“If there were a contest who could sleep the easiest and in the most unusual places, I think the Thais would win hands down. In the west, sleeping in public is frowned upon and sleeping on the job can get you fired. In Thailand there is no stigma associated with sleeping in public . . .”
– Shama, Spirit of Thailand
One of the more curious behaviors any newcomer to Thailand will soon notice is the sleeping habits of the locals, both in locations and frequency. It may start with noticing a mob of what looks like homeless people sleeping on the grass surrounding a booth near Khao San Road in the middle of the day. Then you’ll see the occasional lone Thai sleeping on some steps; maybe someone else homeless, you’ll figure.
Soon, you will begin to see it in more unexpected places. A man sleeping in the back end of his pickup truck, looking more like a dead body than a napper. A security guard asleep in a chair outside his employer. At this point, it will begin to click that, however outlandish it may seem, it isn’t just a bunch of homeless people sleeping everywhere.
The strangest one I have seen was when my bus in Bangkok was stopped by a man laying in a single-lane road. He wasn’t dead or homeless, just basking in the shade of a tree. A series of loud honks from the bus failed to wake him, until a nearby tuk-tuk driver began dragging him from our way. At this point, the man stood up on his own, walked to the nearby grass, and laid down once more.
There are countless posts and funny pictures dedicated to the phenomenon, which I understand might not be exclusive to Thailand. But, most of these are only intended for laughs at the expense of these habits. There is no analysis of what is behind it or anything more than a briefly passing curiosity.
This is the reason I liked the post that is this week’s Weekly Reblog. The author, Shama, has been living in Thailand for a significant amount of time and he approaches all his posts with the analytic eye of a discerning outsider, but also with the insight and understanding which comes with his experience living among the culture. He applies this well to explaining what is behind these sleeping habits as well as other intriguing topics on his blog.