Category Archives: Learning to speak Thai

Goodbye Thaiphile, Hello Thaiwriter!

Sawasdee Krab fellow bloggers!

He’s baaaack so grab some snacks, go ahead and go to the hong nam now because it will be an hour to read this one for sure I bet hahaha.
Since our diligent webmaster Richard has been, as usual, hard at work of late making changes to so our home on the web for all things Thailand is even better, I’ve decided the time has come to really get serious about my own blogging, which I admit I had been a tad lazy about here and there, and really get with the program!

First thing needed was some changes and ‘upgrades’ myself and since my PC was out for a major overhaul/upgrade the past two weeks what better timing? I still kept up with reading everyones blogs and writing comments but I was having to use my older, clunky 10 pound, 2 gigabyte laptop and we have a mutual relationship it seems, we both hate each other! I swear getting that laptop to work was like wrestling with Satan!

So I am most grateful to have my PC back with a now much faster processor, way more expanded memory plus a lot of the accumulated junk on it thrown out and upgraded from basic Windows 2000 to Super Cool Windows XP Professional – cool! Thanks to my friend Mike who did all the upgrade and repair work for me gratis since he really loves doing stuff like this and does it for a living. Kinda like me finding the perfect job where I get paid to live and work in Thailand and share MY expertise on THAT. Nope that’s not a hint to get paid for my blogging Richard lol. Anyway, always good to have your very own tech support guy on hand 😛

While I was waiting to get back in the game and thinking how I could upgrade my blogging I came up with some good ideas so todays blog is about, well, blogging! 😀 These are some ideas for things I’ve changed and some that obviously are still in the works, everybody ready? Buckle yourselves in cuz here we go!

The Name Game

The biggest (so far) and most obvious, as you can see is, ta-da – my new name! Although I was quite fond of ‘Thaiphile’ and it was a pretty cool name it did have its share of problems too, namely trying to explain to some people what the ‘phile’ part meant. I guess you had to be a student of Greek to really get it but I won’t go into that. Let’s just say even after my best explanation sometimes I still got a ‘deer in headlights’ blank stare from some folks.
“A Thai what?”
Maybe it’s not the name that confuses some; maybe they just aren’t into Thailand as much I am. You think? Could that be? Naaaaah 😉

Actually I know Thai friendly folks and just plain Thai fanatics (of which I am #1 as you can see to your right), are a pretty special breed and I like it that way. We are all the more unique for our fascination and appreciation of Thai culture, people, arts not to mention food and anything else Thai that we like. Besides if everyone was into Thailand there would be no room on the net!

So I am at my favorite sidewalk café one day in my usual spot to watch people – especially cute, asian and,ahem, single walking up the street and thinking what would be a new name for me. The Blogger formally known as Thaiphile? Nope, too long and anything else I thought of that sounded cool was even more abstract sooooo ..I was stuck.

I was also working on writing some of my Thai homework and thinking how cool the language is to write and how much I like it (and unfortunately how much better I am at writing it than speaking it) and then *ping* ..light bulb goes on!

I am, in a sense, a writer. I love to write in Thai. Thai. Writer. THAIWRITER! That’s it!!

Continue reading

I’m a winner! (short version)

Hey I like the new look. Wahoo! I’m the number one Thai Fanatic! Yeah lol..Thanks Richard for making me number one..does this mean I get a prize? 😉

(Sorry for the ‘bullet blog’ this time. I’m stuck using my laptop while my PC is being fixed and I think I would rather wrestle would be easier!

More blogs in a few days so stay tuned..


Show me the Money!

Today I had a nice surprise at work. I work in a corporate bank building in Maryland and coincidently my boss is Thai! Her name is Nott and she is pretty cool. She’s like this little ball of energy always laughing and happy and a lot of fun to be around all day in the office. I liked her from the start and I am sure I shocked the daylights out of her when we first met and I spoke to her in her native language 😉

Occasionally we will say a few words to each other in Thai but mostly we chat in English unless I have a question about a Thai word or expression. The past few weeks Nott’s parents have been here visiting from Thailand and today Nott brought them to the office to meet everyone. I was so surprised when I turned around from my cube and was introduced to them. Without even thinking about it I shook her fathers hand then bowed and gave a deep Wai to them both welcoming them in Thai and we chatted for a bit. Not too long ago I would be so nervous to try and speak Thai I would break out in a sweat before I even uttered a sound 😛

