I want to be as respectful as possible when I discuss Thailand's quirks. I don't think I could have picked a better country to live in without having ever visited or knowing much about the culture.
The people here can be devastatingly kind and thoughtful, and this affects everyone who visits. Many Thais go out of their way to make you feel welcome. I truly love this country and the people who inhabit it.
Here are six of the more quirkier aspects of Thai culture.
1. Plastic bag fever. When making a purchase, everything goes into a plastic bag, or two, or three. You can tell the cashier mai ao ka or mai ao kop if you're male.
2. Line chaos. Lines are formed individually instead of by one single line.
For example, at 7/11, if there are two checkout counters open, you choose which one to stand behind and wait. This can get frustrating when you choose the slow one and five people make their purchases before you who would have been behind you had there been one single line.
In many women's bathrooms, I have seen individual lines for each stall. You might get lucky if the person in the stall you chose comes out fast or you might be waiting a long time.
3. "I love you" as a cat call, is one of the better weirds. This is probably due to the fact that the catcallers don't know much English, but I'm not going to consider that too much. I'm going to savor the "I love yous" while I can before I go back to the gross stuff in native English-speaking countries.
4. The footprints on the western toilets. A Thai toilet is in the ground. You step on it and squat. Apparently, a lot of Thais heavily prefer this method as they continue to step and squat on the western toilets made for sitting, evidenced by occasional footprints on the toilet seats.
5. The Thai concept of sexy. As a native English speaker and non-Thai speaker, I cannot fully understand the Thai concept of the word sexy and I don't want to try to convey the US concept to my Thai teachers or students. But the two are very different.
During the school day, my students and coworkers will tell me I look very sexy. Enter sound of nails screeching on a chalkboard. I think they might interpret "sexy" to be a combination of beautiful and cute, or at least that's what makes me feel better.
I overheard one of the Thai teachers asking my male coworker, "isn't she sexy?" as she pointed to one of the young high school students. It's still kind of fun to laugh at each other's discomfort.
6. Nose inhalers. I had never seen or heard of them before coming to Thailand.
Many a Thai can be seen with these inhalers up their noses which are supposed to clear nasal congestion and help with nausea, fatigue and dizziness caused by smells. It looks really addictive so I think I'm gonna skip out on this experience.