by Rhonna Rosales
Traditional Thai “Wai” or Welcome
The traditional Thai greeting is not a Western style handshake but a “Wai” – where the hands are brought together in front of the chin. It is an action that is beautiful and graceful.
The Wai is not just a way of saying hello without using any word; it is a sign of respect for the others. The younger or lower-ranking person does the Wai first but if you feel that someone merits a Wai, no problem! Do it!
Thai Culture is based upon respect and peace. Although Thai people are one of the most conservative races, they too are considered one of the friendliest in the whole of Asia. It is not called the “Land of Smiles” for nothing!. However, displays of affection in public between the opposite sexes are not common in Thailand.
Thailand’s a tropical country (hot and humid) that personal hygiene and cleanliness are very important, too. Thai people normally take a bath at least twice each day and tend to dress very politely; even tourists are expected to dress conservatively. You would probably be less conspicuous in long shorts especially if you are near the temples.
Aside from the people, Thailand is also famous for its rich culture and arts. Some of the things that placed Thailand on the map are: the Ramakian – its most important literary work; its luxurious Thai silk; Muay Thai and kickboxing; Shadow Theater; Sepak Tekraw and even its stimulating and sought-after Thai massage
If you’re to travel to Thailand, don’t miss the chance to see a Shadow performance. Shadow Theaters in Thailand are called “Nang Yai”. Nang Yai are puppets normally made of cowhide and rattan. Accompanied by songs and chants, a shadow performance basically narrates the tales of the gods and contemporary people through stories of love, current events, and tradition. The Nang attempts to convey to the audience the importance of Thai values and ideologies through shadow performances in these modern and ever-changing times.
The streets of Thailand provide an opportunity to learn more about its culture and people. There you will the young and the old share a game of “Sepak Takraw”. It is the most popular sports in Thailand and can be seen played in school yards, parks, fairgrounds, city streets, beaches, or anywhere where there’s enough open space. The sport resembles volleyball except that it uses a rattan or plastic ball and only makes use of the head and feet to touch the ball.
A Buddhist temple is more likely be situated in one of the busy streets. Ornate and unique architectural designs and wood carvings set Thai Buddhist Temples apart. You could ride the Tuk-Tuk and sample Thai street food too!
Thailand streets are pretty busy but if you pause and really “look”, you will “see” and “feel” the heart of Thailand!.