Nott had told her parents all about me and I am sure they were curious to meet this crazy farang their daughter worked with that knew so much about Thailand! I showed them all around my 6 by 8 feet cubical with my ‘Suriyo Thai’ poster on one wall and my lucite block ‘statue’ laser etched with an image of a Buddha on the shelf above my computer. They thought the Buddha was very nice and complimented me on Him because he is a very famous Buddha but I can’t remember exactly how to pronounce his name at the moment 🙁

Nott’s mom was so nice and she had a present for me. At first she gave me a wooden keychain of a little Hill Tribe girl and then she said she had something else!

She reached in her purse and gave me a 100, then a 50 and then a 20 Baht note! That was so cool! Thai Baht looks so much cooler than plain old green US currency 😛 Recently we tried to get with the program and colorize our currency here in the States but I think it looks more ugly than anything else.

As you can see the 100 Baht note is in red with a portrait of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the reigning monarch and the Royal Initial Emblem of H.M. the King “Phor Por Ror”. The blank space on the right is where you can see a watermark of HM the King

The back of the Baht note shows scenes of Thai life with monks and school children and a portrait of the monument of Their Majesties King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and King Vajiravudha (Rama VI), together with their Royal Initial Emblem

The 50 Baht note is my favorite because I like blue and it is very colorful. It is also cool because it’s made of plastic! The clear window next to the Kings portrait has a polarized water mark of His portrait

I am not sure but I think on the back is a portrait of King Rama the III. The globe and telescope on the back seem to me to represent the period in King Rama III’s reign when Thailand began to modernize by studying Western science and culture. Does anyone know for sure if I am correct? Please send me an update if I have anything wrong.

This 20 Baht note is an older version with the same Royal Portrait of His Majesty and watermark on the front

On the back of this note is a portrait of “Pra Chao Tak Sin Maharaj” พระเจ้าตากสินมหาราช- (NOT the current prime minister but our former king who won back indepedence from Burma right before King Rama I. His name phonetically in English is spelled like PM Thaksin but in Thai it’s pronouced differently). During his short reign he established a new capital called Krun Thonburi กรุงธนบุร&#3637 but was replaced by the Chakri Dynasty (King Rama I) who established Bangkok as the capital soon after.

The 20 Baht note given to me is a newer version with the same, but updated portait of HM King Bhumipol Adulyadej on the front and on the back there is a picture of HM the King and some of his wonderful accomplishments like the new Rama bridge in Bangkok and His Majesty on one of his many walking tours in Thailand

My thanks to my friend Dew for filling me in on the information I was missing earlier regarding King Taksin Maharaj and his portrait

Nott’s mom thought I would like the Baht notes to maybe put in a nice frame and she’s right that would look cool on my shelf or on the wall. This was so nice that she gave these to me I was really thrilled to get such a thoughtful gift. Hard to believe I was never that excited about getting US money as a gift lol. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Ramakomud!

You can find out more about Thai currency from our sister web site . My thanks to Richard for providing a better link and to Panrit as my source for more updated information on the Baht notes 😉

Till next time

ขอให้โชคดี !


Hot as Bangkok!

Walking home today from work I had a neat unexpected near Thai experience It is hot as blazes outside and right now the weather update on my computer reads the temperature as 92 degrees fahrenheit but ‘feels like’ 98 degrees! For everyone else in the world that is Metric, except for America leave it to us to be snobs and stick our thumbs in our ears and say we’re not gonna be like everyone else cuz it’s too hard to learn the metric system, anyway I digress, moving on like I said for folks in Thailand and everywhere else that means right now outside is a mean 36.6 degrees celsius!

