1. Thailand is Taiwan.
Both countries have a similar pronunciation (‘Thai’ and ‘Tai’) and they are also on the same continent, so this could make foreigners, especially Europeans, confused. In the worst case, some people think that Bangkok is a country! Let’s correct this; Thailand is not Taiwan and Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand.
2. Thailand was once a colony of a European country.
Some foreigners might think that Thailand was once colonized, but by whom? The fact is that Thailand was never a colony. In the old days, some countries in Southeast Asia (the area around Thailand) were colonized, so many people presume that Thailand was a colony too.
3. Thai people use animals for transportation.
It rather confuses Thai people when they hear that some foreigners think Thai people ride an elephant or a horse for transport! Yes, we did in the past and we also do it in advertisements, but in the present, we use cars for transportation like other countries. If you see people riding an elephant on the road, it might be for a commercial or tourism business.
4. What is a bidet sprayer?
In many countries, people don’t use a hand-held bidet sprayer (often called a ‘bum gun’) to wash themselves in the toilet but in some countries, including Thailand, this is a must-have item. Though in some countries people use toilet paper to clean themselves after doing their business, Thai people think that this might not be as sanitary as using water to clean ourselves. This may be why some foreigners get confused about the water sprayer hanging next to the toilet.
5. All Thai people are good at Thai boxing.
It’s true that Thai boxing is a world-famous martial art form, but don’t think that every Thai is a skilled boxer because participants in this sport must have a strong body and practise hard. So, not every Thai can perform Thai boxing as some people think.
6. Thai people use their hands when eating.
Yes, we did in the past but now we mostly use a spoon, fork and chopsticks (for noodles). You might see some Thais using their hands to eat but this is only for some dishes, like som tam (green papaya salad) and sticky rice.
7. San Phra Phum (Spirit house)
When foreigners see a small roofed structure mounted on a pillar or dais as they travel around Thailand, they might think it is simply a kind of house decoration. In fact, these small houses are intended to provide shelter for a spirit that could cause problems for the people if not appeased. These shrines often include images or carved statues of people and animals. So they are not decorative items as some people think.