Category Archives: North Virginia Thai Language Meet Up

“Learning thai, the hard way…”


This is not a Wit blog. I didn’t write it nor inspire it or any other such thing other than receive it. This was actually an e-mail sent to everyone on the listserv of our DC Thai Language Meetup Group from John a fellow member. I thought it was well written and worthy of a blog so I convinced John he should post it here on Thai-blogs for everyone to read. He agreed with me and didn’t even put up an arguement! I was disappointed I didn’t have to twist his arm, err persuade him to post it. He even asked me to post it for him, something about mentioning he was too kii giat to do it himself. Be that as it may John is mai kii giat when it comes to the drive to master the Thai langauge and don’t let him kid you he is a lot better than he lets on (so be warned ladies)! In addition he also builds robotic fish for the United States Navy, yeah, he’s got coolness in spades! So here it is, unedited and worthy of a good read and perhaps even an inspiration to some of you aspiring Thai speakers out there so take heart and enjoy.

And for those that remember I have not fallen off the face of the earth although some mornings it can feel like it if I haven’t had my coffee. Look for a long overdue blog of my own coming soon, maybe this weekend if all the words finally come..


“Learning Thai the hard way…

Watdee tuk kon krab (whats up, everyone)

So I figure this should be of some interest to those in this email list.

A little more than 2 years ago a Thai friend of mine asked me to come
stay with him in Thailand. I decided to start studying a little
survival Thai two weeks before my trip, just to get by and all . . .

But for some reason I kept saying, ‘well, ive done all this work, cant
quit now or it would have been a waste . . . gotta study more!!! gonna
be fluent any time now!’

And motivated by a 2nd trip to Thailand 6 months later, I continued to
study . . . Was really fun to do things a typical tourist couldnt, to
not just be with locals, but to almost be one myself . . .

I am about a week or two from my 2 year anniversary studying the crazy
language we call Thai . . . And I am still going with that carrot on a
stick dream of one day being able to confidently call myself fluent .
. .

Being such a momentous occasion, I have been reflecting . . . So what
have I learned from all this?


I would admit even infinitely harder than building a robot to get a
Singha beer out of the fridge (yes, I would know).

I studied 1 hour a day for 1.5 years, and for a 6 month period even
managed 2 hours a day. That comes out to about 900+ hours of studying.
Extensive research shows that one must study at least 600 to 1000
hours of anything complex to become a so-called ‘expert.’ Whether it
be chess, the guitar, or multi-variate calculus – doesnt matter.
Unfortunately, no research says how many hours a farang needs to learn
thai fluently, but I can assure you it isnt less than 1000 hours. That
means if you are really dedicated and study one hour a day for 3
years, you still wont be fluent. Sorry =P

Then again if your nuts like Cornell and study 6 hours a day . . . you
would reach fluency in like 6 months . . . =P

So why am I writing this? This email may sound more of like a
discouragement to those who are learning, but I think it is more of
useful knowledge to those who want to learn. These are the facts,
being bilingual just isnt an American trait =P

A bit of encouragement . . . those who have studied an equivalent of
about 210 hours (an hour a day for 7 months) know that you can
communicate in complete Thai sentences. Perhaps you can just barely
get by, but at least you can. Its a much easier, much more tangible,
yet still very rewarding goal for many on this list to reach. At least
3 or 4 of you already have passed this point. I highly encourage
everyone to set this goal.

Anyway, being my two year mark, I have decided to dedicate myself for
the big plunge . . . I am going to move and live in Thailand for a
year. This new journey will happen around March of next year. Fits
perfectly between a career transition, and right after I finally pay
off my gagillion dollar tuition. Still gotta iron out tee rak issues
tho (thats you, Jenny).

I pray it will finally help me catch the carrot thats so elusive.

Anyway, signing out, and best wishes to those who desire to undertake
probably the hardest single task anyone can undertake. =)

Choke Dee Krab (good luck)

John Palmisano

Wit’s Catering….

Sawasdee Krab!

Fall is coming on strong which means the holidays are just around the corner and that means office parties, social get togethers and lots of eating. For me that means firing up the kitchen at Wit’s End for more Thai cooking like today. Instead of meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop like usual my Thai Meetup group had a potluck meeting. Everyone had to fix a dish or bring something.

For this weeks blog I thought I’d share my culinary potluck adventure. This month things also means more cooking because in two more weeks it’s Halloween and I volunteered to make Pad Grapao Neua and Grapao Gai for our office Halloween potluck.

That’s the curse of being know as-

a. someone that can cook
b. can cook something exotic like Thai food and
c. is actually pretty dang good at it!

At least that’s what other people say about my cooking not me I swear! I haven’t had a customer dissatisfied yet, well, except for that time I had two friends over and one could not eat beef or anything spicy. So what did I serve, fiery Pad Grapoa Beef and Basil. I forgot I swear! But I still haven’t lived that down….

