Daily Archives: July 19, 2005

Preparing for Buddhist Lent

Customers shop at a religious store Tuesday, July 19, 2005, in Bangkok, Thailand, in preparation for upcoming Buddhist Lent. The tradition of Buddhist Lent dates back to early Buddhism in India when all holy men spent three months of the rainy season in a permanent building. Buddhist Lent calls for no unnecessary travel in an effort to avoid stepping on young rice plants. The celebration of the beginning of Buddhist Lent is marked by candles being presented to monks and other officials. Buddhist Lent in Thailand this year is set for July 21st. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

A Thai man spray paints Buddhist statues at a factory in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, July 19, 2005, in preparation for upcoming Buddhist Lent. (AP Photo /David Longstreath)

Highlights of Thai Blogs: January – June 2005

A traditional Thai drama performance during a cremation

It has been so nice to welcome so many new bloggers recently. It is really good to have such a diversity on offer. Hopefully some of them will become regular bloggers. I have always liked the idea of having weekly blogs written by different people. I think it would be nice if people picked a regular day and blogged at that exact time each week. Then that way I would look forward to that particular day each week in order to read their next blog. Just a thought. For the new bloggers, I have written a “How to blog” page with some useful instructions.

I had a few hours spare tonight so I thought I would make a start on producing a “Highlights of Thai Blogs 2005”. It is by no means finished yet but you can see the work in progress here:


There are a lot of good blogs from the past which new visitors might be interested in.

The Awakening

In my first blog entry, I mentioned that it’s been just over 18 months since I became interested in Thai culture. Before that my interest was mainly Japanese, thanks to the world of ‘manga’ and anime that I enjoy, and still do, which led me to be further interested in Japanese culture listening to their music, learning the words and so on.

I was excited at being able to understand more Japanese and of course I happily told my mother about it several times but one day she came out and said to me “Why don’t you learn Thai?” That phrase had triggered something in me.

Wimbledon Temple Grounds

In my family, I knew we would sometimes practice the Buddhist ways, e.g. going to the temple, going to festivals, making merit, etc. But I thought about that more as ‘routine’ then, given that I was younger. Sometimes the monks would speak with my mother and ask about us (my brother and I). Another trigger was when some Thai people would speak in Thai to me but I couldn’t respond. I felt bad. I wish I could’ve at least understood them.

The third trigger that I consider a big impact on me was browsing through the TV channels one day and coming across a daytime talk show that talked about bi/multiracialism. I watched the remainder of it and found out about this online community about people with mixed heritage. Reading the many articles and other people’s experiences made me realize there was more to me than I thought and that it was time to get in touch with the inner ‘Thai’ in me.

I know it sounds cheesy, but ever since those times, I feel I’ve changed as a person. Sometimes, I wonder what kind of person I would be, had my mother never asked me that question or had I never watched that talk show. Maybe I wouldn’t have been as aware? But whatever the outcome of that, I feel it is a good thing that I am able to embrace my heritage, not only Thai people, but halves and foreigners can enjoy Thai culture alike these days.

I won’t say that I haven’t had my share of difficulty but I’ll keep that for another future blog entry.

My dull Sunday in different sights (3/end)

a sunset in Paknam
A spectacular sunset in Paknam

From a well-known shopping mall located in Bang Krapi, I took a shuttle van heading back home. Watching through the window of the van, I still saw nothing pleasant for my eyes. I tried to look outside the van because I didn’t want to see a couple playing sweeting nothing. They would drive me mad!

I didn’t feel like getting home by then. 6:30 PM was too early for me. My day should have ended that soon. The van was about to pull up to drop me in. I thought to myself if I went further to Paknam, I didn’t have to pay more fare. I changed my mind to explore Paknam for the first time. I got there around 7 PM. Walking on the sideways, I saw a glimpse of a spectacular sunset in the edge of the sky behind the buildings a long the street. I wandered around seeking a way to go to a bank of a river. It was the Chao Praya River, though. This was my first time to see a mouth of the river with a sunset. What a beautiful sight!

