Thailand has a beautiful culture and country.
Etiquette and respect towards other people and cultures
Helpful and kindness
Thailand is internationally known as ‘the Land of Smiles’
Thais are easy going; they like to enjoy life and themselves and don’t act overtly serious. They like to bring happiness to the people around them.
Not punctual; for example, if you have an appointment with Thai people at restaurant or somewhere. They don’t come on time. Most of the time, they are late. This is considered normal.
So many traditional prohibitions; for example, don’t touch someone’s head, take off your shoes before you enter someone’s’ house, not polite to kiss in public. Do not offend the monarchy (very harsh punishment)
Hospitality is deeply rooted in the Thai behavior it is a key opportunity to promote tourism; opens chances for other people from many countries come to visit Thailand.
Willingness to learn from other cultures, opens up opportunities to learn the best from other worlds.
The influence of the global society changes the culture.
Receiving foreign culture can bring negative change to Thai culture, undermining the key strengths.
What do you like & dislike about your culture?
I do like my culture because I grew up in Thai culture and I think we have a wonderful culture which is not the same for any culture in the world. In my opinion, I also believe in what I heard from many foreigners, they said they like Thai culture and Thai people who are very friendly, smiling, polite, nice and kind. Also, the way of Thai greeting, we don’t shake hand, but we do a wai. This is the identity of Thailand. Being seen as someone from the land of smiles, to be seen as a polite and respectful person brings joy and pride.
What I don’t like about my culture. Well, for this part, what I sometimes not like is that certain behavior is frowned upon, like public display of affection (eg kissing) or ‘revealing’ dresses/clothes. What I also don’t like is that the prohibitions or things that are frowned upon in Thailand are not always known. We, Thai, are less vocative about this. Many tourists don’t realize that some of their behavior is not well liked (revealing cloths, rudeness…) Our strong point of being the land of smiles does hide a lot of don’t do’s. Thai are a bit shy. And this generates misconceptions. We should be more open about that and not hide it away behind a smile.My Cultural Identity
Which culture(s) (macro-, micro-, sub-) do you belong to? What is the importance of each of these cultures?
Thailand is part of the Asia, which can be divided into 4 Macro-cultures.
South eastern Asia.
Out of these 4, Thailand falls into the 4th one: The south-eastern Asia macro culture. This is one of the most fragmented of the world as most of the countries are not even connected but are islands or peninsulas, thus prohibiting a common trend or language. Due to the fragmentation, the culture has the least impact, especially for Thailand as this has been a strongly independent country throughout history. Thailand has never been conquered by a foreign power, hence Siam (as it was known before) still has a unique identity
Diving deeper, but still very high level, I am linked as a Thai to the Buddhist culture. Even though Thailand is a melting pot of several other religious cultures, the mainstream remains Buddhist and that is where my roots are. Buddhism has probably the highest impact on my personal being. The philosophy, way of living, way of looking at the outside world define myself the most. It is a peace-loving, hospitality, kind and open mindset. It is also the glue to most of my fellow country people as the majority of Thai has the same background so our believes and behavior is generally the same in any region of Thailand. It defines Thai as Thai
Looking at Thailand Geographically again, there are 4 distinct regions, each with a more unique culture and tradition:
North Thailand (sharing the border with Myanmar and Laos
Northeast Thailand (Isan)
South Thailand (the Malay peninsula)
Central Thailand (with the modern day capital, Bangkok)
I come from the Northeast part, Isan. Which is a primarily agricultural society. This defines how people act and react. Even on an external view, Isan food is really distinct. Isan people prefer Salty-spicy food, whereas Central Thai people prefer sweet-sour. By cooking a Thai can see where you originate from. On myself, this part of my culture has the strongest impact on distinguishing my identity amongst Thai. Isan people have their own dialect of Thai language and most Thai will be able to know I have Isan roots. Isan culture is something we (and I) are proud of. We really love our food, our music style and language. For non-Thai, this is far less distinct (as we are all Thai) but amongst ourselves it is clear. I assume this would be similar in Belgium, where you have large communities being Walloon and Flemish, who each have some differences in culture.
Going into even more detail, arriving at a subculture level, it’s a bit harder to define which subculture I belong to. If I could define myself, then I would place myself in the group of Thai having Falang (foreigner) boyfriends/husbands, or Falang community. This group of Thai people are far more internationally focused, we tend to reach out to fellow Thai in foreign countries. Food and integration tips are eagerly exchanged, and we tend to develop 2 homes. (the family back in Thailand and the new family in the foreign country). As a subculture it is more allowed for us to have ‘Falang’ habits in public in Thailand (like public show of affection, which is more of a no go for Thai couples), adapting our food to allow for the more sensitive taste buds of Falang partners. For me, it has given me the opportunity to have a broader experience about the world than most Thai, I have been able to travel and see much more of the world than many Thai will ever experience, thus on a future personal basis, this is most certainly a very impactful change. My children will have different opportunities in life, my future will be very different as compared to most Isan Thai, a lot of whom are poor. My language capability is more developed, and it has formed my mind to be even more open. On the other side, being Thai and Buddhist has given me a lot of chance to be open minded and adapt myself to new cultures, it goes more natural and easy as I would imagine more closed cultures to experience. I believe my cultural background has given me the opportunity to experience less of a culture shock.
On a side note: The most known subculture of Thailand is of course Ladyboys, and this is certainly an interesting subculture to discuss about, but this assignment is about personal subcultures, so this remains perhaps a topic for another part of the course.