Saturday, 23 April 2011

A Brief Description of Thailand Food and Thailand Culture

Thailand food
It is beyond any doubt that food is a part of any gathering, thus, becoming the part of social occasions or itself the reason to celebrate. Normally, as per the western culture, a normal meal in any restaurant consists of starter, main course and then dessert. But in Thailand, the custom is a bit different with regard to Thailand food, as there is no single dish for a single person. As a general, all present in a gathering share the same dish together. So, it's better to have many guests together around the table than to enjoy with one or two as eating alone is considered a bad luck in the country.

One of the good things about Thai food is that they never dispose away the leftover food, as they consider it inauspicious and an enraging act to a female deity, 'God of rice'. Generally there are four seasonings in Thailand food- sweet, sour, salty and spicy. The food is satisfied only if it contains all the four tastes. Thai dinner mostly include meat, fish, noodles, vegetables and soup followed by desserts including fresh fruits and colorful rice cakes. Besides meals, there are snackers consisting of chicken or beef satay, spring rolls, salads, raw vegetable with spicy dips and sweets.

Thailand culture
Thailand culture is highly influenced by Buddhism in addition to some influence of Hinduism and other Southeast Asian neighbor. Thai art is the main item included in Thai Culture. Buddha image is the main constituent in different period having distinctive styles. At present, there is a fusion of traditional art with modern techniques. India has also laid much influence on Thailand literature. It includes the most notable work, Ramakien, the version of Indian epic, Ramayana. The poetry of Sunthorn Phu is also quite famous in Thailand.

Spoken drama is not given any importance in Thailand, but instead there is Thai dance, divided into three categories- Lakhon, Likay and Khon. A form of shadow pay, Nang Drama, is popular among southern Thailand. Folk music and classical music both are have their significance in addition to pop music.

Apart from it, one of the common customs included in Thailand is Wai, a common gesture that is similar to Indian Namaste. The hospitable and generous people of Thailand pay a lot of respect and homage to their elders, as it is the core of their faith and spiritual belief. Seeking blessings from the elders is considered important mark of respect.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Thailand Vacations - Etiquette While Traveling in the Kingdom

Thailand vacations can be exotic, beautiful, sunny, unique and very rewarding. To get the most out of your vacation, learn about the customs and traditions that are expected of visitors and tourists to Thailand. With these tips can help you become one of their beloved guests. Reading through this list will help you understand the proper ways to conduct yourself in frequent situations. This will help you show respect for the people and their country. These basic principles will also keep you from unintentionally offending your gracious hosts.

Thailand Vacations Can Be More Than Just a Party
Thailand can be a truly unique and rewarding cultural experience. And it can be a great party. With relatively cheap prices, warm weather and friendly people, some places in Thailand has become overwhelmed with partygoers. Our recommendation is to have fun, party some, but consider what you will be missing if that is all you do. Also consider that this is the ancient home of your hosts.

Greeting people in Thailand with the Wai
One very important custom that is used in Thailand is the Wai. This is the accepted way of greeting others throughout the country. The Wai is performed by placing your palms together and letting your fingers point upward (in a prayer position). When you do this you also bend your head at the neck, to show respect to the people that you are meeting. Thai natives will appreciate your using the Wai while visiting with them because it is their tradition and accepted way of greeting another person. Every person in Thailand is familiar with this type of greeting, and will immediately respond in kind to this gentle and polite gesture. They will also be happy and flattered that you are showing honor by using the Wai while in their country.

Graeng Jai ... The Polite Thai Art of Refusal
Graeng Jai is a somewhat difficult concept to understand, as there is no good word or phrase in English. One you think you have it translated, Graeng Jai comes up in different forms. Some attempts at translation are, "don't want to impose on others", "over-polite", "don't want to say what you are really thinking", and "fear of disrespecting authority," "high respect for authority, elders or parents." While frustrating at times, it has a very important role in the culture.

Throughout Thailand whenever you are invited to join someone for dinner at their baan (house), turning down the offer is a gesture of graeng jai. To do this signifies is that you are being considerate, and not rude. To refuse the gesture means that you are trying not to cause anyone any extra bother or inconvenience. This term is actually used quite commonly for any occasion where refusal of different invitations is seen as being respectful of others. It is an old Thai tradition and a means of saving face. While offering to share meals or money with another person is standard, there may not be anything much to share. When the person refuses there is no embarrassment to anyone on either side. If the person really wants to share something with you and it is not an imposition, the request will be emphatically repeated, at which time you can accept with a clear conscience and good manners.

