by Ethan David
In Search of Sanuk ?
However, one of the main reasons why many foreigners keep coming back, or refuse to go back home, is because of the Thai people themselves.
Thailand is not called the “Land of Smiles” because of the amount of smiling a tourist will make when they get there, but because the Thai people themselves cannot help but smile through any conceivable situation.
Foreigners should take note; however, that Thai people’s smiles have various meanings and are worth a bit of research prior to going.
One thing that sets the Thai people apart from a lot of other cultures, though, is their inherent playfulness. Westerners may find the Thai people’s attitude refreshing, due to their friendly and laid-back nature. The concept of “sanuk” (the Thai word for “fun”), is embedded deep in their culture.
This doesn’t mean that Thai people don’t take things seriously. It is just that they have this profound belief that anything worth doing should be enjoyable!.
This easy-going nature may also explain why the Thai people’s unofficial motto is “Mai Pen Rai”, which means “never mind” or “it’s nothing.” Mai Pen Rai enables the Thai people to be happy, retain their composure and keep smiling even through tough times.
If they get frustrated or irritated, they simply say those three words and find another solution to the problem instead of getting angry.
Mai Pen Rai directly affects the Thai people’s concept of time. The Thai attitude so relaxed when it comes to appointments and deadlines, that they often turn up late (sometimes VERY late!).
It is very difficult to pin them down when it comes to time and it is recommended that you just go with the flow. Despite this much laid back attitude to time, you will not see any Thai get upset about it. Showing your irritation, like when your meal in a restaurant arrives late, is viewed as immature.
If you do express dissatisfaction against a Thai person, do not expect a comeback. Thai people are notoriously averse to confrontation and will avoid it whenever possible. This is because they strongly believe in the concept of saving face and hold their image to the public in very high regard.
They also avoid speaking in a judgmental, argumentative or aggressive manner. If you lose your temper in public, be prepared to be ignored as a result!.
So like the saying goes “When in Rome, do as the Romans do!”.