The art of queueing up

Living as an expat is a culturally rich experience. It makes you aware of a lot of things that you never thought existed. Learning about a new culture opens a gate to yet another horizon that remains to be explored. While traveling for few days to a new country in itself can be a life enriching experience, living in another country offers an ocean of things to learn from. It gives us an opportunity to become curious kids again and perceive new things as we grow up in a foreign land all over again. How we deal and cope with this new culture, change in taste and environment allows us to test our personality in many ways. At times, it can be frustrating to tackle homesickness, loneliness and that feeling of feeling out of place but in the end we come out being stronger and full of knowledge.

There are so many things I have learned after coming to Bangkok that I never gave any thought to before coming here. Today I want to talk about the most basic thing that I have learned(re-learned) after coming to Bangkok and that is “to wait for my turn” or “to queue up” or “to be patient”. It is very simple and straight forward trait. Being patient saves us from many agonies in life and makes life much easier. Its not that I never knew about waiting in a line or queuing up. Right from my early school days, I was taught to stand in a line and wait for my turn. But somewhere in the transition from being a student to a grown up person, I had lost this trait.

My first reminder to it began when I was attending classes for my Master’s Degree. All graduate students would stand in a line to get inside the classroom. To me, it was a funny sight. I sure had stood in lines to get inside the classroom but that was way back in the primary school. But soon I learned that not waiting for my turn was not a cool thing and slowly I got accustomed to this habit of standing in a line wherever I went around in the city of Bangkok. Let me sight few examples of it.

If it is late in the evening and there are many people waiting for a public van to get back to home, in Bangkok you patiently wait in a line until the van comes. If the number of people standing in the line is way more than the number of people that can fit in a van, no problem…there will be a next van or you might have to think of an alternative way to get back home but never ever you will find anyone rushing or pushing each other to get in the van. The same rule applies while waiting for a taxi outside a shopping mall.

Street food is awesome in Bangkok, we all know this. There are several popular vendors in streets of Bangkok that are very famous and is always crowded. So how do you order food here? Its simple, stand in a queue and wait for your turn. In some places there will be a pen and a paper, you write down your order in it and wait for your food to be cooked while you drink beer. You will not hear any shouting or loud inquiries like, “is my food done yet?”. People just quietly wait.

There are numerous places where this rule applies like while buying a train ticket, buying a bus ticket, waiting to get in the train/bus, withdrawing money from ATM, public restrooms and so on. This must be common in many countries.

Siam Paragon is one of the biggest shopping mall in the heart of Bangkok. It sells products from all over the world. One day while we were in Siam Paragon, we saw a queue in front of Louis Vuitton store, many people were waiting to get inside the store. I had never in my life seen people queue up to get inside a luxury store on a normal day. It wasn’t the day of a big sale or a day of new arrivals. It was just a normal weekend. Also not to mention I have seen people queue up to buy fruits/stuffs from a local street market as well.

Whenever I think about government offices in Asia, the first thing that comes to my mind is chaos. I have been to the immigration office and Department of Labour in Thailand and it is the most organised government office I have ever seen. The first thing I noticed is that it was clean and quiet. Here too, people would queue up to get their job done. I saw no middle men, no chaos and the work was done smoothly and in order.

The reason I am talking so elaborately about queuing up is that last wednesday, we went out for dinner. The place we wanted to go was across the street of the place we got down. So, in order to get there we had to cross this overhead bridge. It was an old overhead bridge and narrower than the new ones. The street was a bit crowded than usual, I hurriedly went ahead to climb the stairs only to realise that people were waiting in queue to use the overhead bridge in order to cross the road. I was surprised! And not to mention the queue was around 50 meters long! This city successfully and pleasantly surprised me once again for its ability to queue up 🙂

Do you guys have any stories to share regarding queueing up? Would love to hear them.


Filed under Culture, expat life, ramblings, Travel

13 responses to “The art of queueing up

  1. Lining up in Buffett lines. In traffic – In Nepal, we’d just about drive on the pavements.

  2. What an awesome bunch of people… In Nepal or even in Sydney, you will meet lots of people who will go ahead of the line to get to their destination quicker. If everyone follows the rule, there will be no problem for anyone but as always there will be few who will break the rule causing problem for everyone…

    • I find that people here are so disciplined in every aspect of life, they just amaze me with their politeness and good manners. Only in tourist areas you will find them a little loud and impolite than their normal selves but that too only to catch up with the global crowd.

  3. Same as norrbu says. But, yeah back home here in Ktm, we perceive lining is for pansies. And, I’m ashamed to write so.

  4. It’s complete opposite in India. Forming a line sounds simple, but it always ends with people pushing in or discreetly standing in front of you. Sometimes its very amusing to watch!
    I like how in Bangkok everyone is patient. Nice to hear about your experiences
    Take care. Amelia

    • I can understand what you mean, in Nepal too its the same story, we have a long way to go in order to match Thai etiquette in this area but we sure do want to make things better 🙂

  5. Over here we pretty much have to wait in line too. Its a given. I know what you mean because when I visit Sri Lanka.. let alone lines or queuing up, people, yes, might as well drive on the pavements and run over the traffic warden instead of waiting for the signal to switch to green! haha.

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