A Brief Introduction To Thailand

A Brief Introduction To Thailand

As you probably already guessed, I’m quite excited for the big trip my fiancé and I are planning.

I have already put together a powerpoint presentation for each country we visit. I figured it would be fun and informative (and a great way for me to continue to stay jazzed up about it) to share its contents on a weekly basis.

Each week, the basic categories will be as follows

  • Our Main Reasons For Wanting to Visit
  • Pre-Cautions.
  • Cultural Don’ts.
  • Currency and Exchange (though the exchange might not be 100% accurate as I did grab these numbers a few months ago.)
  • Immunization (If required)
  • Activities/Places We plan to do/visit whilst visiting
  • Weather for the time of year we’re planning to visit.
  • A few terms in the native language (if not English)

This week, we’re talking Thailand! 🙂

Thailand

Our Main Reasons For Wanting to Visit

  • So many different places to visit
  • My half brother lives in Thailand (it’ll be our first visit)
  • Beaches and big cities
  • Quite a few workaway options
  • Amazing food

Pre-cautions

  • Do not stay longer than 30 days.
  • Tap water is usually not drinkable in Thailand outside of Bangkok. In many places in Bangkok however, particularly in new buildings, drinking tap water is perfectly safe.
  • Thailand has more than its fair share of scams, but most are easily avoided with some common sense.
  • Don’t buy any sightseeing tours at the airport.
  • Thailand has extremely strict drug laws and your foreign passport is not enough to get you out of legal hot water. Possession and trafficking offenses that would merit traffic-ticket misdemeanors in other countries can result in life imprisonment or even death in Thailand.
  • Make a photocopy of your passport and the page with your visa stamp.
  • Thailand has a few dangerous animals. The most common menace is stray dogs which frequent even the streets of Bangkok. The vast majority of which are passive and harmless, but a few of which may carry rabies, so steer clear of them and do not, by any means, feed or pet them. If they try to attack you, don’t run as this will encourage them to chase you as if you were prey. Instead, try to walk away slowly.
  • Food hygiene levels in Thailand are reasonably high, and it’s generally safe to eat at street markets and to drink any water offered to you in restaurants.
  • Personal appearance is very important in Thailand as a measure of respect to other people, you will find that dressing appropriately means that you are shown more respect in return. This translates in many ways, even sometimes lowering initial offering prices at markets. While some allowance is made for the differing customs of foreigners, Thais respond more positively to well-dressed Westerners.
  • Traditionally, Thais are modest and conservative dressers. At a minimum your clothes should be neat, clean, and free from holes or tears. Except at the beach or at sacred sites normal western dress is acceptable for both men and women, except that you should avoid clothing showing a lot of skin. Pants are preferable to shorts, blouses should have capped sleeves, and if tank tops are worn, the straps should be thick (i.e., not spaghetti straps). Thai men generally wear pants, and most Thais view an adult man wearing shorts as fairly ridiculous; shorts are primarily worn by laborers and schoolchildren. Men’s shorts should be knee length or more, if worn at all.
  • Taking off one’s shoes at temples and private homes is mandatory etiquette, and this may even be requested at some shops. Wear shoes that slip on and off easily. Flip-flops, hiking sandals, and clog-type shoes are usually a good pragmatic choice for traveling in Thailand; only in the most top-end establishments are shoes required.
  • Buddhist monks are meant to avoid the temptation of women, and in particular they do not touch women or take things from women’s hands. Women should make every effort to make way for monks on the street and give them room so they do not have to make contact with you. Women should avoid offering anything to a monk with their hands. Objects or donations should be placed in front of a monk so he can pick it up, or place it on a special cloth he carries with him. Monks will sometimes be aided by a layman who will accept things from women merit-makers on their behalf.

Cultural Don’ts

  • Similar to Bali, do not touch anyone’s head, or use your feet to touch or point to anything. You must face the statues and temples.
  • Do not blow your nose loudly in public. When the national/royal anthem plays, it is important you stand still.

Currency and average exchange

  • Thai Baht, 1 = 0.036 CAD, 1000 Thai Baht = 36.48 CAD

Immunization

Activities/Places We plan to do/visit whilst visiting

  • Take a hot air balloon ride over temples.
  • Visit an Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.
  • Ian plans to take some muy thai classes
  • Plans to stay in a beach side bungalow

Weather in December

  • On average, the temperature is about 26 degrees Celcius.

Some common phrases

  • My name is ______ . ผม/ดิฉันชื่อ (phŏm/dì-chăn cheu _____ ) /Hello. (informal) สวัสดี (sa-wat-dii)
  • Hello. (polite, speaker is man) สวัสดีครับ (sa-wat-dii, khráp) /Hello. (polite, speaker is woman) สวัสดีค่ะ (sa-wat-dii, khâ)

Some key phrases for vegetarians:

  • gin jay กินเจ “(I) eat (only) vegetarian food” / karunaa mai sai naam plaa กรุณาไม่ใส่น้ำปลา “Please don’t use fish sauce”
  • karunaa mai sai pong chu roht กรุณาไม่ใส่ผงชูรส “Please don’t use MSG”

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Next week, we’ll discuss Sri Lanka!

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