Thai Culture Module and Quiz
Please read the following text, watch the Camp Thailand teaching video below and answer the 30 questions highlighted in red throughout the text below. It is O.K. to use google to get the answers to the questions. Please answer the questions in a word document and forward your completed Word Document as an attachment to an email to Philip@summercampthailand.co.uk
A quick overview of Thailand
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy (Thailand has a royal family) located in South East Asia. Thailand’s king, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX is not only the longest reigning Thai monarch but also the longest serving current head of state, having reigned since 9 June 1946.
The capital city of Thailand is Bangkok, however the real name of the city is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. This has been certified by the Guinness book of records to be the longest place name in the world.
Thailand shares borders with the countries of Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. These countries share tropical climates. In northern Thailand the seasons are clearly defined. Between November and May the weather is mostly dry, however this is broken up into the periods November to February and March to May. The latter of these two periods has the higher relative temperatures because although the northeast monsoon does not directly affect the northern area of Thailand, it does cause cooling breezes from November to February. The other season is from May to November and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in the north is at its heaviest.
The southern region of Thailand really has only two seasons -- the wet and the dry. These seasons do not run at the same time on both the east and west side of the peninsular. On the west coast, the southwest monsoon brings rain and often heavy storms from April through to October, whilst on the east coast the most rain falls between September and December.
Thailand’s population has a Buddhist majority. Buddhism is practiced by more than 90% of the population of Thailand. Senior monks in Thailand are very highly respected and the temple or ‘wat’ is the heart and soul of religious life in the various towns and villages throughout Thailand.
In Thailand, food forms a central part of any social occasions—and vice versa. That is, food often becomes the social occasion in itself, or reason to celebrate. This is partly due to the friendly, social nature of Thai people, but also because of the way in which food is ordered and eaten in Thailand.
In the West, a “normal” restaurant meal consists of a starter followed by the main course and dessert, with each individual ordering only for themselves.
In Thailand, there is no such thing as a starter; neither is there any dish that belongs only to one person. As a general rule, Thai diners order the same number of dishes as people present; however, all dishes are shared and enjoyed together. For this reason, it is better to have many guests at the table rather than just one or two. In fact, many Thais believe that eating alone is bad luck.
Interesting Facts about Thailand
• Thailand’s name in the Thai language is Prathet Thai, which means “Land of the Free.” It is the only country in Southeast Asia that was never colonized by a European nation.
• Thailand is home to the world’s largest gold Buddha, the largest crocodile farm, the largest restaurant, the longest single-span suspension bridge, and the world’s tallest hotel.
• The world’s smallest mammal, the craseonycteris thonglongyai (the bumble bat), is found in Thailand weighing 2 grams.
• Bangkok was once called the “Venice of the East” because of its vast number of canals. However, as Bangkok grew larger, most canals on the west side of the Chao Phraya River have now been filled and paved over.
• More than 1,500 species of orchids grow wild in Thai forests. Thailand is the world’s number one orchid exporter.
• One of Thailand’s most curious creatures is the mudskipper, which is a fish that is capable of walking on land and climbing trees. It uses its fins to “walk” and can absorb oxygen through its skin and lining in its mouth. It spends most of its time out of the water, eating the algae in tidal pools.
• Both the Hollywood movie and Broadway play of The King and I are banned in Thailand. Based on the Siamese ruler King Mongkut and a teacher named Anna Leonowens, the movie is seen as insulting to the king. While the movie depicts him as uncultured, he is believed to be the first Asian ruler to speak, read, and write English fluently. He also is considered highly intelligent, cultured, and well read. Further, he is known as the father of Thai scientists.
• Thailand has a reputation for sexual tolerance and is considered very safe for LGBT travelers.
Transsexuals, also known as krathoeys or ladyboys, are highly visible and accepted in mainstream society.
• All Thai young men including are expected to become Buddhist monks for at least a short period of time before their 20th birthday.
