I hope this is not going to sound odd, but the gents toilets in Thailand are where a fair amount of culture shock can take place. I have had both amusing and some rather nervous culture shock moments, but putting an appearance in at the urinals is believe it or not never boring in Thailand for a Westerner. Here are just a few culture shock tales from Thailand.
Three Baht Please
In the first instance I really hate it when you have perhaps had a couple of Singha beers and are desperate to take a leak and you see the sign that says toilets. Your eyes light up and you are convinced that relief is near. Scuttling along you follow the signs and finally get there knowing it won’t be much longer now before comfort returns. As you approach the entrance you see a smaller sign that says three baht and the money collector sat waiting for you to hand over the coins.
It is not the paying for the relief that bothers me, but the fumbling around (now in dancing mould) looking for the three baht. Two shuffles to the left and one shuffle to the right later you produce a 10 baht coin and say in Thai ” mai pen rai khrap mai dong thoon” (ไม่เป็นไรครับ ไม่ต้องทอนก็ได้) It doesn’t matter no need to give me change (as you can’t wait). Finally aaahhh order to life is restored.
I should remember to keep some change in my pockets, but as soon as I have change I usually pass it on to someone on the streets a lot less fortunate in life than me.
I thought in view of the post today we would have water feature photos.
Krisada Doi Resort near Chiang Mai
The Lady Toilet Attendant
One of my favourite shocks over the years which took me a while to get used to is when you’re at the urinals going about your business and the toilet attendant comes in to clean. This of course would be no problem normally, but the toilet attendant is more often than not a lady. On early visits to Thailand it would be inch in to the urinal a bit closer and offer a nod and a half-hearted smile.
On my visit to Thailand last month and on the same thing happening again I this time engaged in a full conversation with the lady toilet attendant asking how she was and how long her working day was. You would never get this sort of thing happening in Britain, but do you know I kind of like it. I mean who an earth wants to be in a room full of men, not me for certain. A lady’s presence the smell of detergent and conversation with a female whilst there. I think I’ll vote for that here in Britain.
Krisada Doi Resort near Chiang Mai
Massage In The Toilets
The worst one I think for a westerner is the going about your business at the urinal when one of the male attendants decides its time you had a neck and shoulders massage. Now this is probably or in my case definitely not something you’re expecting.
The scene is set you are doing the necessary when out of nowhere comes a hot towel around the neck and a strange man rubbing your shoulders. If it were possible I would like to see western males faces when this happens. For me it was a cross between steam coming out of the ears, feeling rather uncomfortable, shock and disbelief as in (he didn’t just rub my shoulders) ,did he?
This is actually very normal in Thailand and has absolutely no strange connotations at all. It is carried out to relax and relieve tension in the shoulder muscles, all to do with going the extra mile with the service for your comfort. You can of course simply politely refuse this service and that is fine.
I must admit it is also difficult to take a leak whilst rocking back and forth (enter please the shoe shine attendant, sorry couldn’t resist it, see below). This shoulder massage service is usually carried out in Night Clubs or some Restaurants, but on the two occasions I have known it, I have been in the South of Thailand.
Near Pranbury in the province of Prachuab Khirikhan
The service continues as by the time you get to the wash basin the male attendant will have the tap running in order that you can wash your hands and be on your way. It is really pleasing to give these lads a tip, even if you are half inebriated as they do a cracking job in keeping the area spotlessly clean.
I must admit to having one concern for these lads. I wonder how many Westerners take the shoulder massage the wrong way, I can imagine a fair few. I should imagine this is a minefield for misunderstandings to take place.
Shoe Shine Anyone
The last one for the moment is the shoe shine man, who has your shoes spotless by the time you have left the wash basin from washing your hands. Brown polish, black polish and an array of dusters and brushes at his disposal. I can remember a few occasions where I have gone in the rest room with a pair of dreary and drab looking shoes only to come out with what looks like a shiny new pair.
It is however rather strange to be washing your hands whilst someone attacks your feet out of the blue with a cloth. In Thailand the entrepreneurial spirit lives on smile and pay the man, your shoes look great.
Lumpini Park in Bangkok
Culture shock as it were is an interesting subject, all about difference and change. The things we are not used to can have quite an impact on us and alienate us for a while. It is not long before we quickly adapt to the new and what seemed correct before now seems rather odd. Availing ourselves to change and keeping an open mind is in my book the direct route to growth as a human being.
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