Author : Kevin Baker (March 3, 2017)
Part of the appeal of traveling to or living in Thailand is that it is so different from any other country. The incomparable culture of Thailand appeals to many a traveller, which at times will make you feel like you are on another planet. Here are just a few of the reasons why . . .
Thai people are adept at using plastic bags; you will often be handed a drink in a plastic bag with a straw and also your food, tied neatly with a rubber band. Even more bizarre is that you will see people put plastic bags on their heads when it rains. Another strange occurrence is that you can be in a queue at a supermarket and the cashier will only ask you if you need plastic bags, and not ask others in the queue who are Thai.
Most Thai people will not be freaked out by seeing a foreigner but if someone from a distant village in a non-tourist area sees you they will often stare. This sometimes becomes quite bizarre as they will sometimes not break eye contact even once. Sometimes they will follow you around the local supermarket, staring at you as if they were observing the behavior of an exotic animal in the zoo; then when you pay for your goods at the counter they will often stare unendingly at what you bought. Thankfully, only about 2% of the entire population will do this.
If you are a guy, you may find yourself being massaged at the urinals as you are trying to have a pee. You would think that this would be universally weird and probably the worst time to expect a massage, but it happens a lot in Thailand, so don’t be surprised if when you are relieving yourself two hands slide over your shoulders. Also, guys in Thailand sometimes look at each other in the eyes when they are taking a pee, in stark contrast to most western countries, where making eye contact with another guy who is taking a pee is decidedly disturbing.
When discussing ‘Som Tam’ (the Thai spicy salad that is popular in Thailand), Thai people often start laughing inexplicably. On top of this, when they mention Som Tam they usually mime actions as if they were using an invisible pestle and mortar. Then, to further confuse you they will also say “Som Tam bok bok!” This is so bizarre that you will find yourself laughing along with them, not quite sure what you are laughing at.
In most countries, if you want to start, . . . let’s say a mobile phone business, you would set up a business far away from other mobile phone shops to reduce competition. In stark contrast to this, in Thailand groups of restaurants, mobile phone shops or even hairdressers group together. There is logic to this as purchasers go to areas where they have more choice, but it is hard to get your head around.
Going up to someone and announcing to their face that they are fat, in most countries, would result in an argument or a fight. Although in Thailand this is not the case, as if you are carrying even a few extra pounds you will on occasion be called a complete fatso. To make this even more confusing will be the fact that only chubby or fat people will call you fat; slim or fit people will not join in with the insults. This suggests a projection of their frustrations on you, so just smile and keep calm if this happens to you.
So would we like to change Thailand in any way? The answer is a big NO! The bizarre and odd experiences people have when traveling around Thailand makes this fascinating country even more unique.