• In 1999, 30 vets worked to heal a 38-year-old cow elephant’s foot, which had been destroyed when she stepped on a landmine in Thailand. It set the record for the largest number of vets in performing a single medical procedure.
Any female must not be touched in public, but she is allowed to touch a male, but never a monk.
Thai people are very reserved and respectful in public. There are no displays of public affection and it is highly disrespectful to hug, kiss or even touch one’s partner in public.
1. Why do you think this is?
The head is considered the most important part of the body. You should never touch any Thai persons head, this is highly disrespectful.
2. You see a drunken Westerner touch a Thai man on the head as a joke. The Thai man will be offended by this. How can you help the situation?
3. You see children touching each other on the head, why do you think this is?
You should never point your forefinger at anyone. If you want to point at someone, do so with an open palm. You should also never point at any materials bearing the Royal Family or anything religious.
The feet are considered the dirtiest part of your body. Thai people believe that feet are only for walking and standing. When sitting, keep both feet on the ground. Your feet are the lowest part of the body, and never point at anything with your feet, especially other people. This is considered extremely rude.
4. Sitting on a chair crossed legged could be considered rude. Why?
5. It is very impolite to put your foot on a chair, why do you think this is?
Buddhism is more than a religion; it’s a philosophy, a way of life. About 90% of the population is Buddhist. Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world and it provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness.
Monks are highly respected in South East Asia. They have to follow 227 rules about how they live their life. Due to their devotion to Buddhism they have special privileges such as; reserved seating areas whilst waiting for or on public transport.
Initially, monks were the only teachers in Thailand before the profession became widespread. For this reason, teachers are also highly regarded and respected and must conduct themselves in an appropriate manner at all times.
6. If you want to point out a Temple, how must you do so?
7. You would like to have a selfie with a monument of a Buddha, what is the most respectful way to do so?
8. You are walking down the street and a monk or an elderly person is sitting on a chair on the pavement, what must you do when you pass him?
The King and the Monarchy
The King and the Monarchy are highly respected in Thailand and you must never talk about them, even jokingly. All materials bearing members of the Royal Family must be treated with utmost respect.
The local currency is baht and bears the Kings Head. This is not just a 100฿ note; it is an image of his highness. You must never step on money.
Never point at any images of the Royal Family.
If you hear the National Anthem you must stop what you are doing, stand still and listen to the anthem.
9. Why should you never step on money?
10. If you drop money on the floor what should you do?
11. If you don’t stop walking for the National Anthem, what do you think Thai people will think about you?
Saving face is a big deal in Thai culture. Thai people are taught to be calm and that it is self humiliating when you raise your voice, lose your temper or become out of control.
Thai people are brought up to be very patient and to be very tolerant of others and of situations they have no control over. They tend to accept things and not complain too much.
Never get angry or frustrated in a situation with a Thai person, they will be much less willing to help you. Smile at them and they will be much more willing to help you.
12. Paying your bill in the restaurant, you thought you had handed over the money already but the waiter insists you hadn’t. How should you act to resolve the situation?
13. Never ask your Thai students or a Thai waitress in a restaurant, ‘Do you understand?’ Why do you think this is?
Thai people do not like confrontation, as they will be worried if they are wrong and they lose face, or if you are wrong, they don’t want you to lose face.
14. A Thai person makes a mistake with your food order, and the wrong food order come out. What do you think is the best way to handle this situation?
Thai people are very relaxed, enjoy a slower pace of life and are also unpunctual. The Thai’s like to have fun and have a laugh all of the time. You must have patient with Thai people, they do not like being rushed or stressed out. They are happy to wait for something as they know it will happen when it happens.
15. The WIFI has gone down in your apartment, what can you do?
16. The water has gone off halfway through your shower and you’re covered in soap, what should you do?
Thai people can be a little forgetful at times; please do not get frustrated as its part of their way of life. You getting worked up is not going to make a Thai person work quicker, it will only slow them down.
17. You ordered a round of drinks, and your friends have received theirs and 10 minutes later you are still waiting on your drink order, what can you do in this situation?
