Reply To: Thailand the land of smiles – The Thai smile

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The famous Thai smile that gave the country its name, the Land of Smiles, characterises its friendly, good-natured people. One of their most distinctive traits is their sense of fun. A characteristic which they call sanuk and the French refer to as joie de vivre.

Thai people have a natural cheerfulness and light-hearted spirit that imbues everything they do. Even at work, there is a sense of fun, plenty of teasing and genuine feelings of warmth among colleagues that make life perpetually enjoyable. And why not smile all day ? In Thailand, life really is good and enjoyable. The culture is a social one, with a tradition of extended family and community, and a society where extreme importance is based on one’s manners and speech towards others.

Because of their great love of community, Thai people revel in social interaction, loud noise and hustle and bustle, in contrast to the European outlook, the thought of being alone, or travelling and dining solo in a foreign land, is deemed a sad affair for the kindred-loving Thai.

Thai people are renowned for their gentleness and politeness in any situation. The deeper implication, and more socially significant side of the Thai smile, is that it is a gracious way of ‘saving face’ or avoiding embarrassment and loss of dignity. Smiling covers up any potentially negative or distressing situation, Thai people shun any sort of confrontation, argument or conflict, and will go to great lengths to avoid it, to the point that they hardly ever say no, even when they mean it.