The first thing you notice when you get off the plane after traveling to Bangkok, Thailand is the temperature and humidity. It’s stifling, compressing around you like a wet shirt. Actually, that is your shirt, drenched with sweat almost instantly from the oppressive heat. 90 degrees is average year-round across the country, 100 degrees is expected for those living in the concrete jungle of the country’s largest city.
The second thing you notice once immersed in the sights and sounds of the city is that most Thai people carry with them a small white tube. It looks like chapstick, but when they put it in their nose and inhale deeply, it’s clear the product isn’t for your lips.
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“What is it that the Thai people won’t stop sniffing?” many visitors wonder.
The answer is quite simple. Like any city, Bangkok is rife with activity. Street vendors selling food and trinkets, scooters whizzing through the streets and incessant car horns make for an eye opening experience to the virgin traveler. With the good comes the bad, however, and the midday heat combined with all the activity can offer up some ripe smells.
Trash is a major problem for city-dwellers as it’s very expensive to have removed. Instead, the cheaper, far more illegal option is to burn it. Burning trash, as one might expect, smells terrible. Sometimes these trash fires burn for days and pollute the air to the point where masks are necessary to even go outside.
Traveling to Bangkok? You Need ya dom
Ya dom, as the little white tubes are called in the Thai language, help the people of Bangkok make it through the day without having to suffer the consequences of all the nasty smells wafting into their noses. The small inhalers are filled with something pleasant; usually menthol, eucalyptus, peppermint or something similar. A long sniff from a ya dom provides instant relief from the fetor.
Much like Vicks Vaporub when you’re sick, the inhalation offers congestion relief along with masking the odors of the city. When traveling to Bangkok, you can pick up a nasal inhaler at any of the thousands of convenience stores which line the streets of Bangkok. Many of them are a chain you might recognize; 7-Eleven. A morning trip to 7-Eleven is a must for any traveler to Thailand, as they’re often the only place which can break the 1,000 Baht bills dispensed at the ATMs. That’s around $30 USD, for those keeping track at home. While you’re there, grab one of the little Thai energy drinks with your ya dom and get ready to explore!
– Evan Gove