3 Cultural Points to Keep in Mind When Travelling through Thailand

3 Cultural Points to Keep in Mind When Travelling through Thailand

I’ve spent over 2 years in Thailand during my 6 year world tour.

Thailand is my favourite country on earth for a number of reasons. The stunning beauty of the place, amazing food, low cost of living and friendly locals all make for a dream destination.

Before visiting the Land of Smiles keep one thing in mind: Thai face saving culture is likely quite a bit different from how things are done in your home country.

Like all things travel this is not a good or bad thing. It is simply a group a people agreeing to live by a certain code, a code you should learn if you decide to spend time in that area.

Thailand

Culture is important within Thailand.

 

Keep these 3 cultural points in mind to enjoy your travels through Thailand.

 

1: Saving Face Is Critical

Thai culture is a face saving culture. Meaning you should never, ever intentionally demean, embarrass or humiliate anyone in a public setting. In a nutshell, be nice. Be courteous. Be polite. Even if you are waiting for 2 hours at immigration, put on a smile.  

Is it easy to adjust to a face saving culture as a new traveller to Thailand when your patience is tested? In most cases, heck no. Even if we don’t regularly abuse each other verbally in Western nations we are accustomed to complaining, whining and starting a verbal tussle or two when we’re having a bad day.  

I made the shift by choosing to smile – no matter what happens – and to say “thank you”, or “kop khun krap” in all situations. Over time, the cheeriness of locals and acceptance of the culture grows on you. To the point where you will eventually be living according to the Thai standard of “mai pen rai”, or “whatever happens, happens.” No big deal. Go with the flow. Accept and smile.

cultural

Even when things don’t go your way, remember your manners when in Thailand.

 

2: The Customer Is Not Always Right

In face saving culture it is all about not offending or humiliating anybody. So if you huff and puff and throw a customer service related hissy fit, at best, you will receive a smile and apology. At worst, you will be completely ignored.

You are probably used to “the customer is always right” type service in Western countries. In Thailand, the locals are kind, helpful and polite in all dealings but beyond a certain point the customer is definitely not always right. I love this mindset. Helps you to face, embrace and let go all business and service related stuff that arises. Enlightening.

I recall one of the first times we flew Air Asia in Thailand. My vegetarian wife ordered a special meal. She received a meat-based meal. After pointing out the situation to the stewardess the kindly woman said “Oh, I am really sorry”, with a sheepish grin, then continued with her work.

Was she supposed to Halo drop 36,000 feet from a plane to prepare and deliver a vegetarian meal to my wife? 

All she could do was apologize and move on, knowing how strict vegetarians almost never eat from dishes where the meat was simply removed/scraped off of the plate.

Thai customer service is pleasant, friendly and engaging. They will do their best to help but in some situations where things don’t quite work out the way you want them to work out, be at peace with the fact that folks will not bend over backwards and contort themselves like a gymnast just to make you happy.

Thai bar

Customer is not always right, even in a Thai bar.

 

3: Don’t Be Offended by Heartfelt Lying 

This point is about the toughest to accept for a Westerner like myself. Especially an American Westerner.

In the good old USA we are more direct and honest in our dealings. Factor in my New Jersey upbringing – where being honest and truthful are even more common – and I had a tough time understanding how Thai face-saving often involves lying to people to avoid disappointing individuals now, only delaying the inevitable disappointment.

Just accept it as not either good, or bad, but simply how it is in Thailand.

Example; someone may promise to meet you for drinks one evening but when the time arrives they do not show up. After 3 subsequent reschedules and no-shows you may think your alleged Thai friend is a real jerk, only to find out from a mutual friend that they hate to drink but didn’t want to offend you by telling you this.

When you learn to see the lie is not meant to offend but rather to be nice it helps to embrace a custom you may see as weird, or outright rude, or thoughtless in your culture so you can gracefully glide through the concept of “heartfelt lying” with a smile.

