Touring Guide

Rough Guide to touring

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Not only a Rough Guide to touring but many other facets of Thai culture. Culture, etiquette and the law Tourist literature has marketed Thailand as the "Land of Smiles" so successfully that a lot of visitors arrive in the country expecting to be forgiven for any outrageous behaviour. This is just not the case: there are some things so universally sacred in Thailand that even a hint of disrespect will cause deep offence. Please use your common sense and above all be polite when with us, we've a reputation to uphold! I don't appreciate having to take somebody aside for a lack of basic good manners. They may be staff and continue to smile while you're berating them but that's no excuse for a lack of common decency. TAT publishes a special leaflet on the subject, entitled Do's and Don'ts in Thailand, reproduced below; I've added my personal experience below the TAT paragraph(s) Thai people are extremely polite and their behaviour is controlled by etiquette and also influenced by Buddhism. Thai society is non-confrontational, and so avoid confrontations at all costs. In fact it gets you an awful lot further being polite in my experience, even down to haggling for a bargain in the markets. This isn't Turkey/Africa with the hard-nosed business approach. My wife taught me a little trick, don't bargain at all! She simply stands there chewing the fat with them, pleasantly and politely, after 15min or so they figure you're a decent sort, and because they like you the price comes tumbling down without ever even discussing it! Never lose your patience or show your anger, now matter how frustrating or desperate the situation because this is considered a weakness in the Thai society. It is important to cultivate and art of diplomacy when traveling in Asia. Conflicts can be easily resolved with a smile. Especially with an authority figure. The more you protest, the more doors slam shut in your face. Don't even DREAM of spouting your rights! Dress code is also important. Thais like to dress smartly and neatly. Do not wear revealing clothing such as shorts, low cut dresses or bathing suits as they are considered improper attire in Thailand. Keep in mind that this type of clothing is only acceptable on the beach. It is advisable to wear long skirts or long trousers when entering a temple. And, of course, shoes off. You must also never step on the threshold itself, but over it. Women should not touch monks. If a woman wants to hand something to the monks, she must do so indirectly by placing the item within the monks reach. Remove shoes when entering houses and temples. Public display of affection between sexes is also frowned upon. Lady guest of ours also had a number of black looks after sitting next to a monk on a bus, not touching but apparently there was a small chance a jolt COULD have thrown them together. Avoid touching people. The head is the highest part of the body, so avoid touching it. The feet are the least sacred, so avoid pointing it at anyone, as it is extremely insulting to do so. Thais usually do not shake hands. The Thais are in fact very touchy-feely people without our western reserve. If a bloke puts his arm around you it doesn't mean he's coming on to you, no need to get upset. Still can't get used to it though! Now this feet being the lowest part of the body, leads to all kinds of other complications. Very, VERY rude indeed to show the soles of your feet, so DON'T lean back in your chair with your feet on the table you ignorant so-and-so! Even crossing your leg with ankle on knee and the sole pointing toward somebody is frowned on. You must never point at somebody/something with your feet, or pick something up with your foot and pass it to somebody (Thai traits, we tend to use our fingers!). When sitting in a temple your feet must never point towards Buddha, sit cross-legged or 'mermaid style' with them tucked out behind you. Finally, and this is the BIGGEST no-no, should you drop a coin or note of the realm, to stop it rolling/blowing away YOU MUST NEVER put your foot on it! This is akin to putting your foot on the King's head and the ultimate insult. The ‘Wai’ is the usual greeting. The hands are placed together and raised upwards towards the face while the head is lowered with a slight bow. The height to which the hands are held depends on the status of the people involved. In case of monks, higher dignitaries, and elderly, hands are raised to the bridge of the nose, while with equals only as far from the chest. Young people and inferiors are not Wai’d but a slight nod is acceptable. If in doubt, you can use the stranger's wai, tips of the thumbs at the chin and index fingers to the nose. Or don't instigate the Wai at all, however you must aknowledge one. Don't think you're doing somebody a favour by demonstrating the wai higher than necessary, you're not giving them elevated status, simply showing your ignorance. Any Thai worth his or her salt will reach out and lower your hands to the correct level. As with bowing the head too low, or looking like a nodding dog, very slight dip all that's necessary. As with anywhere else respect must be earned. Do not blow your nose or lick your fingers while eating. The right hand must be used when picking up food eaten with fingers. When entering a foreign culture for the first time, it is highly likely to make a mistake. If you do so, just smile or ‘Wai’ and you will be forgiven. Practical this, as you wash your bum with the left hand! It's also considered very rude to spit (can be fined for this) but you'll see it all the time, and having a finger buried to the third knuckle up your nose appears to be perfectly acceptable! The Royal Family are held in the highest regard, are almost worshipped, and I believe rightly so. The King is considered the father of the country and every single Thai one of his children with equal importance. The amount of good this man does for the country is almost unbelievable. Unlike other royal families he's actually out and about, seeing where improvements need to be made and implementing them. Nothing goes through parliament without his say-so, and he's no dummy figurehead. Many bills have been thrown out in the last few years as he didn't believe they were in the country's best interests. A damn fine man, I won't hear a bad word spoken against him and neither will the Thais, never disrespect him in public. Drunken Swedish chap took a spray can to a few of his posters last year, sentenced to 10 years without chance of parole,so.....

 

Rough Guide to touring - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote