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How to piss off someone from Bangkok

Land of Smile. Happiness. Big Mango. City of Angels. All sounds awesome and as if Pharrell wrote his song ‘Happy’ just for us. But don’t be mistaken, Bangkokonians (yeah!) can be pretty pissed. So if you don’t want to get roundhouse-kicked (’cause everyone in Thailand can do Muay Thai) while hanging out in Khaosan Road be sure to not do the following things:

Food “Hey you eat those cockroaches and strange bugs, right?” Most of my friends or people I met that came to BKK asked those questions. While I can live with those stereotypes native friends got a little pissed about such a question. Why the heck should someone from BKK city eat bugs and shit? Chances are high that you, as a tourist, eat more ‘funny’ stuff than people from Bangkok ever tried. BKK peeps are like any other big city kinda type. A bit snobby and to ‘good’ to eat ‘unclean’ food. Oh yeah. Of course you see ‘weird food’ here in BKK. Scorpions, fried bugs or any other kind of insect for that matter. But guess what: Those vendors sell it because of you. You’re the idiot who comes here and spends as much money for fried bugs as it would take to have a decent Green Curry Chicken dish somewhere around the corner. But good on you, keeps the mystery.  

that is how every bangkokonian goes to work.
that is how every bangkokonian goes to work.

Ethnical Appearance “Wow, you don’t look like someone from Bangkok”. That line is something that probably most people from BKK have heard at least once from a tourist. So how does someone from Bangkok then look like? There are around 12 million people in the bigger Bangkok area. Lots of cultures, different backgrounds, heritage, etc. It’s like going to New York and looking for the ‘typical New Yorker’. The cool thing about Bangkok is that there are so many different kinds of people and cultures. Don’t stereotype toomuch ’cause the one thing all of those ‘false’ Bangkokonians have in common is a mean right hook to your liver.

Politics.  Yeah. You watched the news back home on CNN, NBC or Fox (go away!). That does not make you an expert on Thai politics and comments such as ‘hey there’s nothing burning here in Bangkok” are not funny. At all. Bangkok has seen it all. The most peaceful as well as the most brutal crack downs so keep your opinion to yourself. Period. The same goes for stupid references to red or yellow colored clothes by the way. And referring to someone who wears a Manchester United or Liverpool shirt as ‘red shirt’ isn’t funny, wasn’t funny and never will be funny.

One night in Bangkok …and the world’s your oyster. Yes. We know. Shut up.

The traffic It sucks. Big time. Everybody here knows that. People who live here have to fight it every single day. You decided to come here on holidays. It’s your choice! So don’t you dare to rub the shitty traffic into our face. You are here because you want to be here. Live with it. Make it work.

Public Transport See traffic.

The smog / rubbish Yes, yes, yes. There is lot of rubbish and smog here in the city of angels. Why? Because there are 12 million people living here and 47 kazillion tourists visiting who, thanks to currency exchange, feel like kings while  throwing around their money. If you all would rather go for eco-friendly tourism and actually watch the shit that you’re purchasing or paying for we all would have a better and cleaner life here. You might wanna think about that next time you’re blaming locals for all the shit here. It’s quite likely that the biggest pile of shit comes from your “super cheap all inclusive” hotel.

The ‘freeze’ So there’s a rule saying that Thais have to stand still when they hear the national anthem which is being played at 8 in the morning at 6 in the evening. That might look funny, in Bangkok even more due to the huge population, but making fun of it each and every time is not only a bit annoying. Btw. If everybody else stops moving you might want to not be an ass and also stand still for those 30 seconds.  

Chill out when the rest is in a hurry Yes, you’re on holiday. Woohoo. That’s awesome. Chances are that most of the other 12 million people in BKK are not. So it’s super awesome that you’re taking your time when your walking up to a BTS or down to a MRT stop but if we miss our connecting bus, train or whatever because of you being in holidays you don’t have to wonder too much when you feel an elbow to your rips.

Bangkok is just like Singapore. Or Kuala Lumpur. Or any other city in Asia.  Yeah and New York is just like L.A. just like Chicago just like London just like Zurich just like Rome… Just because we’re on another continent and different to your home doesn’t mean it’s all the same here. A little bit of appreciation towards the country your in right now won’t hurt. “The West” is not all the same, neither is “The East”.

Bang-kok. Got it? Bang. Kok. Like Bang and cock. Got it? Got it? Naaaaaaaaah. Mate, you’re the first one to make that joke! Nobody ever thought about that but if you think that’s too funny of a name for a country’s capital why don’t you go ahead and try to say the offical Thai name of Bangkok?

