søndag 27. november 2011

Establishing Pirates House -The cultural difference between Thailand and Scandinavia (Chapter 1)

In 2008 I opened a guesthouse in Phi Phi Island called pirates House. In 2009 we made it into a restaurant as well. Working there is, of course, mostly Thai people and a few people from Myanmar – which is also referred to as Burma.

The cultural differences from home are huge when running a place like this and it often result in huge misunderstandings and confusion. I want to tell some of these stories in a series of different blogs as it is too much to tell in one blog post. The blogs will appear spread out among the other blog posts. 

I also want to stress that these stories are not meant to humiliate Thai people, and readers should keep in mind that most of the stories are dealing with close to illiterate people, or at least people of very poor education. I certainly could have chosen to tell stories that put these same people in a positive light, but it would probably not be as entertaining.


The cultural difference between Thailand and Europe when it comes to managing people is huge. There are a number of assumptions that most people would bring with them from the west that just doesn’t work in the east.

One of the first lessons that we got to learn was that one cannot trust people to keep their promises. On several occasions, right before we opened our business, we had people promising us to start working, but when it came down to it they just found something else to do or it was not possible to get a hold of them. I also remember one of the remarks that was going to be a premonition of the problems that we were going to have in the future. The first cook we hired said that she just quit her previous job. When we asked why she said: “because the boss was talking to me when I was working”. We both thought this sounded a little strange, but to get the business started we did not have a choice, but to hire what people we could get.

In the beginning it was hard to train people because many Thais with poor education do not have the foundation for the common sense in which we build everything upon in the west. For most waiters in the west it will be common sense to place 1 person on a table for one or two and not on a table for 5. It will be common sense to just give the costumers knife and fork and not wait for the costumer to ask. It will be common sense to clean everything on a floor if asked to clean up a certain stain on the floor and not just that one stain. It will also be common sense that you don’t use the toilet brush to clean the walls and floor in the bathroom. However, in Thailand, this is not always common sense. These are things that has to be taught.

If you are going to Phi Phi Island or have questions about Thailand in General please visit our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/pirates-house/111265477735


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