Discovering Thai Culture in Darker Times
Seek experiences, not things, seek culture, not just another bar serving frozen cocktails, seek human relationships, not just another good photo op and a clever hashtag.
With the recent passing of Thailand’s beloved King we saw a country in mourning. Most of the foreign travelers and expats who reside in Thailand were respectful, but there were some, either not knowing how to react, or not caring, who were more upset about what they were missing out on rather than feeling sympathy for the people of Thailand. So I thought I would put together someone tips/advice on understanding Thai culture and what I think you should spend time doing in Thailand during the mourning period.
By now, most things have resumed, but lets address that first issue I mentioned above. This feeling of FOMO, you know, the fear of missing out. I get it, you saved your money, your vacation days and now you can do everything you dreamed of in Thailand. Well, actually, its a gift in disguise, it forces you to experience this great country without attending all the crazy tourist spots that may be closed for mourning. Rent a motorbike and go on an adventure. Get lost and find yourself. Talk to a local about what it means to lose their King and why it has effected them so immensely. I can guarantee you will make a friend for life and you will be exposed to a part of Thai culture that many travelers miss out on during their vacation.
Attend a ceremony, wearing black to show respect, and you will begin to understand what an incredible person King Bhumibol Adulyadej was and how his reign helped to create modern Thailand.
This is your chance, an opportunity, to discover the real Thailand, don’t waste it.
When Thais see that you are being respectful of their mourning and interested in understanding their culture they will open up to you, take you in, and show you things about their culture and their family. I suggest striking up a conversation with someone and eating a meal together, eating has always been a social act in Thailand and conversation flows easily when there’s good food on a table.
By now most things have resumed as normal and bars, clubs, and other attractions have resumed their normal working hours. Educate yourself on where to travel and what areas you may need to stay away from during this sensitive time. Other than that, I suggest, look on the bright side, you’re in Thailand! Take it all in, seek the unknown, seek new experiences, and enjoy the adventure.