Ask girls ‘how much’.  That goes for all of Thailand of course. Doing this just shows one thing: That you’re a jerk. In general you should remember that if you don’t head to designated areas girls are never ‘for sale’. If they work in that kind of line, they’ll approach you anyways.  

“That could be more efficient” Those 7 waiters in a small restaurant or the 23 employes in the local sports shop at the shopping mall are a bit too much in most cases but it also leads to less unemployment and a more fun work environment – at least for the people working there. Same goes for the bus lady that sells tickets and the rest of our ‘inefficient’ workflows. Believe it or not, it’s not all about making things more efficient. Well, at least not here. Live with it.

Punctuality. Alright. I hate, hate, hate it! I do. Being unpunctual sucks big time. But that is something you, me, nobody in the whole wide world will be able to change here. So don’t bother, don’t complain. Relax, get a coffee, listen to the made up stupid excuses (weather, hot, cold, rain, traffic, protests, flood,…) and then move on. There’s no need to keep bringing up that someone has been late over and over again. It won’t change anything.

Same same *giggle* So you found that shirt that says ‘same same’ on the front and ‘but different’ on the back. Congratulations. And you might have heard some Tuk Tuk or Taxi driver saying ‘same same’. That does not mean that everybody in Bangkok (or Thailand) says that all the time. And even if someone says it I guess he then speaks more English than you speak Thai. Right?

Hangover references.  It’s 2014. They are a little out of style, don’t you think? Not as annoying as ‘the world’s your oyster’ – but going there.

Yo Bangkokonians! Did I forget something? What pisses you off the most? Shout out in the comments! The idea was, of course, inspired by the series of posts over there Matador. [image credit: Thai-on]

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at My-Thai.org
Sascha is the publisher of my-thai.org and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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  • Jason B. Rulo

    You are working as an English teacher in Thailand, right? And you do not know the difference between “to” and “too”??? This post as well as your other posts contains this error over and over again (“Don’t stereotype to much” etc.). Just sayin’…

  • Jason B. Rulo

    And also “here” instead of “hear” and other rather basic errors.

  • Thx for your comment. Appreciate you taking the time. However I do not work as an English teacher here but glad you keep track of how many times “to” and “too” have been used wrong. Furthermore I think I don’t always use ‘to’ as an excess or degree which would not make it necessary to write “too”. At least as far as I remember from my English lessons. However I’ll be happy to read up on that so thanks for pointing it out. Btw I understand that spelling errors are annoying, I feel the same when I read other news magazines or newspapers. However please keep in mind that this here (!) is a private blog that’s mostly updated at night what might influences the level of perfection. Should not be an excuse though. Misspelling sucks and I’ll pay more attention to that again before hitting the ‘publish’ button.

    Nevertheless I’m glad that this seems to be the only thing that pisses you off here ;-)

  • Nice post Sascha, I suppose most of us are guilty of stereo-typing people, and you made some good points, indeed, why would a Bangkok business man eat bugs ?

  • Thank you for your comment. I agree that probably everybody does some stereotyping once in a while. I guess there are also some stereotypes about Pattaya. aren’t there? ;-)

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  • asda

    yea, all thais can fight blah blah… bunch of cowards that what most are. Ive told shit to so many and they are scared like chickens you have no idea

  • Hi asda,

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment and also the time that must have gotten into picking an unique nickname. Usually I would delete trolling comments immediately but I guess it’s good for others to read what people are thinking.

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  • Chanakarn D

    I saw this article in the popular posts section. Hope it’s not too late to post the comment.
    I actually enjoy reading it as most of them are so true! I like the fact that you notice that most foreigners eat those funny insects more than people who live in Bangkok. I really don’t like it when someone asks “have you ever eaten scorpion?…”

  • It’s never too late to post a comment ;-)

    I totally understand. It’s just like when people ask me ‘So, you’re from Germany, you must like beer…’ :P Ok, it’s not exactly the same, the Thai stereotypes are worse, for some reason.

    Btw I did eat insects here. Once. In Isaan. Just to make my students happy. But that’s enough for the rest of my life.

  • Paka MonNetz

    Well, I’m Thai but I don’t mind being misunderstood as Indian. It just makes me question myself like “HOW COME I LOOK LIKE INDIAN.”Not angry, just curious, And I’m totally agree on your point about don’t ask a girl”How much?”If someone asks me this kind of question, I’ll teach you Muay-Thai. We, Thai girl, are worth much more than that. Do not stereotype us that way. We are smart and intelligence in each own way. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE US.

