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Newcomers don't see this, not in the beginning, and that's exactly the way the Thais want it.
The Thais want to know a lot about us, without us ever learning much about them.

But stay here more than a few months, and it will become clear to you.
No matter where you go, no matter what you do, someone will notice, and will remember where you were and what you did there.

Even new-comers know this situation:
You go into a restaurant here for the first time.
You order, say, a club sandwich, eat, pay, and leave.
Some weeks later you find yourself near that same restaurant, so you go in, sit down, and look over the menu.
The waitress comes to your table and asks, "You want club san-which?"
Happens here all the time.

But I propose to look at that phenomenon much more closely.
To see what it can teach us about Thai culture.
As expats, we need to understand the foreign culture around us.
In Thailand, that's not easy, because Thais are masters of deception and subtlety.
So I have the idea of starting a series of posts trying to understand, and to learn from each other.
This is the first of what, perhaps, will become a series of threads on learning about the subtitles of Thai culture.
I welcome other observations, and, especially, critique of mine.


Example #1: The waitress changed jobs.

Last night I went for supper at Sizzler.
For those who don't know, Sizzler is a franchise.
It is a sit-down restaurant with dozens of tables, and hundreds of customers every day.
In one year in Chiangmai I've only been in to Sizzler three, maybe four, times.
I'm not a remarkable customer in any way, just another elderly expat coming in for an early supper.

After she took my order, the waitress asked, "Now, do you stay at the hotel next door again?"
Huh?
Then she said, "You ordered dim-sum in the restaurant."
I had to re-wind my memory tapes.

She was right, I had stayed at that hotel nearby, but that was a year and a half ago!
I stayed only two nights.
I ate in the restaurant only once, and, yes, it was dim-sum.
But now, a year and a half later, in a different restaurant, she remembered!​

Old Asia hands know this already, but new-comers take this as a warning.
The Thais watch everyone and everything -- even when they seem like they are not interested -- and they do remember.

(Side note: I recommend the BBQ ribs at Sizzler: Very tender and meaty.
And if you go back a second time, your waitress just might ask if you want ribs again.)



Example #2: What are you doing in this part of the city?

Some years ago, while living in Bangkok, I read a review in the newspaper of the restaurant at the Shangri-La hotel.
It was a long ways from where I was living, but sounded very nice, so I got in a taxi and went there for my supper.
It was a long ways from where I lived.

The taxi took me right to the door, but after eating, I decided to walk the few hundred meters to the skytrain station.
Along the walk, I noticed a young woman coming toward me, staring intently at me.
I didn't acknowledge her, but looked straight ahead as I walked.

As she came up to me, she stopped right in front of me.
With a cheerful smile she asked, "Khun Oneman, what are you doing in this part of Bangkok? You live in soi 99. Why do you come so far away?"
I stared and stared, but it was not a face I recognized.
I couldn't figure out who she was or where I'd ever seen her.
But she sure knew me, and she knew where I lived.
I mumbled something about going to visit a friend who was staying at the Shangri-La Hotel, and then continued on my way.

A few days later, I went into a small foot massage shop around the corner from where I lived in soi 99.
I was a regular customer in that shop, and I knew all the girls who worked there.
During the hour of the foot massage, one of the girls came over to me, and asked, "Your friend, where he come from?"
Huh? What friend? Who are you talking about?
She patiently explained, "Your friend who stay at Shangri-La Hotel."​

New-comers, I hope you are listening and making mental notes.


Example #3: Did you spot the lady-boy?

Once or twice a month I go for a foot massage at the little shop across the street.
The massage ladies are older and un-atractive, but they are cheerful and pleasant and always give me a warm welcome.
They all know me and I know them.
But one day a new face in that shop.
A younger girl -- twenty-something -- petite and adorable.
She was not in line to do my massage, but she came over anyway, to talk and get acquainted.
She flirted a lot, and I smiled and enjoyed.
Her English was exceptionally good, but she spoke only in a whisper.
I kept asking her to speak louder, but she wouldn't or couldn't.

Two days after that, my maid came in to clean the apartment.
We chat in Thai about many things; she helps me improve my language.
In the course of that day's chatting, she asked, "Do you go foot massage?"
Odd question, but, yes, I had.
"Do you know shop have lady boy working there now?"
No, I didn't know.
End of conversation, but it puzzled me a little bit.
Well, I forgot about it.

