University of Wisconsin–Madison

Babies on Motorbikes

After being in Bangkok for over a little more than 2 months, I have become accustomed to the things that surprised me so much when I had first arrived. It’s amazing how fast the culture shock that may have once overwhelmed you can vanish; the things that once “shocked” you quickly become the everyday norm and you find yourself back in an everyday comfortable routine. Of course Bangkok continues to surprise me, but in ways that no longer make me feel as if I’m completely out of my comfort zone. If you open yourself up to a culture and the differences within it, it may surprise you how quickly that difference can become your new normal… at least it did for me.

For the past three weeks I have had several visitors: my boyfriend followed by my mother and sister. It was funny to watch all of their facial expressions and reactions when they had come in contact with something that they had never seen before…especially since I probably reacted the same exact way during the earlier stages of my arrival to Bangkok. For example, motorbikes are by far the quickest and easiest way of transportation here, not only for one person, but for families as well. What I mean by families is that babies will be sitting in the front as the father drives with one hand while carefully embracing the baby with the other…with the mother sitting on the back of the bike. I could not comprehend how this was legal when I had first arrived. My reaction:

  1.     THAT’S A BABY!!
  2.     You’re not going to at least wear helmets!?

Although I could not fathom doing such a thing back home, I wondered if it was because we have been constantly reminded of the dangers in doing such things. Did these people not know the risk? Or was the risk acknowledged but this mode of transportation had just become a cultural norm? Whatever it may be, babies on motorbikes still scare me, but it no longer causes a reaction quite like it did at the beginning. But for my visitors, I laughed as their mouths hung wide open watching the families on motorbikes drive by.

Getting to show my loved ones how I see Bangkok and how my life in Bangkok has shaped itself has been such a rewarding experience. I am so thankful that some of my best memories abroad will be able to include them, and we will always be able to look back on our journeys together. Of course, I still have so much to learn about Bangkok and Thai culture, but it’s an amazing feeling to be able to introduce a country to your loved ones through your eyes and personal experiences that have shaped your new every day norms.

3 4 5 6 1 2