Today see’s the second part of a two-part interview with Kitiya
Kitiya writes a blog all about Thailand – from a Thai girls (her) point of view. Kitiya talks about travel information, cooking and Thai culture, in particular she specialises in information and stories about Isaan (the north-east.) See the link below for the second video blog on one of Kitiya’s most popular posts called ” Thai Beliefs & Incantations – My Amulets.
In part two Kitiya talks about cross-cultural relationships and how she met her British boyfriend, cultural differences, superstitions, advice for foreigners adapting to Thailand, her dreams and objectives, the inspiration for her work and a lot of her life and loads more besides.
Kitiya In Udon Thani
Trevor: What would you say were the three most important tips for foreigners with regards to forming a good working relationship with Thai people.
Kitiya: 1) Try to understand Thai culture, there are certain things like Sin Sod (dowries), that some foreigners don’t seem to understand properly.
2) Be respectful of Thai beliefs and superstitions, some westerners think these things are ridiculous or silly.
3) As most foreign currencies are generally much higher value than the Thai Baht, when you are in Thailand, don’t be afraid to pay for tips in a restaurant, or otherwise treat or be kind to your Thai friends when out and about. They won’t be insulted, and they are not trying to take advantage of you either. It’s the thought that counts!
Trevor: Three very good tips Kitiya. I believe you have hit the nail right on the head with two words you used and those are understand and respect. Firstly make the effort and learn a bit about the subject hence giving you an understanding and then be respectful of others beliefs. I totally agree and Perhaps the world would be a better place if that philosophy was used all over.
Thambun (ทำบุญ) Giving Of Alms, Making Merit
Trevor: I know you have an English boyfriend, how did you meet him?
Kitiya: I actually met my sweetheart from a social network! Hah! Dont try to guess! This all started when I was very depressed and started writing a blog online, which he came to read, and was always the first to comment on it. I was wondering who he was? He sounded like a nice, polite and very cheerful person, so I replied to his comment and asked him to come talk to me on messenger. We talked on there everyday, and four months later he had booked ticket to come and visit me here in Thailand. He showed the ticket to me, and I told him I wouldn’t believe it was real until I finally met him in real life. Well, he’s visited me 4 times already now he he, and we are still chatting every day on messenger and trying to make our dreams come true , although we know it isn’t going to be easy. In real life he isn’t really any different to what I first saw on messenger, but what surprised me was he was very polite. We were both a bit shy that first time with each other, but he treated me like an angel how lucky.
Trevor: That sounds like a real success story Kitiya, it would be better off in a book of short story romantic tales. It is so nice to hear of a positive story from the internet and that he was exactly the same in real life as he was online…. terrific. I don’t know what it is with you Thai ladies, but the British boys seem to surrender to your charms.
View another of Kitiya’s top posts on cross-Cultural issues
Trevor: Knowing that you have an English boyfriend, but also knowing the differences in the Thai and Western mindsets, what would you say were the three most common misunderstandings in a Thai/Western cross cultural relationship.
Kitiya: 1) Language and british/Thai joke he sometimes doesn’t understand the Thai jokes and I sometimes don’t understand the British jokes.
2) Life style he sometimes think I am being nosey by asking him questions but for Thai people we are ok with those questions.
3) Understand each others family backgrounds. In our case this is accentuated as Terry’s family is quite close and still together, whereas mine is not any more, which has led to emotional difficulties between us in the past.
Trevor: I like these. It is quite often true that each other’s humour can get totally lost on each other. This I find is definitely a lost in translation category. I personally love the more dry wit type of humour and am probably very British in this respect, but have found sometimes in Thailand it can be seen as being sarcastic. I am in actual fact in no way trying be sarcastic, but am aware this is how it can be perceived. Knowing well that sarcasm is not a common form of humour in Thailand and can actually be seen as confrontational I have had to watch some jokes and comments over the years.
She Gets The Joke
Having said that I am still always amazed how when a man or woman trips over or falls down a large hole, all the Thai people are then usually doubled up laughing and I am left looking all serious-faced and checking on the persons welfare. I actually think that the different sense of humour is funny in itself.
The one about thinking you are being nosey by asking him questions is priceless Kitiya and I could actually write volumes on this. They are a strange creature the Westerner to a Thai all that independence and privacy that they crave for and I believe the Brits are probably the worst of the lot. Thais do lots of things as a group like family outings, holiday’s trips to the beach, the market and many others and all pile in to the back of pick up trucks happy as can be. Then you see the westerner squashed in between everybody like a sardine and a face like thunder, albeit knowing he is in Thailand and trying to push a smile through. A good part of this is due to restricted space and another part is due to the fact he never knew he was going on a trip in the first place (lack of information). By the way these are just my experiences over the years and maybe not always the general rule. This is I believe a massive subject with no right or wrongs just different. It is very puzzling to the Thai to watch a westerner hanker for his personal space sometimes.
The difference again in asking questions is out of curiosity in a Thai sense and as you say, Thai people don’t mind answering questions, as you are answering mine ha ha. Growing up in England certain questions were sort of off-limits to ask someone such as, how old are you, how much do you earn, how much do you weigh even where are you going so commonly heard in Thailand might bring a negative reply. Where are you going in Thailand is quite often used to greet someone and make light engaging and friendly conversation. Yes, we westerners are a bit private sometimes and probably need to lighten up occasionally, but the fun is definitely in discovering the differences. You gave me some great answers Kitiya. The first two I have more experiences in and are of a general nature.
Thais Go Out As A Group
Trevor: How does your boyfriend Terry find life in Udon Thani and the north-east. Does he enjoy the food, culture and the way of life when he is there?
Kitiya: I think that although at first he found some of the customs and cultures of the north-east of Thailand a bit strange, he is starting to feel more comfortable here now especially in Udon Thani.
He does like Thai food quite a lot and I encourage him to try new things now and again as long as it’s not too spicy. I am quite careful of his diet when we go out eating together and try to make sure he avoids certain foods altogether. I especially keep him away from shell-fish and some other fish dishes, because of the risk of getting ill. An introduction to Thai food needs to be a softly, softly approach for westerners trying Thai food for the first time.
Although Terry is quite happy to try new foods most of the time, he definitely doesn’t like papaya salad which is bad news for him, because I absolutely love it.
Another of Kitiya’s post on Thai food, Culture and Beliefs
Trevor: In your experience could you give us three tips for smoother Thai/Western cross-cultural relationships/
Kitiya: Being faithful, Being understanding and be patient it’s very difficult, especially if you have to live thousands of miles away from each other.
Trevor: Can you give us two of your favourite Thai songs?
Kitiya: The first favourite tune would be ”Kon Hin Lamur” by Thee Chaiyadej .
Trevor: I have looked all over for this tune Kitiya , but can’t find it so I am going to go halves with you and put one of my very favourite tunes on here, but the artist is from your part of Thailand, the north-east. The artist is Mike Piromporn (ไมค์ ภิรมย์พร) and the song is called ”Dek Chai Peuk Pan Peek an absolutely fantastic tune. I am a fan of North-eastern music.
Kitiya: My second song is Fon (ฝน) byrd&Heart
Trevor: Can you give us two of your favourite Thai related books, In English and a Thai script one as well?
Kitiya: I don’t have any particular favourites as I’m not a great reader, but Terry has “My Thai girl and I” by Andrew Hicks, which charts the real life relationship between the author and a Thai girl he met who was half his age.
Trevor: You are probably perfectly happy with the way things are now, but if you were to design the perfect day from morning to night for Kitty how would it look
Kitiya: Thai people believe that if you start your day with a good thing, then the rest of your day will go smoothly too. That’s why I try to wake up early morning to chat with my sweetheart, to see him just to make my day. During the day I try to get some exercise to stay healthy, and maybe think about working on another a blog. Other days I go to the shopping centre, and people seem to know me there and often greet me with a “happy morning”, this makes me feel like they are my family. Other wise I try to get plenty of rest.