While enjoying taking some beautiful pictures of the sunset, I heard little voices around there. I looked around to see where the voice came from and my eyes caught with two little girls singing in their ways. Once they noticed me, they walked to my way and asked if I was a journalist. I wish I were. Being a journalist is one of my dream careers. One of the girls called me ‘น้า’ or Aunt. I was shocked right when I heard it. I couldn’t believe I was that old but I had to accept the truth.:P I forgot how old I was. I felt like I was still 18 then.

Having a few words with the girls, I came to knowing that they were from the South. I tried to speak Southern dialect with them as though they and I were from the same area in order to make a closer friendship. It worked! They were way too friendly and talkative, teasing me that I was their brother’s girlfriend. lol I couldn’t accept their kindness. I’m afraid I’m going to have someone for that position soon.

Nan and Sai Rung

The two little girls asked me to photograph them before I left. I managed to put them standing on the right way, told them how to smile like this like that as if I was a professional photographer.:P Actually, I’ve just got my first digicam for 2 weeks.

It was time for me to go back home. It was a pity. I should have come to Paknam instead of wasting my hours in the shopping mall. I said goodbye to the lovely little girls and walked away. I headed to the main street with my half open eyes because I was dead beat of walking all day.

“My Sunday is not that bad but…,” I talked to myself wearily.

Before I could end my sentence, I paused and burst out, “WHERE CAN I GET HOME?!? I don’t live in this area and this is my first time in Paknam!?!”

“HELP! HELP!” This time I said to myself. 😐

When the table gets turned

How foreign visitors to Thailand should behave to accomodate local customs is the focal point of many discussions here. However, recently our resident “Do’s and Don’ts” expert, Steve, showed us in his blog what happens when the table gets turned. He gave us an insight into what Thai people will have to watch out when their way of doing things clashes with that of a western culture.

I decided to add a few more pointers to his already excellent list.

If you become friends with a Farang of your gender, do not hold his/her hand. It may be a friendly gesture at home, but over here it’s likely to be misunderstood that you want to take it to the ‘next level’.

If you see a Farang goofing up in public (trips and falls, for instance), don’t laugh to ‘ease the situation’. You’ll be the only one to do so, and it’ll be perceived as an insult; your nose may be on the receiving end of a well-aimed Farang fist.

If you goof up, don’t just smile but do make an effort to apologize. For instance, if you spill the beer of a big fat Farang sitting next to you in the pub, the usual Thai grin will get your teeth knocked out.

Don’t think too much about Farang occasionally swearing. It’s not such a taboo as it is in Thailand. If you tell about a problem of yours to your friend, you may even get a sympathetic “awww, that sucks!”. Other times, you may hear “Dammit!” and “oh shit!” when something goes wrong. Contary to what you may think, it’s simply the equivalent of “saeng wa” in Thai. In general, do learn to distinguish swearing at you, from swearing in front of you. The former is an insult; the latter is not.

Do get used to Farangs yawning in your face, it’s okay there. However, don’t dig boogers from your nose in public: that’s not considered as okay here as it is back home.

BKK Metro users should know this already: please wait until passengers get out of the bus/elevator before you go in. You won’t get smashed between closing doors, trust me.

Eating in the West
Spoon is for soup only. Do get used to eating solid food with fork and knife. Try to get used to the horrible Farang custom of sticking a fork full of rice into your mouth.

When you are eating out with Farangs, make sure that you order all the food that you’d like. If you see one of your friends ordering your favorite food, don’t assume that he will share it with you, Thai style. Order your own portion as well.

Similarly, don’t put food on the plate of the Farang you are eating together with. Follow the selfish Farang custom: what you ordered is yours only.

Try to curb the Thai fetish for plastic bags, straws and rubber bands. Over there, when you buy a bottled drink, you will also receive the glass bottle as a bonus! Just imagine! … however, you won’t get a straw with it. Something gained, something lost, I guess.

Don’t be offended if you get some items, such as a bag of Oreo cookies, at the local store without an additional plastic bag either. Also, when you order food at a fast-food takeout, you don’t have to say “in bags, please”.

Most important
Do share your culture with the Farang around you. Chances are, at least some of them will be so impressed, they may want to live the rest of their lives in Thailand. It happened that way with the writer of this blog.