A few weeks later, I went in for another foot massage.
This time, that new girl was next in line so she pulled up her little stool and started to work on my feet.
And, oh boy!, did she turn on the charm with me.
Thai girls can flirt, but this one was a master at it.
Okay, I'm vulnerable: I handed her my mobile phone, and, without any prompting, she punched in her phone number.
She whispered her name, "Nok".

But I didn't call right away.
Later in the week, my maid comes in, as usual, along with the usual chatting in Thai.
In the course of that day's topics, she asked, "Do you go foot massage?"
Odd question, once again, but, yes, I had.
"Do you know shop have lady boy working there now?"
Yes, she told me that a few weeks ago, but I have zero interest in lady boys.
So why tell me again?
"Do you know which one is lady boy?," she asked.
No, I never saw the lady boy.
"Lady boy name is 'Nok', I think you see her, get her mobile number."

The light snapped on.
I had not recognized the new, young, "girl", with the whispering voice, as a lady boy.
But the other women on the staff had noticed the flirting, and certainly had noticed the phone number entry.
How to warn me?
One of them called my maid, who then gave me the alert.
How did the old women in the massage shop know who to call?
In Thailand somebody is always watching you.
The massage shop girls knew my maid, and my maid knew them.
Among themselves they were warning me about the lady boy.
(And I don't go to that shop any more.)​

(Side note: Why the whispering voice, I asked my maid.
"Because lady boy voice sound like man. She not want you to hear.")


So, those are only three examples.
I have more, dozens and dozens more, to confirm the title of this thread.
I hope others will add their own observations, and offer their own conclusions so we can learn from each other about living as expats in Thailand.

Finally, I really wish it wasn't necessary to say this, but it is:
The topic of this thread is Thais watching us and remembering what we do.
This thread is not a catch-all for every, possible oddity about Thai culture.
I hope other posters will respect my opening post, and keep on topic.
Thank you.

-- Oneman
Chiangmai
.
 

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Ohh that is so true about Cairo, my friend punched a man in the face for making a suggestive remark to her and when she got home her husband said to her, So you broke a man's nose on the way home lol
Trouble is here it can lead to so much mischief, a little girl who visitis me sat in my boss's office and told him that I have a man in my bedroom I was horrified and spluttered "no I haven't Bodour"," yes yes Madame you have.".. of course my boss was listening to this with great interest, "When have you seen a man in my bedroom?" " "The man that has the same face as you madame"... It is a photograph of my son lol
 
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I don't think that it is just that they are watching you I think it is that they remember you. My Thai wife’s memory seems very different to mine because things which I consider really important to remember like a flight detail, she cannot begin to remember for a minute. However things that she thinks I should remember but I cannot, like people we have met after a while, where something is or especially numbers, she can remember incredibly well. The arrangement is perfect because between us we never forget anything.
I think that as a Westerner you need to work on the basis that if are noticed by a Thai they will probably remember you for ever.
 

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Boy , I cannot imagine where you meet these ladies that remember you and so many details about you , have to have memories like an elephant , only ones who realy remember me are ones I have bought a meal for or gave B20 because I felt sorry for them .
 
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:)
Boy , I cannot imagine where you meet these ladies that remember you and so many details about you , have to have memories like an elephant , only ones who realy remember me are ones I have bought a meal for or gave B20 because I felt sorry for them .
That is REALLY FUNNY
 

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I don't think that it is just that they are watching you I think it is that they remember you. My Thai wife’s memory seems very different to mine because things which I consider really important to remember like a flight detail, she cannot begin to remember for a minute. However things that she thinks I should remember but I cannot, like people we have met after a while, where something is or especially numbers, she can remember incredibly well. The arrangement is perfect because between us we never forget anything.
I think that as a Westerner you need to work on the basis that if are noticed by a Thai they will probably remember you for ever.
I've noticed that phenom in my wife too. I get lectured "I shouldn't have to keep telling you, you're not a kid" (and she's 20 years my junior), but she forgets to bring the grocery list SHE made when we go shopping and frequently tells ME to remind HER to do something...lol
 
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I've noticed that phenom in my wife too. I get lectured "I shouldn't have to keep telling you, you're not a kid" (and she's 20 years my junior), but she forgets to bring the grocery list SHE made when we go shopping and frequently tells ME to remind HER to do something...lol
Thats too funny because I lost count the number of times we got to the shop and she said she forgot her list. And she also cannot understand why I can't remember things she told me. :)
However sometimes I am sure she didn't tell me something and we came to an agreed arrangement over this: If she tells me I forgot something and I am not surprised then I obviously did forget it. However if I am surprised then most likely she forgot to tell me about it.
This came to head one morning a few years back when she woke me up and said the mini bus we rented was here. Sure enough the bus was there along with her Mum 3 sisters, brother, a cousin and numerous friends. And we had a very nice day out at the sea side too, obviously I had to pay, but she had completely forgotten to mention anything about it before hand.
:eek:hwell:
 

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Thai have a very unique form of memory , which I have a feeling has nothing to do with culture but a lot to do with convenience , their convenience .
 

