The Land of NO Smiles

I’ve always been told how amazing Thailand and its people are. Before this visit I have only spent two nights here, layovers, so I’ve never really interacted with local Thais. After three days in Bangkok I am wondering if I’ve been on a different planet than everybody else, because I can not see how this is the land of smiles…

  • Proof 1: Hotel. The girls in the reception did not slip a smile from when I checked in until the evening of the second day when they were completely different towards me, smiling and laughing. At the same time they were laughing behind another guest’s back…
  • Proof 2: Shopping. When I asked if it was possible to have a look at a jacket that was hanging high up on the upper rack, she rolled her eyes, and said that I could see what it looked like from where it was. When I asked again, she said: You know it costs 1,200 baht…, which is approx. 35 dollars… When she finally took it down, and I wanted to try it on in front of the mirror, she barely moved out of the way for me to get a glimpse. I would actually have gotten the jacket had there been one ounce of customer service…
  • Proof 3: Shopping second store. When I asked to try on a top in a different color I was asked to try the black one on first… I put the piece back on the rack, and walked out.
  • Proof 4: Shopping third store. When I asked if I could try size small (I was holding a size medium), she sighed, then looked at me up and down and said: Really? When I said yes, she moaned, and made it clear I was a nuisance. I ended up leaving the store before she came back with a smaller size.

This being the first hours of my visit to this country, I knew this was not going to be the shopping trip I had hoped for. All in all I met 4 smiling, welcoming people who undeservedly had to try to make up for the rest of the bunch. One sales assistant had a huge smile from ear to ear. Her English was not the best, but we were able to find several items of clothing (from one of my favorite Chinese brands 🙂 ) that I happily tucked in my bag. I ran into her in another branch the day after, and we had a laugh and a chat. Then there was another lady who helped me out with my new bag buy 🙂 The two guys working at the concierge service at the hotel were also always helpful. And that’s it! Don’t know if it had something to do with me and the way I look. In Asia I don’t come across as the average Western tourist… Just like I was treated as a local in China. Or maybe arriving for Myanmar where there is nothing but friendly people made me spoiled… A German girl I met said Thailand is nice, besides the feeling of always wondering if you’re getting ripped off… My local Myanmar friend also said people usually say coming to Myanmar from Thailand is like a breath of fresh air… Thailand has never been high on my bucket list, and after this it has sunk even further down towards the bottom…



0 thoughts on “The Land of NO Smiles

  1. Oh dear what a shame! I’ve never been to Thailand, I’d love to go but like you I’d be expecting a smiley welcome, how disappointing that you didn’t get it. #Wkendtravelinspiration

    • All the pro Thailand people at home have been raving about how welcoming this land is. When I posted this post on my personal FB page, it turned out a few of my friends had had the same experience, and some not. Some saying it might be a big city thing.

  2. I haven’t spent any time in Bangkok, other than through the airport. Maybe it was big city blues bringing them down, or just a run of bad encounters for you. I’ve had similar experiences in Paris but then on return trips I find nothing but helpful, friendly people. Still, it sucks to run into these people no matter where in the world you are. Thanks for linking up! #wkendtravelinspiration

    • I don’t know what is was. I only know it was not a one time thing. Now telling people there seem to be others who have the same experiences with Thailand. I’ll be back, but not for a good while.

  3. I have not been to Thailand yet but it is on my list. It sounds like you had some less than professional staff helping you in the stores. I think you were right to walk out.

  4. We’ve had no problems in Thailand, but I also think it must drive you nuts dealing with stupid western tourists all the time. I’ve been to a restaurant in France where an American was yelling at the waitress to explain why they were calling the Apertisers ‘Entrees’ on the English menu (relevance?? Is it that hard to work out a menu?). I’ve been in a restaurant when it was raining and a woman wanted a ‘hot water’ and didn’t want to pay for it. Where in the world would that be a thing? Our own kid was ill in a taxi in Bali and when the driver dropped us at the hotel, and I gave him extra money (the fares he wouldn’t get while cleaning his car), the hotel staff ran over and treated him as if he was ripping us off, and when I explained our kid had been sick (fortunately just lemonade), the hotel staff said “Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to do that.” Can you imagine how many drunken adults might take advantage of that? I understand you need to please the tourists if in those industries, but I also get you must have days when you just aren’t up to dealing with it.

    • I get that rude people are not what you want to deal with, but I was not being rude at all. I was just asking for help, like I would in any other store around the world. And if it was just having a bad day, there was a lot of people having a bad day…

  5. Maybe it’s Bangkok – metropolitan city – city people are just too busy with their own problems, issues. Land of Smiles tagline is a tourism board tagline for more than 20 years, I think – perhaps back then, they were smiling a lot 🙂

    • Could be big city problems, but I rarely experience bad attitude like that, and I’ve been around a block or two. I hear some agreeing with me, and some say I’ve been unlucky. Could have been better years ago when tourism wasn’t too big, but it’s not the only country in the world which has had a surge in that area, and they still treat their visitors nicely…

  6. The king has just died, so people are not going to be overly happy in public, especially in Bangkok. However, you are right, I struggle to see how it can be called the land of smiles these days, though this was just a name made up by travel agents. Malaysia is more of a smiley place 🙂

  7. I’ve been living in Thailand and can somewhat agree with your experiences. Unfortunately it seems that many Thai people can be somewhat unpleasant, especially at shopping centers.

    On the other hand though I have also experienced hospitality here unlike any other. When I first moved to Sukhothai I was looking for a book store and a Thai lady that I asked for directions decided to drive my friend and I to a couple of book stores.

    It seems that they are at one end of the spectrum or the other.

Love to hear your comment :)