'What we got here, is . . . failure to communicate' Warden Martin, 'Cool Hand Luke'
Most don't realise it, but that's what it's all about, and those that understand have no need to read further. In the words of a famous bloke, who's name I cannot recall, "If you really want to shag a woman, you really have to speak her language", and in a place like Thailand, this advice is invaluable, unless, of course, you're content dealing with the young lasses who frequent the bars and speak such a bastardised form of English that it makes me think their teacher was Yoda of Star Wars fame.
Please don't think I am some beer-gutted trollop who just stepped off the plane. I am not. I have lived in Asia since the tender age of 21, and speak 3 Asian languages fluently (yes, I can read doctor's prescriptions and can have conversations about nuclear physics in all 3 of them), however, I do not speak Thai. Yet.
And so, for the first time in decades, I am unable to speak my mind and say what I would really like to say, and to have my mouthings completely understood by females, and to express anger and sadness and disappointment and, most of all, affection in words that mean much more to the people I am talking to.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to tell someone she's drop-dead gorgeous instead of reverting to the bog standard words that everybody uses, and she probably hears 398, 756 times a day. Wouldn't it be absolutely wonderful to be able to read the sms messages and know EXACTLY what she means, instead of deciphering the 'English', giving up, asking her what she means again, and have her tell you 'Why you not understand, I tell you many times already'. Yes, yes, she did tell you many bloody times already because you can't understand a friggin word and keep asking her to explain herself!
'Why you not unnerstan me?' Cos I bloody well can't speak your language! Christ, if I still had a full head of hair, it would make me go bald.
How about the message 'I tell you already, I tried everything' Well, here was Yours Truly wondering exactly what she had tried when I had a brainwave. Did she mean 'Tried' or 'Tired'?? So off go two SMS to her 'What did you try?' And the other, 'Why you tired?' Yes, lads, you've guessed it. The answer was 'Ohhh, why you ask me many time, make my head hurt.'
So after yet another exercise in futility, I bashed my own head in with the telephone, and I was still none the wiser. Why? Because I was unable to ask the girl in her own language. No bloody wonder so many men drink themselves to stupidity here. The beer bar in Soi Dianna in Pattaya provided some insight into the problems that would be up against. Sitting down at the bar, my buddy on my right and my Heineken in hand, we were approached in usual fashion, and in the usual way. After the small talk, two of them were pestering me to tell them the name of my friend. "Ask him", I told them. Yes, that's right lads, for the remainder of our time at that bar, those two things were trying to get 'Askhim' to buy them drinks.
At the time I was suffering badly with loose bowels. After pointing at my arse and making farting noises, the pretty girl finally understood what was wrong with me and gave me paracetamol! Christ on a crutch, I was too embarrassed to go back and explain I needed a different medication, so I just went to another pharmacy and did my act all over again before I was able to come home with lobermide. Now all that could have been avoided if I could only speak the damn lingo, and I probably could have got her phone number too. That little episode gave me post traumtic stress disorder.
Let's face it, relationships and marriages are difficult even when both partners speak the same language. Being unable to communicate with your partner has got to be one major barrier to a successful relationship, and, let's face it, how many Thai girls have we met that can converse fluently in English? When I say fluently, I bloody mean fluently. See? Told you. Stick, English teaching in Thailand has got to be one healthy career.
So, lads, learn to speak in their tongue, and the doors will be open wide. People get friendlier, and you can also understand the horrible things the locals say about you. The girls smile more, and next time you ask one for her phone number in Seacon Square, maybe she won't give you that dribbly, vacant smile, and may even say she'll call you later. Kalbo
Good stuff. I totally agree that the being able to speak strong Thai is a huge advantage. Communication is obviously the big thing but you can also use it to charm a lady when you first meet her. Many Thais simply don't expect us to be able to speak any Thai at all and if you can speak Thai – an good polite Thai especially – you have a huge advantage.