PHP Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in ..../includes/class_bootstrap.php(433) : eval()'d code on line 110
Keep your pretty head low!
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 17
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Posts
    572
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 15 Times in 9 Posts

    Keep your pretty head low!

    My first visit to Southern Isaan to meet my Thai Girlfriend's (now Thai Wife's) was a real lesson in culture shock. It was my desire to be liked and accepted by her family and the village in general. Being socially successful in the rural villages of Isaan is not that complicated; if you are polite, then you will be successful.

    During most interactions with people in most places in Thailand the first few minutes of your first conversation can be a little unnerving for a displaced Farang:

    "How old are you?"
    "Is you mother and father still alive?"
    "How much money do you make?"

    These types of questions may be a little rude in Western Countries but they are perfectly normal in Thailand.

    "How old are you?" is one of the fundamental questions. If you are one minute older than another person, then you will be called pee(your name). If you are one minute younger, then you will be called nong(your name).

    One thing is for certain in the village: age has its privileges.

    Here is a tip: Whether it is in a house or at a public gathering when you pass between an elderly person and whatever they are looking at or pass next to an elderly person while they are looking at you it is polite to make an effort to place your head lower than theirs.
    If they are standing, sitting, or even lying on the floor/ground and you are walking by, then getting your head actually lower is not the point; making the gesture is the point. Bend a little at the knees and drop you chin just a little as you pass and you will be the polite farang that everybody will have something nice to speak about.

    Pay attention when you see the Thais interact with elderly people and you will see it comes very naturally; almost unnoticed. Because Farangs are still a novelty in the village they are watched closer and that is an opportunity to show you want to be polite.

    In Southern Issan there are not as many Farang (white) travelers as in most places. You will be a true novelity there. I remember a relative-to-be taking me by the arm to look at the white skin; it was a memorable experience.
    Last edited by pclev; 24-02-08 at 10:22 PM. Reason: Address Concerns of Forum Members
    The Heart determines what is Possible by the Mind

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    30,363
    Thanks
    6,408
    Thanked 5,318 Times in 3,446 Posts

    Re: Keep your pretty head low!

    Works elsewhere in Thailand too-and such "good behavior" often leads to Thai strangers being more relaxed and willing to to talk/help, rather than avoid, you from my own limited experience in the far north.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,127
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 20 Times in 9 Posts

    Re: Keep your pretty head low!

    Quote Originally Posted by pclev View Post
    it is polite to make an effort to place your head lower than theirs.... making the gesture is the point. Bend a little at the knees and drop you chin just a little as you pass...
    This is one of the single most important tips I have seen on this board. The entire region of SE Asia seems skeptical of body language and this is by far the most important of body language when not in your own peer group in my eyes. Not just in Thailand but even abroad at a Thai wedding in Denmark, a wild drinking house warming party in Canada or at a wat in Atlanta - it does not matter where. This is by far the single biggest way to show respect to not just the elderly but to anyone older than you even by just a couple years.

    It is never commented on that I have heard, but there is certainly acceptance in the air when you see it done by someone else. Watch the faces of the people in the room when it is done by a farang and you will see there is a much warmer attitude and a slight smile will appear as they enter and leave the room.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    .
    Posts
    4,890
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 10 Times in 3 Posts

    Re: Keep your pretty head low!

    And then .... "you know you're an expat when..." you still do this in your home country with non Thais. My friends and co-workers look at me so oddly... but sorry, it's ingrained now.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,127
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 20 Times in 9 Posts

    Re: Keep your pretty head low!

    55555555555 So so so so true!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    670
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Re: Keep your pretty head low!

    Same with me!! And I'm not even an expat!
    life is wonderful!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Yangon, Myanmar
    Posts
    8,501
    Thanks
    240
    Thanked 823 Times in 463 Posts

    Re: Keep your pretty head low!

    it happened to me as well. I even wai'd people back home - now, that was weird

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    .
    Posts
    4,890
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 10 Times in 3 Posts

    Re: Keep your pretty head low!

    While these traditions are important to know (lowering your head, ͧ, Թѧ ) I think it is important to point out that these are traditions from all regions of Thailand, not just Isaan.

    I think it might be worthwhile to have a thread on the differences between village life and city life....or a thread on Thai culture/politeness.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Yangon, Myanmar
    Posts
    8,501
    Thanks
    240
    Thanked 823 Times in 463 Posts

    Re: Keep your pretty head low!

    so true. the age thing (and the relevant forms of address) and keeping your head low when passing by someone definitely apply even in Bangkok high-rise offices.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,127
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 20 Times in 9 Posts

    Re: Keep your pretty head low!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pailin View Post
    I think it is important to point out that these are traditions from all regions of Thailand, not just Isaan.
    Agreed on the point, also is widespread gesture in Laos and Cambodia as well. Possible even further I do not know. I like your other idea Pailin on the differences, I look forward to those coming too.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •