German Family in Thailand for 1st Time

Met this guy and his family last night. They’d never been to Thailand and he had some questions…

1. Q: “I can’t imagine that anyone in Thailand ever dies of a heart attack. Don’t they stress out about anything?”

A: Nope… they really don’t. I can’t even remember one instance where I heard a Thai say anything about worrying what is going to happen in the future. They are not oriented to be looking at the future, and definitely not worrying about it. Anxiety and worry seem to be missing entirely from the culture.

Anybody experience anything different?

2. Q: “The roads are just…” (he couldn’t find the words for a long time) Eventually he came up with it… “Are there are no RULES in Thailand.”

A: No, there really are not. That’s why I stay here. It’s really nice to not worry about the ridiculous things in life like speeding 10 mph over the speed limit. He told me a story about visiting Miami, Florida ten years back. He was speeding a bit to get to a place he had a reservation – about 10 mph over the 55 speed limit. A big highway patrol officer grabbed him by the shirt and said – I AM THE LAW, when he asked the cop to show a photo and prove he was speeding.

Whether true or not – whatever, the point is that there are laws in Thailand, but the police and everybody else is not that strict on enforcing them. At all. Public pressure to enforce something – leads to more enforcement, but in general the Thais are live and let live type of people.

I hate to say it, because the mere mention of Apple makes me cringe, but, “It just works.” Thailand just works. Things work themselves out. Some people love it and some can’t deal with it. At times I’ve embraced it – and at times I’ve ranted and raved, probably like a lunatic. Eventually I come to terms with it and accept it, or just work it out. There’s nothing else to do.

Life in Germany was considerably different, he said. He couldn’t imagine a life in Thailand – his head just couldn’t wrap around it.

I think that must be the feeling a lot of people have about moving to and living in Thailand. Those of us from the west just can’t wrap our heads around it. It takes years for most of us to really adjust and start living even a little bit like Thais. Most of us cannot. I see it everyday. I have friends that have lived in the country for years and years… and they’re still holding onto the US, UK, Canadian mindset.

Thailand is an amazing place to live… I hope it stays this way.

What do you think?

Thailand Has Zebra Gods?

Buddhism and Animism have been all blended together in Thailand and at the top of a hill next to the highway I flew by this zebra shrine at 105 kph. I asked myself for the next few seconds – “Did I just see that?”.

I turned around and found the biggest zebra shrine I’ve ever seen in Thailand before. In fact, I don’t think I remember seeing one before.

I asked the people praying at the zebra shrine altar what it was all about – and the guy told me – luck, which is just about all I caught from him. He spoke Thai fast and it was southern Thai – so, I’m always lost there. It sounds like – aaaaaeeeoooowwwweeeeeyyyyyaaaaaa and I get lost in the first sentence trying to figure out what in the world he could be saying.

I did hear – prayers and luck. Apparently he brought a zebra up there and lit some incense and was expecting some good luck for it.

When was the last time you saw someone pray to zebras for luck?

Right, me neither…

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge.

 

Thailand Tips #8: Do As the Thais Do

I’ve seen tourists at a local Buddhist temple here that are completely clueless about what they’re doing. It’s bizarre to me that some tourists walk into Big C without a shirt like they’re in downtown Pattaya. It’s more bizarre to Thais who don’t know what to say to people that disregard their culture to such an extent as this. The phrase “do as the locals do” means nothing to many of the tourists I see in Krabi on an almost daily basis.

Here’s some help – not because you asked, but because you didn’t…

1. No Thai rides a motorbike without a shirt. You shouldn’t either. In Patong, Pattaya – there are enough visitors doing it that it’s almost become the norm. It shouldn’t have, but since most people visiting those spots are there for the prostitutes and beer, they don’t care all that much about how they act and do as they wish. It’s Thai culture not to say anything so as not to offend you or embarrass you. It doesn’t mean you should do it. Thais will think you’re key nok (bird shite).

2. No Thai EVER will go into a store without a shirt. Nor should you. I’ve seen about a dozen foreigners in Big C and Tesco without shirts. It’s offensive to Thais and it’s like putting a sign on your hairy back that you’re someone that could give a $h!t about the people’s culture you’re temporarily visiting.

3. Being at a Buddhist temple without your shirt is not OK. It’s sacrilege for god’s sake. Would you take your shirt off at the vatican?