Whew! I have a pretty good walk back and forth to the Metro station every day, usually about 15 minutes at a leisurely pace, 10 minutes for me with my long, farang legs and talk no prisoners walking stride. I’ll have to work on my walk I am sure otherwise I will probably scare some of the locals when I finally get to the ‘Big Mango’. Actually I don’t mind the walk everyday, I go to work very early in the morning so the weather is usually cool enough this time of year and I don’t really mind the good awful heat walking home in the afternoon although my shirt is usually wilted before I make it to two blocks 😉

I like to think of this is a good practice excercise for when I am actually, finally in Thailand. I have also cut out drinking sodas and caffine and stuck to just water and juice drinks so I can hopefully ‘up’ my Thai heat acclimation level to at least a 65% chance of surviving. Like my days in the Army dying in the Georgia summer heat with the other un-lucky grunts during ‘grass drills’ (anyone in the military remember those?) as the drill sargent used to scream “GOOD TRAINING MEN! GOOD TRAINING! SWEAT MAKES GRASS GROW GREEN!!” Somehow I don’t think he’d ever actual been to Thailand either. I just have this image in my mind of him making an overweight tourist drop and do twenty push ups until grass actually sprang forth and grew out of Bangkok concrete.

Anyway back to the experience that was the point of my story. I got off the train at my stop and climbed up out of the underground station, headphones firmly in place and my favorite band (Labanoon) rocking away, and started the walk toward home the heat wasn’t too bad but sometimes the heavy car traffic makes the air feel like a huge St. Benard with gingivitis is breathing in my face ‘yick!’. All the more realistic virtual Bangkok training I supposed 😛

I made it one block and turned toward my neighborhood and there across the street is something I have never seen in real life but only on TV commercials and in comic strips, an actual kid out in this heat working a lemonade stand! I walked across the street and as I got closer I saw the young, sweaty entrepeneur not only sold lemonade for a dollar a cup but also Thai Iced Tea!

Was this an oasis? Was the heat already playing with my eyes and my mind? Had this Thaiphile finally gone over the edge? No, this kid was actually selling Thai Iced Tea and doing pretty good business too from the looks of the dollar bills stuck in his pay jar. Pretty savy kid to branch out his product line already and he wasn’t even Thai. How could I resist a hook like this? The one day I was glad to have cash on hand and not just plastic cuz I wasn’t sure he’d take Visa. I ordered one Thai Ice Tea to go and he asked if I wanted the cream as well. Do I! To drink Thai ice tea without the milk or cream is un-American!

The kid certainly didn’t skimp on the ice OR the Tea OR the milk for that matter! If this was his usual portion he should invest in jumbo dixie cups and sell both ‘lek’ and ‘yai’ size drinks! Whatever the lad lacked in skill he certainly made up for in generosity. I make Thai tea at home and it takes a little practice to really make it well, not too much tea leaves, don’t boil them for too long, even how much condensed milk or cream you put in your glass everything is as precise as science. I admit I cheat some and use flavored coffee mate same as I use in my actual coffee when I fall off the no-caffine wagon that is 😉

I’m sure though real Thai street vendors could make Thai tea with one hand and use an old sock to strain the leaves and it would always taste absolutely awesome! However I’m not looking to bust any trade secrets as long as I have my money to pay for the finished product I’ll leave the magic to the professionals. This kid may lack the grace and finesse of a Thai vendor (a tad heavy on the cream but you live, you work, you learn) yet he more than made up for it with effort even just for being out in this heat to start with.

Walking the rest of the way home I was happy and content to sip my purchased beverage, not minding the heat at all even when it melted the ice to mix with the Tea it made it cooler and even more delicious. Life is best when made of simple moments of pleasure like this, especially when they are spontaneous. I only wish I had a camera with me to take pics of this young import genius and his stand for this blog.



A Day in the Life of Thaiphile in 3000 words or less!


Hi there it me again and it’s the weekend so time for another monster blog

My apologies in advance for enduring my narcissistic indulgence 😉

The Agenda

Today is Saturday and my day off wahoo! It’s also the monthly meeting of the North Virginia Thai Language Meetup Group of which I am a member. My friend khun Todd who I go to class with at Wat Thai here in DC found
this website  group online and sent me the link a couple of months ago. This is a group of Thai students and working professionals here in the DC-Virginia area and farang members who share a common experience or interest in Thai language and culture.

