May 30, 2010

Friendly Thais?

I arrived at Phuket International Airport today and my first experience of a Thai was very unwelcoming. The Thai people are known to be very hospitable and friendly. That is also why they are known to be the “Land of Smiles”.

At the immigration, hubby and I walked and approach the counter together. Now, so far, most other countries allow you to get through immigration together, especially if you are travelling together as a family. The lady immigration officer at the counter immediately asked hubby (who was just a little behind but beside me) to step back and only 1 person could be there at one time. Next, she gave me a very unhappy look and stare and a few seconds later, asked me to step back and stand on the red square indicated on the ground and look into the little camera at the counter. Apparently, everyone is supposed to do that. I stood there and stared into the camera for about 3-5 seconds and then turned around and kinda made a facial expression to hubby that she was quite rude. When I turned back, I saw my passport left on the counter. I stepped ahead and asked her if I could take my passport and go. She did not look at me in the eye but held a very impatient and frustrated look on her face for 2-3 seconds and then she waved and signalled for me to go. Gosh! I was quite surprised at what ‘greeted’ me when I arrive at the airport for my holidays! There was no “sawadeeka” or a single smile from the lady. I hope she doesn’t ‘greet’ all the tourists like that. Phuket is a place where every economic dollar comes from tourists and I didn’t expect airport crew to be not understanding of an innocent me who have not gone to Thailand before and did not see the little sign they put on the counter to step on the red square and look into the camera. I thought she could have kindly asked hubby to step back and wait and also kindly asked me to step back and stand into the red square and look into the camera, or even point to me the sign about the regulation.

Most other Thais are still quite friendly... and even though this spoils my first impression, I will try not be bias with the Thais we will meet for the coming week...

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