Enjoying Phi Phi island with my girlfriend Brie earlier this month.
I recently had the opportunity of travelling to Thailand with 4 sister friends of mine. We spent a week in the beautiful Phuket and the vibrant Bangkok and while there, I observed and was reminded of a few powerful lessons. I must say that this was undoubtedly one of the best vacations I have had in a long time. I’ve always been a travel fanatic and this trip just confirmed why to me – being in a different country, different environment and interacting with people of a different culture opens you up to a whole new world and teaches you more about yourself.
During my brief time in this gorgeous land, I picked up on a few random lessons:
- Respecting Others Makes You a Happier Person
Thai greeting and expression of gratitude. Photo Cred: Visa English Academy
Whenever you greet someone or say thank you in Thailand you attach the word “ka” at the end which we were told means “please”. Essentially, the Thai people say “Hello please” and “Thank you please” amongst other things. On top of that, most of them bow slightly in respect with hands together when saying thank you. The respect for fellow human beings in this country is so humbling and contagious. It is something that is found in the majority of the people of this land and forms a big part of their culture. It was refreshing to see a whole nation who upholds such profound values and it does make a difference in one’s mood and interactions with others. We never saw people beating each other up or belittling one another in public (as I often see on this side of the world). All were treated with dignity and being able to show and receive such great respect I believe makes the Thai people a happier nation.
- The Customer is Still King in Some Parts of the World
Photo Cred: Smart Business Trends
Thai service is unparalleled. Whether it is someone assisting with taking your bags up to your hotel room, or a vendor packing away your newly purchased goods, you are guaranteed a sweet smile and a respectful word 98% of the time. These people go out of their way to assist you and make sure you are happy with the service they offer you, and in some cases would appear hurt if they felt that they had failed to satisfy your needs. Your satisfaction and happiness as a customer is important to the Thai people. Unlike in South Africa where you get used to rude and dismissive service providers, in Thailand we were shocked if someone was abrasive.
- Being Hard Working Has Nothing to do With Circumstances
Photo Cred: Case Blog System
I was truly touched by the hardworking nature of the Thai people especially in Phuket. Poverty is rife in this country and the average man has to work extremely hard just to make ends meet. You would think that because of their poor circumstances they would feel grieved and be abrasive due to their difficult situation. This was not the case at all. The need for the Thai person to work extra hard to survive has not tainted their warm and loving nature which is something I truly admired. I have seen how many of us do not want to lift as much as a finger to receive good things but feel entitled to those same things in life. Thai people are just hard workers by nature despite their circumstances or what they feel they are owed.
- You are Beautiful and Fascinating to Someone
Photo Cred: Au Naturale Blogspot
Being a black African woman (bAw) in Thailand was quite an experience! My girlfriends and I have never received so much attention and so many compliments on the daily. Here in South Africa, we blend in and are used to being the “average” woman out on the streets. Compliments can be few and far between. In Thailand, not a day went by without at least 3 people (mostly the locals) stopping to tell us that we were beautiful or to ask to take a picture with us. They wanted to touch our braided hair and they were genuinely intrigued by us. I think it’s because black people are rare in this part of the world but either way, it was so refreshing to be constantly reminded that someone finds you beautiful and captivating. Sometimes we need to step out of the norm to be reminded of what already is true about us – that we are indeed lovely.
- Attention to Detail Goes a Long Way
Photo Cred: Chestermox
From their architecture, to the stitching in their clothing merchandise, Thai people are sticklers for detail. They make sure to perfect everything right down to the tiniest element. Because of this, they create some of the most beautiful things – clothing, artwork, buildings, sculptures etc. They know how to take basic material and stitch it in such a way that it looks luxurious (whether or not it is is another story). The fact is, they are not lazy to do their very best from start to finish and this is visibly seen in their end products. If we applied this to all we did, we would have such wonderful quality to all elements of our lives.
- Hygiene is not Second Nature to All
Photo Cred: Hydro Care
One of the things I had an issue with in Thailand was hygiene. Thai people are not the cleanest and this put me and my girlfriends off especially in terms of food. The streets can be very dirty and you walk around taking in all sorts of unbecoming smells. Hotel cleanliness is not always great as they seem to do the bare minimum in cleaning up. That made me truly grateful for the cleanliness I generally experience on this side of the world. Something I have always taken for granted but will remember to be grateful for going forward.
- Clean Tap Water is a Luxury
Photo Cred: BVISHA
While in Thailand we did not drink any tap water at all. In fact, we brushed our teeth using bottled water. The only time tap water touched us was in the shower. I’m not sure why, but it seems that their water is not properly cared for and it is a norm to live off of bottled water. This made me so very grateful for the clean water we receive in South Africa and the fact that I don’t have to think twice before putting it in my mouth to brush my teeth or to just rinse it. What we view as a basic right is a complete luxury to someone else. Remember that the next time you fill your glass with tap water.
- We All Deserve a Massage Often
Photo Cred: Huffington Post
Thailand is the land of massages. Whether you’re just getting a facial or a simple foot massage or even the infamous Thai massage, there is usually a guaranteed bonus massage included there for free. Massage establishments are all over the place and one can get a massage any time of the day up to midnight. Massages are like water in Thailand – readily available and affordable. I have developed the theory that Thai people are a happy people because they can all get a massage often. It releases stress and tension, and makes you feel special and pampered. Anyone in Thailand has access to a good massage unlike here where it is so expensive that it has become exclusive. I believe we’d be happier and friendlier with regular massages. After all, who says we all don’t deserve to have the knots taken out of our bodies?
There is so much more that we picked up on during our short stay in this amazing country but these were the ones that stuck out most for me, and that I learnt much from.
I would love to hear about your experiences with travelling. What have you learnt to be grateful for from being in another country or even city? Do share with us.
Me and my travel buddies on the streets of Phuket! 🙂