TAi, like any other oriental culture, is not at all simple for Europeans, but at the same time it is extremely fascinating. Even if you live in Thailand for several years, you will still discover something new every day in customs and culture this country. This article will not contain information about the rules of conduct in relation to the king, the royal family and everything connected with this. You can read about these important traditions of Thailand in any travel magazine. There will be something that is usually not written in popular reference books for tourists and travelers.
Social hierarchy in the family and at work
Thai society is quite conservative and is built on a strict traditional hierarchy. Therefore, the first and most important person in the state is the king. Following him are the monks, followed by the teachers and family.
Thai family - the custodian and stronghold of traditions
The basis of the life of the inhabitants of the "Land of Smiles" is the family. It is not uncommon for several generations of close relatives to live in the same house. In Tai, the opinion of the elders in the family is always given priority. In truth, nothing serious happens in the family without their consent. Often they choose for the youngest members of the family the school in which they will study and the future profession.
In principle, everything is logical, and this choice, confirmed by the experience of many years of life, most often becomes absolutely correct. After all, it is the children who will later provide them with a peaceful old age. According to tradition, children put their first earned money into an envelope and solemnly hand it over to the eldest member of the family.
The elderly in Thailand are respected and honored members of society. Here, cases of attacks on the elderly, unlike many European countries, are rare. Traditions and customs say that the elderly should be helped, bow low and always listen to their advice.
How business etiquette and working relationships are built in Thailand
In addition to the family structure of submission and reverence, there is a separate hierarchy in workplaces and offices Thai business etiquette. Boss, director or simply boss is called Pou Yai.
Pu Yai is a person who has a higher position, which, like the elders in the family, is not customary to contradict. Everything that the almost sacred Yai decides is practically law and cannot be challenged. They should also bow low. Lower ranking employees are called − Pui Noi.
An unusual fact for the European mentality is that if Pu Yai invites his employee to dinner, then he or she covers all the expenses himself. An attempt on the part of a subordinate to do otherwise and try to pay off can be regarded as an insult and "loss of face" for Pu Yai, which in the future may even lead to Puyi Noi's dismissal from office.
Few would argue that the traditions of our country in terms of pay with a vertical boss is a subordinate, to put it mildly, others. And, as time shows, the point here is not at all in the "communist past", which has become such a long time ago. Indeed, in corporations and government agencies, large gifts, payment for banquets and other events for some reason bypass many "bosses" by the side.
Envy is a rare feeling for Thais. They do not envy anyone, including their bosses. They believe that everything that a person has is deservedly received. The boss is worthy of his position and is in his place due to hard work in a past life.
One interesting point follows from this belief, which is directly related to foreign tourists. It is assumed that a person who is more prosperous, more successful and richer has more successful karma and is simply obliged to support the poorer and weaker in this life and cover some of their expenses.
Tourists who come to Thailand on vacation from other countries, for the reasons described above, in many situations are automatically equated with Pu Yai. What happens if you, being a foreigner or otherwise "farang", get into a car accident? Moreover, the fault in this will obviously not be yours, but the Thai driver and his vehicle. Who pays for minor repairs?
That's right: according to the tradition of Thailand, the Thai driver will offer you to cover the costs, so as not to let you "lose face" and offend you. Such is the karma of a rich white tourist ...
Three pillars of the Thai philosophy of life - Sabai, Sanuk and Mai pen rai
These are not fairy tales or fiction. Indeed, these three phrases reflect the quintessence of the Thai approach to solving most issues in accordance with Thai's philosophy of life.
Word "Sabai" has many shades of meaning. Everyone in Thailand aspires to sabai. Most often, the concept of sabai refers to bodily comfort, that is, the state of a person in which physically he feels absolutely balanced, without any tension and tears. Since any haste implies some kind of tension, another of the meanings of the word sabai is the word "slower" (slowly).
Thais rarely get upset or actively resent something. They only honk on the roads when they warn you that they are following your bike. If you do not take into account modern tourist establishments that operate to European standards, or aspire to them, in bars and restaurants, waiters move more slowly than anywhere else in the world.
Another important word "Sanuk" means peace of mind, joy, fun. The fact is that living outside of Sanuk is not right. A person should be happy and cheerful. And if this is not so, then you urgently need to change something in your life. Thais love to laugh, play different games and not worry about anything. For example, in schools, especially in elementary grades, teachers should not just teach children, but make them have fun. Few people want to learn bare boring grammar, everyone wants songs and funny poems.
Sanuk can be obtained by buying yourself some beautiful thing that will make you feel good. Want a big big sleigh? Buy yourself a new car! No funds, go to the cinema with friends to see a new movie or just have an unscheduled party.
One of the most famous expressions, which has become a mantra for many Europeans today, is "Mai pen rai". It means "don't worry", "it doesn't matter", "I'm not angry". If we summarize all the shades of the meaning of the phrase May pen rai, we get a formula familiar to many Europeans - "don't worry and be happy". This saying is essentially the basis of Buddhist philosophy: don't worry about the past or the future, live in the now, live in the present.
