More than 15 years ago, when I first came to Thailand on a holiday with my parents, I remember my Dad saying how he’d noticed even the poorest Thais emerging from homes that were nothing more than wooden shacks at the side of railway lines all looked incredibly clean.
They always wore laundered and pressed clothing, and we never once met a Thai that smelled. A decade later, and after 14 years of living here, I can say with absolute certainty, my Dad was correct. Thais must be the cleanest people in the world.
For anyone who hasn’t spent much time in Thailand or isn’t familiar with the culture, here’s what you need to know.
Every Thai will shower at least once a day, and the vast majority hit the shower two, three or even four times a day. Every day. Even if that means taking a ‘shower’ the traditional Thai way by pouring water over yourself using a plastic bowl dipped into a concrete water container.
I have Thai friends who shower in the morning, shower again at lunch or mid-afternoon if they’ve been doing something where they feel they may have sweat, and shower again at least once before going to bed. That type of consistent showering makes for a people who are incredibly clean.
You will also notice during any time you spend in Thailand that few Thai people smell. You rarely come across the rank B.O., horrendous cigarette-smoke-clinging-to-body or bad breath that you often do in the west. It barely seems to exist in Thailand.
In fact, the only times I’ve ever noticed a Thai person smelling slightly less than fresh, and I mean ‘slightly’, is the occasional motorcycle taxi driver who has been working in the 95-plus degree sun all day, or someone doing manual labor outside.
As for Thai women, they always seem to smell like the proverbial rose or, in this case, probably ‘jasmine’.
That’s because a Thai woman will usually shower two to three times a day, and will also use baby powder, body lotion and a light perfume to make sure she only smells ‘sweet’. And, when it comes to ‘nature calling’, she will usually use the toilet hose every time she goes to the bathroom, thus making sure her nether regions stay fresh and clean all day long as well.
In fact, I have to say, although I’ve spent much of my life traveling and living in various countries, have visited close to 40 countries and met nationalities from an awful lot more, yet I’ve never come across a cleaner people than I have the Thais.
Especially when you consider just how darned hot and humid of a country Thailand really is, yes, Thais have to be the world’s cleanest people.