On Tuesdays we wear pink
Well, I’ve been in Thailand long enough now that I am able to poke some fun at the silly things people in this country do. Don’t get me wrong, the US isn’t better for not observing these norms, but I often get a kick out of discovering what, how and why Thai people think the way they do.
- If you’ve followed our blog for a long time, you might remember this post where I told you about how in Slovakia it is possible to tell a person’s occupation based on the color of their uniform. Well, Thai people love to match colors too, but they take it to the next level! Each weekday has a designated color and any good nationalist can be found wearing the color of the day, every day of the week. Monday is yellow, Tuesday is pink, Wednesday is green, Thursday is Orange, and Friday is blue. They even have designated substitutes so if on green shirt day your green shirt is dirty, you can wear blue and if your orange shirt is dirty on orange shirt day, you can wear purple. Those are the only two days with exceptions though, so don’t try anything funny.
- A few weeks ago, my class learned a lot of character traits, but the way my teacher explained these characteristics sure isn’t how I would have explained them. Let’s see what you think:
Someone who thinks a lot ———- Smart? Thoughtful? —— Thai answer: depressed.
Someone who doesn’t think at all ———- Dumb? Impetuous? ———- Thai answer: happy.
A mischievous child who is always causing trouble will grow up to be…—– Troublesome? Impatient? ——– Thai answer: smart.
- In Thailand, we are in the future. Yes, we are somewhere between 10-13 hours ahead of the US, but did you know we are also some 543 years ahead? The year here is 2557 (no hoverboards yet!).
- If you get struck by lightning while wearing earrings it is all your fault. It’s also your fault if you were wearing a watch or necklace.
- If something of yours is stolen, it’s probably your fault. If someone happens upon an item that was left unattended (even for a minute) and takes it, it’s not stealing, it’s finding.
- If a mom-and-pop restaurant has repeat customers, they will be increasingly more friendly to their patrons. However, they will also raise their price a little bit each time you go back (although they won’t admit it).
- Thai people brush their teeth before breakfast.
- Every day the weather here is hot-hot-hot! To a Thai person, the best thing to soothe the heat is a firey hot lunch followed by an iced-half sugar/half creme drink. Also, it’s appropriate to wear shorts and skirts but shoulder-baring of any type is frowned upon.
- Aside from the drinks mentioned above, Thai people like to drink warm water instead of cold; if you are sick, you should not drink cold water at all.
- Like many other cultures, light skin is considered more beautiful than dark skin. There’s really a lot to unpack with that statement, but for now, let’s just leave it at that and reference that we have to carefully choose body wash so as to avoid buying soap laden with skin-whitening bleach!
- Speaking of buying soaps and lotions, I was excited by a sale on giant bottles of shampoo that I found at the store few weeks ago. They weren’t labeled “tester,” but when I picked them up, they were only half full! I was a bit dumb founded that the store would even sell a container with so much missing, but there was a shopkeeper nearby who must have seen the concern in my eyes who assured me it was normal. Obviously, I didn’t buy it, but it wasn’t until the next time we needed shampoo that I discovered that it’s a regular and perfectly normal practice in this country to sell full-price, half full bottles of shampoo.
- After giving birth, the mother and baby should not leave the house for at least thirty days. Also, it is a strongly held belief that the mother should not shower for the first fifteen days.
- If a meal doesn’t include rice, it is not a meal at all. It is a snack.
- Similarly to how most Americans call all people from Asia “Asians” regardless of what country they come from, Thai people call all white people farang. I never thought of it as too politically incorrect, but I certainly don’t like being lumped in with every other person who shares my skin color regardless of their language or even continent of origin.
- In addition to previews before a movie, all attendees are expected to stand in observance of the king while a photo montage is played for a few minutes.
That’s all of my examples for now, but surely I will have more for you in another six months!