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Yes, indeed.
And not just "remember you", but talk/gossip about you, too.

Coming from Western culture, we assume a certain level of basic privacy or anonymity.
In Thailand, that simply does not exist.
Imagine a small town, where everybody knows everything about everybody -- and they are gossiping about it.
That's Thailand, the country!

Some new comers here think that because they don't know any Thai people yet, then no Thai people know them, where they went, and what they did there.
Operate like that, in Thailand, there are likely to be difficulties ahead, and perhaps some embarrassments, too.

-- Oneman
.
I did not find it to be that way personally in a general sort of way , but more people tended to remember me than in my own country .
 

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let's not forget if a thai reports suspicious activity to the cops ( real or imagines ) and they manage to squeeze $ out of u they will get a big commission.
 

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Great post - I will have to pay more attention. I thought I was "remembered" because I was a "regular" at certain places... And I think I will try to pay more attention to what I do or say - if everyone around me is remembering, I need to make sure they don't remember anything bad right? *grins*
 

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How true. They remeber everything.

Originally, I thought it was because I am a 62 year old American, two meters tall and 130 kilos. Three days after I moved to Kamala, everyone, and I mean everyone knew of me. The tailors. The massage people. Especially, the bar girls.

The knew I was single. They knew I am straight. They knew I like pretty women. And, more! They know everything!

It's nice to know it just wasn't me. I think.

It was kind of an ego trip thinking I was "special"! ha ha
 

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same in the US

My wife is Thai and we live in the US (large thai/lao community here). they love to gossip and I can't even nod to another lady at the gym or in a store without my wife knowing before I get home. planning to move to Udon Thani next year, betting it will be 100 time worse.
 

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.
Newcomers don't see this, not in the beginning, and that's exactly the way the Thais want it.
The Thais want to know a lot about us, without us ever learning much about them.

But stay here more than a few months, and it will become clear to you.
No matter where you go, no matter what you do, someone will notice, and will remember where you were and what you did there.

Even new-comers know this situation:
You go into a restaurant here for the first time.
You order, say, a club sandwich, eat, pay, and leave.
Some weeks later you find yourself near that same restaurant, so you go in, sit down, and look over the menu.
The waitress comes to your table and asks, "You want club san-which?"
Happens here all the time.

But I propose to look at that phenomenon much more closely.
To see what it can teach us about Thai culture.
As expats, we need to understand the foreign culture around us.
In Thailand, that's not easy, because Thais are masters of deception and subtlety.
So I have the idea of starting a series of posts trying to understand, and to learn from each other.
This is the first of what, perhaps, will become a series of threads on learning about the subtitles of Thai culture.
I welcome other observations, and, especially, critique of mine.


Example #1: The waitress changed jobs.

Last night I went for supper at Sizzler.
For those who don't know, Sizzler is a franchise.
It is a sit-down restaurant with dozens of tables, and hundreds of customers every day.
In one year in Chiangmai I've only been in to Sizzler three, maybe four, times.
I'm not a remarkable customer in any way, just another elderly expat coming in for an early supper.

After she took my order, the waitress asked, "Now, do you stay at the hotel next door again?"
Huh?
Then she said, "You ordered dim-sum in the restaurant."
I had to re-wind my memory tapes.

She was right, I had stayed at that hotel nearby, but that was a year and a half ago!
I stayed only two nights.
I ate in the restaurant only once, and, yes, it was dim-sum.
But now, a year and a half later, in a different restaurant, she remembered!​

Old Asia hands know this already, but new-comers take this as a warning.
The Thais watch everyone and everything -- even when they seem like they are not interested -- and they do remember.

(Side note: I recommend the BBQ ribs at Sizzler: Very tender and meaty.
And if you go back a second time, your waitress just might ask if you want ribs again.)



Example #2: What are you doing in this part of the city?