4. Touching the Buddhist statues, standing on them, leaning on them, is not OK.

5. Sitting with your feet pointed at the Buddha statues – or at any Thai people is NOT OK. Read something about the culture before you visit.

6. Bikini tops and/or bottoms are not OK at the Buddhist temples or anywhere off the beach. Not in a store. Not on the motorbike.

7. Blowing your nose loudly is not OK.

8. Picking your teeth without covering your mouth with your other hand is not OK.

9. Holding hands, kissing, walking with your hand around your whore’s girl’s waist you just found in the bar after 10 minutes of talk and groping , is not OK.

10. Thais don’t bring their bargirls or barboys home to where they live. Never. They take them to short-time hotels that are usually hidden from the main streets and sometimes even have curtains to hide your vehicle when you pull in.

Foreign Visitors to Buddhist Temples in Thailand (Please take note)

Yesterday and since tourist season started I’ve been seeing something disturbing.

People coming to Thailand on vacation that don’t think to read up on proper behavior not only in Krabi town, but at Krabi Buddhist temples before coming on vacation.

People, let me explain… Thailand is NOT Germany. This is NOT Italy. This is NOT France, America or the UK.

The following behavior is not only uncool, but totally shocking to the traditional Thai people that live in areas outside Pattaya, and Patong beach…

Walking around Krabi town with your shirt off. Guys and girls. Anywhere except AT the beach, standing on the sand, it is completely inappropriate to have your shirt off.

I saw at least 4 idiots (men) at the Wat Tum Sua temple without shirts on yesterday. Walking around shirtless at a Buddhist temple in front of the monks and nuns!

Unbelievable the idiocy that abounds. People, you cannot take your shirt off at a temple. At most temples you SHOULDN”T have uncovered legs or even bare arms… Wat Tum Sua is a bit of an odd temple because there are 1,237 steps to climb to the top of the temple. So, yes, it’s a workout. But, at no point is it OK to take off your shirt. If you’re hot and sweaty drink some water. Pour it over yourself even.

If you’ll notice, most Thai men have pants and shirts on as they walk up the steps. It’s not because they don’t understand that shorts and no shirt would be cooler… it’s that it DOESN’T MATTER. There is a code of conduct to be followed when you’re at a Buddhist temple. They understand what they can and can’t do at a temple.

Most tourists

1.) Don’t give it a thought.

2.) Don’t bother to find out.

3.) Do as they do in their own country.

or

4.) Do as they do all over Thailand the same as they do in Pattaya and Patong beach.

Would you take your shirt off at the Vatican? I’ve not been there – but I couldn’t imagine it being standard operating procedure.

It’s not OK to drive your motorbike away from Ao Nang beach with your shirt off.

It’s not OK to walk down Chao Fa road without a shirt.

It’s not OK for women to go topless at Nopparat Thara beach or ANY beach in Thailand that isn’t well secluded from people.

It is not OK for you to touch Buddhist objects with your hands…

Yesterday I saw something more outrageous than even what I mentioned already…

I saw a woman at the top of the mountain at Wat Tum Sua put her bare foot up against a Buddhist statue so she could lean in further to get a better photo! Really!

I didn’t have time to pull my camera out and get the shot – but from now on I’ll have it ready everytime I go up. It’s nuts what tourists are doing all over Thailand.

Visitors to Thailand – have some respect and find out what is OK behavior and what is not. Thais’ don’t go to your country and piss on your crucifixes you know?

Krabi is full of things to do from adventure to getting comatose on a beach bar stool. Up to you.

Now, THAT’S a FIRE… Thailand’s Fire Free-For-All

One of the things you must love about Thailand is that there isn't the micro-management (intrusion) into your daily life. If you want to do something in Thailand you just DO IT.
Especially when you are a foreigner living here and know most of the rules that are set in stone, and some of the social rules of etiquette that aren't breached.

The Thai's just "DO". They don't ask if it's going to offend someone because they know, the predominant attitude is "mai pen rai" and just about anything goes.  They also don't like confrontation much, so there is usually little to be said at at all when someone intrudes on someone's personal space or other imaginary rights we all think we have.

I was reminded of this early this morning after I showed up for work, only to be greeted by a metal gate across the door – closed and padlocked. Hmm… guess the teachers didn't get back from their trip yet, and guess nobody else decided to come in to work. Today IS a work day, but, "mai pen rai".

