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Sleeping on a Hard Surface | Your Bed in Thailand for Instance

Sleeping on a Hard Surface… Your Bed in Thailand for Instance

I remember the first time I slept on a hard surface was when I was in scouts. We all thought it was so cool to be camping out in the woods of Pennsylvania and sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag over the hard ground.

I was so tired on those nights (and weighed so little) that I don’t remember that it was a bad experience.

The next time was when I was in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. I thought, wow this would be a great night for sleeping on the cliffs down by Sandies (Sandy Beach).  I revved up MGB and headed for the cliffs.

It was 11:30 or so pm. The night was cool… a bit windy as it always is at night. The moon was bright – can’t remember full or not, but there was enough light that I could walk my way from roadway up over the rocks and down to a suitable spot for camping out that night.  Ok, ok, yes, there was a girl with me too – didn’t think I should write all of it since it’s not relevant, but yeah, there was a girl…a beautiful virgin girl…  she was a model from Canada… 17… oh boy. Anyway, really, that’s not the point of this story. The point is…

“Sleeping on Hard Surfaces, like your bed”

So – WE climbed up over the rocks and looked and looked for a flat surface. Believe it or not – the rocks were actually lava and we were having quite a time finding a flat spot of lava. It has the uncanny distinction of always being angled… go figure, since it’s flowing downhill… nearly always it would be angled.  So – finally we find a spot where erosion actually took some of the slant off. We were still a little bit tilted, but nothing we couldn’t live with.  We plopped the air force issue sleeping bag down on the lava after brushing away some small rocks and dirt. By this time we both noticed… it’s farking cold tonight.  The wind right on the cliff there was howling – 20-40 miles per hour (30-70 km per hour). It made it quite cold.

The view was glorious  – like Beethoven’s 3rd.  The waves were really strong and crashing against the lava below us. We were up about 25 feet from the highest waves and it never occured to me for a second that we could have a wave come during the night – a rogue wave they’re called, and take us out to sea.

We hadn’t thought through everything, like – how in Hawaii can someone SLEEP through this?  

We layed down – zipped up in the sleeping bag and had the worst night of sleep I’ve ever had in my life – with the tiny bumps in the lava spaced just perfectly to make me (us) uncomfortable the entire night. We hadn’t thought to bring pillows – and that was a serious issue too as one layer of sleeping bag between head and lava doesn’t = sweet dreams.

That’s a notecard for sure…

(head + sleeping bag)
             Lava                           Does not  = Sweet dreams.

So – that was second and worst experience ever sleeping on a hard surface.

Fast forward to Thailand.

EVERYTHING is a hard surface.

When I first arrived and started to see some apartments (mansions, they’re called) and houses to rent I was a bit weirded out by the lack of cushy material sofas and beds. The beds felt like rocks. I was thinking that there was no way my old soccer injury to my back was going to hold up well here.

The state of Thai furniture is Neanderthal at best, pre-evolution at worst.  The seats are hard – usually teak or some other harder than metal wood.  Two days ago we (new girl now) ate in a restaurant that, when I started to pull out the chair with my left hand, I realized, this chair is so heavy it’s like it’s made of rock – not wood. It had to be teak. 

That restaurant chair (and all of them in there were the same) had to weigh 50 lbs. Now I don’t know how many STONE that is, but if I had to guess, that’s about 6 big stones. I always wanted to know what the hell a stone weighed, but I’ll just use my own guess since nobody seems to be able to tell me in pounds, what the official stone measurement is and it’s NOT on my conversion calculator in my computer or on the phone.  I think I’m more worldly if I use the term STONE, so I’ll try to weave it into the literary fabric of my daily creations a bit more. I sound European or something, yah?  Ha!


So – the chairs weigh 6 stone and do you have any idea how much a church pew weighs?  Holy hell! I can’t even guess… but here is a short video of me trying to lift one!

Lifting church pew (Thais’ love these things) >

Now, if that’s not bad enough… they have these things that people use as a table. A bed. A chair. A lounge. A recliner. AND in Thailand, EVERYTHING is used as a bed. So, it’s a bed too.  Here is a short video of me trying to lift this table thing.

Lifting heavy Thai furniture (bed/table/chair/lounge thing) >

These things are not teak – but they have some serious STONE to them.

Back to the point.

