5 common myths about Thailand

Myths about Thailand. Part 1

Thailand, as any foreign country, with each year acquires myths and stereotypes. Such as the typical stereotypes about Russia – the bears in the streets, the river of vodka, caviar with big spoons, everyone wears earflaps and plays balalaikas. This is how you can describe Thailand: men come here alone to have fun on the Green Lantern Street (in Thailand, where a large percentage of Chinese live, red lanterns symbolize something else), cheap sex, Thai massage and exotic – in general, you can rest here with the chic for a penny.

Tourists who come from Thailand rush to share their impressions, often very subjective, with their friends and relatives. The latter, in turn, surprised by the unique paradise conditions, rush to visit this wonderful Kingdom, praised on numerous forums and sites on the Internet. They dream of escape from the bustle of the cities, lying in a hammock under the canopy of palm trees or on white sand, sipping an exotic cocktail. But in reality it is not as friends say and as they write on the internet. Why is it like this?

Firstly, because we are all different, what is amazing and wonderful to one will be completely uninteresting to another. Secondly, different level of relaxation, different needs and different desires give birth to many myths, which I will tell you about today. The topic turned out to be quite large, so I will divide it into several articles.

Tall tales and nonsense in Thailand.

Myth 1: Thailand is a cheap country.

I have already described the approximate order of prices and the amount to take with you on vacation. In the podcast, I said that life in Thailand, compared to Russia (not taking Moscow), a little cheaper, and the average cost is about $ 1000 per person. I do not dispute that there are people who live on $ 300 a month per person, but we are talking about the life of a farang in the usual European, not Thai, style.

Cheapness of Thailand is always a comparison. For example, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar are much cheaper than Thailand, and Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan – more expensive. But this does not mean that everything in Thailand costs pennies. In my opinion, Thailand in terms of prices can be compared to regional cities in Russia. Meals, rent of an apartment and transport will cost you the same, minus the costs associated with the purchase of winter and demi-seasonal shoes and clothing. But do not expect penny prices for everything, Thailand is a fairly rich country compared to its neighbors. And Phuket is the most expensive province of Thailand. So if you were in Pattaya and you go to Phuket, prepare yourself that the prices may surprise you.

Some people think it is cheaper to go on your own, I have already described the comparison of this holiday and travel packages. That said, Thailand is a great country for independent tourism, thousands of backpackers travel through it every year. If you are interested in the cultural attractions and minimal comfort, then Thailand is fully suitable. There is a wide range of inexpensive housing. But what country in the world doesn’t have that?

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Myth 2. Thailand is a country of legalized sex tourism, all Thai women are prostitutes willing to work for food

A monstrous misconception that sometimes leads to amusing incidents. Men retell these tales to each other in the style of hunter’s tales. Prostitution is illegal in Thailand. That Thailand is a country only for single men can be said by people who have seen nothing but Walking Street. If you go to Thailand with a specific purpose, then the Sahara Desert is an oasis.

In general, Thailand is a country of puritanism, the average number of partners for a 30-year-old Thai woman – two, indicating their faithfulness to their husbands, in contrast to the latter. Trying to feel the phyllo of a Thai airline stewardess will cost you jail time. To think that sex services appeared only because of the American soldiers who were once stationed at a base in Pattaya, is wrong.

Since ancient times, as well as in other countries, there were tea and massage parlors for Thais, where the latter could find a girlfriend for the night. Traveling through the Thai provinces, where no European tourist has set foot, I was convinced of this. For example, in the glorious town of Songai Kolok, on the border with Malaysia, each hotel has a small strip club or bar, where Thais gather to have a good time. Of course, these clubs do not reach the Russian, but the fact remains. And without a single tourist.

Stereotypes of Russian tourists in Thailand.

Myth 3: In Thailand there are no men, only transvestites, who are sold as children into slavery and make girls, so they sell their bodies.

Transgenderism is one of the topics which can be argued with foam at the mouth, figuring out more and more stereotypes and closed-mindedness of Russian-speaking tourists. Family life in Thailand is at such a level that it is unthinkable to assume that your beloved child would be sold into slavery. Moreover, it is impossible to imagine changing the sexual consciousness of a child. In Thailand gender reassignment is tolerated, there is no persecution of gays and transgender people.

Originally in Buddhism there were four genders, and from this follows a tolerance for people who are lumped together under the name “third gender. There is a belief that transgender people are people who were sinful in a previous life: selling their bodies, not taking care of children. In high school, boys who feel like girls are allowed to dress in women’s clothes, and there are special locker rooms and toilets for the “third sex” in fintech clubs. Transvestites and transsexuals can be seen not only at Tiffany’s shows, but also on television, in stores, spas, airlines, banks, and other serious companies. One’s own choice of gender and profession is non-negotiable, and that doesn’t mean that boys get surgeries to work as prostitutes.

