Thursday, June 6, 2013

Friday Five: Things You Wouldn't Know About Thailand Unless You Moved Here

1. Thai people equip themselves with fork and spoon for virtually every meal, and not chopsticks. Ignorantly, whenever eating at my favorite Thai restaurants in the States, I would request chopsticks to eat my meal, whether it was noodles, curry, or what have you. Upon arriving in Thailand and observing people eat with a fork in one hand and a spoon in the other, I was not only baffled, but it also took a little while to acclimate to using both to eat everything (save for soups, which still use a soup spoon and chopsticks). I looked powerful clumsy. The idea is that you use the fork to push the contents of your bite onto your spoon, and only then can shoveling commence. It's taken a little while, but I'm used to it now. When I return to America and I eat at a Thai restaurant, I'll be sure to continue to utilize the ole' fork/spoon combo.

2. While at social functions (monk ordinations, weddings, funerals, corporate shindigs), you can always bet on two things- Food and people there only for the food. I may have mentioned it before, but I feel like literally every society ever says "We love food!" Of course, everyone love eating. But I feel like Thai people really know what's up when it comes to food. While a full blog entry is required to explain this, I'll just note that so much of their daily lives involves food, whether it's preparing it, making it, eating it, giving it, or taking it, food is central. So, while at these social functions, people ravenously eat and socialize. Even when important people are addressing the crowd ( e.g. the monk being ordained, the newly wed couple, the family of the deceased, company higher-ups), people continue right on eating and socializing. At first I got embarrassed and tried to be obvious I was paying super close attention, regardless of not understanding a word. Now, I just laugh and think ,"No one really knows what this function is about anyway. They're in it for the food." Fed people are happy people (which can also dictate its own blog entry).

3. If you walk down the street, you can literally buy any consumable you want and transport it in plastic bag form. Grilled chicken? Check. Curry? Check. Blazing hot soup? Check. Soda? Check. I have yet to do this with any said consumable.

4. I humbly ask you read the following without judgment. Perhaps the most confusing item on this list is the cultural behavior of raising a hand as if to hit another person (or actually does) when the striker feels wronged/offended/the need to teach a lesson. I see it everywhere, kids to kids, adults to kids, kids to adults, adults to adults, male to female, female to male, (gulp) teacher to student, people to dogs. I'm not sure how much is playful or how much is real intent to smack someone. As a believer of non-violence, these actions are difficult to observe.

5. Thai people place little squeezable menthol sticks in their nose and proceed through daily life with them there, as if nothing is actually there. To Thais, it is every day life. To farang, I have to admit, it looks a bit funny, and I can't take people seriously when they talk to me with them shoved up there. A fellow PCV, who is also Thai, explained this cultural nuance to me the first week arrived, perhaps to allay my initial confusion when he first did it. Apparently, it's energizing... and far better smelling than garbage or sewage.

1 comment:

  1. I am astounded by #4. I thought that Buddhists were non-violent. How hard do they hit? I would not like this. Not at all.