Just back from a short city break in Thailand. We moved hotels everyday and explored some new parts of Bangkok. We ate some great food, got some fairly painful massages and tried to watch Mission Impossible on iMax. Reflecting on the trip though, the most memorable part of the trip was the Thai wai.
The wai is the way Thais greet each other. It involves pressing hands your hands together in front of you and bowing slightly forward. People use the wai to say hello, goodbye and even sorry. There are subtle rules for how and when to wai, but essentially most people tend to do it when they meet and its an important part of Thai culture.
I felt deeply respected when people greeted me this way and I was pleased to respond in kind. I think the Japanese bow is a wonderful way to greet people but for me the wai feels more open and kind-hearted. The wai helps us take a moment to acknowledge the humanity in others and connect with another person, if even for just a moment.
Apparently you don’t need to return a wai to people in customer service or children but that didn’t stop me! On your next Thailand trip don’t forget to try.