From the boorish to the beneficent
By Tom Long
It is often said that, when it comes to people living outside
their own country, you get only the very good and the very bad residing
abroad. Mr. and Mrs. Average stay at home and wouldn’t dream of leaving
The good is represented by people who go somewhere, such as those expats
who settle here in Thailand, for positive reasons. For example their
interest in the new culture, or who undertake charitable works in their
new country. The bad elements come here for all the wrong reasons, such
as for the cheap booze, for the too-ready availability of prohibited
drugs or even to indulge in their illicit tastes.
That said, as a foreigner living in Chiang Mai I am too often ashamed at
seeing the boorish behaviour of some other foreigners here. This is all
the more unfortunate since the local Thais themselves are a gracious and
polite people, who put many foreigners to shame by their natural charm,
grace, patrience, cheerfulness, and self-control.
The other day in a cafe I was shocked to see Mainland Chinese tourists
loudly snapping their fingers to get the waiter’s attention, and then
shouting out loud. Despite such gross discourteousness, the hard-pressed
staff approached them with that lovely Thai smile which is so often
given – but not so often returned.
At the next table, a Canadian couple rudely ordered (that is, ordered,
not asked for) ‘’water,’’ ‘’salt,’’ ‘’check!’’ Why was it too much
trouble for these boorish diners to add the simple word please to their
requests? Would they be so rude at home? If yes, then it is a pity that
they ever left home.
Of course they never offered any thanks when the ever-patient,
ever-smiling young Thai waiters quickly delivered what they wanted. And,
no surprises here either, of course they offered no tip at the end! Such
graceless foreigners bring their own homeland into disrespect, by their
boorish conduct when overseas.
Apparently, the Government of China has put out a printed guide to
appropriate behaviour when overseas for their citizens to follow. We may
judge from their continued upsetting social conduct here that few of
them follow such advice; maybe they have not read such advice.
The citizens of almost any other place could learn a lot from observing
the nice ways of the naturally-polite Thai people. They could learn how
to behave in a seemly way in public. You very seldom come across a rude
Thai. Sadly, with the foreigner community in Chiang Mai, you come across
rude ones all too often.
So on behalf of all those rude foreigners here, here’s a big SORRY to
our gracious Thai hosts!