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….

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at ThailandeBooks.com. There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.

2 thoughts on “Thai People, Thai Friends”

  1. I really like this post! You have really nailed one of the essential differences btwn western and eastern culture.

    If you’ve seen my site at all, you know where I stand on the issue.

    Mostly, I’m just glad to see someone talking about these things!

    ~Chani

  2. Hello Vern
    Thanks for taking the trouble to leave a comment on my blog (http://doodeesthailand.blogspot.com/).
    Thanks too for your kind words.
    I’ve had a look at your blog and webpage. They look good. It’s obvious that you’re putting a lot of time and effort in to them. Well done!
    I wish you all the best in your endeavours
    Doodee

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