“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”
~Clifton Fadiman ~
Travelling the world and setting foot in an unknown land can be exciting and mysterious, but do you realize that you are the foreigner?
Different cultures have there own customs and traditions, and though you may not agree with them, it is probably a good idea to not throw your bare feet up on a table in Thailand as the foot is considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body. Touching or patting the top of a thais head is also looked down upon as they believe that the head is the most sacred part of the body, it is inhabited by the kwan-the spiritual force of life.
Thais also consider the left hand to be unclean, it should not be used to eat, receive gifts, or shake hands. I am left handed, so when we are in Thailand I will do my best to be aware of using my right hand to eat, but I’m sure the Thais don’t expect us to get it all right on our first visit, and I am not too sure that they will pay that much attention to me eating?
Thais are very forgiving people, so when in doubt smile, apologize, and do the “wai”. The wai is a thai greeting that consists of a slight bow with the palms pressed together in a prayer like fashion.
In many countries wearing revealing clothing is also a no no. I remember being at the Great Pyramids in Giza and seeing a very tanned girl wearing very transparent white linen pants, everyone could see her tanned ass and bright thong underwear right through those pants. Yes Egypt is extremely hot, but wearing transparent clothing is not going to cool you down. I do not agree with what most muslims believe about western women, but when you are raised in an oppressed environment, and you are constantly told that western women are loose, and it is all you are being fed, I can understand where their misconceptions come from when they set eyes on a woman at the pyramids wearing booty shorts and a midriff top. Ladies please, save those outfits for Ibiza. It is also looked down upon to wear shorts or anything too revealing inside temples and mosques (that should be a no brainer) These places of worship are not about feeding the ego, they are not about your cute little mini skirt or your Tom Ford shades. Save the bikini tops, mini skirts, and short shorts for the beaches and the small beach towns. Tone it down ladies…..Less is more. This goes for you too men!!
When you are in countries known for their spirituality (India, Egypt, Nepal, Thailand) do remove your shoes when you enter a temple or someones home. Many people believe that the dirt attached to the shoes will bring negative energy into the home or temple, as well as dirt, and people don’t want to sleep, sit, or pray in dirt. I would think when you are in anybody’s home you would remove your shoes before entering.
If you want to take pictures of people, ask their permission first. Would you like a perfect stranger taking photos of you without asking?
1. Always ask for permission if the person will be the main subject of your photo – you are a guest in their country and you want to behave like you would expect someone to behave if they were in your home – with respect and consideration.
2. If a person is a small subject in a larger photo you don’t need to ask permission – it’s just not logistically possible to ask everyone on a street if you can photograph them.
3. Getting permission can mean different things in different situations – often it’s simply a matter of holding up your camera and smiling. Other times you may ask but gesturing will usually be sufficient enough to get a nod or a shake of the head. Cody finds it quite rare to be rejected by a friendly approach.
Here is a great website if you would like more information on etiquette abroadhttp://www.traveletiquette.co.uk/
You are not expected to know the etiquette for every situation in every country, but try to be mindful about your behaviour wherever you are. Do your research before you leave, that way it may be easier for you when you arrive at your destination.