The group meets once a month usually at Cosi’s restaurant in Ballston, Virginia which is easily accessible to me on the Orange line of our city’s Metro. It looked like an interesting group from the website so I joined and went to my first meeting last month. I had a good time meeting and talking with a variety of Thai speakers and farang enthusiasts from different backgrounds. Since then I became a fairly active member working to structure Thai lesson plans and activities and also some fun trivia contests online. If you click here you can check out our new group website on Yahoo that might help us find more members since is a bit off the beaten cyber path.

John, our group founder, is Thai but grew up in Texas and recently moved to DC. He started the group to meet other people since he is new to the area. This month many of our core members were out of town or unable to attend so John and I debated rescheduling but the night before he called me to say he had two new members that wanted to come so we planned to go ahead and meet even though it would be a pretty small group to get together.

We planned on each member bringing our favorite Thai learning materials to share and discuss. I would bring my laptop and some of my favorite music VCD’s since I love modern Thai pop and rock music! For me it’s a good way to listen and learn how to speak Thai by hearing words over and over and reading them in Thai script on the karaoke VCD so I brought music by แคลช, กะลา, and my favorite ลาบานูน! Or, in English rather, karaoke CD’s by the bands Clash, Kala and Labanoon.

10:00 AM

The weather today is awesome unlike the mini-monsoon we had here the day before but it’s a bad sign when I go downstairs to make my morning coffee and there is no coffe mate! Ugh, oh well I’ll hit Starbucks while I am out for a caffeine fix. Things get worse however when I go to get a shower and I discover a bigger problem, my house had no water! A water main down the street burst so the whole neighborhood is without water. Oh Man!

10:30 AM

I throw a change of clothes, a towel and my toiletry kit in a bag along with my materials for the meetup and go to my friends’ house just so I can shower and shave. This means I have to take the Metro all the way into Maryland, the next state over, and then walk several blocks to my friends place. It’s not until I get halfway to Maryland that I realize in my haste I forgot to grab a belt for my pants and also my Buddha necklace that I wear. Double ‘Oh, Man!’

12:00 PM

I make it to my friends house and get a nice refreshing shower since the day is already getting very warm outside. I shave, get dressed and bang out the door as soon as possible. I am starting to panic since originally I planned to go back home after showering to drop off my clothes and pick up my laptop but now I wouldn’t have time! I don’t think I can make it back by my house to drop my clothes so I leave them with my friend to pick up later. I called John on my cell phone and explained my situation and asked if he would bring his laptop since I could not go home to get mine, I was betting that he had one which he did so at least that problem was solved.

12:30 PM

I’m running really late! The trip to get a shower took way longer than it should. Every stop on the Metro is delayed by several minutes and I have to change trains three times going from Maryland to Virginia where the resturant is that we meet at. The trip is slowed down the entire way because the trains going in both directions have to share the same track in between stations. They must be working on them since the entire Red line is slowed down. Just great! I kept having to remind myself to think the Thai way and repeat over and over to myself ไม่เป็นไร, or mai bpen rai, it was ok, it didn’t matter and everything would be fine even though the meet up was at 1:00!

1:30 PM

I finally made it! I walk through the resturant and don’t see anyone, wheres the group? They didn’t all leave already? Finally I spot John so I am relieved that nothing more can go wrong today. In fact it turns out ok since the two new members didn’t show John was the only one there having lunch by himself. I was starving by this time since I missed breakfast so it was cool to just hang out and have a nice lunch together.

Let me tell you alittle about John. He’s 100% Thai as far as I know but he has a very all-American boy look to him that girls would probably fall head over heals for. He also works out and has some pretty well developed arm muscles. Any girls interested in a hot catch who is strong but soft spoken I can forward your e-mail to him 😉 I like John because he is a pretty laid back guy. He and I have some great conversations like discussing the merits of Buddhist meditation for example so he has a really thoughtful, intelligent side. Since we both grew up in America we can also relate other things together like a randy sense of humor 😉

Later on Penpimol a Thai friend of Johns joined us after she left work and we chatted for quite a bit, or I should say, they chatted and I listened since Penny, as she likes to be called doesn’t speak much English and prefers speaking only Thai. Penny had a great sense of humor as well and it was funny to see the two of them laugh and joke easily together. Penny was trying to explain and pantomine a funny incident with shampoo and facial cream that took me a few minutes to understand! She’s shy but has a nice personality. To be honest I love to hear Thai women speak there is just something about it, very lyrical and melodic about how Thai women speak their language.