I have several “girlfriends” who work as tour guides for tour companies. In the company where I work, there are two katoys (a common name for transvestites and transsexuals). They are not outcasts, but have a full place in Thai society, although it does not change when their physical gender is changed in their documents. Don’t ask your tour guides why there are so many transgender people in Thailand, it’s historic. My Thai friend explains this fact by the fact that boys eat chicken in childhood, so they become girls *) Of course, this is a joke on her part, an answer to the question of many Russian-speaking tourists who do not understand the mentality of Thais. Many things in Thailand can not be understood, it should be taken for granted, even if it does not coincide with your worldview and principles.

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Untruths about Thailand.

Myth 4: Tourists are the bread and butter of Thailand

It is a gross misconception that tourism is the country’s main source of income, given that most of the country is covered by agricultural land. Tourism began to develop about 50 years ago; before that, Thailand existed quietly without this area of income. As of 2019, tourism accounts for 11% of the country’s GDP. And it is mainly Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Samui and Hua Hin. By saying that “without us tourists, Thais would starve to death, they should thank us for it”, you express not only a boorish attitude to the local population, but also show your blatant ignorance.

Myth 5: We are foreigners, and in Thailand all is forgivable to us.

Unlike Egypt, where the tourist is the main thing of the population, in Thailand a farang is a person who has limited rights in the Kingdom due to lack of knowledge. Ignorance of the law does not exempt from responsibility. Unfortunately, this ignorance is often exploited by unscrupulous locals. In conflicts “Thai-Farang” to prove their case is very difficult, and often unreal without the presence of familiar Thais.

Examples: Thais at the rental office will assure you that the license to drive a motorcycle in Thailand is not needed, that the helmet is not necessary to put on the passenger. However, the police have a different opinion and they do not like to forgive. By the way, they do not take bribes either. Apart from human decency in Thailand you have to observe some other rules, connected with Thai morals.

10 typical misconceptions about Thailand

We offer you ten popular myths and their refutation.

Thailand is a third world country

The Thai economy is one of the leading economies in Southeast Asia. The country ranks fourth in terms of living standards, second only to Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia. The auto industry, electronics, textile, petrochemical industry, agriculture, and, of course, tourism are developed in Thailand. By the way, the country’s unemployment rate is less than one percent.

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You think because they don’t live by tourism, they live by rice exports? Look at your Nikon or Sony Nex and chances are you’ll see “Made in Thailand” on it. Industry accounts for 44.5% of the country’s GDP; Thailand is the largest supplier of pickup trucks and machinery made under Japanese licenses.

The Thai baht is a fairly stable currency: in five years it has depreciated against the dollar by only 20%, while the Russian ruble has depreciated by 130% and the Norwegian krone by 45%.

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The government is trying to keep inflation in check: food prices are barely rising, and gasoline is plummeting along with oil. Despite the political turmoil, the population believes in the financial institutions of the state and fearlessly keeps money in Thai banks.

Tourists are the main income and “sacred cow” Thailand

Tourist revenues are estimated at 9 to 16% of the country’s GDP, so the problems in this sector will be painful, but not fatal. Tourism’s share of employment in 2015 was 13.5%.

Photo: Shutterstock

Thais have an interesting feature – they hardly ever travel abroad, so the country has a well-developed domestic tourism (its share is about 60%). In short, despite the gloomy predictions of people affected by the visa restrictions, the Thai government has nothing to worry about. The statistics in 2015 were corrected at the expense of the Chinese, and complaints of small business owners about the empty streets are not able to spoil the reporting.

We are foreigners, all is forgiven

In Thailand, it is worth remembering the old Russian saying that you don’t go into someone else’s monastery with your own mouth. The locals tolerate our “strangeness” as long as it does not go beyond what is allowed. Forget the offensive gestures, and especially do not try to repeat swear words in Thai. Respect images of Buddha, monks and royalty.

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Ignorance of the laws does not exempt from responsibility, so sincerely surprised our compatriots in search of, for example, “pot.” “What’s the big deal, this is Thailand, relaxation, everything here is for tourists! Why would they arrest us?” – they think. And yet the embassy does not interfere in the affairs of citizens who have violated local laws. And in the conflicts “Thai – Farang” to prove their case in the absence of familiar Thais is unreal.

To work in Thailand is to work in paradise.

That’s what tourists think when they look at the guides, office workers and promoters on Walking Street. You’re just two weeks away from the dullness and slush, while they can walk the promenade, breathe the sea air and eat pad thai all day long! But believe me, work is always work.

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Once you’ve landed the long-awaited job, you’re excited to get started – life under palm trees is in your hands! But as it turns out, six days a week you have to get up early in the morning and in the evening to fall off his feet from exhaustion, forgetting about dinner, and on Sundays, trying to sleep, clean your room, go to the supermarket and see some friends, choosing the most worthy, because time is catastrophically short. A trip to Ko Lan? What are you, it’s a luxury. The beach? Maybe just for an hour. Wages at the same average, and after the crisis is even closer to the Thai.