I head out to the internet cafe – thinking I'll download this software update for my new phone – e70.  (Yes, for those of you following I updated to this one now – and I don't think it's perfect either, but it was only 17000b and better than Dopod's 31,000 baht.)  I'm hanging on for the Motorola Q q9 or gsm which are supposed to arrive later this year.

So – I get to the internet place. I ask  – station for laptop?  Nope.  I go next door. Notebook?  Yes.  I take a cable with RJ-45 connector off a desktop computer and attach it to the notebook. Fire it up. No internet.

Rather than troubleshoot it – I "mai pen rai" it and head out the door saying, "internet, mai mee … mai pen rai krup…."  she said, oh, "mai pen rai".

I get out to the motorsai and a truck has parked in back of it – close enough that there are no exits to get it out. I put my helmet on and look at the people standing around. They tell each other – farang wants to get out. I stand and wait. They finish putting things in the back of the truck.  I expect they'll move then. Nope. They run down checklists and chit-chat for another 70 seconds. I stand there and sweat, considering saying something – knowing full-well that this is another case of mai pen rai, but I'm hot and a farang and if I wanted I could gripe and they'd get out of the way.  I hold my breath and finally someone moves the truck forward a foot.

As I drive away someone pulls out in front of me across the entire lane of traffic to do a u-turn from the far left side of where they were parked.

I slow down and stop, thinking, mai pen rai is getting WORN OUT today.

Anyway… I get home.

I think – today is a good day for that FIRE I've been wanting to make to burn all the paper and cardboard crap we don't need to drop off at the trash. I love a good fire.

I pile up the leaves, boxes, papers, and junk in the driveway and set it ablaze. There is a lot of wind today but that's a bonus because then the smoke isn't JUST blowing into one family's house, but multiple, so there's less concentration of smoke.

I'm not sure we're allowed to burn anything in this housing complex as I've never seen anyone else do it, but hell, people burn ANYWHERE they want in Thailand and I wanted my chance today.

I fired that bonfire up and it was a little bit close to the rubber tree plantation for comfort after it got going  (see pic of where I started it).  I wanted the fire to be away from the house, and I figured the concrete wall would stop it from getting to the rubber tree farm, but after the fire started kicking up smoldering ash as high as 3 meters or so, I wasn't so sure.  I started wondering about the proclivity for rubber trees to burn… hmmm.  Rubber burns like mother… but, the latexy sap that comes out of these trees is so wet, I really doubt it would burn too well.

I've been wrong before though and I had more than a few thoughts that I was going to launch a forest fire before I was finished.

I threw a metal shovel on the pile to hold stuff down a bit and let it smolder instead of rage on in 2 meter flames.

That worked and I had my fire.

Smoke filled the neighborhood and people came out to see who the offender was and I waved…

Mai pen rai my good neighbors… mai pen rai… don't you love the attitude here? 

Sometimes it even works FOR ya.

Thai Culture: Thai People Sleep ANYWHERE!

Thai man sleeping on the street
I don’t really have a problem with this, it’s actually quite funny. I have seen more people sleep in the strangest places, than ever before in my life.

Thai people can really fall asleep just about anywhere. I’ve posted a couple examples on this page… then a link to a news story that happened recently, months after this post was originally posted.

In the first there is a man sleeping on the road. No, he didn’t just have an accident nor is he in a drunken stupor and fell down and knocked his hat off. He’s sleeping on a road at a resort on the island of Ko Samui. My girlfriend and I were just riding around this ultra-nice resort (for Samui) and we crested a hill and nearly ran into about 6 people laying down on the road… I wasn’t quick enough to think fast enough to tell my girlfriend to HURRY, GET THE CAMERA, but that would have been the ultimate photo to explain what I’m talking about.

This one we were ready for… around the next bend and over the next hill crest we see this guy and she snapped this photo like a champ!

In the photo below there is a boy in my Mathyom 3 English (Math) class that has fallen asleep DURING my exam! It happened quickly, one second he was awake and struggling with it (or struggling against falling asleep), and by the time I had turned around he was out cold.

Thai student sleeping during exam

There were more kids trying to sleep in my class than is reasonable. Yeah, it’s a boring class – MATH IS BORING. I livened it up sometimes with some shenanigans – but, overall it’s boring as hell, I gotta admit.
At least science class might have a tiny PIECE of something one might get interested in. Math – uhm, nope. Unless I WAS INTERESTING, the class was bored because math is just BLAH to 15 year olds.

