Monk slaps English teacher over train seat confusion in Thailand

Screengrabs of YouTube video showing a monk slapping a man on a train.
Screengrabs of YouTube video showing a monk slapping a man on a train.

All travellers know that navigating different cultures can often be a daunting task. Knowing the customs, the language and when you're at risk of offending someone are all key when living abroad.

Take for instance this man living in Thailand, identified only as "Jeff," who had an unfortunate run-in with a monk. In an altercation caught on video, a monk is seen slapping Jeff hard across the face.

According to Pui Pupriew, the person who allegedly filmed the incident on a train in early December and posted it to social media, the monk thought Jeff had called him a rude name, and retaliated.

While it is not completely clear what transpired beforehand (no pun intentended), English language local news site Bangkok Coconut attempts to shed some light on the incident. They report that two women asked Jeff to give up his seat on the train and sit next to the monk instead, since women are forbidden from having physical contact with the monks. Jeff obliged, and moved across the train car to sit next to the sleeping monk.

The monk stirred and woke up as Jeff sat down, and Jeff asked, in English, if he could sit next to him.

"I don't understand you, what the f*** are you saying?" the monk said in Thai, according to Pupriew.

Jeff said "fine, fine" in English, but it sounded like fai, a polite form of a deroggatory term that means "buffalo" in Thai, and is apparently the equivalent of calling someone a moron.

The monk stood up, and allegedly slapped Jeff three times before police intervened.

In another posting Saturday, Jeff is seen in another video, speaking to someone off-screen who he says is his wife. He explains that he loves Thailand, and that "Thailand is Thailand." He shrugs off the whole encounter, telling the woman that he's finished with talking about it, and that he's "sabai sabai" (which rougly translates into "everything's cool") about the whole thing.

Perhaps Jeff will consider driving in Thailand from now on.

Watch an even less safe form of transportation in action: