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Is she flirting?

Dear Emma,

I do not want to be one of these men who believes every “you hansum man” line that he hears. Nor do I want to become one of these men who think that every Thai woman is available and easy. I certainly know this is not true and a very unfair characterization.

However, I met a very nice woman who waitresses at my local favourite restaurant and she is very friendly to me. Friendlier to me than to other patrons, it would seem to me. But perhaps I am wrong and she is just angling for a better tip? I don’t know how to approach her without offending. I do not want her to think I am one of those men. But I would like to know how she feels.

How can I learn if she does like me or if it is all in my head? It is so difficult here!



Dear Moonstruck,

Yes indeed, it is difficult here; all the cues you are used to are different. You must learn new ones! However male-female attraction is as old as time and even with the different cues you must surely have a sense if there is an attraction there or not?

If so, then try something simple like complimenting her on her hair or asking how was her day. Personalizing yourself, and her, creates a closer connection. Treat her like a person and not a waitress and you will find a friendship can grow. Once you have established a friendship and a better understanding of her as a person then you can try and grow a real relationship. It is not the usual route most Western men take when approaching Thai women they find attractive but in Emma’s opinion, it is one that is likely to have a higher rate of success.



Attending a Thai wedding

Dear Emma,

A colleague has invited me to her wedding; they are both Thai and will be having a traditional wedding back in her home village in Phayao. I have never been to a Thai wedding and so am not sure what to wear or what is expected of me. I am an English teacher here, so while not highly paid, I certainly make more than she does. Can you help me dear Emma?


Fear of weddings

Dear Weddings,

Thai weddings are rather simple affairs if you are not an immediate relative of either the bride or the groom. The main thing expected of you will be to go, enjoy yourself, and eat! All Thai events feature food, it is true. A traditional wedding will take place in the very early morning at the home of the bride.

The groom and his family and friends will walk to the bride’s house bearing gifts. They will be stopped at the gate by the family and friends of the bride who will demand something, it can be whiskey or something else, and often require the groom to perform a dance or sing a song. This is usually the merriest part of the wedding for once the groom is finally allowed to enter; he and the bride will approach their parents and a revered village elder. The groom will present the bride’s parents with the sin sot, or bride price. The amount will vary on the wealth and social standing of both bride and groom but usually consists of both cash and gold jewellry. Then advice will be given by the parents and the village elder, and water will be poured over the hands of the couple by the parents. Then white strings will be tied on to their wrists by parents, relatives, and friends.

While this is going on you will most likely be eating. You will be expected to present some money in an envelope as a wedding gift. Presents are not given at Thai weddings; the ever practical Thais realize no couple needs three toasters and two coffee pots. The amount will depend on the family and the closeness of your relationship with the bride. I would ask a Thai colleague that is also going how much they plan to give.

Finally! Do not wear black to a wedding! Wearing all white is usually not a good idea either. Dress nicely, but since it’s a village wedding, don’t go over the top and don’t wear something sexy (if you are girl that is). If you are a man then a very nice business type shirt with trousers is appropriate.



Flowers in Chiang Mai

Dear Emma

I love the smell and beauty of the blooming trees and flowers in Chiang Mai in the cool season. I know about Royal Park Rajapruek as they had that magnificent expo last year. Is it still open this year? Also, can you recommend any other places to visit for a flower loving person?


Looking for flowers

Dear Flowers,

Royal Park Rajapruek is open year round, not just for the Expo and will have a special exhibition this year in honor of HM the King’s 85th birthday. It is always worth a visit! Another fantastic place to go is the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens. They are also offering special exhibitions and seminars and is a most interesting place, especially if you like to learn more. Last but not least is Chiang Mai Mail special contributor Dokmai Gardens. Easily found going down Canal Road towards Hang Dong. Read his column on Page 13 in every issue and you will find his great love and knowledge of plants very appealing.