Other places I’ve seen Thai people sleep:

  • All over a wat – (Buddhist temple). I think some come there JUST to sleep.
  • On a coconut palm that was sort of horizontal over the beach.
  • In hammocks – ANYWHERE – they put a hammock up between two trucks.
  • In a hammock UNDER a truck – attached to the frame of the bed of a 20 wheeled truck.
  • Anywhere they are having monks chant.
  • During meditation.
  • In their office.
  • At a restaurant.
  • In their car, taxi, tuk-tuk, or song-laew.
  • On bleachers at a sports game.
  • On a motorbike as their friend is driving – the driver is HOLDING the drunk, sleeping person upright to keep him or her from falling off the bike.
  • I’ve also seen guys NOT being held by someone else, just leaning hard on the driver – with his arms wrapped around the driver – and not falling off, but unconscious for sure.

Man falls asleep in comfortable bed – AFTER HE ROBS someone’s house!
..
.

Thai People, Thai Friends

Thai culture: Getting to know Thai people

If you stay here a bit you might find this to be true. Even
if you think you are getting to know the Thai people and
becoming their good friend, in reality – you are separated by a thick membrane of differences.

Thai’s grow up with a completely different environment. What is important to them and what is not important is vastly different from any foreigner’s experience. Sometimes I think we are WORLDS apart in how we look at
things and in what we believe.

To me, Thais’ appear to have little depth. On the surface that sounds callous, but, given that we’re completely different – it is not really a bad thing. My idea of depth is something I picked up in the environment of the USA.

Depth to me means – caring about achievement, caring about a person’s feelings, expressing true emotions so we all can know where the person stands… It involves things like – interest in things outside of the self… art?
politics? religion? questioning where we came from. interest in other’s cultures. Interests in things outside of Thailand – anything! Interest in some hobbies or just some curiousity about some different areas of life that one doesn’t normally experience in their own culture… stuff like that.

Thais’ are not this way overall.

So – from my American perspective they have no depth. Depth is a quality that is revered in America and, from what I’ve picked up from my friends from other English speaking countries , other places too.

Now, WHY is there no “depth” as I call it?

They have a culture where Buddhism and Animism is what everything is, or more accurately, was based on.

Buddhism teaches impermanence. Everything is changing and there is nothing that is permanent and worth “grasping” or clinging to with the mind.

“Modernization” is changing this view of things, but slowly. In Bangkok and other tourist areas they are changing faster but in the rural provinces they are quite conventional in their views and outlook.

Thais’ seem to be “in the moment”, another Buddhist concept. They seem to rarely worry about the future or what happened in the past. In America we
tend to obsess over things that are wrong and things that are coming up that we fear – the Thais’ don’t. They may think about a problem as they’re discussing it with someone. They will work on it to resolve it.

But, when the conversation is over, I think that’s it. They leave it… and go on about living in the moment like they usually do.

This concept is quite baffling to us that come from a different perspective. To see Thais’ go about their day seemingly not worried about anything is a bit weird to us.

To see them not interested in cultures outside of their own is odd to us. To see them laugh beside the road as someone is lying dead in the street, their friend perhaps, is very strange to us.

But, it’s based on how they grew up. Nothing is permanent. This life is transitory too, same as our experiences in this life. Nothing is worth getting
worked up over… everything passes, this too shall pass (I heard somewhere).

To me – I think I would have liked better to grow up in Thai society where I don’t look at things as too serious. I don’t think too deeply about anything.
I don’t obsess about the future or crap that happened in the past that cannot be changed. I just move on, move forward, being in the moment and not being affected for the most part by small things that happen throughout the day that really, in the big picture, don’t mean a thing.

Mai Bpen Rai, Krup… is the prevailing attitude here. “fa get about it…” or “no worries mate…” or “no problem”… that’s really the attitude I’d like to have
more of…

Is it shallow? Without depth? Maybe to us, but it’s also an alternative to the weirdness that we’ve become in America and other cultures that take
everything so seriously….

Appearance IS E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G in Thailand

Appearance is everything in Thailand: kee nok is what it looks like

Appearance is everything in Thailand.

The Thais’ will be nice to you anyway, regardless
– but their real feeling when they see a
backpacker or other person from abroad (or another
Thai) that doesn’t shower much, dresses like hell, doesn’t shave, and just generally isn’t concerned about appearance is that they are “Kee Nok”.