Koh Samui, Thailand

Thailand is a tourist paradise, but always resect the country’s cultural ways.

 

Your Turn

What cultural points can you add to this list?

How have you adjusted to face saving culture in Thailand?

Ryan Biddulph lives a life of Island hopping and is a travel blogger/Coach at Blogging From Paradise. Ryan is also an author of many E-books that can be found on amazon.

Picture of the Month – Kayaking Ang Thong

Picture of the Month – Kayaking Ang Thong

I had to go back into the archives to find this one, but not so far back into the memory bank, all because kayaking Ang Thong remains one of my greatest memories in my travel experiences to this day.

It is easy to see why too. Clear blue skies, the calm waters of the Gulf of Thailand and the breathtaking experience of kayaking between the 42 islands that make up the Angthong National Marine Park.

Situated a short ferry ride from Koh Samui, the lead up to the Marine Park as you edge closer to the beautiful islands sends chill to the bones, because you know you are about to witness something so mesmerising and beautiful, that you can hardly wait to reach this slice of paradise. Not that Koh Samui isn’t paradise enough already.

Once you hit the waters and begin Kayaking Ang Thong, all of a sudden you are hit with a peaceful tranquillity with your significant other and you don’t want the moment to pass. Although I can assure the time will pass by too quick.

It may not provide the greatest adrenalin rush for any thrill seeker out there, but it will be an adventure you will cherish for a long time and that is why Kayaking Ang Thong is this edition of picture of the month.

 

Kayaking Ang Thong

All smiles when Kayaking Ang Thong.

 

Caves of Angthong

In the caves of Angthong.

 

Angthong

Overview of Angthong National Marine Park.

 

Check out TripAdvisor for day tours to Ang Thong National Marine Park.

Check out TripAdvisor for hotels in Koh Samui

Check out more of Thailand on Fair Dinkum Traveller

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2017 – Rise to Another Level

2017 – Rise to Another Level

If you are not looking for ongoing improvement in the world of travel blogging, then you should get out of the kitchen. This is not for you and perhaps your passions lie elsewhere. Because in life that is what we are all about, Improvement, whether it is being a better father or husband, or better at your job, we are always looking to rise to another level.

That is what it’s all about for Fair Dinkum Traveller in 2017, improvement. To create better content, better photography and videos, improve social media skills and as I have mentioned already, rise to that next level.

Follow me on this ride that will be 2017 year in travel, it promises to be a wild and exciting one.

All set for 2017

Travel Plans for 2017

Travel plans can often change, or hopefully added to, but let’s take a look at what is already planned for 2017 as new cultures and destinations are discovered.

  • Vietnam: My first trip to Vietnam kicks off the year and I can’t wait. Not a long enough trip but I will be exploring the Southern half of the country with a good amount of time in the chaotic Ho Chi Minh City and the more laidback small city of Dalat.
  • Malaysia: Another short stop, but heck I will see what I can get out of my really trip in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Laos: This will be my first volunteering trip and how excited am I. Landing in Vientiane, I will travel an hour out of the capital to a small village where I will put my English skills to the test as I teach to the youth. Follow me on this journey as I delve deep into the world of volunteering.
  • Thailand: Chiang Mai and Bangkok will be on the list the next time I head to Thailand. Once again new destinations will be discovered and that is the joy of travelling.
  • Bali, Indonesia: My second trip to Bali and why not, it is close to home and it is a great place to visit for cheap cold beer and relaxing by the pool.
  • Australia: My home country. Therefore, I am bound to find a thing or two about this great country.

 

Great food will hopefully be found at outlets like this.

What’s new for 2017

Rise to another level will be my personal motto. But how will it happen? I do have plans for a big year with ideas being conjured up all the time. Whether they go live in the near future or scrapped altogether is another thing completely. This is what is in store for 2017.

Live Facebook Videos: Catch a few snippets of some amazing destinations as they come with Facebook live. It will be quick, so don’t blink.

