THE THAI WAY - A CULTURE OF HOSPITALITYApril 02, 2018
Thailand is consistently listed as a dream destination for many people in the world to visit at least once in their lifetime. What is it about this land that makes it so amazing? Some might say it's the landscape. We wouldn't fight you there. Thailand has some of the most gorgeous beaches, beautiful mountain regions, and exciting metropolis locations on the planet. But in all fairness, there are other wonderful lands with beaches and cities, and other natural attractions, throughout the region and world. So why is Bangkok the most visited city on the planet? Why is it a land that people literally fall in love with? What captures people’s heart, bringing them thousands of miles from their home, year after year, travelling here instead of other exotic lands?
To us at Sansara, the answer is simple: the people.
Landing in Thailand, you'll sense a certain lightness. You won't be able to put your finger on it at first, but gradually will come to realize that the hustle and grind of the West has been replaced with a twin shot of sanuk and sabai sabai. Thai people hold both these values in high regard, and it inspires every moment of their day. Sanuk mean fun. Most Thais look for fun in everything they do. This quality is perhaps what inspires the famous Thai Smile, where Thailand draws its nickname, LOS: Land of Smiles. Sabai sabai is another reason for that smile. It translates as a relaxed, calming situation, peaceful and harmonious to enjoy. This graceful combination rewards all who visit or live in this precious land, as these cherished values emanate from all Thai hearts, inspiring that magical “amazing” feeling behind Amazing Thailand.
This doesn't mean you'll be walking around happy land. Thais are people, with their own concerns and worries, just like all of us. But not all of us value fun and calm peace as deeply as the Thais. Working to achieve these feelings, Thais share a quality of pleasant ambiance everywhere they go, whatever they are doing. From the people who work in Bangkok's subway system, to those who are caring for your rooms and overlooking your stay in your retirement community. That type of sunshine friendliness won't be found in New York, Berlin, or other bustling cities in the West. The remarkable feeling of “Thainess” provides a lightness of living that is truly a unique experience. It can’t be bottled or sold, or found anywhere else on the planet. Only travelers or residents will ever understand this magic, feeling it when they live within the Land Of Smiles.
Both these cultural values of sanuk and sabai sabai contribute to the larger value of Harmony, which is the core element of Thai society. Harmony is vitally important for Thai people, partly because Thailand’s culture consists of a very firm hierarchy. As a foreigner with enough capital and holdings to retire in Thailand, your status in this hierarchy will be at a very respectful level. Recognizing your place in the hierarchy, and preserving harmony while interacting with you will be a matter of course for those who work at and nearby Sansara. You will be honored for the life you lead, and respected for the choices you made, all of which have placed you in such a desirable living situation in your golden years.
Due to the emphasis on Harmony, Thais also have a particularly native trait called kreng jai. This is difficult to directly translate to English, but the feeling of it can be related clearly through the notion of “aggressive consideration.” It is a driving desire to not do anything that would make somebody feel bad. For example, if you had a Thai visitor in your home and the air conditioner was much too cold for them, many would rather go home and get a cold then tell you to turn it down. Their thought would be that the temperature makes you happy, and since they are visiting, they should be kreng jai about the situation, and “grin and bear it.” Pleasantly enduring personal discomfort is preferable to voicing that minor discomfort to another; especially a social superior. This humble value diffuses conflicts before they happen, granting a special peacefulness to situations and interactions in Thailand.
Finally, the Thais value and respect the elderly in ways that the West doesn't. It's quite common to experience younger Thais taking tremendous pride in their ability to provide money and support for elderly parents or grandparents. You will often see them taking great enjoyment taking their elderly relatives out to meals, or on trips. In the West, that value has been too often lost, by families that are pulled apart by independence, corporate relocations, and the excessive value put upon youth. In Thailand, age is seen as something to respect, and the older person is someone to be valued, not hidden away or forgotten.
The harmonious interaction of all these values, warmed by the spirit of Thais, and made alive in their daily life is what gives their land a quality of life that is impossible to find anywhere else on the planet. It is this quality that we feel sets Thailand aside from all the other beautiful places in the world. And it is why out of all the potential sites to build what we believe is the most exceptional retirement destination possible, we chose Hua Hin. This Thai beachside city is one of the top ten retirement destinations in the world. For all the reasons we explained in this article, and many more that you will discover for yourself when you arrive, you’ll be happy to find yourself home at Sansara.
Till then, wishing you sabai sabai. ;)