How do you say…?

My First Thai Book

My First Thai Book

“How do you say…love?”
“Ruk”
“Ruk?”
“Yes..good.”
“Ruk….hmmmm.”

That was a snippet of conversation (as best as I can remember) that introduced me to the Thai language. Mid-June of 1990 at a state park on the Chesapeake Bay. Kim and I walking closely down a forested path; almost touching shoulders, but not quite. Let me explain….

I was a Navy boy. I was stationed in Norfolk, VA from March of 1989 until June of 1992. I had really never been out of Seattle before that time (I don’t count two trips to Vancouver, B.C. when I was 8). My idea of a cool evening after work was to drive my 1982 Toyota Corolla to a nearby mall and hang out (I miss that Corolla, believe it or not).

Sooo, I go to the mall one evening. I saw a girl that changed my life. Her name was Kim. I was all of 20; she was a bit older (it’s not polite to reveal a woman’s age :)!) She said that she was from Thailand. Thailand? She’s Taiwanese? She speaks Chinese (I know, laughable now, but..hey, I was 20!)?

We exchanged phone numbers that night at the mall. We spent a wonderful six months together..and then no more (that’s for later).
In those six months, I engulfed that first Thai book. I learned the Thai alphabet forwards and backwards. To those familiar with the book, I learned about Thai nuns, monks, and rice farmers. I learned about bowls and tigers…shirts, and wood. Wow!

I still remember sitting in that Corolla outside of the laundromat on those hot summer days, waiting for my clothes to dry. I wrote the Thai letters from the book onto a pathetically thin little notepad I kept in my glove compartment. I still have that notebook, with all those chicken-scratch Thai characters that I wrote. There are also little notes from Kim. “Honey, I am here, don’t leave without me!” she wrote and left on my windshield outside of the mall one day when we were supposed to meet. It still pains me to see those little notes.

Anyways, she introduced me to the Thai language. The minute I went to the library and opened up that book I was hooked. The written Thai language…how beautiful. How fortunate I was to stumble upon such a treasure trove of life experience to follow.

More to come

10 responses to “How do you say…?

  1. My close farang friend calls it wriring in curly cues and my close Thai friend says I write like a 3rd grader!

    Your 100% right about the beauty of the written Thai word. I get naughty pleasure practicing writing Thai.

  2. Me too! Hearing it spoken by a true native, whether male or female, is also a very simple joy I derive great pleasure from. I can only aspire to even come close to speaking it so beautifully.

  3. I have to agree that the sound of Thai can be–and usually is–very beautiful. Is this because the language truly is inherently beautiful, or could it be because the people speaking are generally so kind and, yes, beautiful? Whatever it is, I like it, and I too “can only aspire to even come close to speaking it so beautifully.”

  4. I’ll settle for being understood! Ha.ha,ha!

  5. Yeah, Pat, you got a point there. 🙂

  6. รัก ประเทศไทย 555+ ; )

  7. So what went on with KIM? You must be so much in love with all about Thailand. Even Thai women! hahaha…I’m glad to hear that, EJ. So you have one wife at a time, right? This is the reason why I adore *some* farangs.

    How is your Thai going now? You can speak it perfectly? I believe so because you have a good tutor right beside you. As it says, “Practice makes perfect.” Goodluck.

  8. Well, djcrystal, if you must know….

    Okay, as I am writing these blogs, it must come off as a bit…je ne sais quoi..that I “butterfly” from one Thai woman to another. This is simply not the case. Let me preface that by saying, once you find a good thing, why change?
    KIM, for example, without getting into the nitty-gritty, CRUSHED me. ‘Nuff said. I was young, and I chalked it up to life experience.
    By this time, I was very intrigued by a good thing (Thai), so I stuck with it (all aspects). I am 35 and I have had an average amount of girlfriends. I am not a player by any means. Thank goodness, i have someone to spend my life with (and if you must know, my first Thai wife).
    As for my Thai, it is coming along quite nicely. We try to speak as much English as we can, to help Pon with her classes, but 95% of the time, it is Thai in our household. That’s fine by me! 😉

  9. Hi EJ, it’s good to know you are learning the Thai language. In fact, seeing that book, it looks exactly like the one I borrowed from the library and I mean ‘exactly’.

  10. Hi thaigerl,

    yes, I first borrowed that book from the Virginia Beach Public Library in the summer of 1991. I studied it all summer, and then ended up buying my own. It is a great book for people just starting out.

    EJ