Fair Dinkum Travel Show: Video is the way of the future and I don’t want to be left behind as I look to improve my skills. I will be running a regular travel show, going for about ten-minutes, and will be putting it on YouTube channel and Facebook page. Stay tuned for this one.

looking to rise in 2017.

Winter Snow

My first fictional novel has been in the works for a long time now and I am sick of living in fear at whether it will be any good. Come Christmas time I will be looking to release my debut Novel, Winter snow. If you love, adventure, travel and romantic thrillers, this novel could be perfect for you. Read the synopsis below.

Tormented by his childhood. Left devastated a broken love. Charlie Bennett flees his home town of Karratha in Australia in hope for a new life. His new found adventure unexpectedly lands him in Muju, South Korea. Awaiting is a new journey, new cultures and a forbidden love that threatens to throw his young life into further turmoil.

 

There you have it, a quick look at what’s in store for 2017. Follow Fair Dinkum traveller closely and see if it lives up to the hype. Happy Travels.

My Best Travel Experiences of 2016

My Best Travel Experiences of 2016

Travel blogging is a unique and surreal experience. Every little bit of travel is looked at differently than the regular traveller. You digest the places you visit differently, trying to capture any little information and colour. Instead of devouring the food, you taste and experience every little flavour. You mingle with the locals and try and get sense of their character. Travel is a whole new ball game.

2017 promises to be another great year with brand new destinations and experiences bound to be had. But before bounding into the new year and saying goodbye to the year 2016, Let’s take a look at some of the experiences that need to be told or retold in this instance. It was a memorable year of travel.

Travel experiences of 2016.

Fair Dinkum Traveller’s Top 5 Travel Experiences in 2016.

  1. Entering the border at DMZ Korea

    The Blue buildings of the DMZ.

     

    Getting close to the border of North Korea was an experience that I’ll never forget. Entering the demilitarized Zone and into the famous blue buildings was spine tingling to say the least.
    Armed North Korean soldiers could be seen starring directly at us, protecting their side and barely any further than a hundred metres away from where we stood on the south side of the border. I couldn’t help but keep my eyes fixated on the soldiers.
    In terms of safety, it was never an issue. As a group, we were well protected from the South Korean and American soldiers that surrounded the group in large numbers. If you are ever in South Korea, put the DMZ on the list.

    I see you. A North Korean Soldier.

     

  2. Kayaking Angthong:

    All smiles in beautiful Angthong.


    The amazing Angthong National Marine Park was a fantastic experience. Kayaking in the calm waters of the Gulf of Thailand was mesmerising and as beautiful as life can get.
    Paddling in the clear blue waters with my wife was a special moment that I will never forget. The islands all around were different and unique in so many ways, yet all visually stunning. An experience to remember and one I hope to do again.
    Angthong tours are easy to find when holidaying in Koh Samui, Thailand.

    Kayaking Angthong a wonderful experience.

     

  3. Mai Samui the love resort:

    Mai Samui Beach and Spa Resort


    The staff, the spacious rooms, the fine restaurants and the cocktails by the pool, made it a ten-year wedding anniversary to cherish. Not to mention, the fine-dining on the beach and the relaxing couple’s spa treatment. It was 5-star service at its best.
    The Mai Samui Beach and Spa Resort was the perfect resort to stay in at Koh Samui, Thailand and it certainly turned out to be the love nest that it needed to be for the occasion.

    At the bar.

     

  4. Camping at Guilderton:

    What a coastal view in Guilderton.


    I love camping, perhaps not as much as a nice resort, but to be out under the stars is a great experience that needs to be tried from time to time. Guilderton in Western Australia, only an hour from Perth, was great to escape to the great outdoors.
    Swimming, Kayaking, Hiking and sightseeing is all the valuable experiences that I got the pleasure of doing in my few days in this little town. Make sure you check it out for the amazing view of where the Indian Ocean meets the Moore River.

    Camping in Guilderton.

