Getting Nervous About Acting Appropriately!

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by Steven Schwartz, Jan 7, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    2,195
    Status Points:
    1,270
    We leave for Thailand next Monday and my wife went to the library this weekend to get some books about the country. One was a typical Frommer guidebook and one is about behavior and is called Culture Shock Thailand - A Guide to Customs and Etiquette. OMG - 275 pages of how to act. The worst part is that much of it, it seems to me, is based on status which you somehow have to determine. Sure, the bellman is "lower" status than the guest but so much to learn.

    How to wai depending on who you are wai-ing. What to do in many situations and realizing how different Thais not only act, but apparently expect foreigners/visitors to act. I promise I won't sit down in front of a monk but so much to learn.

    I'm hoping that by being nice, and, of course, non-confrontational, and by smiling a lot, I can get by. Can anyone give me the Cliff's Notes version that I can absorb in the next few days so I can be the kind of guest I want to be? Thanks!
     
    sobore, jbcarioca, Kalboz and 2 others like this.
  2. skyvan

    skyvan Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,044
    Likes Received:
    3,688
    Status Points:
    2,045
    Don't worry. Just don't say bad things about the King and show your respect during the anthem if you go to a movie and you'll be fine.
     
    jbcarioca, Kalboz and marcwint55 like this.
  3. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,516
    Likes Received:
    4,573
    Status Points:
    2,570
    I've been to Thailand twice and my brother lives in Bangkok. The most important thing is to never raise your voice to someone. Yelling at someone is the biggest insult possible.

    Do not ever touch a monk, as it is a sign of disrespect. Proper dress is appropriate when entering the temples, of which there are many.

    Other than that there really is nothing special that you need to know. The people are extremely polite and friendly and will go out of their way to please you.

    If you decide to get massages ( which I highly recommend as they are fantastic and extremely reasonable ), I would ask the hotel concierge for recommendations, or you may end up at one of the happy ending locations. My (at the time) underage son was even offered such services at a non recommended location we went to.

    The traffic in Bangkok can be miserable, so allow time to get to where you are going. I like the tuk-tuk method of travel, but the taxis are probably a bit safer in case of an accident.

    If you go to a movie theater while there, you will be asked to stand while they pay respect to the royal family prior to the show.

    I really did not encounter any situations where any form of status came into play.

    I ate food from many street vendors, but I would recommend being careful.

    Have a great time.
     
  4. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    2,195
    Status Points:
    1,270
    I'm closing my eyes and trying to imagine the US getting a King and no one saying a bad thing about him!

    Thanks guys - doesn't seem too hard. And BTW, have your son PM me with the addresss.......... ONLY KIDDING!
     
  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,503
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
  6. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

    Messages:
    8,994
    Likes Received:
    22,425
    Status Points:
    14,520
    The same here Doc, never had to worry about who's who even though I have encountered a PM and a Princess at two different occasions at JW Marriott's New York Steakhouse and once saw the King himself with his entourage going through the river. All these situations demanded respect just like we'd respect our leaders.
    [​IMG]
    King of Thailand & entourage at the Chaophraya River​
    [​IMG]
    (former) PM Taksin Shinwatra at the JW Marriott's New York Steakhouse​
    As for performing the Wai (the Thai greeting), as a foreigner I wouldn't worry about doing it. I never had to do it, and when I am greeted, I smile and say hello and add the word "krup" (could be pronounced as "cup") as a sign of respect. When ladies say hello or goodby, they add a "Ka" to their greeting. So your wife would say "hello ka" or "goodby ka" and you'd be saying "hello kup", "goodbye kup", etc.​
     
    TRAVELSIG, sobore and jbcarioca like this.
  7. jbcarioca
    Original Member

    jbcarioca Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,507
    Likes Received:
    57,455
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I always wai. While few people expect foreigners to do it, they do like the gesture. When meeting someone either wai or shake hands, doing neither is rude although people are generally accustomed to rude foreigners. During 45 years of travel to or living in Thailand much has changed, but the courtesy of people has not. Smiling, a modest wai and a soft voice do miracles. A few words of Thai do even more.