Bird Shite.

Today I heard from a co-worker that he was given the axe at work. Fired. Not going to renew his contract for the next year. Now this guy takes teaching
seriously. He puts his heart into it. His time, his effort at school all go into his lesson plans. When we see him interact with the kids in the office – you can tell he GENUINELY cares about the kids and wants to teach them everything he can. That’s obvious to all of us that teach here (12 foreign teachers).

Yeah, they gave no explanation – just gave him a letter. We’ve chosen not to renew your contract. He is the ONLY one out of the teachers here. The guy is brilliant obviously genius level IQ. He’s about 46 years old from the states and has a bachelors degree and teaching certificate from somewhere – I forget where.

There is only one thing this guy DOESN’T have going for him in Thialand. His appearance isn’t cutting it. He’s overweight, doesn’t dress sharply, he is frequently unkempt. He is frequently unshaven. He is often times slovenly. His breath smells like cigarette smoke BAD. I think he smokes the roll your own cigarettes. His class put an ad for underarm deoderant in his mailbox.
To give a hint I guess – though I’ve not smelled that.

He usually has stains of some sort on his shirt or pants.

Twice he has cut his hair with scissors very short but you could see EVERY cut. Very odd hairstyle.

His teeth are greyish and black and he doesn’t seem to care. Cosmetic dental surgery here is VERY cheap.

SO, that’s the story. That’s what I’m thinking the story is anyway. Appearance in Thailand is absolutely everything there is. If you have it – you’re set. If you
don’t – you need to GET it.

Another guy here – covered with tattoos decided he was going to get cut too if he didn’t bail first – so he’s bailing.

Tattoos are not so great either. He covered his up with long-sleeves but he had some idea that he needed to show them to the kids and staff and that wasn’t going over all that well (like a BIG BIRD KEE NOK).

If you want to stay in Thailand and be relatively successful, work here, and have others treat you well not only to your face, but behind your back – you’d
do better if you play the part.

If you just don’t fit the part – no worries – appearances aren’t for everyone – and I’m quite tired of having to maintain one. I’d love to come to work in jeans and unshaven… but I also want to maintain some sort of level of respect from the kids, neighbors, and others.

Are you moving to Thailand anytime soon?

Living in Thailand – What is it like to live in Thailand? Could you do it? Follow one man’s journey.

Moving to Thailand – What is involved in moving across the globe to live in Thailand? What is it like? All your questions answered.

The Ultimate Guide to Teaching in Thailand – There have been a couple attempts at books that cover this subject. We have reviewed them and found them seriously lacking. Here is a very complete book on the subject.

No Shower? Smashed Fingers. Parental Discipline

I was talking to a teacher at lunch today… he related this incident.

He was teaching M1 physical education class this morning when he saw a 12 year old female student’s fingers bandaged up.

He asked her what happened and she didn’t want to say. He asked again. She said that she had to go to the hospital last night.
He asked, “Why?”

“I hurt my fingers…”

He said, “How?”

She said, “My father smashed my fingers and I had to go the hospital because I didn’t take a shower yesterday.”

He said, “WHAT?” She repeated it. The other kids were joking about it – but apparently that is what really happened.

I asked my girlfriend what she thought – and she told me that sometimes parents are really strict about certain things. Other kids are beat for not doing homework. Some are hit for not cleaning up. Some are hit for disrespect.

Overall from what I’ve seen I think that Thai parents are very lenient with their children. From life experience I’m guessing that overall parents from India are even MORE lenient, but I can’t think of another group that is in the same realm. Of course I don’t know every group. :P Nor do I like to generalize much, but of course that’s how we live our lives – basing what we believe and what we do on one generalization after another – leading to “who we are”. Anyway, that’s quite another post.

I’ve seen very few Thai parents hit their children here. Thai kids really do as they wish for the most part. I wish I had grown up here rather than in the USA for only this reason.

I’ve never had my fingers smashed with a hammer though…

Planning on moving to Thailand to spend some time – or a vacation?

Living in Thailand – What is it like to live in Thailand? Could you do it? Follow one man’s journey.

Moving to Thailand – What is involved in moving across the globe to live in Thailand? What is it like? All your questions answered.

The Ultimate Guide to Teaching in Thailand – There have been a couple attempts at books that cover this subject. We have reviewed them and found them seriously lacking. Here is a very complete book on the subject.