Some years ago, while living in Bangkok, I read a review in the newspaper of the restaurant at the Shangri-La hotel.
It was a long ways from where I was living, but sounded very nice, so I got in a taxi and went there for my supper.
It was a long ways from where I lived.

The taxi took me right to the door, but after eating, I decided to walk the few hundred meters to the skytrain station.
Along the walk, I noticed a young woman coming toward me, staring intently at me.
I didn't acknowledge her, but looked straight ahead as I walked.

As she came up to me, she stopped right in front of me.
With a cheerful smile she asked, "Khun Oneman, what are you doing in this part of Bangkok? You live in soi 99. Why do you come so far away?"
I stared and stared, but it was not a face I recognized.
I couldn't figure out who she was or where I'd ever seen her.
But she sure knew me, and she knew where I lived.
I mumbled something about going to visit a friend who was staying at the Shangri-La Hotel, and then continued on my way.

A few days later, I went into a small foot massage shop around the corner from where I lived in soi 99.
I was a regular customer in that shop, and I knew all the girls who worked there.
During the hour of the foot massage, one of the girls came over to me, and asked, "Your friend, where he come from?"
Huh? What friend? Who are you talking about?
She patiently explained, "Your friend who stay at Shangri-La Hotel."​

New-comers, I hope you are listening and making mental notes.


Example #3: Did you spot the lady-boy?

Once or twice a month I go for a foot massage at the little shop across the street.
The massage ladies are older and un-atractive, but they are cheerful and pleasant and always give me a warm welcome.
They all know me and I know them.
But one day a new face in that shop.
A younger girl -- twenty-something -- petite and adorable.
She was not in line to do my massage, but she came over anyway, to talk and get acquainted.
She flirted a lot, and I smiled and enjoyed.
Her English was exceptionally good, but she spoke only in a whisper.
I kept asking her to speak louder, but she wouldn't or couldn't.

Two days after that, my maid came in to clean the apartment.
We chat in Thai about many things; she helps me improve my language.
In the course of that day's chatting, she asked, "Do you go foot massage?"
Odd question, but, yes, I had.
"Do you know shop have lady boy working there now?"
No, I didn't know.
End of conversation, but it puzzled me a little bit.
Well, I forgot about it.

A few weeks later, I went in for another foot massage.
This time, that new girl was next in line so she pulled up her little stool and started to work on my feet.
And, oh boy!, did she turn on the charm with me.
Thai girls can flirt, but this one was a master at it.
Okay, I'm vulnerable: I handed her my mobile phone, and, without any prompting, she punched in her phone number.
She whispered her name, "Nok".

But I didn't call right away.
Later in the week, my maid comes in, as usual, along with the usual chatting in Thai.
In the course of that day's topics, she asked, "Do you go foot massage?"
Odd question, once again, but, yes, I had.
"Do you know shop have lady boy working there now?"
Yes, she told me that a few weeks ago, but I have zero interest in lady boys.
So why tell me again?
"Do you know which one is lady boy?," she asked.
No, I never saw the lady boy.
"Lady boy name is 'Nok', I think you see her, get her mobile number."

The light snapped on.
I had not recognized the new, young, "girl", with the whispering voice, as a lady boy.
But the other women on the staff had noticed the flirting, and certainly had noticed the phone number entry.
How to warn me?
One of them called my maid, who then gave me the alert.
How did the old women in the massage shop know who to call?
In Thailand somebody is always watching you.
The massage shop girls knew my maid, and my maid knew them.
Among themselves they were warning me about the lady boy.
(And I don't go to that shop any more.)​

(Side note: Why the whispering voice, I asked my maid.
"Because lady boy voice sound like man. She not want you to hear.")


So, those are only three examples.
I have more, dozens and dozens more, to confirm the title of this thread.
I hope others will add their own observations, and offer their own conclusions so we can learn from each other about living as expats in Thailand.

Finally, I really wish it wasn't necessary to say this, but it is:
The topic of this thread is Thais watching us and remembering what we do.
This thread is not a catch-all for every, possible oddity about Thai culture.
I hope other posters will respect my opening post, and keep on topic.
Thank you.

-- Oneman
Chiangmai
.
Interesting that someone who wants to "take a close look at Thai culture" promptly goes to eat at Sizzler.

The rest is rubbish the poster should be humored though ....might get aggressive is pushed.

In the words of GLC - "Oh God! Someone inject 'im, go on1 Inject 'im!"
 
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