Get it right, dammit

Hi. Not quite back from unintended hiatus. Heck, let’s be honest. I hit a major writer’s block, okay? It’s not like there’s a viagra for that or anything.

But, just a quick rant on the general clueless-ness of people.


“So, you’re from where?”


“Ah. That’s cool. So, does all THAILANDESE speak English?”

“Not all THAIS speak it, but I learned early.”


“Hey, Oakley, can you read what that says?”

“Um. That’s Chinese.”

“Oh. THIGH people don’t read Chinese?”

“No. THAI people read Thai.”

“But aren’t you a part of China?”

“That’s TAIWAN.”

“So, Thais don’t read Chinese?”

“Not everybody does.”


“Muay THIGH. Isn’t that like the number one sport in your country?”

“Muay THAI *is* our national sport.”

“So…it’s the most popular sport in your country?”

“No. That would be probably be soccer.”

“But that’s everywhere.”

“Um. Duh. We do have soccer in Thailand too.”


So, what do we learn here?

Thailand is pronounced TAI-land, not THIGH-land (…as much as some of you think it is). *Addition* Here. Read my Thai Pronunciation Guide and get educated.

People of Thailand are Thais, not Thailandians, Thailandese, Thailanders (too much Highlanders for you?) or THIGHanything.

Thailand is NOT Taiwan. Two different countries.

Muay Thai is our national sports. And I’m not afraid to use it on you to cure your ignorance.

Disclaimer: I understand not everyone is well-versed about the cultures of the world. Heck, if you ask me about South Africa or Norway I wouldn’t be able to properly address that either. And I am sure all of you have experienced this kind of ignorance in some way. It’s the folks who really don’t know but yet try to correct YOU about your own culture. That is when it gets a tad bit annoying.

(But seriously. “Thailandese”? Where did you pull that one out from? Hahah!)

*Another addition inspired by BUCKY’s comment* Go ahead and share what type of misconception type thing you’ve heard about your own country. Oh, I don’t know, perhaps “You’re from Amsterdam? Must be nice to smoke weeds all the time, huh?” You know what I mean? Okay. Spill it.

14 responses to “Get it right, dammit

  1. Nice.
    Almost as funny as people telling me, a S’porean, that they heard Singapore island is going to sink into the ocean in the near future….. 😉

  2. I love thighland I have been there many times as will have most of us here. But thanks from a thigh point of view. Very entertaining. BUT you are right there is a lot of ignorance in this world so please not let people upset you. As long as you are prowd of your country to hell with anyone elses ignorance. Stay proud of Thailand.

  3. A lot of people in the UK are equally ignorant about Thailand-knowing the country only from the very low-brow tabloid press-(you know-the sort with lots of pictures to give the brain a rest from the strain of reading 5 letter max words) most are surprised to learn a) How large the country is b) Bangkok and Pattaya are not its only urban centres. One person I know was surprised to learn Thailand had cars-let alone manufactured them-seriously!

  4. Good one!

    Many time when I said I’m from Thailand, the other person would say you are Taiwanese? I then would give him/her geography lesson.

    About pronouncing “Thighland”, they couldn’t help it. It spells with “th”. I’d blame the person who changed the country name from Siam to Thailand with a bad spelling. It should have spelled “Tailand”. 5 5 5

  5. Along the same line, Taiwanese people might be upset with what you wrote : )

  6. OH please, if you spell it Tailand, some asshat will say Tail-land. The H is silent…is it that hard? What kind of a fool has really never heard of Thailand? English is THE most screwed up language ever, we have no right to talk.

    My own brother thought that Taiwanese products meant Thai products and my Thai fiance was from Taiwan…deep sigh. 🙁

    What really pisses me off if Americans that think their piece of crap country is the best in EVERYTHING. I always make a point to explain how a lot of that is just a misconception and bullshit. I go out of my way to show them pictures of Thai malls like Siam Paragon or Central Bangna while explaining that they have everything and far more than in the US and 5 times larger.

  7. Welcome back and an hilarious post! I loved it. I have also had writers block. I tried the V. I even tried the C. I figured that maybe some over-excitement might rip away the block. Well, guess what, I am still blocked!

  8. Nice to see ya back Oakley!

    Too right, ive had some quite hilarious mail over the past couple of years from foreigners wanting advice on coming to Thailand like.

    “Will i need to bring my own toothpaste and shampoo?”


    On a more serious note however, are the foreigners who say and believe such things as this.

