Struggling with a Thai killer

Hi folks,

It’s been really busy over here in Chiang Mai. The lab team is burning the midnight oil to finish a project in time, with 12-16 hour workdays for the last couple of weeks. We’re trying to work out a quick and accurate method of identifying endemic diseases in Northern Thailand and its surrounding areas. Lethal when acting together with AIDS, which is a frequent cause of death in Thailand, especially in this area.


Today is the first day I work with live HIV-infected blood from AIDS patients. You know what that means: a tiny hole in the glove, a slight bruise on the skin, and I’d become a statistic. I’ll try not to. It’d be kinda difficult to explain my folks back at home how I got AIDS in Thailand. Through lab experiments? Who would believe that, lol. 😀

Anyway, just wanted to give you a little background on why my blog entries are now less frequent than usual.

You got this far in the blog, and the reward for your patience is a useful advice: when you want to say “sleep” in Thai, use “noon lap” ( นอน หลับ ), and not the other way around! I know, you might be thinking: “How could anyone mess that up, it’s a no-brainer!” but it’s easier than you’d think! I did it a couple times already, to the amusement of my friends here. Worse yet is the poor Thai (!) guy who gave a presentation about the benefits of a newly developed drug. He wanted to say “it should be taken before going to sleep”. Instead, when he switched the words, he ended up saying something that would rather fit a Viagra-commercial. 😛

Another one: when you ask someone whether they are finished (with whatever they were doing), you should deviate from the English usage (Finished yet?). In Thai, saying เสร็จ รึเปล่า (set reu plao?) is something you don’t want to use outside your bedroom. Trust me. 😉 It’s much better if you include the action as well, such as กิน เสร็จ รึเปล่า (Gin set reu plao: finished eating yet?)

Okay, that’s it for today. If you’d like to know the exact meaning of the two misused phrases, ask your close Thai friend, or email me. Also, feel free to use the Comments section to share similar “language traps” with the rest of us.

Good night…

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