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Life in Chiang Mai

 


Cross-cultural differences

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 home.
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!

 


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Cross-cultural differences