    “Steve, i read that all the Thai women want to marry foreigners and live abraod to escape the poverty”


    Talking about naivety, George Bush wins an award for his knowledge of Geography. Beofr he was running for candadate, i remember the following from a radio station interview (Obviously the DJ was up to something)
    It went something like this:

    DJ “George, can you name 5 capital cities in the world”

    George “Mmmmmmm yes….(he can think of four) and Barcelona in

    DJ “Sorry George, but Barcelona is actually in Spain”

    George “You have to excuse me one that Spain one – ive never been to South America”

  9. Khengsiong Chew

    Thailand or Tailand? I guess the problem arises because some Thai consonants cannot be rendered properly in Roman letters. This is also true for Chinese. Deng Xiaoping was Teng Hsiaoping.

    I did bring my own toothpaste and shampoo, even though I knew these items can be bought in Thailand.
    By the way, many hotels in China do supply toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and comb, and they are replaced every 2 days. (What a waste!) The foreigners you mentioned were probably expecting the same level of service in Thailand.

    URL: 2point8 dot blogspot dot com

  10. Very true, but then kost people really don’t have a reason to know or have an interest about Thailand.

    My wife who is from Thailand, was amazed to find out that the US had 50 States, but then she’s only lived here for 5 years.

  11. I so get this post, I’ve endured the:-
    – So you’re a ‘thigh’
    – You’re from that Taiwan place aren’t ya?
    – Being called a THAILANDESE
    – Isn’t that where they have AIDs and stuff?

    And my current favourite:
    – Oh Thai – I love your horror movies!

    Ignorance is the word.

  12. I love this one:

    “Where are you from?”
    “I’m from Thailand.”
    “Cool! I really love Phat Thai!”
    “Um…..ok.” 🙁

    As if phat thai is the only thing in Thailand. I don’t know, it just irks the hell out of me.

  13. Hmmm… Since Oakley asked for our own stories, let me tell you of my own sufferings:
    I also was asked once or twice what I had been doing in TAIWAN all that time, but most people at home know where and what Thailand is.
    Sometimes I think it’s a lot worse with my home country, Austria: I say I’m Austrian, only to have the person I’m talking to cry out “Oh, you’re from Australia!”
    That happend to me everywhere outside Europe, in America as well as in Thailand. There are, at the airport of Vienna, a few shops that sell T-shirts saying “NO kangaroos in Austria”, with a crossed-out kangaroo on them. I already considered buying one of those, but they’re quite overpriced.
    The funny thing is that even Australians mistake me for an Australian. I mean, they shoud notice that I have quite the wrong accent, shouldn’t they? I’ve never even been to Australia.
    And who was that idiot who had the idea of translating “Oesterreich” into “Austria” anyway?
    So I tried saying I’m from Europe first and only then mentioning Austria. Hard to believe, but some people (in Thailand; Americans at least know that much…) actually were very surprised to learn that Australia is located in Europe. After that I tried saying Austria-Hungary, which worked surprisingly well. Quite a lot of Thais know Austria-Hungary, which I find quite odd. (Maybe they learn more history than geography at school?)
    I also tried telling them right away that my first language is German, not English. The result: “Oh, I didn’t know they speak German in Australia!” *sigh*
    For Americans it worked quite well to mention Mozart, Salzburg, the Lippizzaner horses, or even “the Sound of Music” (which is a movie that makes any Austrian watching it want to throw up), although I hate bringing up that kind of cliché.
    It also happened that people knew Austria but thought it was part of Germany. Which is a bit offending, but at least they lerned their geography lessons.
    My host dad once asked me why we didn’t have our own language, then. I tried to explain that the language developed in that general area long before any specific boarders were drawn and anyway, we do NOT speak the SAME language as the Germans, Viennese is quite an independent dialect und in the alps practically every valley used to have its own distinct dialect….and so on. In the end I had him completely confused because he couldn’t see where Vietnamese (Viennese – Vienna = Wien) came into it, and I felt sorry for him.
    Speaking of the language – NOone outside the german-speaking area can pronounce my name. My full name is Caecilia (originally written with an Umlaut A) – my host mum is still convinced that I’m called Cassilia. The problem is the C. My full name has 2 of then, which is, together with the Umlaut, too much for everybody. That I can understand. Unfortunately, the short form of my Name is Cilli – which gets alternately pronounced as “Silly” (grrrrr…) or “Chilli” (can’t stand chillies). And it doesn’t help to tell people that a C before I or E is pronounced like a Z, because how should the know how a German Z is pronounced?
    The solution, brought about by my host-grandma is this: She had the glorious idea to just shorten the name down ever further, so in the end I ended up being called “Li”, or “Lee”. Which was just as well and quite a relief.
    But just when I thought that everything would be fine now and started telling people that I was called Lee, they were like “what, just that? Just “LEE”?” And they would want to know my full name…
    And where I come from…

    I then decided to go on a retreat at a temple, to meditate and lern patience, because I felt I would need it. Lots of it.

  14. THIGHland… THIGHlanders.

    Oh, heavens! I didn’t know. Really.


    I have a weird habit of saying “Thai people.” It would be hard to get accustomed to saying “Thais”.