  • Oh I seem to have hit a soft spot there. Did it ever happen to you? :o
    I would like to see you beating someone up though ;-)

  • Koonlanan Hongsakul

    So, I decided that I love this article! It’s actually really entertaining for me this is probably because I don’t usually get pissed by things like these and you write it in a way that you really understood bangkokians like me!
    However, I’ve got many friends from overseas and most of the guys always mention the Bang-Kok thing asking me if its pronounce like that. Also, about the king’s song I’ve been thinking that I would actually look up to those tourist who freeze during the time I would appreciate it because I have seen some of our own don’t even stop sometimes.
    Love that you have notice co many things!!!

  • Thanks for the comment! :-) Lots of my friends from abroad actually said ‘damn, we did lots of those things ourselves’. Let’s see if those stereotypes will die out at some point.

  • Tanachot Ua Anantathanakul

    the freeze is pretty sensitive topic to talk about, not to me, but to others. and i think it is the national anthem, not the king song. the king song is played before movie

  • It definitely is the national anthem. True! In terms of sensitivity I think it’s ok to mention it since this article doesn’t state anything negative about it. I don’t think that you are not allowed to mention its existence.

  • Panitpol Panii Pitaksonggram

    I love this article! It is not boring and fun to read and it’s actually a true story that occur in Bangkok. I always feel bad when tourists come and ask to Thai girls “how much”, it sounds rude to me and being such a jerk like you wrote in the article, but I think it is hard to change their thought because most of foreigners see Thailand as “Land of Prostitutes” (I’m sorry if the words I used is bad), “Lands of Lady boys”. It is very hard to change the “stereotype”!

  • Agree. It’s hard to change unfortunately. Just sad that Thailand sees so many “bad” tourists every year.

  • Thetattguy

    I love this article! You seems to know Bangkok and Thailand very well. I think that a lot of people are having logical fallacies of Hasty generalisation or Cherry picking which will make so many westerners misunderstand about Thailand. People seems to know Thailand in a word of “Land of prostitute.” However, not every girl in Thailand doing that, for me it is like you walk in America and and says that everyone is fat overweight redneck racist and loving shooting guns or going to Ireland and think that everyone is drunk and lazy all the time. Which is a false stereotype.

  • Completely agree with you here. Just a bit sad that all these stereotypes still exist in 2016!

  • Karnchana Hongsirikun

    About 2 years ago I was an exchange student in US. Someone asked me if I ride an elephant to school and laughed out loud. I was pissed ,so I started to say mean things. I told her that I got so many cars that she would never be able to afford in her whole life. She hated me so much that we did’t talk for awhile. We eventually cleared things out and was able to be friends again. I really regretted saying those mean things to her.

  • Good that you regret it but I understand how it can piss someone off when constantly facing those stupid “jokes” :-/

  • Praemai Toeywattanachai

    I do agree with you for the number one that it is so terrible. I used to go to there with my friend once because we saw that there are many food counters for us to choose. I chose to order the korean fried chicken with rice from the korean food counter. While I was ordering, I then saw some cockroaches walking in the kitchen and in the box of spoon and folks. It was so disgusting. Besides, the food I got was so little amount ( 3-4 little pieces of chicken and little bowl of rice) which was not worth its price. So dissapointed!

  • Atiwat Radsameekobkul

    I do agree with you because Thai people have their own culture that is different from the western. Sometimes western will not think too much about it but Bkk people does think. Also my project is to tell the tourist about things to do or not to do in Bkk.

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  • Krungtep Look

    Arrogant and nationalistic nonsense. Many foreigners know more about Thai culture and history than Thais.

  • Appreciate the comment. However I don’t think that we, in any form, attacked foreigners in general. I’m sure lots of foreigners here know a lot about Thai history. Which probably is true for any expat around the world who moves to his / her country of choosing. The article talks about typical stereotypes that many travelers / tourists just too often mention in their stories and as we can see from some comments here, Thais seem to have encountered said stereotypes here and there. Moreover I completely fail to see where the post is supposed to be nationalistic.

  • Krungtep Look

    Sascha, Maybe you are not aware of this but the tone of the article is a little condescending toward foreigners who you seem to suggest don’t know very much at all about Thailand. You stereotyped ‘The 7 types’ in a previous article but accuse foreigners of stereotyping Thais as non-Bangkokians . . . they may make this assumption because a lot of Bangkok people are of Han Chinese descent. Alongside the, invariably poorer ethnic Laos (Isan) people they do seem to comprise two very separate identities, which indeed , they are. Maybe I am reading too much into a fluff piece?

