How ordinary Thais treat foreigners
I just had a “pad thai” for lunch at a roadside stall. An anonymous Thai person apparently paid for my meal. First I knew about it was when I went to pay. This isn’t the first time. I know I have said it before, but ordinary Thais are really among the most kind and generous hosts in the world. When I first came to Thailand I stayed with a Thai family. They insisted on paying for everything and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. When they took me to their local tourist attraction they still wanted to pay for me even though the foreigner’s price was five times higher.
I’m sure other people have had similar experiences.
8 thoughts on “How ordinary Thais treat foreigners”
Like many of the correspondents above I too have been the recipient of many unsolicited acts of kindness,albeit usually far from heavily ‘touristed’areas. I instance; cycling across Thailand my wheels collapsed-the spokes unable to bear bear the weight. A young Thai boy trundling along behind me on an ancient bicycle invited me to sit on his carrier, and with my high tech bicycle over my shoulder pedaled some 8 kilometres to a village where all the spokes were replaced. He would not accept any gratuity.At another time the chain on my bicycle snapped while cycling north from Don Muang at around 4am. A nearby stall-owner who was setting up shop found a tiny cycle repair-shop-little more that a car crate, woke the owner who spent an hour or so rummaging through his box of old chains etc. by torch-light until he found and fitted a chain that held until the next town was reached; For this service asked for 30 baht Not being able to find accommodation in a town late at night a woman took me back to her house and accommodated me in a gazebo in her garden.It was only at daylight that I realised I had shared her garden with a tethered elephant.The list goes on…. If Thais are wary of beer swilling louts in Pattaya who can blame them? Time and time again I have seen European backpackers behave in a way that would see them thrown out of restaurants and the like in the West. Dirty feet on tables,degrading comments about waitresses and so on.In my 30 years of travelling and working in Thailand I could count on one hand experiences of overt rudeness. Being overcharged in tourist hot spots, by taxi drivers and others in the service industries is not unique to Thailand. For me it always a pleasure to arrive in Thailand and a little sad to leave.
A true story: There I was, stranded at the entrance to Wat Theppitak Punaram – the big white buddha in Klang Dong near Pak Chong. The chain of my motorcycle had just snapped. It was a long and hot push back into the little townsite. At one rest stop along the way an older couple stopped their car and asked in limited English if they could assist me. After a brief discussion they flagged down a passing motorcyclist whom they persuaded to tow me to a nearby repair shop. They paid the improvised tow operator a small fee when we arrived at the shop. The couple then left me with a snack and a drink in the care of the fix-it guy. They absolutely refused anything in return.
The fix-it guy quickly diagnosed the moto issue, and within a few short moments all was put right. For the second time I was met with a stiff refusal to accept payment. He announced that I was a guest in his home and that he was happy to help me.
Not only did these good folk “earn merit” but Thai people in general did, and are held in high regard by me because of these, and other such kindnesses since.
The “scoundrels” tend to come from those who interact with Falangs on a regular basis, as their primary source of income. Hence, taxi drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, tour operators, and so on tend to be on the prime list of usual-suspects… (think anyone loitering around the Wat Pho area)
Then you’d have the “bounty hunters” who try to sell you gems from their “cousins” or “TAT friends” at VERY special prices…. **sigh**
Oddly, even for many “scoundrels” (i.e. touts in tourist areas), it’s just a dayjob. They can be decent people after hours.
The other day I caught a ride with a motorbike taci, who’s taxi broke down fairly near my destination. He only charged me 20 baht and I flagged a taxi, who took me the rest of the way and wouldn’t accept any money. I got home and my maid had bought me three new orchids for my garden. Every day I am blown away by the kindness of strangers. The only place it doesn’t happen as much is in tourist destinations where, I think, foreigners have given a bad impression. Still, even there, with a bit of Thai and a friendly attitude I find kindness. How nice to be prompted to comment on what we love about Thailand.
Ya, Asians are generally like that but thais show them more. I like Thailand and Thai people!!!Over here in Borneoi, you can also be invited to tribal longhouse and all food provoded. And youwill be asked to sleep in the owners’ bedroom- the best in the house!!!
With a bit of luck, you might also be invited to marry the village chief 14 yo daughter 🙂
Was once seating alone in the Chiang Mai Bangkok flight…The familly seated next to me just invited me to stay at their home in BKK. It was K. Jumbo, driver of one of the Thai Airways Limousine at Don Muang.
An other time, in Koh Chang, a familly I met at the beach just offered to drive my wife and I bakk to BKK.
An other time, seating in nearly empty bus from Khorat to Chiang Mai, some people invited me to visit their village close to Pitsanulock. When I arrived, it was a farmer vilage, no running water, no electricity. They killed and cooked a chicken to celebrate my arrival and we had lao yaa daeng (rice alcool with red medicinal herbs).
Once trecking n Mae Sae, was invited to a Lisu wedding wile the other treckers were sleeping! Had laarb luat! (raw pig with blood).
Was many times invited for lunch or dinner be the foreign exchange teller, the owner of the guest house, shop keepers, people met in the street during new year celebration, etc, etc…
So, 100% agree with Richard: the condition for such things to happend: behave and dress correctly, respect the country and the people, show your interested by trying to speak Thai!