Exercise: Aerobics In The Park
2) Whenever I leave the house, I always try to go any direction except west – So clearly I’m not a big fan of the Pet Shop Boys tune “Go West” I also belive this will bring me good luck, if say for example, I was going for a job interview.
3) Whenever I’m in a vehicle of any sort, I try to avoid talking about traffic or travel accidents – So say for instance I was going on a “round the world” cruise, I’d definitely avoid bringing up the subject of the Titanic!
Trevor: Well Kitiya I found the part about the Titanic really funny so who say’s we can’t understand each other’s humour although I realise it has a serious connotation and by the way I am no fan of the pet shop boys either, so I’m with you on that one.
Strong Thai Culture And Traditions
I have never been that superstitious as such, but when younger and watching a Manchester United I then became a raving lunatic. Some strange things would be going on in order for us to win the game and it would be all down to me.
If I was watching at home and not actually at the game then it was vital I did not cross the line from lounge to hallway or the opposition would equalise, going to the toilet was totally out of the question during game time as not only would the opposition equalise, but force a winner as well and it would all be my fault … just too much to live with.
Marvellous really I could now control the game from our living room… fantastic. Further more I must sit in the chair that took us to victory in the last game and we would win, even to sit in the wrong chair for a brief moment would surely bring defeat. If someone was sat in the chair that we won from last time they would have to go quietly on their own accord or be thrown out, not that I wanted anyone in the room with me for this important business, nor I hasten to add did anybody want to be in the room with a madman.
If I wore a United scarf for the last game and we won it stayed on, if not it was off and the same with a United shirt, in fact had my behaviour been observed by anyone other than my parents, who incidentally were used to it then the funny farm would have been imminent. I actually worried about my sanity for a while until observing a really good friend go through the same things as an Arsenal supporter he was mad as well. I realised football who ever you supported was a very superstitious business. Nowadays all is a lot calmer… thankfully. So yes we westerners to have superstitions, just in a slightly different way. I think for once that saying of ”same, same but different” can be used on this occasion.
Manchester United Restaurant And Bar, Bangkok
Trevor: Do you have a dream or an end goal you are aiming for, the one thing you really want to achieve or perhaps you have already achieved it?
Kitiya: I would like to spend the rest of my life in the UK with my boyfriend, and work towards studying for a master’s degree while I’m there. I’d also like to be a chef, because I love cooking so much!
Trevor: I don’t see much problem with this Kitiya as you already have a head start with fantastic English language ability and Thai food is massively popular now in the UK and the good folk from the Midlands would be delighted with your Isaan (north-east) fare.
Trevor: As you know I am a bit of a fan of proverbs, can you give me two of your favourite quotes, sayings or proverbs that have meant something to you?
Kitiya: 1) Running from the Tiger, only to meet with Crocodile – out of the frying pan into the fire.
2) Chameleon has gold – someone who was given some ทอง (gold) as a gift, but became too proud and arrogant as a result of having that little bit of gold.
Trevor: Excellent choices. I have done my best to stay clear of the first proverb, but not always successfully. The second proverb I can honestly say I have met a few of and the change was incredible. I have no doubt that you have come across a few as well Kitiya.
A great post by Kitiya on Thai Marriages and Dowries
Trevor: Where do you get your inspiration from for your blog posts?
Kitiya: My inspiration comes from my father, because in the past we used to travel together widely all over Thailand as he used to take a lot of other people he knew traveling with us as well. My father is very knowledgeable and would tell them all the stories and history behind many of the famous land marks that we visited like Phnomrung Stone Castle in Buriram etc.
My father has given me so much and without him I doubt very much that I would have learned half of the things I know now and that includes school also.
Kitiya’s Boyfriend Terry And Kitiya’s Dad
Trevor: If you had to give one piece of advice (not already given here) to any newly arriving Westerner planning on a life in Thailand. What would it be?
