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Arrgh! The Bangkok drivers!

Dear Emma,

Well, I never thought I would praise local drivers but the Bangkok drivers that have inundated our city are even worse! They are not only lost, don’t look at maps or use a GPS but are also aggressive to those who get in their way, even if they are wrong!

I had one nearly run into me as I pedaled by on my bicycle as he suddenly decided he needed to do a left hand turn from the far right lane. Not only did he nearly hit me but he had the nerve to honk at me as if it were my fault I was suddenly in his way. I really could not believe it. The Bangkok drivers seem to have no notion of what to do with the bicycles and motorscooters on Chiang Mai roads and so pretend they are not there, as if that somehow makes things better.

I asked some of my local Thai friends and they all agreed. The Bangkok people would be better off leaving their cars at home (or at their hotels) and taking songthaews. Not only would they then not clutter up the roads with their endless vehicles but they would not have to worry about getting lost of finding parking.

I was thrilled to read in your last edition that the police had decided to route all the Doi Suthep traffic to the new Convention Centre on Canal Road and then utterly dismayed when a handful of vendors on Doi Suthep blocked the road and forced the police to re-open the road. This shortsighted and very selfish behavior then created a 3 kilometre long traffic jam; one that also went past my house on Canal.

All in all, I think next year I will go to Bangkok for New Year since there appears to be nobody in the city then. They are all here.


Fed up with traffic

Dear Fed Up;

Emma feels your pain. In fact, every single resident of the city feels your pain. They do bring much needed income to the city and but, as I pointed out to a friend who said, “Well there are also many Chinese”, the Chinese generally do not have cars. Although I suspect Chinese New Year at the end of the month will change that and a large influx of Chinese tourists from Yunnan will be arriving like they did last year.

Keep your chin up! Eventually the tourists will go and they are leaving everyone’s wallets fat and happy.



My wife doesn’t understand the notion of gift giving

Dear Emma,

I am an older American man married to a younger Thai woman. Before we start the clich้s we are quite happy in our relationship and I am not asking about age difference problems. My problem is that she didn’t seem to understand the whole gift giving idea behind Christmas and sulked when she didn’t get the present she wanted. In fact, she kicked up quite a fuss so I returned the present I did buy her and gave her the thing she wanted. I had actually spent a lot of time picking out the gift for her and was really disappointed in her reaction. I guess the notion of “it’s the thought that counts” doesn’t apply here.

It ruined Christmas for me and I don’t think I will bother celebrating it next year.

Is this a cultural difference or is my wife just greedy?



Dear Disappointed,

It is cultural. There are very few holidays where Thai people actually give presents. Thai people are a very pragmatic people and for example, at weddings, only cash is given. This really makes much more sense as it helps the young couple pay for their wedding and they don’t end up with ten rice cookers

Funerals are the same; money is given to help defray the costs of the funeral. Most people do not celebrate birthdays with cake and presents and normally the birthday girl or boy pays for their own party, hosting friends on one’s birthday is the norm here. Occasionally one may give flowers but this is normally done for business and official events.

Usually gifts are given when a family member comes to visit from some far away province or travels overseas and brings delicacies or unique things from their home or destination.

Rather than assume your wife is wrong and greedy it is best to assume that you don’t understand the cultural implications behind her behavior and try to understand them. Even better, help her to understand yours rather than give up. How can a couple truly succeed if they do not understand each other’s cultures and customs?



Do Thai people read much?

Dear Emma,

I love to read, I even bought a kindle so that I can get all the books I want easily. I prefer to spend at least a few hours a day reading a book. My wife, on the other hand, barely reads at all. If she does read it is these awful comic books. Why don’t I see Thai people reading?


Book lover

Dear Book Lover,

Unless one lives in Bangkok, Chiang Mai or another big city books are very hard to come by in rural areas. Not only are they hard to find they are outrageously expensive when one compares them to the daily minimum wage. For many Thai people it would take a full day or more to pay for a good book. The libraries don’t seem to lend anything other than technical books. Certainly nothing that would encourage one to enjoy reading.

Add in the fact that the Thai people are more group oriented people and prefer activities that involve several or even many people and it is no wonder that the solitary act of reading could seem antisocial.

However, that said, when Emma travels to Bangkok she often sees Thai people reading on the MRT and the BTS. Riding alone on the subway and reading a book is an acceptable time to be solitary it would seem.

So, factor in these things and most Thai people have never developed a habit of reading. Perhaps you should try introducing your wife to books that she would enjoy (as opposed to ones you think she should read) and you may find that after a time, her reading habits change.