’t need whilst being with us. If you ever do think an animal is rabid then don’t pet it 🙂 simples.
Is it true that HIV is prominent in Thailand? – HIV is an issue in Thailand. But as with any country the best way to protect yourself from HIV is not to be having unprotected sex with anyone that you don’t trust. Granted you may get drunk one evening and meet the man or woman of your dreams and forget to use protection, it does happen, chances are you won’t contract HIV but you do need to be responsible and not let yourself get into that situation in the first place.
Haggling is a way of life for a lot of people in Thailand
Can I bargain/haggle with people? – In general the answer would be yes. You obviously can’t haggle with people in shops like 7/11 but street vendors and markets are normally perfectly accepting of haggling. There are obviously establishments that won’t haggle so just check with a member of staff if the one you are going to does haggle. Just be respectful when you haggle, £5 to you might not be anything but could be food for a family for an entire day so I normally stick with going to the nearest 50 or 100฿.
What is the least amount of money I can survive on each day? – I live of 100฿ or less a day. This buys meal a huge meal at lunch time which tides me over for the day and a couple of bottles of tasty apple juice. Granted I don’t eat a lot and always have water at my house so when it comes to volunteers I would say the least you can live comfortably on is about 150฿ a day, but you can stretch money as much as you want here, it is easy to be thrifty here as it is so cheap.
Yes Thailand is hot but it isn’t a music festival so dressing like this ^^^^ is not appropriate for Thailand.
This is the more appropriate way to dress in Thailand, it is very important to remember that this isn’t your home country and people here, think about clothing in a different way
How should I dress in Thailand? – In Surin you don’t have to worry to much about what you wear. In some areas of Thailand you do need to be very respectful and show no bendy bits but Surin does not follow these restrictions. You can wear shorts and a tshirt if you want, just don’t be wearing hot pants and a bandeau shirt; this is still Thailand so you do need to be respectful of others. I would always suggest you have your shoulders covered in some way, vest tops are ok but spaghetti straps tops would be frowned on. Nights out in Surin are similar to the western world, again no hot pants and bandeau tops but don’t be afraid to look glamorous with what you wear.
What do I wear when I go swimming? – At swimming pools it is acceptable to wear bikinis and costumes but if you are at the Elephant village or the lake where people go to swim then you need to be more covered up, shorts and a shirt are advisable; this is to show respect to Thais, you are in their country after all.
Thai language always makes me think of the Pokemon ‘Unknown’
I don’t speak Thai, is it hard to learn? – Thai isn’t too hard to learn once you get the hang of it. Like with most things practice makes perfect. As a volunteer I would just make sure you get simple phrases like, ‘hello’, ‘how are you’ and ‘thank you’ memorised. Simple gestures like this will impress Thais and bridge the gap between you and them. In Surin people don’t speak English so you will need to learn a little Thai in order to live the respectful life that Thais lead. If you want to learn more Thai then the Internet will be your best friend, I am currently teaching myself Thai from a combination of my friends help, the Internet and English language learning books. I follow the topics that they cover in the simplest books and just do the Thai version instead of the English 🙂
A super smiley Thai hill tribe woman. There is so much variation in people across Thailand from the hill tribes people to the crazy bustling metropolis of Bangkok
What are Thai people like? – Thailand is known as the ‘Land of Smiles’ and that name doesn’t come from nowhere. Thai people are incredibly friendly and welcoming and always smiling. They are also very respectful people who are very spiritual, as with anyone in life, treat people as you would wish to be treated and you will get on just fine.
Can I bring an elephant back with me? – No, they are all mine and I will not have you taking them from me 🙂
A lot of the animals are very cute in Thailand; if you are wanting to take one home with you then make sure you check out your countries animal transport rules. One think you can do is check out the Soi Dog Foundation for the best ways that you can help.
Can I bring an animal back to my country with me? – I will go with no to this one. Obviously if you contact the relevant people in your home country as well as in Thailand then I am sure it is perfectly feasible, but I have no idea how to go about that. Animals aren’t toys though and do live entire lives so please remember that, what seems like a good idea at the time, might not be such a great idea when you are back in your home country.
How do I get rainbow hair like yours? – You must be born half elf and have magic pixie friends that come in the night and make your hair represent the pixie seasons 🙂
Hopefully all of these questions and their answers were somewhat useful to you all; they were questions that I was asked when I was thinking about writing this post, as well as ones that I ALWAYS get asked by prospective and new volunteers. There may be hundreds of questions I didn’t answer so feel free to ask me anything you still want to know 😀
Don’t forget to take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for all of our projects and how you can make a difference.
And as always make sure you check out my own Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram pages, they are a fantastic way of seeing all the other silly things I get up to every day 😀
Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto