Spend any amount of time talking with someone who has been to Thailand, lived in Thailand, or read about Thailand, and chances are you will be inundated with warnings and stories about how completely 180-degree different Thai culture is to our own. For every person you find that loved it “over there” you will probably find at least five others that will find something about it to complain about. For some reason, Westerners think that everywhere they go should be set up specifically to accommodate their big, clumsy, foreign ways.
As with any trip abroad, good planning is essential. More so than just making sure you pack your underwear (yeah, I forgot to do that once) having at the very least a cursory understanding of what to expect from a cultural perspective is paramount. And so when I came across the book Culture Shock! Thailand: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn a little bit more about my wife’s homeland and the place that fascinates me so much.
But the question lingers: does the book provide enough information for us hulking, loud, sweaty farang to navigate through the murky canals and seedy side streets without losing ourselves?
Let’s find out…