If you're thinking about a present to buy your Thai “teerak”, consider this: What you might think is a lovely gift could actually be her worst nightmare.
So read on….
We all know Thailand is a superstitious place. While most Thais do believe in spirits and vampire-type creatures, others live their lives in fear of some rather questionable superstitions.
Even the most modern-thinking, city-dwelling Thai can live a life controlled by superstition, a life where one wrong move can bring with it a twist of fate that damages one's potential for love, happiness and future prosperity.
There is an abundance of wrongful actions a person can take to bring about bad luck, and many Thais do their best to avoid such things in everyday life.
So what happens when a “silly farang” comes along and totally rains on your karma?
You see, gift giving is a sensitive area, and one where it’s easy to make the wrong purchase. There you were thinking you were being kind and romantic, when in fact you were summoning all kinds of unworldly beings to cast their bad luck over your unsuspecting partner.
Yes, your beautiful present, intended to woo the socks off of your sweetheart, could quickly turn her smile to a frown and prompt her to pour spicy Som Tum over your head.
So, to avoid smelling like a fermented fish for the next week or two, here’s a list of 11 gifts you should never give to your Thai girlfriend:
1. A Watch or Clock: นาฬิกา / naa-lí-gaa
A watch, especially one of the Cartier variety, seems like the ultimate present: a sure way to bring a smile to a woman’s face. But think again, for a watch, in your girlfriend’s mind, may cause your relationship time to come to an end; just like a watch that stops ticking!
2. A Pair of Shoes: รองเท้า / rawng – táao
A woman’s best friend, right? Not when it comes to buying a present for your girlfriend, no. In fact, this applies to a woman buying shoes for a man too. You see, shoes come in pairs but are easily separated. One can easily misplace or lose a shoe and then the other is rendered useless. And for a couple who are dating but not living together, this omen could cause the relationship to break up and the couple to be easily parted, just like a lost shoe. Silly, huh?
3. Sharp Objects ของมีคม: / kăwng mii kom
This is something a lot of Thais I know do believe in. In Thailand, you shouldn’t pass a sharp object to someone, but instead put it down and allow them to pick it up. Certainly don’t go near your Thai girlfriend with a knife in the kitchen late at night, because a ghost may redirect your hand suddenly and plunge it into her! But that’s another belief altogether. Just remember that giving a sharp object as a gift, like a set of knives, scissors or garden secateurs, is considered to bring the receiver danger and bad luck.
4. A Bottle of Perfume: น้ำหอม / náam-hăwm
I have made this mistake, but luckily my wife (girlfriend at the time) isn’t too superstitious. You see, the scent of perfume fades away quickly, and to give perfume to your girlfriend may cause a metaphoric reaction in the same way. Your love will fade in the wind like the fading of the sweet scent of perfume. Ahhh, how wonderfully poetic. I do love Thais for their sense of romance!
5. A Photograph of Yourself: รูปถ่าย / rûup-tàai
While Thais love a selfie, don’t for a moment think giving your Thai girlfriend a picture of yourself is a good idea. Why? Because a photo is a memory, silly! This signifies being apart and having only a photo of you to cry herself to sleep at night. Boo, hoo 🙁 .
6. Tissues or a Handkerchief: ผ้าเช็ดหน้า / pâa-chét-nâa
Never offer your Thai girlfriend a handkerchief, or bring home a set of Hello Kitty tissues as a present. “Why”? I hear you ask. Because a handkerchief is used for wiping tears, indicating that you or someone else will soon make your teerak cry. “Jeb jai” (hurt/broken heart).
7. Black Clothes: เสื้อผ้าสีดำ / sûea-pâa sǐi dam
Black is the colour of sadness, of death, of mourning. Many Thais believe that giving an item of black clothing to someone means that your will attend their funeral – possibly in the near future. Spooky!
8. Presents Made of Glass: เครื่องแก้ว / krûeang gâew
Seems like a nice gift: a crystal decanter, or a set of tumblers perhaps. But no! Because if your Thai girlfriend breaks a piece of glassware that you gave her as a present, your relationship shall also be broken by the… ummm… broken glassware relationship gods?
9. Certain Types of Flowers: ดอกไม้ / doc maǐ
Most flowers will get you the hugs and kisses you desire from Mrs Thai, but whatever you do don’t buy marigolds or carnations, as Thais associate these flowers with funerals. Avoid lotus flowers too, because even though pretty and “homme” (smells nice), these are reserved for worshipping Buddha images and other highly-revered deities.
10. A Comb or Hairbrush หวี / wǐi
The bad luck associated with giving a comb as a gift is one of my favourites – because it’s just as if someone once sat down and decided to identify random objects to see how they could be interpreted as bad love omens. I mean, come on, just because the teeth of a comb part as it runs through your hair, surely this doesn’t mean that giving a comb as a present will cause two people to part ways, does it? I don’t know. I think I’ll nip into Big C and buy a comb for the wife on the way home and put it to the test. Hehe.
11. A Brooch: เข็มกลัด / kĕm-glàt
Last on the list of gifts not to buy your Thai girlfriend is a brooch. A beautiful accessory perhaps, but to buy a gift for your girlfriend that is sharp and to be worn near the heart is to metaphorically stab her in the heart and create emotional pain. The evil brooch brings with it arguments, bitterness and sadness – and without doubt, a tear-jerking end to your relationship.
How to Reverse the Bad Luck in Just One Simple Action!
If you have made one of these cultural gift faux pas and found yourself sleeping on the sofa with a moody Thai girlfriend moping in the next room, don’t despair. Like most aspects of Thai culture, there is a “mai bpen rai” (never mind) get out clause.
To reverse the bad luck and prevent a relationship meltdown, simply tell your girlfriend to pay you for the gift. Yes, it’s that simple By giving you 1, 2, 5 or even just 10 Baht, this turns the gift into a purchase and therefore takes away all the bad luck associated with your “silly farang” gift :).