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Thaiing up my life

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The Land Of Smiles



Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles. And yes, everyone smiles - a lot. As you walk along the street, strangers smile at you  - it's a lovely day - why not smile?

But the Thai smile has many different meanings; I've lived here for over 15 years and still have things to learn.

It can be:

1.I really like you, and we are going to be friends.

2.Not sure about you, but it's rude to be unfriendly.

3. I don't understand any thing you are saying, but I will smile and nod to be polite.

4. You are a very strange foreigner, and I don't know quite how I should react - so smile is the default position.

5. God, you're an idiot, and I can make some money here!

I've met all of those - and I am sure there are more. I speak some Thai (not enough - the tones defeat me!) and on the whole, it's numbers 1 - 4 I have met most. But when I first came here, I met a lot of number 5!

And unfortunately number 5 is the one most likely to be encountered by tourists - especially in Bangkok. Royal Palace 'closed to visitors' because of Buddhist holiday - but I can take you to this marvellous place having a jewellery sale/handbag sale/watch sale....

No 5 aren't the real Thailand. 1 - 4 are. It breaks my heart that so many visitors who only visit Bangkok only meet No 5.

Most Thais are the most hospitable, friendly people you will ever meet. They will go enormously out of their way to help a stranger. But, like any country, there are those who wish to take advantage of the naive.

I hate that so many blogs etc on Thailand list only the scams - of which there are many, especially in Bangkok, and at the airport there -and don't acknowledge/know the many, many people who will go out of their way to help a stranger. I have seen drunken foreigners driven back to their accommodation - free -sick visitors taken to the hospital, and those that live here all have stories of Thais just being there when needed.

I was very sick a while ago, and my (once a week) maid came daily to check on me. My regular taxi driver rang daily to see if I needed anything. I live alone, and my (twice a week) gardener always checks I am up and about....

So - yes, there are the scam artists, and they make the travel blogs etc - but the Thais I know have been much more concerned about me than I would have found in the UK.

For me, the smiles have been real.

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I've never been to Thailamd - I'll get there one day I hope. :) 

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@Karma - if you are ever able to plan to come here - pm me!  I know and love this country , and can give you places off the tourist trail that I think you would love - and then maybe end up on a beach here for a cocktail or two together!

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