I have noticed a distinct difference between the USA and Thailand on the notion of privacy and private thoughts. For example, when someone is sleeping here is Thailand, it is not unusual or rude to wake them. And no one seems to be bothered by it.
Same with personal space – it does not really exist in the same way as in America. People here often touch when speaking (females to females and males to males only – not crossing gender lines). It is a kind and personal interaction. At first I was wary and confused, and even a little weirded out (when was the last time they washed their hands?!). But now I like it; I feel connected and cared for by the person I am talking with and I feel comfortable touching them in return.
Despite all this same-gender touching, there is little to no touching of the opposite sex (this is different in more touristy areas). For example, no matter if you are newly dating or have been married for 50 years, you do not touch in public. I don’t even think I have seen hand holding in my town! While in America, people will kiss and hold each other as they walk, or to the public’s annoyance (or perhaps it’s jealousy?) couples will make-out in public.
One thing I am still getting used to is the divulgence of personal information. Discussions with someone you barely know about their recent issue with diarrhea seems to be way too much information. But I am sure that soon I will be talking about my own daily issues and whatnot…
Also, the concept of physical appearance is more casual. People have no qualms or hesitation to point out that pimple I’ve been hiding, that they themselves are fat, or that someone else is fat or has any other less than perfect quality. Maybe this honesty is good. No one expects to be perfect or holds anyone else to that standard. I am not pleased when people point out my faults even when I am aware of them… But I guess what’s the point of pretending it doesn’t exist if the whole world can see it?