Jan. 9, 2018

Breaking Down The Thai Smile [Season 2, Episode 65]

Breaking Down The Thai Smile [Season 2, Episode 65]

From successful ad campaign to national way of life, Thais have a habit of smiling their way through… everything. Let’s find out why.

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You’ve probably heard of “the Thai smile”, or know that Thailand is referred to as “the Land of Smiles”. Both of those phrases are well-earned, but that whole smiling thing is more than something done just in the hospitality space. For many Thais, smiling in a situation is a default reaction, even when the experience they are smiling at is a negative one.

Like when a dog almost eats a small child and the owner’s reaction is to smile it off. Oh, and that’s not a hypothetical. It happened to Greg’s kid. Or when a Thai driver almost hits a pedestrian and just smiles and waves. Also not hypothetical, as our special guest Ed Knuth (filling in for Evo Terra this week) will tell you.

But what looks like a blow-off really isn’t. It’s a cultural difference, and those of us who’ve been here a while learn to self-correct our immediate emotional response when we encounter the Thai smile. Or at least, we try to. It’s hard to break those old social contracts in favor or new ones.

Is smiling at everything just another example of Thais being nice, often to a fault? Is it about saving face or avoiding confrontation? Or just the ramifications of a successful ad campaign? Greg and Ed will share more than a few of their thoughts and experiences gathered over the collective 33 years they’ve lived in Thailand.

Speaking of living here for a long time, how do you feel about the “unboxing” that takes in the store when you buy damn near anything with an electrical plug in Thailand? Is that something you love, loath… or do you hate it so much you’re ready to leave Thailand? Listen in to find out how we feel, and share your thoughts with us.

Special thanks to Paul Johnston, who’s deep love of Meatloaf led him to a life of … tires? OK. Paul and the other ~50 people who support us on Patreon -- is getting this show early. You can, too.

Thanks for listening. Say nice things to Ed about his guest appearance, and hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, or LINE with your questions, comments, or whatever you want to share.

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