Thai Culture Pulls Me In
I have been thinking about this question for a while now. I don’t want to be stereotypical about it and say it’s because they are nice, and smile all the time. But a lot of it really comes down to their nature. They are some of the kindest, most generous, most patient, hard-working I have ever met. Every single day, I am walking down the streets of Chiang Mai, and I notice all of the awesome qualities embodied by Thai people. It isn’t just one or two people, but literally everyone who is like that. Very few exceptions really.
Instead of talking about them, I want this post to be more about examples. Real life examples that I have encountered that really showcase Thai nature and culture.
This story is meant to indicate the patience and community that is really apparent here.
I was sitting at one of my favourite street food stalls near Loi Kroh road. The lady who runs the stall is highly communicative, and warm. She speaks and understands a lot of English considering she probably learned all of it in passing from foreigners who frequent her food stall. She also is highly generous in her portions and makes delicious pork noodle soup. It is absolutely brimming to the top of the bowl with green veggies, sprouts, delicious broth, and lots of pork. Only for 40 baht. Such a deal.
Dogs Are Usually Calm Here
As I am sitting there enjoying this delicious concoction, I notice a bunch of dogs barking and running on the streets. Dogs rarely bark here as they are treated so well, they have no reason to be aggressive. But these dogs were excited. Unfortunately, a lady who was on her motorbike got startled by the dogs and slid off the road. She was on the ground with the bike over one leg, and she wasn’t moving.
Everyone all around was in shock. But within a few seconds, there were six or seven people who had either stopped their own motorbikes and gotten off to help, or were eating in stalls all around. Some of these people must have been on their way somewhere important, but they all got off their motorbikes and helped this stranger patiently and kindly.
Ambulance Service Is Surprisingly Fast
People let her stay on the ground as they didn’t want to move her in case she had a head injury. Someone called the ambulance (which arrived in a matter of minutes, which is highly impressive to me). Eventually, when she was ready to start moving, people helped her get up, and checked her for injuries. Someone moved her bike to the side for her. Others got her something hot to drink.
I don’t know if any of these people knew her or each other. But it seemed to be that the community is so strong here that they all pitched in to help a person in need. It really soothed my soul to see such camaraderie.
A man from the stall next door took a little stool over to her so she could sit on it. That cinched it for me. As soon as I feel sad about the state of affairs in this world, I think about that little scene that I encountered while sitting at a food stall in Chiang Mai (CM) and it warms my soul.
The Watermelon Guy
This story is meant to illustrate the care everyone here in Thailand takes over their work. They are so meticulous here that I feel ashamed about my own work ethic or integrity every single time. Anyways, there are so many examples of their work ethic, but I will speak about two.
Watermelon Seeds Begone
There is this guy who sells cut fruits in a plastic bag near where I live. I actually sit down sometimes and watch him cut the fruit. He takes each piece of fruit as it were a child. He handles them carefully and then makes precise cuts to ensure all the different pieces of fruit are alike in shape and size. Then, he spends at least ten minutes removing all the seeds from each piece of watermelon. Finally, he places the watermelon pieces into the plastic bag aligned in a way that it looks like they have never been cut at all.
I love watching him work, and it reminds me again about the patience that they inculcate in everything they do.
Night Bazaar Put Up And TakeDown
Another example of this are the bazaars, specifically the Night Bazaar. I live next to the Night Bazaar, and I love watching them put the bazaar up and take it down every single day. The pavements that the Night Bazaar lives on each night is empty during the day. In fact, if you didn’t know there was a bazaar there at night, you would have no idea that the bazaar takes place on that particular piece of pavement. It is immaculate and empty.
But every day, at around 430 to 5pm, hundreds of vendors descend upon these pavements, with lots of metal rods, and boxes filled with goods. They then set up their stalls over the next hour or so. Slowly and meticulously, they put up their stalls. As I said, I sometimes watch these individuals put up their stalls, and it always amazes me how careful they are each time they do it.
To me it seems like absolute torture. Putting something up everyday and taking it down every night. Yikes!
Sexuality in Thailand is so ethereal and ever-changing. I find Thai people to be the most accepting of cultures to all forms of sexuality. I have been told that there are four different sexes in Thailand: ladyboys, tomboys, male, and female. That might be a simplification of sorts, but it gives you an idea of how accepting they are of everyone here.
Ladyboys are the gorgeous women you will see walking around the streets in high heels, short dresses, and oodles of makeup. They are men who are dressed up as women. It seems that the reason there are a lot of effeminate men in Thailand is because the last boy in the family is treated more like a girl than a boy. I don’t know the reason behind it, but that is just their tradition. These women will knock your socks off, and most of the time, Farangs (foreigners) are unaware that they are chatting up and flirting with a man. It is quite hilarious actually.
This one was a major surprise to me. There are many women in Thai culture who behave like men. They dress like men, take out women and treat them to gifts, and are very masculine in their gestures and behaviours. At first, I wondered if they are lesbians, but that’s not it. They truly are men in the essential sense of it. You will be remiss to call them lesbians in any sense. Fascinating, right?
Finally, I want to talk about the patience and considerateness that is displayed by all Thai people. They are so kind and considerate. For example, you will see people mopping around street dogs that are sleeping on their floors rather than wake that animal up. Or you will see people crossing streets to avoid disturbing birds that are having a nice meal on the pavement in front of them. More than that, you will see them smiling at everything that moves, and sitting in patient lines for ages without fidgeting or anger.
You really notice the difference between Farangs and Thai people, when a Farang gets up and start yelling at the counter lady about a delayed meal. Whereas Thai people will sit patiently for hours if necessary. I have truly learned the meaning of patience in Chiang Mai where everything moves at a slower pace.
I Love Thai Culture
So many different ways to love the culture here, I haven’t even outlined all of them here. But I wanted to give you a little idea of why it is so amazing to experience Thai culture in its entirety by living for a few months in Chiang Mai. I will surely miss it when I leave.
Let me know what you thought of Thai culture and what spoke to you about their culture.