I have been told by friends here in Thailand that I need to blog about all the things I discover that are unusual or different during my first few weeks here for, after a time, I will no longer see them. It is amazing how quickly human beings adapt to new places and new circumstances and what was ‘new and different’ becomes ordinary and expected. For example, in my home in Chiangmai, every electrical outlet looks like the one pictured on the left. The left side can be used for plugs on typical Thai electrical appliances and the right side can be used for plugs on typical American electrical appliance – if they are geared for 220 volts of electricity. We have discovered that my laptop computer and Mom’s Optilec Viewing Magnifier (two appliances that we brought from the USA) can be used with either 110 volt or 220 volt current.
Another discovery in this home in Chiangmai is the shower and the way in which water is heated for use in the shower. Each bathroom has a small electrical heater which, when turned on, will heat the water for the shower as it passes through the heater. As the volume of water increases, it is possible to increase the power in the heater in order to produce perfectly heated water each time. The shower head is attached to a flexible hose and can be mounted in a fixed position or used to target specific areas of the body. I know that these little water heaters are familiar to people in most countries of the world, but they are new to most Americans visiting here. They do conserve electricity (or gas), because they are only on when someone is actually taking a shower. Most of the time, I use very little hot water in the shower, because I am now living in a warm climate. But, come winter, when the temperature drops to a ‘frigid’ 50 degrees Fahrenheit in Chiangmai, I am sure I will appreciate a little hot water for my showers.
I am also amazed at the speed with which plants grow in this climate. Just to give you an example, my landlord installed a new water tank before I moved into the house. When the workmen installed the water tank, which is seven feet tall, they cut the plants in front of the tank off at ground level. I have been in the house for just four weeks today and look how tall the plants have grown in that short time! They are now three feet tall, though they look shorter because the tank sits on an elevated platform. Every home in Thailand has a water tank to store water. This is because city water service is still not completely dependable. If city water is cut off for any reason, Mom and I have at least a full tank of water to use before we have to buy any water from a local vendor. There is a pump that automatically keeps the tank full. The same pump maintains the water pressure inside the home, so we always have a steady flow of water from any faucet or shower. These are just three of the ‘typical’ things that were new to us as we moved into this house.