Kitiya: Be aware that outside of Bangkok, most of the luxuries you might be used to in the western world may either simply not be available, or are not as developed as they would be in your home country. What I mean by this is things like transport, and internet access. Most trains that run in Thailand are very old, so don’t expect a luxury ride! Also, there are very few internet providing companies in Thailand, so the choices are limited, and the service may not always be the best. Also, be careful with food. A lot of foreigners try to adapt to the local food when they arrive in Thailand, but some people can’t handle it. There are restaurants and food bars that sell western food, but they are mostly in the big city centres (as well as from Tesco Lotus branches etc). It can be quite expensive, and may involve a long journey, especially if you live in the outskirts, so be prepared for this if your stomach cannot handle Thai food!
The Bigger Places Have Western Food But More Expensive
Trevor: Thank you Kitiya great information from Udon Thani in the north-east of Thailand.
Very finally I was reading on your blog about your Dad liking the song ”Black Magic Woman” by Santana, this was in connection with your post on ” Thai Beliefs & Incantations – My Amulets ” So as I like it so much as well I thought what a great way to finish the interview off. So tell Dad this is for him and also tell him he has fine taste in music.
See here for the first part of Kitiya’s Interview
Further Great Links
Engaging Thailand Website
For more information on Thailand in the form of articles, tips, relevant links constant updating and new guest interviews ,please visit http://www.engagingthailand.com/ the site where work will always be in progress.
A blog all about Thailand – from Kitiya’s point of view. Kitiya talks about travel information, cooking and Thai culture, in particular Kitiya specialises in information and stories about Isaan (the north-east.)
Brilliant Thai Forum
Entertaining, friendly and very informative on subjects Thai. Come along and meet a welcoming crowd of Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans, Brits, Thais and others and be in the know and inform.
A great little group on Facebook for those of you who love Thailand, discuss any Thai related things amongst friends. All nationalities from all over the world with one thing in common they simply adore Thailand. Why not join the group and be with friends on Friends 4 Thailand. Just log in on the link below to see the page.
A magnificent book and all your need to know about Thai food including a fantastic section on food from the North East of Thailand. The full culture of Thai cuisine an absolutely superb book.
World Food Thailand by Joe Cummings http://www.amazon.com/dp/1864500263/?tag=www.engagingthailandtips.wordpress.com-20
For people who would like to re-create the Thai Street Food experience in your own home then you absolutely must obtain a copy of the Australian Thai Chef/Restaurant owner David Thompson’s book ”Thai Street Food”. Cooking authentic Thai Food is very rarely performed expertly if you are not Thai, but David Thompson is one of that very, very rare breed of foreign experts. Great recipes and stunning photos.
Popular Thai Culture:
There are some things that are very Thai and knowing about them will greatly help your understanding of Thai ways and popular Thai culture. What is Hi-So?The love affair with red bull and energy drinks, ghost stories, amulet collectors and fortune tellers. Thai Massage, What is a sniff kiss? These are just a few of the things you will read about in the excellent 256 page book with fantastic photographs called ” Very Thai” by Philip Cornwel-Smith and photographs by John Goss. You can buy this book by following this link:
Sex Talk (In search of love and romance) by Kaewmala
Gain massive insights into the courtship rituals and modern dating culture of Thailand. Insights in here that you won’t find anywhere else. Erotic, romantic and over 900 Thai words and phrases as well to learn, a must read.
The Cultural Detective by Christopher G. Moore
If it’s Thai culture that you are seeking to learn about, then look no further than the foreign master on Thai culture. This book is packed with essays on perspectives on crime fiction writing to of course a mass of clues and insights to solving those cultural Thai mysteries. Another great read.
Heart Talk by Christopher G. Moore
If you buy sex talk by Kaewmala be sure to buy heart talk by Christopher G. Moore and visa versa. Heart Talk is the clever navigation to say I love you in so many ways using the word ”jai” or heart (ใจ). These words are essential and every day Thai words and all nicely organised and ready to read in Heart Talk.
Thailand Fever by Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant
With everything in this book both in English and Thai there are no excuses for anyone. You really want to know how the Thai mind works in your relationship and you can be darn sure the Thai is trying to work out your western ways. Read in your language then pass to your partner to read in their’s and begin to close the gap as they say.