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thaıland fever, the mıddle east, turkey and greece

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

it was a sad day the other day…ı left koh tao on may 18 on the 9:30 am boat to koh samuı where ı caught the plane to bangkok ınternatıonal aırport. the samuı aırport ıs small and nıce not unlıke the aırport ın huatulco, oaxaca. it was sad because, as many of you already know, i left behind a few very special people whom i will not soon forget and will indeed see again one day soon. the buddha necklace i was given on may 1 remains a integral part of my wardrobe. the fond memories of my small bit of paradise and the genuine smiles i received daily from my south asian friends are forever imprinted in my mind. doubtless i will return there again and again and again.
ı arrıved ın bangkok after a short flight and after a couple of hours in the airport waiting area had a most pleasant surprıse ın the form of my frıend sonja whom i’d met on koh tao. turns out she was on her way to srı lanka and was waıtıng to go to her gate. we had not seen each other for a week or so and so had a great catch up and a few laughs and memory lane yucks. in the airport book shop i picked up a copy of “thailand fever” cowritten by a western guy and a thai woman and which is written in both thai and english. the book is a “how to” guide to thai-western relationships and although it speaks primarily to the western man-thai woman connection, it also has invaluable information on the differences in general thoughts and behaviors between the two cultures and how to work out the differences (eg., compromise, communication, expectation, family and monetary values, etc.) in order to successfully grow in a bi-cultural relationship. fascinating stuff and gave me some good insight as to why the thais act the way they do. doy, you say, they’re different. yeah, no sh%t they’re different. nobody could or would explain to me exactly how they are different, certainly not they themselves cuz how could they possibly explain these nuances to me, and so the book shed a bit of light on practical matters associated with close relationships with thais. this was an eye opener, although i doubt i’ll need to use many of the pointers myself (marriage, dowry, family commitments and monetary support for same), however it did explain the fundamental principles of generosity, loyalty and saving face even in circumstances where “noble lies” must be told in order to maintain harmony. the book also explained how the position of body parts (head and feet) are significant in how they communicate and show respect. for instance, one would never point his or her feet at something as that is considered offensive; nor would one touch another’s head as that is offensive too. one always sits below head level of the more respected or higher caste when they sit together in a room. there are lots of other tips to clue us farangs in on thai culture but these seemed the most important in my estimation. and it’s a funny little book with silly – but spot on – illustrations.
[read on]