     

  5. Walking the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace:

    Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul Korea

     

    The biggest palace in Seoul, Korea. It is a thing of beauty at the Gyeongbokgung Palace but not only for its centuries old buildings and temples, which is decorated with a proud and at times tragic history.
    It’s also a stunning walk through some of the loveliest parklands and water features that you’ll ever see. I was also fortunate enough to sit down with a coffee and enjoy a traditional Korean song and dance concert sith the backdrop a fine traditional building of Gyeonghoeru. Absolutely beautiful.

    Gyeongbokgung Palace

My Top 5 Travel Destinations, So far

My Top 5 Travel Destinations, So far

In my short travelling career, I have seen quite a few different destinations. Fair to say  each destination visited has left its mark in a positive way. I am yet to visit a country that I haven’t enjoyed or been turned off by. Naturally, there have been a few awkward experiences but that is life on the road or life in general.

To squeeze out a favourite destination is a hard task. They’re all so great but it’s a task I am willing to have a crack at. While we always try not to be biased, nonetheless, we all have our favourite travel destinations. I find it appropriate at this time to share my favourite destinations that I have visited thus far.

Laughing Buddha in Koh Samui. Thailand

 

Fair Dinkum Traveller’s Top 5 favourite travel destinations.

Seoul, South Korea

Gyeongbokgung Palace, South Korea

Time visited: March 2005, December/January 2013/14, April 2016

When the modern world meets tradition. One moment you are looking at a modern building or flash shopping centre in the city, the next moment you are looking at a Palace, that is rich in history and centuries old. It is sells me on Korea, while they are always looking for the modern edge, they never forget their past.

Seoul is the city that never sleeps, the nightlife is hectic and that is a good thing as the city is truly lit up when at dusk. For the shopping enthusiast it is simply paradise for those needing their retail therapy, especially in the great shopping districts such as Myeong-Dong or Insadong.

Then there is the food and plenty of it, dine in at the thousands restaurants serving their local Korean cuisine, or get a taste of western food for those seeking a familiar feed. Don’t be afraid to take a walk down the side streets to find some hidden gems. Seoulis a city that truly surprises and one I love going back to.

Book a hotel in and around Seoul from TripAdvisor

Traditional Hambok, South Korea

 

Koh Samui, Thailand

Great travel destination in Chaweng Beach in Koh Samui

Time Visited: July 2016

The Love island, at least it was for me. Koh Samui was the destination for my tenth wedding anniversary and the best bit was, the kids were left at home.

Amazing beaches, stunning waterfalls and palm trees full of coconuts, gives you all the indicators that you are in paradise and Koh Samui is all that and much more. The food was cheap but the quality was excellent. The beer was cold and even better by the Resort swimming pools.

A trip to the major shopping district in Chaweng is a must, with plenty of restaurants, bars, shopping markets and massage centres to keep you occupied all day and entertained at night. Be sure you drop in at Chaweng Beach and catch up on your sunbaking or jet-skiing, whichever it is you prefer. Or do bugger-all and let the cocktails come to you

The best part about Samui, was not the island itself, but a day cruise to Angthong National Marine Park. A perfect day out with lunch provided, go kayaking in stunning scenery and climb treacherous hills, only to be rewarded with one of the most beautiful views on this very planet.

Book a hotel in Koh Samui with TripAdvisor

Angthong Marine National Park

 

Denarau Island, Fiji

A small island off Fiji.

Time visited: June 2013

The best part of Fiji are the locals themselves. So friendly, so humble and pure entertainment. To sit in a restaurant or a tourist bus and listen to their soothing voices sing with a guitar in hand was majestic. I can still hear their tunes today.

Fiji is undoubtedly paradise and much like Koh Samui it is great to swim by the pool with a cocktail in hand. However, getting a dose of reality and visiting a local village really is an eye opener to see their struggles at times, still the locals are smiling. It makes you appreciate what you have got.

