Some of the lesser known things you should never do if you want to stay on the good side of Thai culture. Like confuse “alai na?” with “alai wa!” So grab your favorite beer and relax with this episode of the Bangkok Podcast.
It’s generally considered bad form to use curse words in the land of peace, order, and smiles that is Thailand. And when a farang uses native Thai bad language, it’s a bit more culturally insensitive. Just like Greg learned this week. But that’s not what we’re talking about today. Thai taboos are the topic of today’s show, a topic we’re all too familiar with. Hey, it happens, and we’re not doing it on purpose. In this episode, we’ll share our personal experiences of things NOT to do during your time in the kingdom. And not just the easy stuff to avoid, like touching strangers on the head (seriously, who does this?), failing to stand quietly when the national anthem plays every day on public transport terminals, not taking off shoes when going inside someone’s house or condo, or committing lese majeste. Clearly you should not do those things. On the program today, we’ll cover some lesser known taboos, like:
The reverse is also true, because some of what we Westerners think of as taboo are perfectly fine here. Things like
- Being careless with your money (Not spending-wise, as visitors are encouraged to be non-thrifty, but how the bills are treated)
- Pounding postage stamps
- Tapping gogo dancers with your foot
- Stepping over the dead or those pretending to be dead (true story, bro)
- Picking your teeth (noses are OK)
- Gesture to a human like you’d gesture to an animal
- Smuggling Buddha out of the country (please ignore all the vendors trying to sell you Buddha memorabilia, we guess?)
- Being in public with your naughty bits exposed to the world
- Raising your voice when you get angry (and you will get angry)
- Using rather direct terms to describe body size, level of hirsute-ness, and skin tone
- Asking direct questions about income level, age, or other private (from our perspective) affairs
- … and more
Love, Loathe, or Leave It’s not a taboo that prohibits you from buying booze or beer from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm or from midnight to 11:00 am. It’s the law that does that, and it’s enforced at every 7-11 or grocery store. So if you’re in the mood for a beer in the afternoon or just want to prep for a party later that night, you might want to plan ahead. Find out how we feel about this handy law when you listen. (Though you will not be surprised.)
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