- DRESS CODE ALL - Thais place importance on dressing, and you honor them when you dress properly. It isn’t proper to wear jeans or t-shirts when you are meeting with senior officials or at official occasions or making visit to the prison, hospital, and for visa run. MEN – To be on the safe side, shorts or tank t-shirts are not recommended unless you are going to the beach. If you are wearing long sleeves, do not roll the sleeves up.
WOMEN – Never wear sleeveless blouses, mini-skirts, or short shorts. To be on the safe side, shorts are not recommended unless you are going to the beach.
GOOD MANNERS 1. WAI (polite gesture)
1.2 Saying thank you
1.3 Apologizing for mistakes or inconvenience
1.4 Showing respect to superiors
1.4.1 How to wai - The fingers of the hands tip at the:
220.127.116.11 Chin – for peers
18.104.22.168 Nose – elderly, monks, high status
22.214.171.124 Forehead – royalty and prostration
(Dip your head when you wai. It is proper for a child to wai an adult first.)
2. If someone is seated and you are standing talking, lean forward a little.
3. If passing in front of people, dip your head lower than their heads.
4. The head is viewed as the sector of one’s vital essence, the noblest part; so do not gesture over another’s head.
Do not touch a person’s head.
§ It is permissible to touch a child’s head, but with affection.
§ If you touch someone’s head accidentally, apologize. (Khor thoad kha / khrap, and smile.)
5. Showing respect
§ Don’t wear shoes inside houses eg. Mercy Children’s Shelter.
§ Show respect for anything that concerns the King and the Royal Family.
§ Do not speak against another religion.
§ Respect the elderly.
§ In Thailand, it is impolite to walk and eat at the same time (subjective!).
§ The foot is viewed as the lowest part of the body. Do not use your foot to point at things or to do things that you could do with your hands; bend over and use your hands instead. When sitting on the floor in a circle, don’t stretch your feet out in front of you. A public speaker in Thailand who mentions this part of the body will normally apologize to the audience before or immediately after having done so.
§ Don’t throw anything except balls. Everything else should be handed over or handed out politely.
§ Physical affection between couples is normally viewed as a private matter. Holding hands is generally becoming acceptable throughout Thailand, especially among the younger generations. Culturally, men and women do not hug and touch each other in church.
CAUTIONS – PLEASE TAKE NOTE. 1. Do not wear expensive jewelry or flash your money around.
2. Do not give your address or contact number to anyone without consulting your leaders.
3. Do not promise to give money or help to anyone without consulting your leaders.
4. Please inform your leaders if you intend to establish post-trip communications.
5. Do not speak loudly or laugh loudly in public.
6. When shopping, do not bargain if you do not intend to buy.
7. Do cooperate with your Thai host as much as possible.
EATING THE THAI WAY Using the correct utensils and eating gestures will garner much respect from the Thais, who are of the general opinion that Western table manners are rather coarse.
Thais eat most dishes with a fork and tablespoon, except for noodles, which are eaten with chopsticks (ta-kiap); noodle soups are eaten with a spoon and chopsticks. Another exception to the fork-and-spoon routine is sticky rice, which is rolled into balls and eaten with the right hand, along with the food accompanying it. The fork (sawm) is held in the left hand and used as a probe to push food onto the spoon (chawn); you eat from the spoon.
When serving yourself from a common platter, put no more than one or two spoonfuls onto your own plate at a time. Thais do not scoop large portions onto their plates, as Westerners tend to do. It’s customary at the start of a shared meal to eat a spoonful of plain rice first – a gesture that recognizes rice as the most important part of the meal. If you’re being hosted by Thais, they’ll undoubtedly encourage you to eat less rice and more curries, seafood, etc as a gesture of their generosity (since rice costs comparatively little). The humble guest, however, takes rice with every spoonful.
ALTAR MINISTRY TIPS WHEN MINISTERING IN THAILAND
- Hand shaking is unfamiliar to Thai people. A friendly smile or a hand on the shoulder would be more appropriate and heart warming.
- If possible, men should pray for men and women for women. However, older men and women may pray cross gender when needed.
- Thai people are not used to being touched. However, they are okay having someone lay hands on their heads or shoulders gently during ministry.
- Speak simple English in short complete sentences when using a translator to avoid misunderstanding or mistranslation.
- Women who are resting in the Spirit on the floor would usually be covered with a piece of cloth for their modesty.
- It is okay to hug a counselee of your own gender. No cross gender hugging. (Thais are not even used to cross gender hand holding when the other person is not a close friend.)
- Please dress appropriately. No flip flops, no shorts, no tank tops or sleeveless blouses. In Thai culture your dressing shows how much you honor others.
- An appropriate way to bring closure to an individual prayer time would be a friendly smile combined with a greeting “God bless you.”
- Thai people are very gentle and sensitive in their demeanor; please minister sensitively as led by the Spirit.
- Try to avoid cross gender praying if at all possible.
- Try to avoid cross gender catching.
- Do not push or apply too much pressure on heads when praying or else one may be perceived as trying to push someone down.
- Don’t walk over people who are resting in the Spirit on the floor. Take the trouble to go around them.
- If Thais kiss at all, they do it in private, so kissing would likely be considered highly inappropriate. Please refrain from doing so.
USEFUL THAI PHRASES
When speaking Thai phrases, always end with kha (if you are a female speaking) or khrap (if you are a male speaking) for politeness. (A consonant followed by “h” is aspirated, whereas a consonant without “h” is not aspirated, e.g. kh vs. k.)
MORE LANGUAGE TIPS
The official language in Thailand is Thai as spoken and written in Central Thailand. The people in different parts of Thailand may speak differently with differing tonal accents and slightly differing vocabularies. However, the Central Thai dialect is the most commonly spoken and widely understood. For beginners, it would be wise to learn Central Thai.
USE OF DIFFERENT SETS OF VOCABULARY
There is a ‘market’ and a ‘polite’ vocabulary. E.g. Thaan is more polite than kin which both means eat. It is advisable for foreigners to learn the more polite term to avoid leading to unintentional offence.
Royal Thai (Raatchaasap) is a special set of vocabulary set aside for royalty. E.g. Thaan or kin for eating would be rapprathaan when used with reference to the royal family. Hence, Royal Thai would be the vocabulary used in the Bible when referring to God.
There are 44 consonants and 24 vowels. It possibly dates back 800 years to the Mon or Khmer languages, which were inspired by South Indian scripts.
It is written from left to right, with vowel signs written before, above, below, ‘around’ (before, above and after) or after the consonants, depending on the sign. There are no spaces between words. There is no punctuation. The writing system is rather complex. Foreigners not planning a long stay would find it more helpful to learn to speak the language before attempting to read and write.
THAI TONES AND PRONUNCIATION
There are 5 different tones in the Thai language and a slight change in tone can alter the meaning of a word completely. Those from a non-tonal language background would usually find it tricky to learn Thai.
Example: มา (maa:come) มา (-) ม่า (-) ม้า (horse) หมา (dog)
Tone: mid low falling high rising
No photo taking is allowed at the slum ministry and the prison due to prior agreement. Please do not post photos of bargirls, ladyboys, etc. with whom you have taken photos, onto facebook or such like. Be sensitive and honor these people.