Culture shock books

Aug 13th, 2004, 04:14 PM
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Culture shock books

I am getting ready for my vacation in HKG and Thailand. I just finished to read two books of series "Culture Shock" , one on Hong Kong and another on Thailand. While HK is about what I expected, Thailand made me somewhat uneasy. They talk about Thai society (inferior vs superior), a lot's of restrictions - how to be lower than some people's heads, do not touch monks (even handshake from women), what if I accidentally bump into monks. Do not point your legs to somebody's head. In wat sit on the floor if other people sit. Is it this restrictive? This is our first time to Asia .
I usually find culture shock books very helpful, but I hope thai understand farangs and do not take some mishhaps personally.

any thoughts?
emtravel is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 07:44 PM
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not to worry about any of these things except to stay comfortably away from can't help it if you brush up against them in a crowd, but they will probably prevent certain temples keep you feet away from the images---not really an issue or someone will tell you...don't worry...silly things that foreigners always do ...they will not put you in jail...
rhkkmk is online now  
Aug 13th, 2004, 11:05 PM
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the shock will be that most of the book was crap.. well atleast for us farangs. and anyways as a tourist you'll be on the top of the social order anyways... the only thing usefull in that book is how too use the squat toilet. HK BKK are big cities where even the locals barely fallow tradition.. and as far as the amall villages in thailand.. satilite TV and the rapid growth of thailand has changed some of their old ways..

if your woried about Wei-ing DON"T BOTHER.
orgy7 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2004, 12:52 AM
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The Thai people in my experience are some of the friendliest and most gracious people you will find any where in the world.

Generally, if you visit a temple with a guide they will help with any customs you should observe - this usually amounts to wearing respectful clothes (i.e not beachwear or short shorts or very short T-shirts)taking your shoes off before you enter the temple, and making sure you point your feet away from any religeous symbol when sitting.

As for patting people on the head - I can't remember the last time I had cause to do this.

As for Monks - Photographs of Thailand, in my opinion, overplay the number of monks about. Yes you will see them, but they aren't so prevelant that you will find yourself bumping into them all the time. I've never had reason to shake the hands of a monk.

Lowering of heads? I think this is a "respect" related practice (might be wrong) the only time I've experienced this is in some of the hotels, if ordering a drink, if seated the waiter / waitress will drop to their knees to be below your head height to serve you. I was also in the lobby of one of the hotels as the Crown Prince arrived; as he and his entourage drifted through the lobby, virtually all the Thai people dropped to their feet.

Basic advice to you for Thailand would be
(1) Don't openly disrespect their Royal Family
(2) Ignore ANYONE, no matter what they claim their credentials are, who tries to pursuade you to go the best gem store (tailors, shopping mall etc)that their uncle or whoever owns. (Get recommendations from the hotel concierge at a respected hotel if you want gem stores etc).
(3)Agree fares and destinations with taxi drivers and tuk tuk drivers beforehand and don't let them a) put you off from going there (they may tell you such and such a place is closed that day - it almost certainly won't be) b)persuade you into going to somewhere else - be firm and they will be fine.

I remember my first visit to Thailand some 13 years ago I had exactly the same concerns - having read some guide books that just went completely over the top. If you just try to have a little common sense respect for the Thai people and their places of worship you will have no trouble at all.
Walter_Walltotti is offline  
Aug 15th, 2004, 09:30 AM
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thank you for your replies. That's what I thought. I read in that cluture shock that farang family climbed on Buddhas statue outside of wat and they went to jail. So I will remember not to climb on buddhas! We do not have kids with us anyway and I do not intend climbing anywhere. Do we need to drop on the knees or the floor if I accidentally see royal family?
I also read do not step on the threshold. We actually got guides most of the time so I am not picking up touts on the street.
These culture shocks I've read before (Israel, Spain) turned out to be very helpful. However, they are written mostly for expats who will be living in the country.
Also, it concerned mt that they say Bangkok is not comfortable for strolling. We do like to walk but I guess it will be hot in October.
emtravel is offline  
Aug 15th, 2004, 09:56 AM
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I, nor the 50 or so westerners in the hotel lobby, did not drop to our feet, we just stood watching the commotion. None of us, to the best of my knowledge were arrested.

Yes, images of Buddha are sacred.

Yes you are likely to find it quite hot and humid to walk about in
Walter_Walltotti is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 02:00 AM
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I think that the Culture Shock series is pretty good. I bought one about Norway and I was happy to see that most of the stuff in that book was pretty accurate (I'm from Norway myself). I also read the Thailand book and there were lots of "rules". I think that the main thins is that you know about all least you are making an effort to understand their culture. You will see lots of tourist that hasn't read books like this an hence will do stuff that they maybe shouldn't do Well, if you want some tips about Thailand and Hong Kong feel free to visit my homepage My wife and I have been to both places and Bangkok is one of our favourite spots. Have a great trip and don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

Stavanger, Norway
gard is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 07:22 AM
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Gard, I read your reports, enjoyed them. Walter, Orgy7, Bob thanks for feedback. I will let you know how we will make it.
emtravel is offline  
Sep 13th, 2004, 03:25 PM
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I am back to this thread since today I saw an article in

Which again reminds visitors ho to behave in Buddhist country. Hope it helps. "Culture Shock Thailand" is also a good book,

happy travels
emtravel is offline  
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