Thai Mai pen rai has a little something in common in meaning with one Japanese wisdom that goes something like this:
... "When the problem is solvable, then there is no point in worrying about it, if the problem cannot be solved, then there is no point in worrying about it" ...
The conclusion is simple: worry has no place in the right life of a person. And the right life is the desire for a harmonious union of Sabai and Sanuk, guided by the principle of Mai pen rai ...
Thai Buddhism. And goodness will return to you ...
Ordinary Thais are very religious. The traditions and customs of Thailand are inextricably linked with Buddhism. And Buddhism here, as in many other countries of the region, is closely intertwined with Hinduism, as well as the original religious beliefs of the national minorities of the state. There are also Muslims in the country, but the overwhelming majority of citizens are Buddhists by conviction.
Thailand, of course, is not some fabulous place. Here, as in any other country, there is theft, murder, robbery and rape. However, as a rule, Thais are mentally gentle and accommodating people who hope that good deeds in this earthly incarnation will improve their life in the next incarnation.
Sometimes for some Europeans, the behavior of the Thais causes bewilderment and questions. Why is he or she trying to help and wasting their time? Perhaps there is some trick here? Well, it also happens, especially when it comes to the “caste” of tuk-tuk drivers. But if you could ask a question that interests you, then most Thais would answer you that they just want to improve their karma a little. What’s more, it doesn’t bother them at all.
Monks in Thailand have a special relationship. These are revered people who can give the right advice, almost regardless of age. Monks living in city monasteries are mainly engaged in the ritual side of Buddhism. Unlike them, the life of monks from forest or mountain monasteries is more focused on the practice of Buddhism: meditation and the study of history and events of a religious nature.
Is it true that Thailand is the land of smiles?
In many tourist guides for Thailand, its second name is firmly entrenched - "Land of Smile". Indeed, many people here smile. You can't cross the road without someone smiling at you and shyly greeting you. Sounds like a fairy tale, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case either.
If you are visiting Thailand as a tourist, then you can be sure that the country of a smile really exists. If you move to live in Thailand, you will find that behind these good-natured smiles there are completely different and sometimes conflicting feelings.
Due to the desire for harmony of Sabai and Sanuk, Thais do not like confrontation in any of its manifestations. Conflict in principle is not right, everything should be resolved calmly and peacefully. Therefore, here, in fact, very often they do not say what they think or simply do not say about their true thoughts.
If at work the boss wants to fire an employee, he may not even explain to him the reason for the dismissal. All you can expect is a simple announcement of the fact of dismissal ... with the sweetest smile on your lips. Why do we need clarifications and conflicts?
An instructive story about a Frenchman
As an example - one real story that perfectly characterizes the Thai mentality. Here we will not talk about etiquette and customs, but we will quite clearly see individual features of the Thai character. So, this is the story of a Frenchman who lived next door to an ordinary elderly Thai couple.
The Frenchman's neighbors kept a dog. She, in turn, had a bad habit of barking for no reason every night and did not leave the Frenchman a single chance for a restful sleep. Once, after another sleepless night, the Frenchman could not stand it and went to sort out his Thai neighbors. Expressing to the Thais all his thoughts about their four-legged friend, he, like an indignant European, yelled at them quite strongly. The Thais nodded in response, smiled, apologized and promised that they would do everything so that the dog would no longer interfere with his sleep.
Indeed, from that day on, the Frenchman no longer heard the barking of dogs and logically decided that all the problems were over. However, he did not realize that with his shouting and angry claims he seriously offended his neighbors and made them "lose face."
A few months later, the Frenchman, as usual, left the house and got ready to go to work. He almost got into the car, but noticed something unusual ... The tires of his car were flat, someone had punctured them at night. As it turned out later, the neighbors decided in this way to take revenge on him for making them "lose face."
So what does this European need to do in order to agree in a good way with the Thai couple and solve the problem peacefully? He should bow politely, smile, and say something like this:
... “Hello my dear neighbors, the fact is that lately I have been having some problems with sleep. I attribute this to the fact that someone on the block has a dog that constantly barks at night. Because of this, I can’t really sleep and even began to be late for work ”…
Ladyboys, gays and lesbians: the pros and cons of tolerance
Ladyboys are representatives of the third gender, that is, men who have decided to change their gender, scientifically transgender. Many of them often resort to expensive surgeries associated with such a transformation. In Thailand, they are really respected and revered. There are really a lot of them here, perhaps more than in any other country. Since the Thais themselves, for the most part, are not tall and voluminous by nature, they are often impossible to distinguish from women.
Many believe that Thailand is far advanced in terms of tolerance towards sexual minorities. It is true, but there is another side to this coin. If a boy shows girlish tendencies, for example, he prefers to play with dolls or likes bows, then often parents begin to give him drugs containing female hormones in order to gradually turn him into a girl.
