After living here for a year I have learned a lot about Thailand and what to do, as well as not to do!! This was something that scared me a lot before I came out here and there are some things I wish I had known….
- ALWAYS wear your helmet on the bike- no matter how flat it makes your hair or how silly you look, motorbike accidents happen way too often and its not always your fault…. why risk it?!
- Be prepared for very blunt talk, Thai’s are unbelievably honest and would have no problem coming up to you and calling you fat. They are not trying to be nasty just stating a point!! For my first few months here they all told me “Teacher you are fat!!”
- Thailand can be infuriating at times, the pace of life is slow…. which also means sometimes things that we would expect to be done there and then in the Western World can take days to sort out. For example my visa! I tried to get this sorted out a month before it expired, after asking most days I got told ”dont worry teacher” Right up until the day before it expired!
- “Mai Pen Rai” This is a phrase that is used throughout Thailand, it means ‘no problem’ and Thai’s will use it all the time, mostly it is used to avoid loss of face which Thai’s will try to avoid doing as much as possible!
- The Wai- A form of greeting of thanks with hands clasped in a prayer gesture and raised towards your face. Not as easy as you may think as different Wai’s are for different people.
For example you may Wai a friend with your hands nearer to your chest however the more superior someone is to you the higher your hands get. For example someone senior would be Wai’d with your fingers between your nose and top lip however, for a member of the Royal Family the Wai is also used along side a sort of bow…. very complicated! However this does not mean you spend the whole day Wai’ing people… usually in the morning I will Wai the senior teachers and give a nod to everyone else!
- Also on the Wai is when NOT to Wai…. For example you do not Wai people in the service industry ie at a restaurant etc you will only end up looking like a tourist and making them uncomfortable!
- The Head is the most sacred part of the body so what ever you do DON’T touch the head. you might also find that some people especially children will crouch down when they pass you in the corridor, this is so their head is never higher than yours.
- Where as the head is the most sacred part of the body, the feet are considered the lowest. DON’T step over anyone ALWAYS go around them and never show the soles of your feet to anyone or use your feet to grab something. For example something on the floor you should pick it up and not use your foot to pull it closer.
- Do not offend the Royal Family…. it is a criminal offence
- Dress appropriately Yes it is VERY hot some days but that does not mean you can come into work in shorts and a vest top. You wouldn’t do that back home so why do it here?
- On top of that if you visit temples make sure you cover your shoulders. It is rude and disrespectful to walk around Monks in vest tops/shorts
- If you are big, and I am talking about a UK size 12 up wards you may struggle to find clothes so bring plenty with you! Same goes for shoes…. anything above a ladies 6 and you may struggle to find something!
- Do try learn some Thai. Its one of the hardest languages to learn as one word can have 5 meanings depending on how you say it. However if you learn hello and thank you, the Thai’s will love you for it!!
- If you have a partner… Try to avoid big public displays of affection like kissing in the street! You can make Thai people uncomfortable!
- Don’t lose your temper. It is very tempting sometimes however hold back, you will only lose face and the general response will be a smile…. just smile and adopt the ‘mai pen rai’ attitude