Respect Thai Customs
Thailand does have a long list of "must do" and "don't dare" actions. The Thai people are very gracious and hospitable so they won't get mad if you do not observe all of their traditional rules and customs, but it is a good idea for any traveler to be familiar with as many of these as possible. You would appreciate visitors to your own country showing the same respect for your own customs.

Inappropriate Dress In Thailand
Improper attire is one thing that Thai people frown upon. However, because of their graciousness and Graeng Jai, they may not say anything to you. So it is up to you to learn about it before you go and observe what others are doing. Some of the younger citizens are not as strict about dress codes, but the older people are. A general rule is to not bare shoulders or go shirtless in Thailand public places. On the beach, of course, it is no problem. But elsewhere, more traditional clothing is appreciated. Just remember to follow the "not too" reminders when it comes to your dress choices. Not too small, not too tight, not too skimpy and not too revealing.

Thailand's Spiritual Leanings...Buddhism
Buddhism is a very important part of Thailand life and culture and you should also respect their religious and spiritual beliefs while you visit. This belief and faith is shown in many ways. In Thai families when a son reaches the age of around 20 he will actually spend a short time as a monk. This is because it is believed that this action will send the mother and father to a heavenly destination when they die. Becoming a monk for any amount of time is one of the ways that these young men are able to demonstrate their faith in their spiritual beliefs. The temples are very holy structures to Buddhist believers.

Always show respect to any statue depicting Buddha, which means no climbing on them, no sitting beside them for a photo-op, and never put a Buddha figure on the floor.

Temple Traditions and Etiquette
In a temple setting rules and tradition are very strict. Your clothing must be acceptable in order to enter the temple. Modest dress choices are your best bet. There are usually sarongs available at all temples that can be worn by both men and women if your clothing is not accepted or is questionable.

Shoes come off before ever entering a temple. Some times you may see a man at temple wearing a tank tee and shorts, but this is taboo for a woman at the temple. Whether kneeling or sitting in a temple you must not let the soles of your feet face toward the altar. Women are not to touch or hand any objects to a monk at any time. If you need to return something to a monk you should place it on a nearby table where he can then retrieve it. Some monks have a more liberal viewpoint on this and have no problem with touching a woman's wrist to tie a string around it or a gentle touch on the shoulder. But always follow the monks lead.

Be respectful of The King and the Royal Family
In addition to respecting the Buddhist customs, travelers should understand the respect Thai's have for King Phumipon Adunyadet and the Thai Royal family. Remember to not make any disparaging or sarcastic comment about the king and his family. Not only would Thai's be deeply offended and outraged, it is illegal and carries consequences. This might seem outrageous to people who come from countries where they are free to criticize their leaders, however, it is not wise to challenge it (at least within Thailand). For the most part, this law is well-accepted and welcomed by Thais themselves, which suggests the enormous respect they have for their King. Their King and Queen have helped the country prosper and have been instrumental in converting opium production to organic farming, they have gracefully brought Thailand into the modern age while maintaining much of the old tradition, and are generally considered benevolent.

Basic Etiquette in Everyday Situations
If you are entering a Thai home please remember to remove your shoes first, this is their tradition. You may even be asked to do this in public restaurants, shops and stores. It's fun to do and you may want to continue this at your own home. Pointing with fingers and hands is considered rude behavior by Thai people. If you are sitting or kneeling across from others do not let the soles of your feet face them, as this is also considered rude and insulting. Never point at anything or any person with your foot when you are in Thailand. This is considered extremely rude because they consider the feet to be the lowest part of the body. To use them to indicate something is insulting to them. Refrain from touching someone else's head, even if it is only to remove a leaf or smooth their hair. Thais consider the head to be the highest and most respected part of the body. It is considered to be very rude for someone else to touch their head. Public displays of any affection are also extremely rude. Refraining from public shows of kisses or hugs is much appreciated.

Be Observant!
There are so many new sights, sounds and smells in Thailand. When arriving, you will probably be on sensory overload. But as you senses become more accustomed to your surroundings, observe what people are doing and how they are acting. As crazy as it sounds, try to fit in instead of stand out. Observe your body language, your voice volume levels, your group size, your presence. Then compare it with others around you - Thai and foreigners in your group. See if you can start to melt into the madness. Don't think of it as constricting - think of it as a gentle learning with Thailand as your teacher.