Friday, July 10, 2009

The Thai Wai


I have just returned from a week away in Thailand. I've been there before. About nine years ago I went to Bangkok and Koh Samui and then two years ago to Chiang Mai.
This past week though I stayed in Chiang Mai again. What impresses me about the people in Chiang Mai is how genuinely happy and friendly they are. I know that within the tourism industry you expect people to develop a certain level of friendliness and professionalism but the Thai people in Chiang Mai are some of the most lovely people I think I've ever come across.
When arriving in Thailand you soon become aware of the "Thai Wai". Actually I only just became aware of its name but what it is is the Thai greeting indicated by pressing your palms together near your chest and bowing.
The Wai is a graceful greeting practiced throughout Thailand. It plays a very important part in showing respect and is central to Thai etiquette. I just think the Wai is ace. For someone like me who is not a huge fan of physical touch with those outside my very immediate circle of family and friends, the Wai is something I could easily become accustomed to. Especially in a hot climate, the rituals of hugging, exchanging kisses or shaking someone's sweaty hand were gladly exchanged for the Wai as soon as I stepped off the plane.
So if I seem a little hesitant to display my physical affection for you, you'll now understand that I'm still longing for the Wai as my preferred greeting...
So until next time, "sawatdee". (This is quite often used for both hello and goodbye).

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