I learned two new words, ขึ้นคาน keun caan and ขวบกันปี kwup gan bpii. The first word is actually two Thai words together and the second word is actually three words together but both are expressions of the same subject roughly. Can you tell what they mean? Here’s a hint both have to do with age and thankfully, as the oldest one there, it didn’t have to do with me!

4:30 PM

We spent a good part of the afternoon together but after about 4 o’clock we needed to get going our separate ways. Penny and I left John and we rode the Metro train together since we both lived in the same direction. We chatted but it was rough in places since I am great at reading and writing Thai but speaking it, listening and comprehending when someone speaks to me in Thai is my still my weakest skill sometimes. Penny works as a travel agent and she specializes in clients who travel to Thailand and other places in South East Asia. Before we split up to go our separate ways she gave me her business card and I gave her my e-mail address.

Later on when I got home she sent a link for great discount air fare traveling around in Thailand.  Plus I also have a friend here in DC that just started working at a major airline and he told me he can get me round trip tickets first class to Bangkok for only $400! It’s all about the connections baby!

5:00 PM

Finally going home I got off the train in Woodley Park the neighborhood closest to my house. It’s a nice neighborhood there with several shops and resturants including a Thai resturant called Jandara. The building is painted purple so thats kinda cool and it had a great sidewalk seating area for eating outside. I had never eaten there before so I was curious plus I also wanted to see someone I knew that works there.

Another member of our langauge group is Bo, he’s 24 and a student also from Texas like John that is spending the summer here in DC. I had never met Bo before but he posted a note on our message board looking for a place to stay while in DC so I asked the monks at Wat Thai if they knew of somewhere he could stay. Phra Duchai e-mailed me some phone numbers to call and I passed the info onto Bo. He found a place and has been here a few weeks now.

Bo and I chatted by e-mail and on the phone a couple of times but still had not met. Making general conversation the first time we spoke I asked him what he liked to do for fun and he said “party!” Apparently the other college kids he goes to school with in Texas have enlightened him on “How to Party 101: The American College Experience.” Bo had complained he was a bit bored since his host family lives in an area with nothing much to do so he got a job at Jandara to make some money plus get out of the house. I was pleasantly surprised because Jandara is right there on my Metro stop and I walk by the resturant everyday going back and forth to work.

I wasn’t really hungry again but I knew Bo worked there every Saturday so I wanted to meet him. I walked inside and this young handsome Thai guy that looked like Bo’s picture was the first person I saw. I asked about sitting outside and he showed me to a table and handed me a menu then his mouth dropped open in shock when I thanked him in Thai and used his name! He had not recognized me and was so surprised when I told him who I was. We chatted but one of the first things he asked me was ‘what you do today, go party?!’ Typical college student!

Unfortunately Bo being a 24 year old over awed college student and me a 41, rapidly looking at 42, year old former museum manager starting a new job and new career working in a bank, well let’s just say we each have our own idea of partying. I don’t know about his but mine is usually having an extra coke and some late night TV before bedtime. I decided to get something to eat after all and ordered a light dinner.

I’m glad I did since the ไก่สะเต๊ะ gai satay, or Thai chicken skewers I had was the best I had ever eaten at any other resturant. Bo was also nice enough to have the cook make ต้มข่าไก่ Dtom kha gai for me with shrimp กุ้ง goong instead of chicken the way I like.

The late afternoon was beautiful as I sat and ate watching all the people walking by. The sun bright and shiny but a constant breeze kept everything very cool. The noise of cars and trucks on the street was there but further away in the background next to the sound of birds chirping and singing to each other in the huge shady trees lining the sidewalk. In fact Bo had to shoo away one small bird that landed on my water glass to steal a drink when I wasn’t looking! Off and on Bo would stop to talk when he not waiting on other tables although actually I was the only one eating outside. I told Bo I would meet up with him after my work on his day off Wednesday to take him around some places here in DC. I don’t know if he’ll just be looking for some place to go party but we’ll see maybe I can show him some of the museums that he might like. He’s a handsome guy with that charming Thai smile so I hope he won’t mind being seen with this middle aged farang.