For those of you that did not grow up in the tropics, get ready for an eye opener; lizards ants and mosquitoes are EVERYWHERE!
Insects and small reptiles are everywhere, but more importantly, they are lived WITH and part of our daily lives!
Everyone knows about the mosquitoes in the tropics, but what about the lizards? There are quite a few varieties in Thailand, many of which live with us in our homes and offices. Yes, IN our homes and offices! The two main ones are the Tokay Gecko (AKA the F-YOU lizard) and the ever present Jing Joke.
The Tokay Gecko is a larger lizard which are usually outside and almost never seen, but you WILL know they are there. The two names are derived from the sounds that they make. Most locals call them Tokay as that is what it sounds like to them. However, most foreigners swear there is a little guy outside saying “F You!” It’s actually quite funny seeing the response from first timers!
The more prevalent and ever present lizard is the Jing Joke or Chit Chat. A smaller lizard pale color reaching about 10 cm at full length. You will see these EVERYWHERE you go in Thailand. Usually scaling walls, staying close to the lights (heat source) everywhere from restaurants, bars, hotels, temples, kitchens, bedrooms, etc, etc.
The locals are happy to let these guys live and not simply because of their Buddhist upbringing. They do not consider them a pest, but rather a benefit as they eat small insects! Allowing these to stick around controls the amount of ants, mosquitoes, flies, roaches, etc. Free insect control! In fact, they are so ingrained in the culture that they have their own mythology or assigned “charm” Every so often they will grow with two tails. The local lore says that if you find one of these in your home, it means your going to have twins!
Mosquitoes, roaches and ants can also be found just about everywhere in Thailand, but with proper technique, can be controlled.
Mosquitoes are a fact of life here. In the cities (we’re in Chiang Mai) you generally don’t have to worry about mosquito-born diseases, but will still care about not getting bit and being itchy afterwards.
Tips and tricks about mosquitoes: Don’t wear dark colors, they attract mosquitoes. Wear long clothing, long sleeved shirts and full length pants(trousers). You can protect yourself without the use of chemicals. Don’t bother with natural deterrents as they are not effective. Citronella, lemongrass, Skin So Soft, etc etc WILL NOT be useful here in Thailand! They may keep mosquitoes away for a few minutes, but in the end you’re still being bit. Unfortunately, the only easily accessible solution is DEET. Use it or get stung.
Living in Thailand requires a different level of cleanliness. Unlike the cooler/colder “Western” countries, you CAN NOT leave food out or leave crumbs on the table/floor. The ants will march in within the hour. You can easily judge how clean a place is by the presence of ants. Your hotel, guesthouse, apartment should not have any ants when you check in. If it does, it has not been cleaned properly. If there are ants when you leave/checkout, it means you have not been clean. Remember that you do not need to get rid of the ants, just the food that they are searching for. Once it’s been cleaned, the ants will leave on their own.
Roaches are similar to ants. If you keep the place clean, you probably won’t see any. Many modern buildings in Thailand are made of cement and do not have spaces in the walls for insects to live. That means the roaches are living outside, usually in sewers. It’s possible to see one roach travelling and searching for food, but if you see more its time to clean! One exception to this is when the mosquito controls sprays are done. People will walk the streets with industrial type foggers strapped to their backs and spray the sewer and dark areas to kill mosquito eggs and larvae. This also affects the roaches. That day, you will see roaches everywhere, but they will either die off or quickly return to their hiding places.
Remember, when in Thailand, lizards are your friends and insects are commonplace, but can be managed!
As of March 2016
For those of you that stay long term in Chiang Mai or Thailand in general, you’ll need to apply for a local license after 3 months. Your first license will be probationary and good for 2 years. After that, you can renew your Thai drivers license to a standard license good for 5 years (closer to 6yrs) at a time.
There are plenty of posts out there detailing how to get your first license, but this post is aimed at those long-term residents looking to renew their Thai drivers license.
You must show proof of living in Thailand using a Work Permit, Yellow Book, or Resident Certificate.
If you have a work permit or yellow book, you already know what they are and know what to do with it. For others, read below.
You will need to prove you are healthy enough to sit for an hour long refresher course.
The Motor Vehicle office is open Monday – Friday. Click here for a map: Chiang Mai Motor Vehicle
#1 – Arrive before 8:30am. Go directly to the Information Desk on the 2nd Floor (upstairs). They will give you your renewal forms and tell you what copies you need.
#2 – Go directly to the back and get copies as necessary. You will need 1 for each license: passport front page, resident certificate, and health check. If you are renewing 2 licenses, make a copy of each.
#3 – Take you application, copies, passport, etc to counter 21 or 22. ( first two counters to the right as you come upstairs. They will go through your documents and make sure everything is there.
#4 – Proceed to counter 27 or 28. They will take your documentation and tell you to move on to the lecture room (large room with TV)
#5 – Proceed to the lecture room (Thais: Sit as close to the door as possible!!!). In a few minutes a proctor will come in and ask you to return to Counter 27 – 28 for some tests.(See Above) (Thais: Leave something at your seat to reserve it before leaving the lecture/TV room!!!)
#6 – They will herd you all into the back or counter 27 and do a color/vision test. I’ve never been asked to do a reaction test for a DL renewal. Once finished, they will ask all to find your documents (all will be laid out on a nearby table) For foreigners, you will be asked if you understand enough Thai to sit through the video. This is not the time to be proud, say NO! Trust me on this.
#7 – Thais will be returned to the main lecture/TV hall and will have to sit through a refresher video of about 1 hour. (Hopefully, you returned to your seat close to the door.) Foreigners will be sat in another room and given an option to watch a video in English, Japanese, Chinese or Spanish. (FYI for foreigners, they will keep your documents at counter 27. Remember to come back for it here)
#8 – In about an hour the proctor will return and shut off the TV. You will be told to walk back out and get a queue number from the Information Desk (same desk as in #1). This is why it is key to sit close to the door. You can get queue #1 and be finished in about 15 mins. If you sat in the back you may be queue #80+ and sit outside waiting for a few hours. (Foreingers, see the picture above. You will be able to see through the glass while watching your video and know when they Thai class is getting out. You will need to leave immediately and get a queue number first. Then go straight to counter 27 – 28 and get your documents.
#9 – When called, you will be told to come up and pay for the license(s) and any other fees necessary (address change, late renewal, etc) Once paid, they will direct you behind the counter area for another queue number and to have your picture taken
#10 – That’s it. The picture is taken and the new card is printed almost immediately. You’re done!