Thanks for the reply TLR, all info is welcome.
The most difficult part of learning Thai for me is that it's tonal and spoken slightly slower, but it's easy enough to pick up. I'm used to speaking in kind of monotonal voice so this is a nice change.
I agree with you on the learning by experience. When you have to know it to get by you start learning quickly, plus it's more fun too because most people are slightly surprised when a foreigner can just hello.