Thai Culture, and Customs:
When it comes to culture and customs, there is more to it then just a different way of doing things, it is a completely different thought process, a completely different way of thinking as well. I will attempt to educate you as to some of the different cultures, and customs, here in Thailand. I will share with you some anecdotes from my own experience while enjoying my own adventure in the kingdom of Thailand.
I was walking down the sidewalk in Bangkok one day, and noticed that part of the sidewalk had collapsed, and there was a large hole there. This part of the pedestrian walkway looked like it was made of bricks on top of sand. The large hole there appeared to be caused by sand washing away from underneath the bricks. This hole was oval shaped, a good 2 foot across at the widest point, and at least a foot deep. There were no barricades up around it, no caution signs, it wasnít taped off, not even a paint line around it to draw your attention to it. I walked past this hole nearly everyday for a week, and it looked the same every time.
If this hole was in the sidewalk in America, the first reaction of Americans would be much different then the reaction of Thai people. The first thought in the minds of the American people is who they are going to file a lawsuit against if they are injured as a result of falling into it. If someone were injured because of this hole in America, it is the cities fault for failure to maintain the sidewalk. Do you who is to blame if somebody is injured in Thailand as a result of this hole? It is the pedestrians fault for failure to watch were they are walking. There is far more sense of personal responsibility in Thailand, but in America it seems to always be somebody elseís fault.
The same thing is true about eating in a restaurant. Letís say you are hungry, and decide to eat in a restaurant. Shortly after eating there, you have stomach pains, diarrhea, and you are throwing up. You know, telltale signs of food poisoning. We all know what the American reaction will be, it is the restaurants fault for improper food handling procedures. Can you guess what the Thai reaction would be? Thatís right, it is the consumers fault for choosing to eat in the wrong restaurant. The American reaction will be to sue the restaurant, and the Thai reaction will be to choose to eat someplace else next time.
Sometimes the culture differences can be quite amusing. I was in a restaurant with a Thai lady, and we were looking at the menu trying to decide what to eat. The waitress came by to take our drink order while we were making our decisions on what to eat. I was in the mood for a cola to wash down my meal. I am accustomed to ordering a coke when I am in a restaurant in America as opposed to Pepsi, even though I like Pepsi better, most restaurants in America only have Coke. So out of force of habit when the waitress asked me in broken English what I wanted to drink, I told her, ďI want Coke please.Ē Well you would think that I had just killed somebody, or said something vulgar with the way the waitress, and my date both looked at me. My date said something to the waitress in Thai language that I did not understand, and then turned to me and said, ďNo khun Greg, it is Coca Cola, coke is drug.Ē I had to smile, and laugh to myself at that remark. Khun, by the way in case you are wondering is a Thai word, in this case it means Mister. It is a respectful way of addressing somebody. It is a gender natural word, and applies to both sexes. Khun also means, you when used in a different context. (Learn more about Thai language on the language page here.)