Exploring Thai Culture

The Spa Resort staff photograph home of the Thailand fitness and weight loss retreat

Welcome to Thailand Sawasdee Ka/krab

You’ll be swept away by lush mountains, lost in dreams when sunsets drip from the sky into turquoise blue lagoons, busy tasting delicate spices and hopefully doing a little exercise in the hills of Chiang Mai – but in-between all that you might want to learn a few Thai phrases, and perhaps a couple of Thai idiosyncrasies to make sure your holiday to Thailand goes as smoothly as possible. Isn’t it just wonderful when you can integrate to a society that you love? Read on to learn all about the Thai culture.

Let’s start with the simple bits -the language. We think it’s always helpful to learn a few phrases before you travel – not just for you but for the locals too, who don’t always speak the best English and will always appreciate the effort that a traveller puts in to learn a few squeaks in the local tongue. One thing to remember when it comes to Thai – sentences have different endings for male and female. That is Krab – male and ka – female.
We’ve put together some essential phrases and words below and tried to keep it as simplistic as possible so don’t take this as a comprehensive guide but rather an absolute beginners guide to words and phrases for your trip to Thailand.

Hello and Good bye

Sawasdee Krab/ Ka
– this one’s required learning in our opinion – it’s easy to learn and you can use it much like the Italian
Ciao
and it’s fine for morning, afternoon and night.
How are you? –
Sabaidee Rue Krab/ Ka
I’m fine – Sabaidee Krab/ Ka
And you? -Khun La Krab/ Ka
Thank you- Kob-kun Krab/ Ka
Yes – Chai
No – Mai Chai
Please – Chern Krab/ Ka
How much? – nee Tao rai
I do not understand – mai kow jai
Airport – sanaam bin
Perhaps the most important phrase on this list –
Mai pen rai – which simply means never mind, and is a handy all purpose phrase that eloquently expresses the Thai go-with-the-flow attitude.

Pray hand gesture monks

The Wia prayer hand gesture

Visual language is also very prominent in Thailand – in particular The Wai, which is Thailand’s prayer-like gesture which is performed with the hands held together in front of the body and head slightly bowed. It’s a simple gesture but it’s considered impolite not to return it – so perfect yours in the mirror before you touch down!

Things to remember

Thailand isn’t referred to as the Land of Smiles for nothing… Thai people enjoy showing off a toothy grin and when one’s flashed your way – take a second to smile back – it’ll go a long way and helps to show that you’re open, friendly and approachable. On that note -positivity to essential – generally speaking Thai people like to avoid confrontation – lateness isn’t a problem – it’s excused and then life goes on.

 

The Royal Family

The king is loved in Thailand – or at least very highly respected. You’ll see pictures of him everywhere. Thailand has very a strict lése majesté Law, so do not say or do anything with disrespect whilst talking about the royal family – this stretches all the way to stomping on a bank note if you drop it – as it’s insulting for the image of the king’s Head to be touched by anyone’s feet. If you catch a movie during your trip then you’ll no doubt note that the Royal Anthem is played before each movie – and you are expected to stand for the duration.

Temple Etiquette

fresh start thailand fitness bootcamp guests infront of a Thai temple September 2014

Fresh Start guests exploring Thai culture whilst exercising

You won’t be in Thailand for very long at all before you set foot in your first temple and there are certain rules and etiquette to remember when you do. Please don’t skip the temples because you aren’t certain of customs are simply because you aren’t Buddhist –
temples, or wats, are beautiful mystical places – many of them antique in nature plated with gold and painted with detailed frescos, others incredible modernist structures like Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai – but all wonderfully ambient. So the basics of a temple visit are:
Dress modestly – don’t wear sleeveless tops or tank tops, pants/ skirts etc., should always at least cover your knees
Remove your shoes, hats and glasses before entering – the latter two can be removed before entering a worship area. Be aware of your personal space and don’t intrude in the space of those that are there for worship. Don’t touch sacred objects and don’t point at sacred objects, statues, monks or images of the Buddha If you sit in a bot then do so with your legs tucked underneath you – as other worshippers do and do your best not to point your feet towards either images of the Buddha or at other people – with neither your hands nor feet.Some Thai temples – particularly Temples in Chiang Mai host monk chat times where tourists can meet and chat to English-speaking monks. This is great for those who have a genuine interest in Buddhism and life as a monk. Just be respectful and you’ll be fine. One thing to remember though is to not sit higher than the monk – for example, if he’s sitting on the floor sit with him not on a wall of a chair.
Women only –
Women are forbidden from touching either a monk or his robes
(this isn’t to say that men should go around grabbing robes and monks’ hands!).
This includes by accident – and if it does happen – then the monk must perform a rather lengthy cleansing process – so try and be thoughtful towards them. Also – if you ever need to hand anything
to a monk – hand it to a man first. These might seem live trivialities to someone from a very different culture – but these rituals and rules represent thousands of years of culture for Thai people – so pay the proper respect and you’ll be quite okay.
Eating? Eat with a spoon:Yes a spoon! The proper way to enjoy delicious Thai food is with the spoon in your right hand and fork in your left – no knife. Use the fork to help food onto your
spoon and never put the fork into the mouth. Chopsticks are usually only used for noodle dishes and treats such as spring rolls – so you might want to brush up on your chopstick skills if you aren’t already chopstick-fluent!

Use your right hand if you need to pick up food – or if you need to pass money or anything for that matter to a 3rd party. This is because the left hand is considered dirty, and usage of the hand is reserved for less glamorous actions.

We’re sure that you will love your visit to Thailand, and remember that we are always on hand to offer and help that you might need. So please come and find out for yourself here at the Fresh Start Fitness bootcamp holiday just how wonderful Thailand, and it’s people can be.

Louise Thomas co-founder of fresh start Thailand bootcamp

Louise from Fresh Start

We hope you enjoyed our blog on Thai culture. Thailand is truly a magical country and Richard and I are excited to have made our home here so we can help our guests become fitter and healthier. We are open all year round and and team of dedicated fitness professionals are on hand to get you back on track now!

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