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August 7, 2010

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Transsexual queries don't bother Thai

IS it he or she?

Zhong Yueyin, a popular female volunteer at the Thailand Pavilion, has been asked if she is a transsexual at least "1,000 times" by Chinese visitors who are fascinated by her beauty.

Zhong Yueyin is her Chinese name. She was born in Thailand but her great grandfather was from Guangdong Province.

Her Thai name is Prakaiboodsapa Prakoonsokjai but her friends always call her Som.

The 26-year-old volunteer's job is to show visitors around the pavilion. She has enchanted thousands of visitors every day at the entrance of the pavilion with her pretty face, fluent Chinese, gentle smile and a detailed introduction of the country and its pavilion.

Many people also want to take a picture with her as she is the pavilion's unique "attraction."

Some have uploaded the pictures online, stirring a heated discussion among netizens who have linked her beauty to Thailand's transsexuals.

"The Thailand Pavilion has a lot of beauties, but I'm sure none of them are transsexual," Zhong said.

She said she does not get upset when Chinese awkwardly ask her if she is a transsexual, as she believes it's actually a kind of compliment on her beauty.

"Sometimes my friends even play jokes by telling others that I am a transsexual," said Zhong.

"But back in Thailand, every native can tell the difference between normal women and a transsexual via the voice, figure and lifestyle."

She said she doesn't mind if people joke about it because people in Thailand respect transsexuals and their jobs.

Still, based on people's reactions to her, she can't help but wonder if Thailand is only famous for transsexuals.

"Actually our country boasts a lot of unique cultural elements that I am eager to show at the pavilion," Zhong said.

She never tires of showing people around the pavilion because she takes great delight in her job, but sometimes the uncivilized behavior of some Chinese visitors irritates her.

"It's embarrassing to see some Chinese visitors urinate right in the pavilion because they can't find the toilets," Zhong said. Cleaning up that mess has become the toughest part of the job.

In 2008, Zhong came to Beijing for the first time to see the Olympic Games. She fell in love with the city and Chinese culture so she started to study Chinese.

She is now considering finding a job in Shanghai so she can stay with her Thai boyfriend, who also works as a volunteer at the pavilion.


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