Friday, August 10, 2012

What I have learned about Thailand...

There are quite a few things I have learned about Thailand since I got here...some good and some not so great by my standards(not to be confused with everyone else) so I thought I would share them...please do not mistake them as all complaints just observations of how things work....

1. It is rude to put your fork directly into your mouth. Thai people use forks and spoons with every meal, even the ones that make no sense to use a fork and spoon with. You are supposed to use the fork to put food onto the spoon to eat from. At first I struggled but I have become a master!
Yes. Even with the noodles which is way harder than it looks

2. Trash cans are few and far between. Why? No clue, as you will most assuredly have garbage on you because everything is served in plastic bags and drank from bottles of some sort. But really they are so difficult to find here.

3. There probably isn't a toliet...and if there is 98.5% of the time there is no toliet(hate this word) paper. If you are very lucky its western style..if not you will squat and if you don't have tissue you will have to use a hose to rinse your bits. I still am trying to figure out how everyone doesn't walk around with wet spots on their bums.

I think I posted a picture of the first squat toliet I had to use...interesting experience 

4. There is a thing called "saving face" that is very important in Asian countries. Basically you do not want to made to look bad by any means. This means that if you ask a Thai person for something and they do not have it or know the answer they will find a way to change the subject, give you the wrong answer, offer something else w/out saying they don't have it or walk away completely. Apparently saying "I don't know" makes them lose face. You can also lose face by showing anger or any extreme emotion which is why Thailand is known as the land of smiles because you will not see anyone get mad...they will smile even when pissed because it will make them look bad otherwise.

5. Thai people take ghosts seriously. They really believe they exist, and almost all places have spirit houses used to keep the ghosts. If you don't have one at your house you will often be asked how you manage the spirits and don't they get upset. Seriously. 
I've seen some pretty awesome ones really. The bigger the place the more they might have or just a really big one 

6. It is rude to refuse a drink offered to you. Its pretty common when you are out to have someone offer you a cup(like a drink) to take a sip from and if you don't you are being rude. I learned the hard way that walking around a club twice can result in you getting drunk very fast as you get offered drinks and sometimes you have no clue what it is(Usually whiskey & something) This must prove hard for people who don't do sharing cups haha...

7. Its very important not to write someone's name in Red anywhere. Apparently it is a very bad omen and will bring them bad luck. I learned this because another teacher has been writing the students names on her board in Red and she was recently told not to do that anymore. 

8. Foreigners are expected to deal with being constantly scammed. This one is a bit of a complaint but its actually true as well. In Thailand its expected for those with more money to be the ones to pay for dinner and evenings out and to give more than anyone else. Foreigners(Farang) are considered to be the wealthier ones so its only natural for Thai to expect they can afford and should have no problem paying more. That doesn't really change just because you have been living in Thailand. The best thing you can do is learn numbers in Thai and just say no if you think its too high. They will either negotiate or walk away(see #4).
               This happens to me quite often, but I have already learned the numbers and will simply laugh and  refuse. 
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9. For a country where prostitution is a very large portion of their income most places and people are very conservative. Its not ok to walk around smaller towns with your shoulders showing, short skirts or just generally clothing that fits a little too well. The frustrating part of this is that you will often see women dressed scantily but as a teacher here if we do it we will be gossiped about for sure. It definitely depends on where you are as well. Bangkok is a lot more tolerant. If you are visiting a temple by no means can you enter without your shoulders covered or a skirt at least to your knees and some prefer pants. If you go to the beach(depending which and who you are with) It should be ok to wear your swimsuit but notice that the majority of Thai people will not be wearing them. AND unless its posted that its ok do not take your top off. 

10. Adding to #9 Thailand is a sex tourists paradise. If you are easily disgusted and you plan to visit Thailand send me a message and I will tell you exactly what parts of Bangkok and the country in general you do not want to see. Its not like a secret, you will walk down streets with prostitutes standing outside lots of bars, you will see LOTS of very much older men with very very young Thai girls walking around and out together. It gets really hard to assume that any man here without a woman or a group is a sex tourist. The reality is that most of them probably are. Its sad and its fascinating at the same time. 
I've seen this exact sight so many times I can't even count anymore

11. Watching porn is illegal as are vibrators and things of that nature. You can find them all sold by street vendors but there are no stores and porn sites are blocked by the government. Odd right? Considering #9

12. There are no driving rules in Thailand. Most people are able to get a license here by buying one so your best bet is to not drive. If you must, be very careful. The motorbike taxi's are terribly scary sometimes but they will get you where you need to go fast especially in Bangkok where the traffic is horrendous. 

13. Oddly enough Thai people are obsessed with having lighter skin. Funny right? Since elsewhere we are all about getting a nice tan on. They use whitening creams and avoid the sun. They idolize the lighter skinned Thais, you see them in all the billboards, commercials, the movies here. Its a big deal to them to have lighter skin and light eyes(colored contacts) The lighter your skin the more they will like you and think your beautiful. 
         I get constantly asked why I keep getting darker. The students tell me not to the teachers ask why. They don't understand that I do not mind being tan and actually hate when I am super pale. 

14. Its important to show respect to others here. You do something called a "wai" where you bow your head and place your hands like you are praying with your thumbs at your chin, nose or forehead depending on who the person is. If someone wai's you then you should most definitely do it back. If you meet someone older, a monk, or a business person in a higher position then you make sure its at your nose and you do it first. If its just a normal person you can do it at your chin and depending you might not have to do it first. As a rule most people just follow up their Hello(Sa wat dee) with a wai. 
             My students stand up and wai me every morning and every afternoon they thank me and wai me before I leave the classroom. 


I think that is all I have for you today! I am sure I will think of something once this is up though! 

Please don't take any of this as the 100% word on anything just observations since I got here and it should by no means deter you from visiting this amazing place. 


2 comments

Jessica Renee said...

Wow that is all really interesting, thanks for sharing! The toilet thing I would have a HUGE problem with! lol. And the lighter skin thing is just so crazy, I had no idea!

You are such a strong girl for moving somewhere new like that because I know I would just be overwhelmed!

Nessa @ Isle Style Living said...

So interesting!

I love learning about new cultures. Thank you for sharing.

One of the things I'm nervous about if I ever visit Asia is the toilets. I'm not coordinated at all!

PS- I nominated you for the Liebster Award: http://islestyleliving.blogspot.com/2012/08/liebster-award-part-deux.html

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