I was invited to write about a new website that proposes to “Understand Thailand and Thai people better.” In order to do that the website offers 49 essential lessons to understand Thai culture.
Sam, who was born in Chiang Mai, obviously knows a lot about Thai culture; he is Thai. He also has many western friends and has spent time in the US so he is aware of the many differences there are between both cultures. Thai Culture Guide was launched in the hope that people can understand each other better, whether that is for daily social interactions if you are on vacation or whether you have decided to make Thailand your home and have a Thai partner and/or friends.
Do you know why Thais love to smile? Or the correct way to wai to greet, say thanks or apologise to someone?
Find out how Thais name themselves or why it’s hard for some Thais to understand English.
You can also learn the more intriguing aspects, such as dealing with Kreng Jai and the dos and don’ts of Thai culture.
Superstitions, the Thai family structure, giving and receiving gifts, dating, lady-boys, and losing face are among the lessons. Everything from the basic to the more in-depth has been covered in this online guide to understanding the culture.
Each lesson includes an explanation of the different aspect of Thai culture and, in most lessons, there is a scenario and possible reactions to that situation. Then each reaction is commented on giving the correct or incorrect way of doing things. Check out Lesson 1 : Smile. At the end of the lessons there are further tips and facts to help with your understanding.
As well as lessons there are interviews that support some of the lessons. In the videos, people are giving their own opinions about subjects such as dating in Thailand and having good manners.
Thai Culture Guide is a new concept and one that is a working progress, so expect more and more lessons to be added. In fact, Sam invites visitors to suggest who he should interview and also to come up with more topics to be included.
As I was going through the lessons I learned a few things that I didn’t know before;
- When it comes to names, certain alphabet characters are never used for children born on a Monday. It’s considered bad luck.
- Just as the head is regarded as the highest and most sacred part of the body, books are also classed as high objects, so putting your feet on or sitting on a book is considered impolite.
- There are different laundry lines for different types of clothes. The highest line is for items that are worn above the waist, such as shirts and blouses. A lower line is used for pants, skirts, sarongs, lingerie, and socks.
- The thumbs up gesture means a person is angry, not, as it means in the west, a good sign.
- Saying “Na-kliat na chang” (ugly kid) to the kid makes sure that an evil spirit won’t take the baby away for being too cute or beautiful.
- It’s bad luck to cut hair on Wednesdays, so most barbers and hairdressers are closed.
- Thais don’t leave home if they hear a gecko call. It’s bad luck.
- Giving handkerchiefs as a gift is deemed bad luck; the belief is that it will be used to dry away tears.
The website is simple and easy to navigate and there is lots of information on Thai culture. Whether you check out the lessons one by one or just look at the ones that interest you, you will definitely learn some things that you never knew before. For me, it gave me a better understanding on how Thais think and act and made me think about how I behave in certain situations.
The lessons can be viewed on the Thai Culture Guide website or they can be downloaded as an ebook. Membership costs $19 for the Thai Culture Guide Pro package which gives you access to all 49 lessons.
The Thai culture I find myself living in is so very different from my own and it’s a culture that isn’t always easy to understand, for both parties. But this new and different guide to Thailand is a helpful and useful resource for both newcomers and expats alike.
In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase the Thai Culture Guide Pro package. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.