HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Culture Shock

Getting out of Kad Suan Kaew

Successful schemes

Culture Shock


The Handbook for International Staff provided to me by Payap University states, “You have traveled to a different country full of new and different [experiences]. At first you will probably feel like a tourist enjoying all these new things, full of energy to see it all. After a few weeks, however, you may find yourself with less energy and enthusiasm. You may feel disoriented as new things change from exciting to strange and different. This disorientation is called culture shock. It is a natural phenomenon and will pass quickly.”

According to that, I’m right on schedule. Now that work has started and I’m settling down to my new life and its busy routine, I seem to have entered the first stage of culture shock. That’s when you feel less energetic, keep wondering what’s going on at home, and make a lot of comparisons between your new life and your old one.

Actually, I seem to be on the cusp of Stage One and Stage Two. In Stage Two, apparently, you feel sleepy, perpetually hungry, and somewhat withdrawn. I’m not too hungry yet, but I have a growing affection for my bed and I declined an invitation to dinner this weekend. Most significantly in Stage Two, “you may find yourself getting irritated over minor things” and “being critical because Thais do not do things the way you do them, when your way is obviously better.”

Here are some of the minor things making me just a tad irritable and/or critical these days. In the first place, why doesn’t anyone here speak just a modicum of English? Aren’t they required to study English in school? (The answer is yes, but it seems not to have made a bit of difference.) Couldn’t they at least make the signs bilingual?

Why don’t drivers ever stop for pedestrians, and why don’t those bloody motorbikes stay in the left lane especially designated for them? For that matter, why can’t they drive on the right side of the road like every other civilized country (with all due respect to friends and family in the UK)? Every time I get in my car I feel like an expatriate accident waiting to happen. Motorbikes zooming everywhere and not a helmet in sight!

Why can’t people stop implying that if I can’t take the heat I should get out of the country before March/April when summer comes? Don’t they know that you never tell a menopausal woman she shouldn’t feel quite so hot?

Why can’t there be fewer mosquitoes, or more geckos - those cute little household lizards - to eat them (but preferably not on the roll of toilet paper just as you are about to use it)? And why can’t those geckos shut up at night? Don’t they ever sleep?

I’ll be glad to get to Stage Three. According to the handbook, that’s when “you can decide to end culture shock” because “you realize you are a foreigner spending a short portion of your life in Thailand, you are not Thai and do not have to act just like they do.”

Oh yeah? Then how come I have to sign in and out of the university every day and wear skirts to teach? Why do I have to be so careful never to touch the head of my neighbor’s baby and always to remove my shoes before entering a home or office? Why am I never supposed to display emotion?

Mai pen rai. Never mind. I will keep jai yen, a cool heart, and learn patience. I will keep my perspective, stay open-minded, and realize that I represent the stereotypical farang, or foreigner, as my trusty handbook advises. I will “evaluate expectations” and “take the initiative,” although I can’t promise to “learn the language.”

In the meantime, can someone please send me ice, a Thai translator, and a first aid kit for my car? Hapun-KA!

Elayne Clift,

(Spending a year teaching at Payap University in Chiang Mai)

Getting out of Kad Suan Kaew

Dear Chiangmai Mai,

A word of congrats is in order for a most enjoyable evening, including your own contribution with Michael Vogt as MC. However, a black mark to the management of Kad Suan Kaew relating to the non existent exit arrangements following the concert.

The two lifts were not working, and no notice to that effect had been posted by the lifts. So, for the lift that never came there were long lines of people waiting. So everybody made for the escalator only to find that the escalator down to the 4th Floor had been switched off. I am slightly handicapped and had a job getting down the steep steps. (God knows how a wheelchair bound person would have got out.)

I have confronted the Kad management and received a belated apology, only after Tits Radio had broadcast my comments on Monday morning. The management team will hold a committee meeting on Wednesday to discuss the situation I am assured.

However, I hope you will highlight my comments in the Mail as there is a serious health and safety aspect that needs attention and must be addressed for the future.

I think a word of congrats to the Voice Studio, whose dancers in Mama Mia would not have disgraced a Broadway Show, is in order. All in all, well done.
Maurice Lawson,
Nakornping Condo

Successful schemes


One returns from the tiny province of Phuket, bolstered with the realisation that footpaths in this country can be maintained user-friendly, that if litter bins abound, people will use them, that people can be encouraged to drive according to the rules and with common sense ... all admirable qualities of life apart from added attractions to tourists.

Another plus our city fathers might consider for the benefit of English speaking residents of our Rose of the North is that on Thai Channel 11 in Phuket is a daily local news bulletin, in English.

Come on Chiang Mai, we are the country’s second city, let’s not be too proud to copy successful schemes.

‘Ric’ Richardson