    For some years my house was beside the 'house' of a well known senior Thai Royal person. All the royalty coming in and out either ignored other people or were correctly polite. Should you encounter one of those be careful of the bodyguards. They're easy to recognize; they are the ones who are large and not smiling.
     
  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,503
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    What country do you live in? ;)
     
    Kalboz and jbcarioca like this.
  9. jbcarioca
    Original Member

    jbcarioca Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,507
    Likes Received:
    57,455
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Most people, regardless of their views, show respect to leaders when they encounter them. It is worthwhile to note that one need not show deference to a Thai PM, but always to the King, and many people even to the less admirable crown prince.
     
    sobore, skyvan and Kalboz like this.
  10. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

    Messages:
    8,994
    Likes Received:
    22,425
    Status Points:
    14,520
    The good 'ol US of A :)

    OT: Believe it or not, I do respect our elected officials and consider them public servants doing a job not too many of us can or willing to do regardless of which party they belong to. I had great respect & admiration for my Congressman (Bob Dornan) even though I voted against him on every occasion until he was finally defeated by our current Rep. Loretta Sanchez. I was also very upset with the maltreatment and disrespect our President Clinton endured due to the Lewinsky affairs. And most currently, I am very disappointed with the abnormally hateful atmosphere we are having in our political arena.
    Sure, I agree that in a social occasion a wai or a hand shake is appropriate ... I was talking more about when greeted by a hotel porter, FD clerk, or wait-staff. Although always respectful, I never wai-ed back, I acknowledge them with a smile and a "hello krup"! :)
    Living next to royalty? I am impressed Khun JB [bowing with a wai] ;)
     
    HaveMilesWillTravel likes this.
  11. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,421
    Likes Received:
    33,847
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Guess I should not have made the joke about 'Elvis' when I met the king.
    Should be out of jail soon.

    [​IMG]

    :D
     
  12. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

    Messages:
    8,994
    Likes Received:
    22,425
    Status Points:
    14,520
    This reminds me of the 2008 incident when an Aussie writer who was arrested while transferring at BKK and charged with lese-majesty, for an offending passage in his self-published book Verisimilitude. The book, which sold a mere 7 copies, mentioned the "romantic entanglements and intrigues" of members of the royalty. After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to three years in jail but then pardoned by the king after spending a month in jail, released, and deported.
     
    jbcarioca and sobore like this.
  13. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    297
    Status Points:
    435
    Dear Steven,

    First of all I would like to wish you and your partner and lovely holiday in Thailand.
    I played a game of tennis with my Auntie Maria at the weekend and my back is a little sore.
    She is a mean left hander who would leave the great and never forgotten John McEnroe pale.
    Thus please forgive me if I do not offer a Wei on this occasion.

    As to my own way of adding a little contribution to this thread and mindful of repeating what has already been said, here is a link, which may turn out useful when in the Land of Smiles.

    http://www.realthairecipes.com/articles/how-to-eat-like-a-thai/

    Dec 09 Thailand 121.jpg

    You are unlikely to be given a knife in most places. Fork and spoon is the norm. Rice is always served separately. Dishes are likely to arrive all together (unlike western expectations for first and main courses). A soup is likely to feature regularly as part of the meal. Observing what the locals order and how they eat is fascinating and a great learning opportunity about a different culture.

    All the very best and travel safe.
    Giorgio Federico
     
  14. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    2,195
    Status Points:
    1,270
    Thanks Giorgio and feel better. 5 days and counting!
     
    jbcarioca and Kalboz like this.
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,503
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    It is quite interesting to see those two bolded sentences together in one paragraph and then look at the history of Bob Dornan and President Clinton on Dornan's wikipedia page. It seems that Dornan may not have shared your approach to respecting other elected officials.

    But that's all off-topic. I certainly respect elected officials the same way I respect other people.
     
    jbcarioca and Kalboz like this.
  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,503
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    I am jealous... and hungry, thanks to Giorgio :)
     
    jbcarioca, Kalboz and sobore like this.
  17. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,421
    Likes Received:
    33,847
    Status Points:
    16,520
    +1 If you can't bring enough for the entire class.....
     
