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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Dos and Don’ts in Thailand

The third edition of this book Dos and Don’ts in Thailand (ISBN 978-974-9823-34-7, Kenny Yee and Catherine Gordon) with the last reprint in 2007, caught my eye. It was thinner than I remembered it, so I wondered whether they had removed some dos or was it some don’ts?
In actual fact, this edition claims it has additional material, one on sex and the other on Traditional Thai massage, so please don’t confuse them.
The contents cover the entire gamut of existence for a foreigner in Thailand, from describing the Thais character, body language and religion, then much of what the visitor might meet or need in the way of information regarding cinemas, festivals, funerals, rentals, restaurants, weddings, zoos and zig-zags and much more. From a brief perusal, it would seem that this book is what every foreigner in Thailand needs. The concept is correct, but now we come to the information and advice.
Like the bookstore browser, I eagerly turned to the chapter on “Sex”. There I was exhorted not to try and pick up a girl at the bus stop because she would have a boyfriend lurking in the shadows who will beat up both myself and the girl if she did go out with me. Welcome to Thailand, the Land of Smiles.
But it doesn’t end there. Women are told that if they want attention all they have to do is under-dress, over-make-up and make a fool of themselves somewhere. A pack of wolves in men’s clothing will answer her call. At this juncture, I began to wonder if either of the named authors had been anywhere else in the world? What they described was not a “Thai” phenomenon in any way whatsoever.
Again, the chapter entitled “Mainly for Men” has advice for any male who might accidentally stop at a beer bar somewhere. If I did something “wrong”, I could get beaten up, or even killed. And I must not visit a massage parlor alone for the first time, as I will be ripped off. Welcome to the Land of Smiles.
This seems to be the message all the way through. It was hard to find some dos, it all seemed to be don’ts. Such as never accompany a Thai woman home, even if she is “holding an office job.” The danger being that “you could be tricked into gambling, threatened until you sign something, or simply blackmailed.” Am I honestly expected to believe this? Welcome to the Land of Smiles.
By the way - don’t swim topless or naked! A Thai service girl once did and was almost killed.
At B. 380 on the Bookazine shelf, it is not an expensive primer, but really all a little negative these days. It needs another edition, fully brought up to date and more in line with today’s society and mores. However, I am sure that this book will continue to sell, just on the title alone, to unsuspecting tourists who will then cower in their hotel rooms until their plane’s departure, thankful that they escaped this dangerous country alive. Welcome to the Land of Smiles.