1 Always keep smiling …whatever happens or is said or you try to achieve. It’s the only way to be respected and listened to and to get what you want (or even more).
2 Never talk… …about a subject I won’t name here, let’s say politics. But you’re free to talk about topics which would be taboo elsewhere (at least in Switzerland) like money or sexuality.
3 Learn your basics Sawadeekaa (if you’re a woman), Sawadeekapp (if you’re a man) for ‘hello’; when you leave no need to say anything, you can just go. Kopkhunkaa (if you’re a woman), Kopkhunkapp (if you’re a man) for ‘Thank you’. And the most important ‘Mai pen rai’ (whatever you are) for ‘It doesn’t matter’, ‘No problem’, ‘I don’t know’, ‘I’m not hungry’, well, you will hear it all day long and it will be useful to place it from time to time when you feel embarrassed. Also use as often as you wish ‘Sabai sabai’ to express your wellbeing.
4 Never put… …a cup of coffee (or anything else) on a small or big shrine in any room or in the street, it really is a religious place to be respected.
5 Never touch the head …of a Thai person, particularly difficult after a few whiskies, on a party with friends – the rule is still valid.
6 Some ice in your beer? Talking about whisky, if you are lucky to join a dinner with locals, food is shared between all. You don’t need to order any dish, there will be more than enough on the table. Don’t turn up your nose when you’re served a glass full of ice, with whisky and soda (or coke), the mixture is usually light, with little alcohol taste and effect, usually less than in a glass of wine. Acceptable alternatives are beer (with ice in it, again don’t refuse, it makes the drink and event last longer) or red wine (if there is around) or water or coke.
7 Take off your shoes… …when you enter a house, but keep your feet possibly discreet, never turn them towards the shrine when you’re in a temple or towards a monk or an elderly person, wherever you are.
8 Respect and be respected And here we are, if you’re like me, around 50 or clearly over, then be aware that you’re considered as a person to be respected. Most people you’ll encounter being younger, they’ll never contradict you, you’ll always be received with a smile and helped in any situation you might get into by accident or ignorance. Savour the moment, you’re really respected. But be rewarding, be kind and loving yourself when the meal you get is not what you ordered, when your plate arrives after your partner finished hers/his one, when the staff speaks English but doesn’t understand you, when instead of an answer you get a smile, well, when things turn different as they would back home.