Shock - General
To say the Thais are laid back is a bit like saying the Germans
like to drink beer. They call Thailand, among other things, the
Land of Smiles, and the Thais certainly do smile a lot. In fact,
they just love to party. They are certainly among the happiest,
friendliest, most delightful people in the world (most of the
time!). This is great if you're in Thailand on vacation, but if
you live there, sooner or later, you're going need a Thai to do
something for you, whether its getting a faulty drain fixed, getting
a telephone installed, whatever. All the travel books on Thailand
will tell you that whatever happens, keep cool, and above all
keep smiling, as loud shouting and angry behaviour will get you
precisely nowhere with the Thais. What they don't tell you, is
that nowhere, but nowhere on dear old planet earth, will your
patience be tested to the degree it will be in Thailand. Of course,
there is a way to speed things up a tad..........
Shock - Money
They say money talks don't they? Well in Thailand it sings, dances,
plays the trombone and does animal impressions all at the same
you need a telephone installed, the guy at the phone company will
tell you that there's a waiting list of three months, or six months,
something in that ball park. But you can always order a 'special'......and
depending on how special you want it, you can get it done yesterday.
you're driving along minding your own business and the Thai police
pull you over, you will have to pay a fine. Its not really worth
trying to argue. Last time I was pulled over the officer took
out his pad, but before writing his ticket he asked me if I knew
where the police station was, as fines have to be paid at the
police station. When I said I didn't know where it was - deep
sigh from the cop. Long silence. Tut tut. Another silence. 'Police
station very long way, not easy,' he says. He's about to write
the ticket. Stops. Another sigh. Another long silence. Now its
my turn. 'Well, wouldn't it be easier if I just gave you the money
and you can pay the fine at the police station for me? He beams
at me -'Oh good idea!' he says, as if he would never have thought
of that one!
I'm getting at in this section is that nobody pays bribes in Thailand.
Heaven forbid! No, you make special, private arrangements, like
with the phone company. After all, the phone company official
and the installation engineer have put themselves out for you,
so you show your appreciation. Nothing wrong with that is there?
to get a Thai driving license? No problem. The only trouble is,
you have to take a written test, and, of course, its all written
in Thai. Of course, the Liscencing Dept officials will try to
be helpful. If you ask them nicely, they'll ask you the questions
and fill the form in for you. If you ask them really nicely, they'll
fill out the form without you having to even answer the questions.
This section really comes under the Culture Shock - Money section.
Love and money in Thailand are impossible to separate. Feminism
never really took off in Thailand like it did in the West. Certainly,
sophisticated girls in Bangkok are very westernised, but traditionally,
Thai women are subservient to men. If you want to give a Thai
lady a token of love, you buy her gold. And not you're 14carat
Western rubbish either. Most Thai gold jewellry is made from pure
or nearly pure gold. And the more gold you buy her, the more she'll
was once sitting next to a Thai lady who had her three year old
daughter sitting on her lap. The little girl looks into her mommy's
eyes. 'Do you love me mommy?' she asks sweetly. Mommy looks at
her little girl adoringly. 'Of course I do sweetheart', she says
warmly. The little girl smiles. 'Well give me five baht then,'
says the little girl, thrusting out her little hand. The Thais
sitting around the table roar with laughter.