Thai’s dress very conservatively, especially in rural Thailand. Teachers are highly respected in Thailand and will always dress politely, even when they are not in schools. You will be better received by the Thai people if you are dressed politely and in clean clothes.
The dress code for in-class sessions at the Summer Camp Thailand training centre’s and throughout the orientation is ‘smart, casual and comfortable’. The dress code at the placement schools is as follows:
- Long pants or trousers or knee length shorts
- Camp Thailand Polo T-Shirt with capped shoulders
- Socks and closed toe shoes
- Skirt or dress at knee length or long smart trousers or “Elephant” print trousers or smart knee length shorts
- Camp Thailand Polo T-Shirt with capped shoulders or blouse/shirt which covers the shoulders and midriff – (no plunging necklines)
- Closed toe shoes or sandals but no flip-flops
- All tattoos should be covered
- Piercings should be removed whilst teaching
- A quick-dry towel will come in handy if you are teaching in rooms without A/C
In general, Thai teachers dress very conservatively, and as guests in their schools, it’s important that we adhere to this dress code, in order to not offend. Please note that some schools may have more formal dress codes than others.
IMPORTANT Note about clothing when walking around Camp Thailand or your host town:
Please remember to wear clothes that are respectful to the local culture and are not offensive to the local Thai people – T-shirts that cover your shoulders, shorts that come down to your knees – No bikini’s, string vest tops or hot pants allowed. No plunging neck lines and if you are wearing tight fitting leggings or slacks you should wear a long shirt or T shirt that is not tucked in and covers the form of the upper part of your lower body. You will be asked to change if you are wearing any items that would be considered offensive in Thai culture. If you are out at clubs or bars in the evening or at the tourist destination beaches in Thailand, the dress code is more relaxed than what you need to wear when walking around Camp Thailand or out and about the town.
Please try and understand that the Thai people that you will come into contact with will regard you, first and foremost as a teacher. Teaching is a vocation in Thailand rather than what might be considered as merely another 8 – 4 job in many western countries. In Thailand Teachers are highly respected and revered. Thai Teachers are expected to teach their students in all areas of life and the teachers are held to a higher standard than people working in most other vocations or professions. It is important that you remember you are a guest in Thailand, you are expected to conform to their culture when it comes to what is expected of a teacher in terms of behavior and dress. When in Thailand, at all times, you will be expected to adhere to the dress and behavior codes that Thai teachers live by, even when not teaching in the schools. To not do so would cause offense to Thai people and bring the Camp Thailand Programme into disrepute.
18. How was Thailand formerly known?
19. Which of these countries does not border Thailand?
20. What important Asian river forms part of the eastern border of Thailand?
21. What is Thailand’s main exported crop?
c. Durian fruit
22. What is the most North Eastern province?
a. Chiang Mai
b. Chiang Rai
c. Udon Thani
d. Nong Khai
23. How many provinces are there in Thailand?
24. Which creature is Thailand’s national animal emblem?
c. Asian elephant
25. What is the largest province in Thailand?
a. Chiang Mai
d. Nakhon Ratchasima
26. What is the best selling beer in Thailand?
27. Which of these bugs are considered a delicacy in Thailand?
d. Silk worms
Please answer these final 4 questions.
28. Can you anticipate any situations or problems that you might experience whilst visiting Thailand?
29. How will you plan to deal with any situations you anticipate in question 28?
30 Please watch the following video and then answer Question 30 parts A and B:
30A: What do you expect to gain from your Camp Thailand experience and volunteer teaching in Thailand?
30B: After reading what is expected of a teacher in Thailand and watching the video above do you feel that you will be able to make a positive contribution to your Camp Thailand programme? And how might you be able to make a real, positive, meaningful and lasting difference in the lives of Thai students that you will soon come into contact with?
Congratulations on completing the Camp Thailand Thai Cultural Quiz!
Please email your answers to the 30 questions above in a Word Document and forward your completed Word Document as an attachment to an email to Philip@summercampthailand.co.uk