Same Same But Different

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

While I was in Bali, I had a little recurring bit in my blog called “Things Cheaper than a Starbucks Tall White Mocha.” I was amazed at how cheap everything was in Bali, and it also rings true here in Thailand.

My mind has officially converted to driving on the left side of the road, the 24-hour clock (I finally had to learn what 18:30 meant…), and also the Thai currency: baht. I no longer think in terms of the American dollar, which is a little bizarre to me. I’ll be at a restaurant and the meal will be 150 baht and I’ll think that’s too expensive…even though it’s only $4. I’m really trying hard to save money while over here, and it’s easy to get carried away spending a lot of money if I continue to think in terms of dollars. So that’s why in 8 months (I’ve been in Thailand 8 months!!) I’ve only purchased 2 Starbucks white mochas. Thankfully, pretty much everything I eat and drink here is cheaper than a Starbucks white mocha…

But I want to start a new “bit” for Thailand. There’s a common phrase in SE Asia that says, “Same Same But Different.” Everything here is very similar to the Western world, just a liiiiittle different. For example, Thailand has your classic junk food snacks. They’re just a tiny bit different (and DELICIOUS!).

Another example of ‘Same Same But Different’ is the actual Starbucks white mocha. There are a few Starbucks in Chiang Mai, and I’ve only visited them twice when I was missing home and needed a taste of Seattle. Once you walk in, it’s like you never left the PNW. The decor, the vibe, and the taste of the drinks are exactly like home. But here in Thailand, they ask, “For here or takeaway?” If you decide to stay, they serve your drink in an actual mug. I can’t really describe how much it amplified my experience at Starbucks here – so fancy!!

But the most recent experience of ‘Same Same but Different’ has been breakfast. Thai’s take their breakfast very seriously. I’ve noticed the Thai staff at my school are always eating throughout the day – they’re always carrying bags with hearty meals that they snack on all day. But their biggest meal of the day is breakfast.

The other day, I walked to the school’s coffee shop early in the morning and decided I wanted to get an iced Thai tea with milk. It’s 25 baht (about 80 cents – my wallet is happy!). The woman at the coffee shop making it said confusingly, “Teacher….first order.” She gave me a funny look and I was slightly perplexed… First order of the morning? That can’t be possible. There were already plenty of people walking around with their coffee cups…

Then I went back to school and my co-teacher who is Thai asked, “You got a Thai tea?!”

Uhhhh, yeah? It’s tea. It has caffeine. It’s a break from my occasional lattes. What’s so weird about that?

She explained to me that Thai’s don’t drink Thai tea in the morning. That it’s an afternoon drink.

Ohhhhhh, ok because that makes sense…

[quizzical look on my face]

My Thai co-workers teased me a little bit and it made me chuckle – I couldn’t believe that tea in the morning isn’t normal here.

But here’s the catch…

What they eat for breakfast? Meat, meat, and more meat.

So breakfast is huge here; but instead of eggs, toast, and yogurt, Thai’s eat meat on a stick, steamed vegetables, marinated chicken, and hot dogs.

And absolutely NO tea.

People line up for their hearty, meaty breakfast every morning around 7:00am and it’s a feast! Not sure if my mind will ever convert to their version of breakfast…

I see nothing wrong with my yummy orange tea.

Same Same But Different…


  1. I love Thai iced tea so I am jealous…..and we had to get used to eating our big meal or lunch in Europe as well….would just take leftovers home for dinner! Love traveling……


  2. Iโ€™m for coffee or tea but all that chicken and meat makes me kinda sick in the morning.
    How about a half a bagel or piece of toast and yogurt?


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