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‘Watching the Thais’ – understanding Thai culture

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Why does a Thai smile at you after crashing into the back of your car? Why do Thais deplore walking?

The heat, the heat.

What about the weather? Why is everything done as a pack? What is all this ‘face’ stuff about?

Lies? Confrontation? Sleeping and shopping?

Just what is it with the Thais? What’s it all about?

Author and academic Tom Tuohy answers all these questions and much more in his new book about the Thais and all their quirks. I wish I had read it before I learned the hard way.

“The psychology and general atmosphere whilst using public transport in Thailand is also interesting to think about. When you happen to find yourself on, for example a regular Thai bus, some general considerations need to be noted.

“The same driver will invariably drive as if he has a prior appointment (which he’s only just remembered), with some mysterious benefactor who is going to alter his and his family’s life radically. It is apparently for this reason that he will proceed to slam hard on the brakes at every juncture.

“It amazes me how these drivers wait till the last second to do this, instead of gently easing on the brakes when approaching a junction. What results is a collective surge of passengers moving forward en-masse like an unintentional human, as opposed to Mexican Wave: grandma on her weekly visit to feed the ducks in Lumpini Park gets a new seat on the floor; Somchai, the 7-11 employee gently and apologetically extricates himself from the cleavage of Navaporn, the cute SCB teller; students from nearby colleges hang on for dear life, hoping their hair isn’t messed up and make-up isn’t smudged when they collide with the stainless steel handrails.

“The unflappable ticket-collector, almost always a woman, moves slowly down the bus, click-clacks open and shut her klaxon-like metal pencil case full of five- and one-baht coins, and carries on collecting the money as if nothing ever happened. ‘Mai pen rai!’ the elderly gentleman mumbles in the corner. ‘Amen brother’ I say quietly to myself as I pick myself up off the floor!”

(Watching the Thais, Chapter Three, Thais and Movement , Keep on Walking, Johnny Walker)

If you are one of the forty million or so expected visitors to Thailand this coming year, or an expat interested in moving to the country, this book is a must for you. The book is divided into ten chapters, each one detailing some of the virtues as well as common misconceptions about living and working in Thailand.

Common questions asked by visitors are also dealt with: why do Thais walk so slowly? Why do they like spicy food? Why are they always smiling? Why does nothing seem to upset them?

Towards the end of the book, a series of blogs discuss deeper aspects of living and working in Thailand e.g. the state of Thai education, cross-cultural communication, the Thai floods, marriage to a Thai, and the way the Thai riots in 2010 were presented by the foreign media. If you are planning to spend any length of time in the country and really want to understand the Thai modus operandi, this book will give you a great insight into the uniquely Thai way of thinking and being.

“This is a book I wish I’d read before I went to Thailand for the first time (although it hadn’t been written then). Even now, 23 years later, it taught me things I didn’t know.”

(Timothy Hallinan, author of the Poke Rafferty and Junior Bender series of books)

“Watching the Thais” is a great resource for anyone with an interest in the magnificent kingdom of Thailand. A great read – informative and entertaining.

(James Newman – Author of Bangkok Express and The White Flamingo)

“Though he doesn’t yet qualify as an Old Thailand Hand with two decades in residence, he has lots of personal impressions of the Land of Smiles. Tom, Ajarn Tuohy, is well read on the subject.”

(Bernard Trink, Nite Owl columnist for the Bangkok Post)

To buy the book, click HERE or HERE

 

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