Because many expats know the truth – to live in Thailand in pleasure is possible only by working remotely or with a flexible schedule.

Ice in the drinks is dangerous

Whether you enjoy a frappuccino at an expensive Starbucks or buy an iced dessert on the street, your chances of getting poisoned are almost zero. For ages, expats have recommended only settling for cylindrical shaped ice with a hole inside – it’s produced in hygienic conditions and bought from licensed producers or 7/11 stores. Ice in bars, on the other hand, is really handled quite carelessly. It is transported in old bags and walked on in rubber boots without shoeing.

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Here consumers are protected by the fact that the Thais themselves use such an “artisanal” product only for cooling fruit and beer, less frequently – in the production of frappe for street desserts. The Thais interviewed by the author could not recall a single case of poisoning with ice, but…

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“Mei au us keng” is the magic phrase to help reject suspicious ice in a drink for a child or a European with a sensitive stomach.

The elephant is a sacred animal.

Thailand on the world map is shaped like an elephant’s head. And indeed, sometimes Thais call their homeland “the Land of the Elephant”. But the only sacred (with some stretch) is considered a white elephant – an extremely rare species. It serves as one of the symbols of the royal court and is depicted on the flag of the Thai Navy.

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For Brahmins, the possession of white elephants is a glorious and fortunate sign. For example, back in 1549 the ruler of Burma asked the King of Ayutthaya seven white elephants, in order to correct the shaky state affairs. By the way, the current King of Thailand owns ten white elephants, and a resident of the kingdom, upon becoming the owner of such an animal, is obliged to present it to the monarch.

It is not without trickery. There is an idiom “white elephant,” which means an expensive and useless thing. It has its origin in a legend, according to which the king of Siam gave unwanted people a white elephant, on which they could not work. The cost of maintaining the “gift” ruined the recipient.

But in fact, white elephants do not exist in nature! “White” is called a reddish-brown subspecies, and an untrained person would hardly distinguish such an animal from the rest.

Thais eat only with chopsticks

A pair of chopsticks is one of the symbols of Asia, but don’t think that the skill of using them is necessary in Thailand. The vast majority of dishes are served with a fork and spoon, and chopsticks are offered only with noodles. You will be served them in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese restaurants, but if you try to use them in Bangkok, the Thais will look at you strangely.

But another challenge arises: eating Thai food properly, mixing it with rice. Since ancient times, this was done by hand, but now the combination of spoon and fork suffices: the spoon sends the food into the mouth, and the fork fills the spoon.

It pours every day during the rainy season.

It is the questions about this that tourists most often pelt local forums and groups with. But because of the worst drought in a decade, Thai farmers were asked to postpone sowing, and Royal Air Force planes had to take to the sky 4,000 times, spraying a special reagent. Thanks to it, the rains began to fall across Thailand by August. except in the province of Chonburi, where Pattaya is located. It managed to get wet for a couple of days only Hurricane Vamco, and then the province returned to a dry and sunny weather. Officials expect the same situation in the coming years, so they recommend that farmers switch from rice to less moisture-loving crops.

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Speaking of past years, it rained for two or three weeks in October and November, but tourists continued to toast happily in bars and swim in the sea. During the rainy season, no one cancels excursions – waterfalls fill with water and appear in all their glory and power. About the sunburn, too, do not worry: the clouds do not interfere with the ultraviolet.

But there is one disadvantage – the high tides. Until the month of November you will have to go to the islands, for example to Ko Lan for the sea.

Prostitutes become because of poverty.

The Ministry of Health of Thailand states that there are about 75 000 women engaged in prostitution in the country. But public organizations estimate the number is closer to 250,000 (plus 40,000 gay men and ladyboys).

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Now on to poverty. Remember that Thailand is one of the leading economies in Southeast Asia? The average salary in the province is $250, a waiter in Pattaya (along with tips) earns twice as much, and an office worker in Bangkok can count on three times that amount. That is why there is no need to talk about hopelessness. Another thing is that the income of an experienced and good-looking female bar worker is ten times more than the salary of a factory worker. “All for the sake of the family,” the priestesses of love say pathetically, shopping in boutiques and ostentatiously pumping Jack Daniels and Chivas after work. Thailand’s sex industry is worth an estimated $6.4 billion a year, but only 300 million of it is sent by prostitutes to their families in rural areas. Just compare those numbers.

In Thailand you can cross the road as safely as you do at home

“Pedestrian! Dying at a crossing, remember – you were right” – according to a WHO report, Thailand had the second highest number of traffic deaths in the world in 2012. 13,650 people a year, or 38 a day – think of that statistic when you’re about to skip in front of a rushing car or motorcycle. Despite the fact that the laws of our countries are similar and the fault will almost always be the driver, the Thais are almost ignorant of road etiquette, and they observe the traffic rules selectively. Drunk driving, driving without a license, running a red light, driving on the opposite lane are the hallmarks of the Thai driving style. And we will grab our heads and pity the police when they tell us about our family with many children.

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