Taking in a daily trip to the Port in Denarau is always high on the agenda, even if a little pricy. Here you’ll find restaurants, bars, expensive shopping outlets and cruise boats ready and waiting to take you out on a day cruise.

Remember in Fiji, you are on their time. Be prepared to wait a while for a drink or a meal.

Book a hotel in Fiji with TripAdvisor

Cruise ship off Fiji

 

Muju, South Korea

Muju, South Korea

Time visited: December 2013

The home of my only white Christmas and how It brought a warmth to the heart. Even though I was shivering all over. Muju-gun is smack bang in the middle of South Korea and it is pure majestic through winter as you are surrounded in a cloud of white.

Muju is great for hiking through mountains, follow the trail of hikers that are out in their numbers every morning and eager to escape up the mountains. The icy valley below the trail is something to withhold, you will certainly feel at piece in this little town.

The Deogyusan Resort, is the main resort in Muju, it’s where the skiing takes place with several slopes to get your adrenalin racing. Take a ride up the Gondola and take in the breathtaking views of the area. The resort has plenty for everyone including the kids with a fabulous fun-zone area, where the kids themselves can slide down the slippery slopes.

Muju, South Korea

 

Sanur, Bali

Ellora Villas

Ellora Villas Sanur, Bali

Time visited: December 2014

Away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta. Sanur is a lovely strip on the western side of Bali. Located within close proximity of a popular beach, Sanur, while a little more laid back, still has its markets, bars, restaurants, villas and hotels, cafe’s and massage centres.

Don’t get me wrong, you will still get begged to buy useless items in stalls and see the odd thing or two in some restaurants, like cats jumping on your table as you eat. But Sanur offers everything you need for a holiday and I’ll never forget the fabulous Ellora Villas.

Book a stay at Ellora Villas with TripAdvisor

Great food in Sanur

Honourable mention: I need to squeeze in Hamilton Island. I visited this amazing island in North Queensland, in the year 2000, of course I don’t have any photos of the trip, just memories and they are all great, especially snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Hangang Park, South Korea

 

 

 

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Koh Samui in Picture – Second edition

Koh Samui in Picture – Second edition

Koh Samui  in picture comes along again in this second and last edition. Take a look at the smiles of being on holiday, the Magic Garden and the waterfalls strike again.

Na Muang Waterfall

A lot of day tours will take you to the Na Muang Waterfall. Enjoy the sounds of the flowing water, while you have a refreshing dip.

The Na Muang Waterfall at its very best.

The Na Muang Waterfall at its very best.

 

Na Muang Waterfall

 

The crushing sounds of this picturesque falls.

The crushing sounds of this picturesque falls.

 

Magic Garden

Keep cool from the heat as you explore the Magic Garden.

These statues say hi at Magic Garden.

These statue are on the lookout at Magic Garden.

 

Enter the Garden.

Enter the Garden.

 

Magic Garden

The Water flows strong at Magic Garden.

 

Just Cruising Koh Samui style

A day cruise is a must when in the tropics of Koh Samui

Longboat cruising to Angthong.

Longboat cruising to Angthong.

 

Onwards to paradise.

Onwards to paradise.

 

The life jacket is handy just in case I need a swim.

The life jacket is handy just in case I need a swim.

 

On the way to Angthong.

On the way to Angthong.

 

All smiles in Koh Samui

It was all smiles in Koh Samui, just the way it should be when on holidays.

Happy and smiling on top of Koh Samui

Happy and smiling on top of Koh Samui

 

Koh Samui

 

All smiles in beautiful Angthong.

All smiles in beautiful Angthong.

 

Who wouldn't be happy with a view like this.

Who wouldn’t be happy with a view like this.

 

What a piece of fruit.

What a piece of fruit.

 

The Lovers Island

The Lovers Island

 

roof top passengers.

roof top passengers.

 

Bottoms up Samui Style and happy travels to you all. I'll drink to that.

Bottoms up Samui Style and happy travels to you all. I’ll drink to that.