Chiang Mai has changed a great deal in recent years. It’s “developing.”

You may know what’s happening here. Condominium complexes and shopping malls are sprouting like wild grass. Who is going to live in all of them, anyway? Add in traffic and pollution, and you get all that good stuff that Chiang Mai used to NOT be, even a few years ago. Regardless, Chiang Mai is an amazing place to live or even visit.

One significant and noticeable change that’s taken place (especially this past year) is the drastic increase in the number of tourists in Thailand; namely, those from China. I was in Pai recently and was wondering if I was still in Thailand.

I relish in multi-cultural environments. Still, the psycho-social effects that this cultural melding of those from other cultures – without a proper, government instituted education model offered to local people as well as visitors- is having a perhaps unintended negative affect on everyone involved.

I’ve been hearing many Thai people making negative comments about “Chinese people!” Or they’re simply looking at the Chinese and snickering at them while these tourists are standing along the street (or, in the middle of the road) seemingly confused while holding a map.

Some Westerners (“farang,” as said by “The Thais.” ) are complaining as well. I can only imagine what the Chinese visitors to Thailand are thinking. I’ve actually witnessed physical altercations between Thai and Chinese people on the rise, perhaps as a result of cultural misunderstandings. People are people; however, this is also what happens when people from different backgrounds mix, without properly understanding each other.

And, well, the aforementioned clashes are coming from, somewhere.

I’d certainly like to know why:

– Most of the Chinese tourists are standing around holding maps, appearing confused? Yet, they seemingly never ask for directions from the people around them.

– They aren’t unfriendly, yet most often don’t say hello.

– They drive down the street the wrong way (whether on motorbikes or bicycles), and seem to think nothing of stopping in the middle of the road (blocking traffic) to take a picture.

And who better to get information from than my Chinese friend, Sam. Because peace comes through understanding, by bridging cultural gaps.

Dear Sam (via Facebook),

Many Chinese people are in Thailand now, and I want to understand them. Will you please answer these questions? I’m curious about Chinese culture.

Beyond the questions listed above, I’m just wondering why there are so many Chinese people in Thailand now. What is happening in China that is stimulating this? Is there a shift in the lifestyle of regular Chinese people? Do they have more money now for some reason, enabling them to travel more?  Is there a large tourism marketing campaign (for Thailand) taking place in China?

What is it, culturally, that Chinese people live amid while in China that when they get to Thailand that is so different?

Talk soon,