Readers' Submissions

The Idea That Thais Are Polite

  • Written by ABC
  • May 21st, 2004
  • 3 min read


Mark, who recently posted "Young Thais And Their Attitudes Towards Farangs", has some good points. Farangs and Westerners in general do often get upset quickly and many don't understand the Thai customs. Even when we do, we often simply don't "empathize" or accept Thai customs on many things like avoid conflict at all costs, saving face to the point of lying / financial loss / doing the wrong thing, Thai Budhism, etc.

However, on the other side, the idea that Thais are generally "polite" people is just plain naive. It is the opinion of a person so in love with Thailand that perhaps he has intentionally overlooked the Thais clear negative traits.

I don't live in Thailand. My Thai wife lives in America with me. She deals with mainly farangs and Americans daily. When she has had problems with waiters, taxi drivers, department sales people, or cashiers in the States, she reacts the same. She allows herself to be overcharged. She accepts rude behaviour. She just doesn't want to deal with the uncomfortable nature of being in conflict.

On the other hand, she will still talk loudly on the phone when I'm on a business call in the same room. She will still turn up the radio or TV when I'm on a call. She will still distract me when I'm driving AND on the phone.

None of these behaviours are generally acceptable in the West. On the one hand, being naive and accepting poor service is considered weak. On the other hand, common phone courtesy is just that.

Thais seem to dish our rudeness and accept it just as well. Westerners expect politeness, and they know they should not be rude, though it seems that culturally too many of us are rude ourselves due to our demanding nature and hurry to get things done.

It is this Western rudeness Mark is referring to which may build up Thai resentment. However, let's be honest. The Thais are just as rude themselves in their own ways, with the above being just a short list of examples, but I'm sure they gladly overlook their own part in the rude behaviour (given their ability to do anything to "save face").

Thais aren't just rude in LOS. The arguement that poor behaviour of farang tourists in LOS is the cause of Thai rudeness is not valid. You cannot explain the same behaviour in Thais living abroad with this idea.

The common idea that Thais must be generally more polite, as opposed to rude, given the number of Westerners married to Thais (women) is also invalid. There are many reasons for this, one being that Thai women look for wealthier men and foreign men are generally wealthier due to the exchange rate. Other reasons include large numbers of Thai women marrying farang being of more impoverish, less educated backgrounds, who are by nature more motivated to marry for money or "financial security". This is reflected in why so many Thai women meet their Western husbands in farang oriented strip bars.

Farthermore, there is also this most common reason why any man would marry a woman….he isn't marrying a Thai woman, he is marrying Noi (who happens to be Thai, which is perhaps an actually negative trait) just like his friend might have married Beth who happens to be a farang. The motivation for marriage isn't often Thai women are so attractive, but simply that they are available and that men tend to fall in love wherever they may be and where there is an abundant supply of available women.

Stickman's thoughts:

This quote from your submission is spot on! "The Thais are just as rude themselves in their own ways"