The table/bed/chair/lounge thing that you saw me try to lift is where I have slept for many afternoons in Thailand as I was waiting for kids to arrive for class.  I wouldn’t have thought it possible either, but I am living proof that sleeping on a hard surface is OK! It’s actually nice.  I don’t know what happened to me in the couple years I’ve stayed, but I’ve found that sleeping on hard tile, concrete, bed/table/chair things, and just hard beds is not an issue at all anymore.  My back injury which back in the USA acted up regularly – about once per year – and was always aggravated by the bed, has not surfaced at all here in Thailand.  

The first few nights – about 7 were uncomfortable sleeping on a hard bed. After that something changed – and probably just in my mind, because all the sudden there wasn’t an issue any more.  

Sleeping on the floor is actually preferred some nights because it’s the coolest place to be. The ceramic tile stays cool and the hot air all rises in the room, so it’s nice to sleep on the floor with the fan blowing.

In America there is a whole industry built around this idea that we need a $1000+ bed to properly support our backs with the just the right amount of support, not too much, not too little. We need the Sealy Posturpedic with foam dimples or memory something. We buy into this because they have charts and graphs that show us – and it looks logical to me! Hell, I believed that stuff for years. As soon as I could afford an $1100 mattress set, I bought it! I thought, with my back injury – I DESERVE IT!  I’ve got to take care of myself for when I get old!

There are 80 year olds… wait, that’s under exaggerating… there is a whole population of Thailand that are sleeping on beds that have NO play in them at all. They are basically sheets filled with rice or something that makes them very hard. They don’t “give” at all and yet they are perfectly fine for sleeping, and it seems like they are much better than a mattress set costing upwards of $1000 USD.  

Yes, there is an initial breaking in period… where your back is broken in so to speak.  I’m not sure what happens – perhaps the pain is desensitized over 10 days and all the sudden your mind can put up with it – I don’t know. Thing is, it works and it works really well.

FORGET ABOUT buying an expensive bed in America or wherever you are.  Get a HARD bed for sleeping and save the money.  Buy yourself some cushy chairs though – because my azz has NEVER become accustomed to sitting for a long, long time (over 30 minutes) in a hard chair.  The two bones that make up my assbone are actually one bone I think – with two humps. These two humps are sandwiched between muscle, blood vessels (which seal off and give me sleepy legs), fat, and skin. But, when sitting on a teak chair the bone bumps bite into the skin and muscle causing pain that one just doesn’t get used to.  I think the Thais’ have a different assbone setup that alleviates this problem.

Here is a photo of me lifting a chair that is common in Thailand.  I’m guessing this chair is about 6 stone.

Vern lifting heavy chair >

1 of Vern’s stones = about 8 pounds.  And, I’m not BRAGGING… that is something I’ve become privvy to over the course of time.

Point restated:  Don’t buy an expensive bed that makes outrageous claims of comfortability. Get yourself a mattress sheet – that zippers around a whole mattress, fill it with rice. Fill it VERY full so it is hard, not just a little rice – use bags of it.  Use dirt. Use concrete powder, whatever. Use something that will pack down really nicely and give you the consistency of, let’s say, a bed full of metal shavings – without the pinch.

THAT is the best bed you’ll ever need. You’ll get accustomed to it in a week or so – and you’ll be showering me with blossoming lotus flowers next time you see me.


I created this site to focus on expats living in Thailand, and tourists visiting Thailand. Don't miss the blog - Thaipulse.com/blog/. I hope you come away with something positive as a result of visiting Thaipulse.com. Feel free to leave questions or comments at the contact form under Home | Contact above. All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+. Cheers!

3 thoughts on “Sleeping on a Hard Surface | Your Bed in Thailand for Instance

  • March 21, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Vern!
    1 “stone” = 14 pounds. I understand about the hard bed thing…when my at-that-time girlfriend let me come to her apartment, her sofa was full of stuff so I plomped down on her bed. I think I hurt something! I swear, the thing was a corrugated cardboard box! So I hear ya, brother!

  • March 21, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Oh man, you hit the nail on the head there. Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one who felt like he was sleeping on concrete when I layed down on my mattress here in Thailand. And you’re right, after a while you get used to it, though its been two months and I’m still a little stiff, but I don’t really notice anymore.

    In the USA I have a pillow-topped super deluxo mattress that you basically sink into when you lay down. I look forward to seeing if that’s as comfortable as I hope it will be when I get back.

  • May 12, 2007 at 12:10 am

    I’ve always been puzzled why Thai girls sleep so peacefully. No tossing, turning, thrashing, etc.

    Any theories, Vern?


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