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Forum LockedThai Smile

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flyingzone View Drop Down
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    Posted: 29-Mar-2006 at 09:54

I have never been to Thailand myself but I've heard so many good things about this country from friends of mine who have visited there that I am really curious about the charm of Thailand. I know a lot of people go to Thailand for the wrong reason. But my friends represent a pretty wide spectrum of people including a young Japanese woman, an American young gay couple, and a German guy who worked as an expatriate in Bangkok for a year, but prior to that, he had never left Europe and had never even entertained the idea of going to Thailand. The common experience of these people is that, once you've been to Thailand once, you just want to go there again. And of course most of the time, they do. My Japanese friend has been to Thailand 6 times (and is now lerning to speak Thai) and my German friend 4. One of the things they talk most about is the friendliness of the Thai people. Interestingly, I came across an article that talks about the famous "Thai smile" (by Ernest E. Boesch: "First Experiences in Thailand" in Psychology and Culture)

"This brings me back to the Thai smile. I don't know of any traveller to Thailand who was not charmed by it. Why? Smiles, in Western culture, tend to be comparatively rare; we usually smile only in situations and relationships which justify and allow for it. Indeed, we smile out of pleasure, not out of trouble, out of friendliness, not out of anger, out of contentment, not out of frustration, and therefore a smiling face for us definitely expresses positive moods and inclinations. Being continuously confronted, in Thailand, with that open enticingly friendly smile which goes straight to the heart, we therefore associate with it an unthreatening, friendly, easygoing culture. To an insecure new comer this smile promises security: it somehow counterbalances the anticipated threats of the unfamiliar culture. Change without threat, novelty without imbalance are of course promises particularly attractive to those may who want diversion without sacrificing too much of their accustomed comfort or mastery. Yet, the Thai smile may be deceptive, occasionally even deeply disappointing those expecting to enjoy a permanently sunny social climate. In my schooldays we leared an English song: 'There isn't any trouble just to s-m-i-l-e, so smile when you're in trouble, they wil vanish like a bubble if you s-m-i-l-e.' This, as I just explained, is not our usual way to smile, and therefore we liked th song. We didn't know, of course, that it expressed exactly the Thai function of smiling: the smile, for the Thai, is an antidote against worry, frustration, anger, troubles as much as, and sometimes even more than, an expresion of friendly intention, of pleasure and contentment. A Thai smile, in other words, has many more meanings than does the smile in Western culture." 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Mar-2006 at 10:02
I have only heard very good things about Thailand, a neighbouring country with which we share some very friendly relations most of the time. It is extremely popular with our holidayers thanks to its reputation for affordability, lack of armed conflict (apart from some trouble in the south) and the friendliness of the people and culture which flyingzone mentioned.

A friend of mine had his engagement holiday there. Another group of my mates also went there for a holiday. In both cases they told me some side splittingly funny instances of pornography hawkers, which I won't repeat here. But the natural beauty of the place is exquisite, from her azure beaches to the elephant rides in the jungle. It is sometimes hard to believe that this little paradise lies wedged between two of the most martial and war ravaged regions produced by the 20th century.
It is not the challenges a people face which define who they are, but rather the way in which they respond to those challenges.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Mar-2006 at 11:32

Tourist Thailand and ving there Thailand is very different. Smiles are not quite as widely visible outside of the tourist industry and in my experience of residing there for 7 years, and I find maybe 1/100 things that tourist say are accurate. The amount of times I sat in a tourist restaurant a heard  backpacker snootily say   --- "I'm not a tourist I'm a traveller, I've been here 4 times and see the real Thailand" --- Then they begin talking the biggest and most innacurate pile of nonsense you've ever heard.

This is my favourite website about Thailand,

http://www.philipwilliams.freeservers.com/



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote flyingzone Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Mar-2006 at 18:14
Originally posted by Paul Paul wrote:

Tourist Thailand and ving there Thailand is very different. Smiles are not quite as widely visible outside of the tourist industry and in my experience of residing there for 7 years, and I find maybe 1/100 things that tourist say are accurate. The amount of times I sat in a tourist restaurant a heard  backpacker snootily say   --- "I'm not a tourist I'm a traveller, I've been here 4 times and see the real Thailand" --- Then they begin talking the biggest and most innacurate pile of nonsense you've ever heard.

This is my favourite website about Thailand,

http://www.philipwilliams.freeservers.com/

That website is very informative (and funny) as well.

Paul, since you've been in Thailand for so long, could you tell us some of the biggest myths about that country other than that "smile" thing? You were a resident there, so your knowledge of Thailand must be quite intimate.

I have to agree with you that having visited a country numerous times does not make one less a "tourist". Only someone who has lived in a country for an extended period of time is qualifed to claim more intimate knowledge of that country, and in some cases, that's not necessarily true either.  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Mar-2006 at 18:36

It's very difficult to know what people's stereotypes are unless they tell me.

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