My Learning Thai Experience
Every Monday night is my night out with Kru Da (Teacher Da) and my wonderful Thai friends. Surely, this is the only day of the week, when I can indulge in speaking, reading and writing Thai.
I have been learning Thai since 2003, and since then, I have learnt to speak Thai with a Bangkok (Krungthep Maha Nakorn) accent. You will not believe it, but when I was in Krungthep about two months ago, only a few people suspected I was not a Thai. In fact, I spoke Thai to almost anyone on the bus, taxi, song thaew and even the express boat.
At times, I was so tempted to take advantage of my language advantage, for instance of not paying entrance fees at Wat Pho, Vimarnmek Palace or even at Muang Boran (Ancient City at Samut Prakan). But, then, I was with my parents, and we were like tourists, with my knapsack and my totting camera. Seriously, I felt bad about cheating a Buddhist Temple, or even the Royal Household Bureau —- it will eat up on my karmic points, which I may not have enough!
But why learn Thai? I have been asked this question many times before. A lot of things with me, begins with an academic interest. Besides my official career, I have taken a keen interest on Southern Thai Studies. Currently, I am in the process of writing and completing my dissertation on an economic project in Southern Thailand. Of course, this have meant, research stints in Bangkok. Isn’t it only useful to learn to know the local language?
Yet, sometimes it takes much more to learn a completely new language. I have been fascinated with Thailand for a long time. I feel, Thailand and her people are very captivating.
But deep down, there is also the other driving force —a friendship with Vaninda, a Thai-Chinese girl from Assumption University. We first met in 2002 in Krungthep during a business event, but Vanida was so unlike other Thai people, she was well read, highly cultured and surprisingly appreciative of the arts. We have kept in touch, and when I am in Krungthep, I will try to make time for Vanida. Surely, the dinner and movie date with Vanida at Siam Square would be forever edged in my mind.
Well, in order to communicate with Vanida, I pushed myself to learn Thai harder. Although she could speak English and Teochiu rather fluently, nothing beats the way to a girl’s heart by speaking and understanding her own language, right? On my subsequent visits to Krungthep, she was surprise on my ability to speak Thai. But, somehow life is not always a bed of roses. How sad……………
Today, I see my ability to speak Thai as something unique. For sure, other than my Thai group of friends, I would have little chances to speak Thai in Kuala Lumpur. Sometimes, there is the need to speak Thai at Wat Chetawan or at a Thai restaurant in Malaysia, but that’s about it.
Perhaps, I can be a little optimistic. Who knows a Vanida or any other Thai girl, with her charming eyes, a good heart and of mutual academic qualities will come my way. Can I afford to be a little hopeful in life? Maybe I should, right? Chaiyo
PS: Please also check out http://www.kitjar.blogspot.com for a complete version of this post.