February 23, 2018

Taking Showers in Thai Culture

How many showers do you need to take in Thailand? With Thailand’s hot weather, you will be sweating to death in the tropical heat! Taking Showers in Thailand more than twice a day is good for health, comfort and image.

If you have ever seen an Asian squat toilet or Thai toilet, you know that Thai culture in regard to bathroom activities is different than in Western countries.

Smelling fresh and looking good is important to Thai people. Making a polite appearance in Thailand consists of being neatly dressed and smelling fresh. If you do smell bad, although Thai people are normally very polite and reserved, there is a chance of having it pointed out to you by people holding their news or whispering that you stink!

If you happen to show up at a friend’s house smelling bad or not feeling fresh, it is not rude at all to ask to use the shower. There is also a good chance that they will offer their bathroom to you. Thailand is filled with a profusion of truly terrible smells. One smell that is noticeably missing is that of body odor.

During the hottest months of the year three showers a day is sometimes a necessity. In the cooler months, so much showering is not needed but for most it is a habit that is hard to break.

International Adoptions in Decline

A recent report in The Washington Times by Margie Mason of the Associated Press reveals a massive decrease in the number of orphans being adopted globally by foreign parents. According to annual statistics, adoption record is at its lowest at estimated 25,000 in 2011 as compared to a high record of 45,000 in 2004.

Factors connected to the declining record of adoptions is said to be a set of strict international guidelines called the Hague Adoption Convention to ensure transparency and child protection.

The Hague Adoption Convention requires countries to set up a central adoption authority and a system of checks and balances necessary to safeguard orphans and keep profit-driven players from corrupting a system that should be purely about helping unwanted children.

The set of strict guidelines is prompted by reported cases of stolen child from birth parents but international adoption advocates argued these strict guidelines also shut down international adoptions in many third world countries and children may stuck in orphanages or on the streets where they could fall prey to sex traffickers.

“It should have been a real step forward, but it’s been used in a way that’s made it a force for shutting down countries.That affects thousands of children every year.” says Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard Law professor who promotes international adoptions, Mason reports.

Thailand Adoptions are separated into 2 types, International Adoption and Domestic Adoption. International Adoptions involve foreign (non-Thai) adaptive parents and require a much more intense background investigation.

Child Rearing: Summer Jobs

Many westerners view the memories of their first summer jobs with a touch of nostalgia. Teenage summers spent lifeguarding, performing waitressing and the like are seen by most westerners as badges of honor; those first honest dollars earned at minimum wage in wretched conditions are seen as part of the process of growing up.

These same westerners are in for a rude awakening, therefore, when they try to impress Thai spouses with horror stories from these first employment experiences. Rather than responding with laughter or respect, most Thais will probably only express bafflement and sympathy.

Rather than seeing teenage jobs as foundations for self-discipline and fiscal responsiblity, Thais view the issue of teenagers working as child labor – undesirable, unfortunate, and certainly nothing to be proud of. Thai culture views teenagers as children; children ideally are protected from the harsh realities of the working world until they reach adulthood. Jobs for teenages are seen as a sign of familial poverty, and children who are forced to work before adulthood are pitied.

The issue stands to become a greater concern for a Thai-Western couple with children. Differing views of the importance of summer jobs hold the potential to become a significant source of tension. A western parent may see a summer job as an important stepping stone towards adulthood,  but a Thai parent may see summer employment as an unnecessary and harsh interruption of childhood.

But how to solve this dispute? Issues to consider include both location, the child in question’s interests,  and how working might impact the child’s future entry into a university. Summer jobs are an institution in the west, and are therefore much more readily available to a Thai-Western family living outside of Thailand – it’s less certain whether a teenager in Thailand will be able to find employment for the short summer months. Another issues is where the student in question desires to attend university. Western universities, particularly those in the United States, are increasingly interested in how applicants have augmented their grades and test scores with extracurricular activities, and summer jobs may be a means to demonstrate leadership and other important qualities.  Finally, the child’s own interests should (obviously) be considered. Many teenagers like the sense of independence gained from summer jobs, not to mention the extra cash.


Physical Contact and Personal Space in Thailand

Westerners who are living in Thailand or involved with Thais often receive very mixed messages when it comes to physical contact and personal space. On one hand, all forms of public physical affection between men and women are said to be impolite; on the other, young Thai woman may be sometimes seen walking down the street holding hands, something rarely seen in the west. Attitudes towards both public displays of affection and personal space in Thailand differ greatly from those in the west, so let’s discuss some basics.

Public Displays of Affection:

Despite its infamous reputation for being a hub for international sex tourism,Thailandis still in many ways a very conservative country, and Thai attitudes towards physical contact between men and women reflect this. When in public, kissing between men and women is considered completely inappropriate, even in cosmopolitan cities like Bangkok. Hand-holding and standing with arms around each others’ waists is typically fine in larger cities, but may still be frowned upon in more conservative areas of the country (it’s usually better to be safe than sorry).

Physical Forms of Greetings:

While handshakes, hugs, and kisses on cheeks are acceptable forms of greeting in the West, Thais frown on physical greetings between both strangers and between the sexes. While handshakes are considered a formal form of greeting the West, many Thais may find the physical contact inappropriate and awkward. In nearly all situations, business or casual, the traditional wai is an acceptable form of greeting.

Casual Physical Contact Between Sexes

In the West, shaking hands, patting the arms, and other small forms of contact between acquaintances of different genders are considered commonplace. In Thailand, they will likely be considered awkward and invasive, and should be avoided.

Personal Space

While westerners are typically unruffled by kissing in public, handshakes, and contact between genders, they are usually very possessive of their personal space. Depending on their country of origin, a westerner may prefer to maintain a distance of 2-4 feet between himself and his peers, even among friends. Beyond greetings, physical contact between friends and peers may make many westerners uncomfortable or may signal a romantic interest. Thais, by contrast, require very little personal space, especially among friends, though they will not greet each other with hugs.

Losing Your Temper in Thailand Will Make You a Loser


What happens when a Westerner loses his or her temper in Thailand?
While Westerners might view people who cry, shout, yell, or argue aggressively in public as being merely “hot-headed” and “frustrated”, Thais are likely to view such displays as being indicators of mental health issues and poor breeding. Losing your temper and shouting in Thailand is a faux pas of the highest degree. Such behavior violates not only traditional Thai values that emphasize social harmony and saving face, it also violates cherished Buddhist beliefs dictating moderate behavior and a calm demeanor.

Occasionally, misinformed Westerner may tout the benefits of being forceful and aggressive in Thailand, insisting that arguing with bank employees, store clerks, taxi drivers and metro attendants is the best way to accomplish a task in a country known for its relaxed attitude.

Maintaining your cool under tough circumstances is called “Jai yen” or “Cool heart”. Thais place a high value on individuals who are able to respond to upsetting and frustrating events with moderate and reserved behavior, and those that are unable to control their emotions are conversely regarded as being childish, ill-mannered, or possibly mentally unhinged.

Sometimes, westerners losing their tempers in Thailand result in assault cases, and you may need a Thai lawyer to solve a big problem when a little “Jai yen” would have save you from trouble.