The Wai

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Waiing remains to this day an extremely important part of social behavior among Thais, who are very sensitive to their self-perceived standing in society. As a rule of thumb for foreign tourists and other visitors unaccustomed to the intricacies of Thai language and culture, it is unwise to initiate a wai exchange with someone who is younger. However, one should always return a wai that is offered as a genuine sign of respect. Corporate wais, such as those performed by convenience store cashiers, can generally be ‘returned’ with a smile.

If one is waiied while carrying goods, or for any other reason that makes the physical act of returning a wai difficult, it is still important to recognize the show of respect and make a physical effort to wai back as best as possible under the circumstances.

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