Once you have taken up a position teaching English in Thailand, you will discover why this interesting country is known as ‘The Land of A Thousand Smiles’ and why it has become such a popular destination for tourists as well as those seeking gainful employment. It’s not just the fantastic food and scenic beaches either.
The people of Thailand are a nation of contrasts, composed of a mix of Indian and Chinese influences with a strong base of Thai elements. Each of Thailand’s four regions has unique characteristics of its own, with one similarity – it seems that the folk here are perpetually grinning with inner satisfaction, or some wonderful secret that you simply have to know.
A contemplative culture
Buddhism, being a calming and introspective doctrine on the whole, could be partly responsible for this, as many of the beliefs and traditions of the Thai people stem from this religion, with a smattering of Hinduism for good measure. Most of the 70 million residents of this country share these ideals and this could account for their perennial cheerful and calm outlook.
In fact, public outbursts and displays of emotion are considered shameful, while a non-confrontational outlook, tempered by self-control, is held in high regard. This sounds like a delightful way of life to me, and it is a pleasure to work amongst these composed and dignified people.
Respect for your elders, including teachers and parents, is a must in Thai culture, and people in positions of authority are revered and admired. Women too, are granted utmost respect, even though Thai culture is predominantly patriarchal.
Along with religion, family is another pillar of Thai culture, and many households consist of extended families and close relatives.
For me, one of the best concepts in Thai culture is ‘sanuk’. This intangible quality is the principle of playfulness and good humour that is so evident everywhere here. Sanuk refers loosely to joyfulness, whether it stems from meeting a friend unexpectedly in the street or a well-timed, humorous pun. Joie de vivre and good humour have become instinctive to these friendly people, and are vital aspects of daily life in Thailand.
There are many more reasons to smile in Thailand, why not take up a teaching post in this beautiful country and find out for yourself?