Making my daily round of Facebook posts, I chanced upon a shared link about "Top 10 Things I Don't Understand About Thais and Thailand" written on a Yahoo network by a certain Ms Cassandra James. (Pardon my lifting your quotes without your permission.)
The writer noted at the end that it was written tongue-in-cheek, but the fact that people shared it on FB reflected that Thais found it rather quaint.
The 10 items were listed in descending order, though there was actually no definable reason for that. But as a Thai, I can tell you that you do not explain Thai behaviour based on logic. We do not live our lives based on rhyme or reason. We live our lives on a whim and advertising gimmicks. So let's go through that list one by one.
10. Why, when Thais take escalators, do they wait until they get to the top to decide where they're going?
A sense of direction is not a default element in the Thai psyche. We can't tell left from right, north from south, east from west. We don't do maps or floor plans, we don't check routes before leaving the house on a long-distance trip. That's why motorcycle taxis are located on every street corner, so you can ask them how to get to the Bangkok Post office. Or better yet, pay them 40 baht to lead you there.
9. Why do Thais not talk in elevators (though in a group, Thais are one of the loudest peoples in the world)?
Don't you realise that talking in a group is easy, because no one is listening to anyone else? But in an enclosed space, people can suddenly hear what you are saying, and that's leaving yourself exposed, which is a scary thought. They might actually realise that you're just spewing out a lot of nonsense.
8. How do Thai girls eat so much, yet stay so thin?
The trick is that ubiquitous dish called som tam. Thai girls rarely get through the day without a portion of som tam, with as much garlic and chilli as they can bear. On a serious note, garlic and chilli helps boost your metabolism, and I can assure you they cancel out the doughnuts and cupcakes and honey toast consumed afterwards.
7. How do Thai men find time to have five girlfriends?
The problem is that there are just not enough Thai men to go around. A Thai woman was quoted as saying that 50% of males in Chiang Mai are gay, while the figure goes down to 40% for Bangkok. That might be just an exaggerated personal impression, but it's enough to explain the rationale that there are just not enough available men to go around. And it's not easy competing with those stunning ladyboys, I can tell you!
6. Why do Thai girls want white skin?
Why do black women want to straighten their hair? Why do white women apply spray tans? Why do East Asian women have surgery to get double eyelids? Why is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? Why is the sky blue?
5. Why do Thais think Westerners are so great?
That's because Westerners have Brad Pitt and Robert Pattinson and George Clooney and David Beckham and Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. All right, let's include Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence and Kristin Stewart and Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. These are the epitome of Westerners! What's not to like?
4. Why do older Thai women still love dolls and soft toys?
The reason some Thai women fill their cars with soft toys is because if there's an accident, the cuddly toys act as air bags to prevent damage to their bodies. The reason they have soft toys or Blythe dolls at home is that they are actually voodoo dolls in disguise, when they're upset with their errant husbands or boyfriends (see No.7).
3. Why do Thai women join gyms but never set foot in the place?
Don't you realise that it's a crucial element on the list of 'Trendy Things to Have'? Also on the list is a city car bought under the subsidised first-car scheme that you never drive, a pair of designer wellies that you never wear, a tattoo that your mother cannot see and a designer handbag that you can't afford.
2. Why are Thais usually the nicest people in the world, but behind the wheel of a car they're scary?
You must have met my sister. She's the sweetest lady you could ever meet who wouldn't say boo to a goose. But behind the wheel, she swears like a trooper. I don't know about rude, but she definitely does not put up with idiots on the road.
1. Why are Thai girls so slow?
That's because most of the time they're busy uploading pictures on to Instagram and checking on their friends' posts, a very valid social activity that proves they are up to date with the latest goings-on in the community. You can't fault them for that. But put them in front of Justin Bieber or the Korean band Shinee, and you'll see how fast they can be to get to the front of the crowd.
Usnisa Sukhsvasti is the features editor of the Bangkok Post.
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