Homosexual relationships are the norm in Thailand. Ordinary, heterosexual couples, especially in their teens, cannot behave openly in Thailand and show their emotions in public. It is not customary for teenagers of different sexes to even be alone. Perhaps these cultural traditions of Thailand have become the reason that teenagers very often resort to same-sex experiments. In some schools it is considered quite normal when two boys kiss and girls make eyes at each other.
A feature of homosexual couples in the Kingdom is the explicit designation of the role of partners. For example, somewhere in Europe a question asked to a same-sex couple about the role of each of them in their union would be perceived as sheer rudeness. In Thailand, this is absolutely normal.
A man who is more feminine is called a "princess" or "queen", in the "male" version, this is, of course, a "king". Among female couples, their role is easy to calculate by characteristic features. The role of the man is usually played by a typically masculine woman with short hair and a deep voice.
About toothpicks, lips, noses and fingers
It turned out a strange combination - don't you find it? In fact, all these concepts are closely related. But let's go in order. As you may have guessed, the attitude to all this in Thailand is peculiar and is based on oriental and purely Thai traditions and rules of etiquette.
This is a common thing and it happens to everyone when something gets stuck in the teeth after eating. Usually in this case, we pick up a toothpick and use it for its intended purpose. Sometimes purely mechanically, without thinking, we try to remove a piece of meat with one or two fingers.
Stop! If in Thailand we resort to the latter method, we will meet with a wall of misunderstanding and a sea of disgust. Thai stomachs will turn upside down in disgust. Fingers in your mouth - no way! Well, toothpicks are widely used here, but when using them, it is necessary to cover your mouth with your other hand.
As for the tongue and lips, everything is quite simple. Showing your tongue to someone or just like that, as well as touching your lips for no reason or pulling them is considered uncivilized and rude.
But here we come to the nose. The fact is that cleaning the nose with your fingers is a completely ordinary and absolutely not shameful process. Thus, the nose is cleaned by everyone from small to large. Ordinary tourists sometimes fall into a stupor when moving on a municipal songthaew bus somewhere in Phuket Town, they suddenly notice a pretty Thai girl standing at a pedestrian crossing and diligently picking her nose with the fingers of both hands. In adult men, even toenails are longer, so they can ... This, perhaps, can close this issue.
12 more facts about the cultural habits, traditions and customs of Thailand
It can be repeated that even while living in Thailand, a foreigner is simply doomed to learn more and more new facts about this amazingly beautiful country and its inhabitants. To put it simply, it is almost impossible to find out everything, because there are many ethnic groups here. Let's take as a basis the native Thais, most of whom live in the central part of the country, including its capital Bangkok.
- In Thailand, people eat using both a spoon and a fork, sometimes wooden chopsticks. You can use a knife only in places where Western food is served;
- Drinking beer on the street is considered very uncivilized. Also, according to Thai etiquette, it is considered impolite to drink anything directly from the bottle, including beer. A straw or less commonly a disposable plastic cup is used for any drinks;
- "Farang" who walks down the street barefoot is a mystery to Thais. How can someone who has money go without shoes?
- Men walking bare-chested on the street, even in extreme heat, are perceived by the locals as uncultured people, and it is forbidden by law to drive vehicles with a bare torso;
- Smoking is not a common habit in Thailand. Most smokers are poor people. Thais believe that even alcohol is preferable to cigarettes;
- To spit out boring chewing gum right under your feet is not only to show a complete lack of education, but also the opportunity to receive an administrative penalty, in the form of a substantial fine;
- Coca Cola's red Fanta is ideal for the spirits that live in the obligatory "spirit houses";
- You can not feed the fish in the sea, and even more so get them out of the water. Many tourists, not knowing about it, try to leave bread or flakes and run into large fines;
- Showing the middle finger of the hand to anyone was unacceptable, this is a serious insult;
- If you want to offend someone and run into trouble, you can safely call him a dog. It's a bit strange, because dogs are treated very kindly in Thailand. Comparing a man to a pig or a common lizard would also be offensive;
- The Thais are quite superstitious, they believe in spirits, love to guess and take astrology seriously;
- The Thais are a really self-centered nation, they really believe that Thailand is the best state on earth, and perhaps they are right about something here ...
Arriving in Thailand, you find yourself in a beautiful country known throughout the world for its many tourist attractions. Today, a lot here is built on the tourism industry and revolves around it, so "unknowing" tourists are allowed a lot and a lot is forgiven. The Thais won’t give a damn if they see that you got into trouble ... they won’t give, but they will definitely notice ...
Tourists who first arrived in the "Land of Smile" should clearly understand one simple thing. Known to those who have even the slightest interest in Thailand, Walking Street in Pattaya is just one of the exceptions to the rule, and not typical Thailand. In fact, the ancient Kingdom of Siam is quite different. Do not jump to conclusions and respect the culture and customs of the country in which you are just a guest ...
Video from Travel Guide about brave Thai snake catchers
A short but rather intense video about Thai snake catchers. Snake catchers are part of the cultural traditions of Thailand. The venom of the king cobra is used in the manufacture of many medicines and has a high price. Cobra is not killed, but settled on a special snake farm.