On my first day in Bangkok, I decided I would take a walk down the road to see a little bit of what the area looks like. I walked past houses, stores, food vendors, kids playing in the streets… Every once in awhile, I would hear a “hello! Hellohello! Hello!” and I would turn to see Thai kids waving to me with huge smiles and giggling with their friends. I am learning that the young Thai people love to greet foreigners. I smile and say “hello!” back.
I keep walking and wait to cross the street, as I am waiting, I see a cabana with a group of men gathered underneath, their motorcycles parked beside them. They are watching me. I start to cross the street and notice that a few of the men stand up…they are watching me closer now. I reach the other side and nervously see some of the men take a few steps towards me. I decide if I do not make eye-contact, I will not provoke them. I keep my chin high and look forward as if I know exactly where I’m going. I pass them, turn around, and return home on the opposite side of the street. That night, Susanna (the Swiss woman who is welcoming me to Thailand), takes me out to eat at the food vendor across the street from the cabana with the Thai men. I look closer and realize that the men are motorcycle Taxi drivers. When I walked towards them, they got up because they thought I was going to request their services.
Benefit of being a more experienced TCK (unlike myself): knowledge of what to be afraid of and what not to be afraid of when entering those known cultures.