  18. BWIflyer
    Original Member

    BWIflyer Silver Member

    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    585
    Status Points:
    595
    Did he write another book about his experience in jail! LOL
     
    jbcarioca and Kalboz like this.
  19. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

    Messages:
    8,994
    Likes Received:
    22,425
    Status Points:
    14,520
    Funny that you should ask ... he did promise to do so upon getting released from prison: Freed author to write of jail hell
    OMG, if you meet the guy you would never know that such venom and hate can come from such a personable character ... thanks for the link, I wasn't aware of all that.
     
  20. jbcarioca
    Original Member

    jbcarioca Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,507
    Likes Received:
    57,455
    Status Points:
    20,020
    There does seem to be an amazing capacity for politicians to exude vitriol before their core constituents while behaving civilly or better before each other face-to-face. Several recent cases in point that I have observed include amazing gentle face-to-face encounters in Brazil; the US; Spain; Italy; France and so on. In a fair number of countries politicians have spoken civilly to each other even as one was plotting to assassinate the other.

    Seems to me Bob Dorman vs President Clinton is typical. Today in the US has become another story. I recall ex-President G W Bush saying:
    “If this were a dictatorship it would be a heck of a lot easier... as long as I'm the dictator. Hehehe.”


    The US, and a number of other countries, seem to have many people who accept democracy so long as the outcome favors their personal views. Regardless of political views that simply is not the way democracy works, but it is the way totalitarian societies masquerading as democracies often work.

    The Thai penchant for public civility often at odds with personal views is one I admire. People who detest each other still must manage to live side-by-side.
     
    Kalboz likes this.
  21. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    2,195
    Status Points:
    1,270
    We're finally here and having an amazing experience. I have an important question and I need a quick answer! The hotel arranged a guide for us and it included a wonderful guide and a driver. The total per day is 2500 Baht, 7500 total for three days.

    I spoke to the Concierge when we got back to the hotel today (day 2 of 3) to let them know how happy we are with her and to ask about tipping guidelines. He certainly said it is appropriate if we wanted to but would not give us any guidelines about what was appropriate. So please help me - what't the right number for her and for the driver? Same amount? I want to do the right thing but not be crazy!

    Thanks all and, of course, thanks for all the help from so many Milepointers who helped make this trip possible and successful!
     
    sobore and jbcarioca like this.
  22. jbcarioca
    Original Member

    jbcarioca Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,507
    Likes Received:
    57,455
    Status Points:
    20,020
    When I'm in that situation I typically tip about 250 Baht per day for the guide, about 125 or so for the driver. When they're magnificent I often add about 25-50% to those amounts for the guide, rarely for the driver. YMMV though. There is no hard and fast rule.

    It's great that you're having a wonderful time. :D
     
    TRAVELSIG and sobore like this.
  23. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

    Messages:
    8,994
    Likes Received:
    22,425
    Status Points:
    14,520
    JB's above advice is reasonable for all-day tour guides/drivers ...

    When tipping, one has to consider that Thailand's minimum wage is less than $10 per day and it is not uncommon that college educated people make around $300/month on average. I am not advocating the exploitation of these folks, but please weigh your tips giving at hotels/tours/restaurants with this in mind. Fancy places (such as the Grand Hyatt Erawan) apply 10% service charge to your bill, so no need to tip, unless you wanted to and if the staff went above and beyond in providing service. Cash places, I'd just leave the coins for tip after getting your change back. Porters and other hotel staff that help you with your luggage, a THB 100 (around $3) tip should suffice.

    We expect a trip report soon & many photos ;)
     
  24. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    2,195
    Status Points:
    1,270
    Knew I could count on you guys!

    BTW Kal - it will be excruciating hard to choose pictures - so much beauty here!
     
    jbcarioca, Kalboz and estnet like this.
  25. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,749
    Likes Received:
    2,117
    Status Points:
    1,270
    YES:)
     
    jbcarioca and Kalboz like this.

Share This Page