  • Appreciate the response. Now I understand where you are coming from. That was definitely not the intention of the article since I wrote that back then when all those ‘how to piss someone from XYZ off’ articles were trending on the ‘Matador’ travel website and I was just aiming to make a bit of fun of that while using the stereotypes that lots of travelers (including a fair share of my friends who visited me) seemed to have. I do understand that, if you have more knowledge about the background of the people here, this could appear a bit condescending since those people obviously know what to do and why to do certain things and how to behave. I’ll definitely take this into consideration for further articles. Again thanks for elaborating!

  • William Wu

    In my humble perspective, offense can be made by misunderstanding the culture or lifestyle. Not only in Bangkok, but everywhere counted these kind of action as offended. A difficult problem like this can be solved easily by learning and acknowledging cultural differences.
    Tourist needs to have some respects for natives, since one visits other’s homeland. One must glimpse towards the destination and fully aware of how those places truly are.

  • Well said. Couldn’t agree more. Thank you for your comment!

  • Wanthida Tiwari

    This article is literally a must read for anyone travelling to Thailand for the first time. People are different and cultures are different. I can relate to this on a very spiritual level as I am a Indian origin Thai and I face stereotypes from both sides. Imagine having to explain Thai green curry with Indian spinach curry all the freaking time. Also… I can say this article was written by someone with alot of experience in such situations as it went from, “hey! I am here to help you understand thailand” to “you annoying tourist, you ain’t gonna do anything I mentioned in my article under my watch!”

  • That’s exactly how I act when I have friends (or family, even worse!) visiting. The first few days I’m trying to explain things but when they start to do ‘stupid’ things, I have to tell them who’s the boss ;-)

  • So many people get into so much stupid trouble out here. A bit of common sense goes a long way!

  • Some of things people do though begs belief!

  • Alice Chambon

    I completely agree with this article and I think that foreigner should definitely read this before coming to Thailand. All those remarks you mentioned is exactly the kind of things a foreigner would ask or say about this county. When I go to Europe and I tell someone I’m from Bangkok, the first thing they ask is if I like to eat cockroach. What I’d like to answer to this is ‘you idiot, do I look like I can eat insects?!’ but I would pretend to laugh and just say ‘no’. What I don’t like is that some people tend to point out negative stereotypes about Thailand which isn’t always true and I think that it is a bit disrespectful because they talk about it like if Thailand was a non-developed country. The truth is most people I know who actually visited Thailand, all came back and wished they could live in this beautiful and exciting country.

  • Thanks for your comment. Agreed. Those stereotypes really should die off. I initially wrote this article in 2014 but it’s still as current as it was back then. Time for a change!

  • Thananopawan Rattanatrisri

    This is so true. When I was an exchange student in the US, there’s a lot of people asked me this kind of questions and it’s really pissed me off.They asked about several bad things in Thailand and they said they want to come to Thailand. I think maybe they already have a stereotype in their head of how Thai people should be and no matter how much I told them the truth, it seemed like they never believe me. However, as a Thai citizen, I think if we provide more information about this. It will help a lot.

  • That’s also a good point. It seems like Thailand sometimes likes to take advantage of certain stereotypes that are in people’s minds but then complains if the wrong stereotypes are also being talked about. Transparency in all forms could help to change that.

  • Benjapol Juntharee

    I do agree with this. Most of the time people who traveling to Thailand heard about Thai people from someone else and they prejudge us. When many people were doing this over the time, it becomes a stereotype for people in Thailand(not just in Bangkok). I do heard about the stereotype that my foreign friend in my high school year said that “Before I came to Thailand, I thought that Thai people were using elephant for transportation.” It might sounds stupid but there are still some people who believe it that way.

  • Ellen Deveaux

    This article is a great head start for those who are traveling to Thailand. I have flown to many countries like Mexico, Taiwan, and America, but before traveling, I always try to read about the cultural differences. I do not want to end up going to a country that I know nothing about. One thing I do not want to do is misunderstand a person, let alone a whole country. Hopefully, foreigners can read this article and further their understanding of our lifestyle and not just make assumptions about Thailand.

  • Thanks for your comment and good on you for always checking about local culture and do’s and don’ts before traveling somewhere. More people should do that!

  • Chanittha Jiraporncharas

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. It’s not just in Bangkok but Thailand! If you’re visiting somewhere in the world, the first thing that you’re going to bring with you is respect. Also, understand that people in each country have different cultures and lifestyle. These will surely make your trip in any country, the best memory!