After having traveled through Thailand for over a month now, I’ve seen and learnt quite a few things – not just about the country, but also about the Thai people. Here are five things that’ I’ve learned about the Thai people that never seems to fail:
5 Things I’ve Learnt About Thai People While In Thailand
1. They always give you the warmest, friendliest smile – if you smile first.
Thai people are often incredibly friendly, and many do smile at you on the street. But most of the times, they look at you, and if your eyes meet and you smile, THEN they smile back right away. If you don’t smile, however, neither do they. My experience has often been that they smile bigger and brighter than you, when you smile first.
2. The street hustlers are not scamming you, they just try to make a living.
Scammer, hustler or just working? … There are whole websites and forums out there that only talk about this topic, the scammers in Thailand. Sure, there are some big scammers around here, but I wouldn’t call the guys trying to sell you crappy suits, tuk tuk rides or ping pong shows scammers, they’re just trying to get by and make a living. And frankly, a truth that some people prefer to ignore, is that they can only live off of our greed. We want the cheap stuff, we want free – free – free, although we should know that nothing in this world is really free. When you sit down and watch them work the street, see them working for hours on end getting rejected, ignored and yelled at, they deserve some respect. How many people can handle getting turned down or treated as though they don’t exist? If you just make sure to them that you’re not interested in what they are offering, you can often have a nice conversation with them about other things.
3. They serve the man first, but give the woman the larger portion.
First we thought this was just a random thing, but nearly every time we eat at a restaurant, they always serve me a huge portion, and Nathan a much smaller one – and he always gets his food first. It’s the same all over the country – if anyone knows why this is, please let us know!
Beautiful sunset in Ao Nang, Thailand.
4. No matter how early you get up in the morning, most of them will already be awake and working.
It’s true, I’m an early bird, but no matter when I get up, it feels like the city has been awake for just slightly longer than me. People are already in their shops, at the market or on a moped. The young girls have their hair curled and the middle aged ladies have already put that same bright pink color lipstick on. It’s not that the city never sleeps, they just don’t sleep in like we do in the West.
4. When it comes to transport, there is no such thing as full.
They can always fit one more person in – always. Even if some kids have to hang off the end of the bus, there is still space for more people. We had about 33 people in a mini-bus which in Europe would legally fit maybe 8 people – CRAZY!
5. They have the most innocent sense of humor.
I’ve found Thai people to be very innocent and gentle people. The men are often very feminine, something which is not just accepted but also encouraged. The teens dress in a pop rock punk style, but walk around with a teddy bear under their arm, or a furry baby hat on their heads. When they laugh it’s a sweet giggle rather than the manly macho laugh. What they laugh at is even more innocent. I’ve never seen a whole bus full of people in all ages laugh so much at a filmed live show where a woman pulls a guy’s skirt off and he stands in his knee long underwear. And every time Nathan bumps his head into the umbrellas put up at the vegetable markets everyone around him breaks into a big laugh and tell all their friends who missed it about what just happened. It’s all really cute, but I wonder what they would think about our Western humor?
When a new boat gets launched into the river or ocean in western countries we have a ceremony of breaking a champagne bottle. In Thailand they tie colorful cloth instead. At the beginning of each season the long-tail boat owners bring colorful cloths to tie to the front of the boat for good luck and ask the spirits to protect and bring prosperity to their business. This happens during the month of November of every year in Ao Nang, Krabi.
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