At work my department has meetings twice a month. These meetings aren’t the most exciting event in my day but they are pretty informative. Sometimes the boss has lunch catered but maybe that’s a bribe to make sure everyone shows up! So what do I do? As a glutton for punishment I offer to make Thai food for lunch at one of our meetings in December. Let’s see about 20 people, and knowing me I’ll fix at least five different dishes plus I have to get all this stuff from my house in Washington to my job in Maryland and I don’t own a car. Just like me to let my mouth write a check I have to figure out how I’m going to cash!

Today’s menu is way easier but I was running late getting started cooking this morning and be at the pot luck on time but you know I work best when I’m under pressure and some chaos going on. My secret is have everything I need to chop, pick, pluck or cut prepared ahead of time. This is how I managed to make two seperate dishes at the same time with a two hour late start and still be only an hour late. I also keep everything within an arms reach then I can stand in one spot and just pivot all day long.

Satay? Ok!

You can never go wrong with Satay Gai or curry flavored chicken skewers. You can also never make too many ‘cuz trust me they’ll go fast! I like these because they are fairly easy to make just take a day or so to make them my way.

The recipe is simple, actually I cheat a little, buy the Satay mix and Satay peanut butter sauce in the package as you see here. Any decent Thai or Asian market will sell this since it’s a popular brand. You can follow the instructions or make it the way I do which is a little different but worth it. I learned this from an ex-faen who could make Satay beef that would melt in your mouth like butter! Oh man!

The Satay mix has two parts. Part A is the mix for the chicken and Part B is for making Peanut Sauce. I only use the mix for the Satay and buy the Peanut sauce in the jar. That’s UN-official Thai cooking to get it out of the bottle but I remember when I tried making it the authentic way and I don’t want my fire insurance to go up again. But enough yapping, let’s cook!

Continue reading

Red, White and …Thai?

Sawasdee Krab!

Has anyone missed me? It has been a few weeks since my last literary opus (ha!) it seems there was always something getting in the way, including my own procrastination sometimes I admit, to sitting down and hammering out a new blog for the cyber masses. We’ve got so many new and excellent writers on here now for compettition, don’t think that since I haven’t been writing I’ve not been reading I need to hustle and get back in the swing of blogging or I could lose my place!

This time I want to share with you some of this past weekends adventures with my friends in the North Virginia Thai Langauge Group. Our core members are me, Vut, Oop, Dew, Tiffany and Tim and we had a great couple of get togethers this weekend in Virginia at the Lao temple there on Sunday Wat Lao Buddhavong and then back in DC to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday on Monday. At Wat Lao we went to see a true national icon of Thailand in concert, Carabao! I’m going to write more on them tomorrow when I get all the pics we took from the concert ready.

Instead today I want to talk about our other get together the next day to celebrate the Fourth and also one of my favorite subjects…thai food! As our dear Oakmonster would say you don’t entertain guests without offering food (it’s a Thai thing) and the same is true for many Americans you don’t celebrate our nations Independence day without eating but at least you don’t have to dress up like for Thanksgiving unless you decide to wear all red, white and blue for America or the same great colors for Thailand! :p

What would our countries birthday celebration be without hotdogs, hamburgers and BBQ on the grill? Well actually I wouldn’t know since, yep, we went all out and did things Thai Style! I don’t cook unless it’s Thai food (it’s a Wit thing 😉 ) as you can tell in my pic here แกงคั่วสับปะรด anyone?

We had planned to have a potluck get together for awhile now as a group probably at my place since I wanted to cook for the everyone but I have this strange phobia about cooking in someone elses kitchen (lol) I like to know where everything is otherwise I am even more of a wreck when trying to put on a big meal for folks.

Since the Fourth of July was this month I had the brillant idea to combine the two and we could have an outdoor potluck. I would fix everything at home and then finally get to use my nifty Tiffin that I bought at the Thai market last year. Everyone would bring something and we’d have a nice eat out until time for the fireworks to start at least that was the intention.

However what is that expression? The road to hell is paved with good intentions? Well it certainly wasn’t that bad but we did have a few misfires that almost sunk everything! It started Sunday ….

You are a Winner!

from left to right group members Cat, John, Opp, Bo and yours truly (in case you’ve missed it I’m the farang in the pic haha)

Sawasdee Krab!

No this blog does not mean spam has wormed it’s way in here. Today I am “borrowing” our forum to announce the latest winners of my monthly contest for members of the Thai langauge group here in DC.

As a semi co-moderator of our group, or at least the most persistant e-mailer, 😉 I try to find new ways to make things interesting so present members and new members alike can get involved. One of my ideas is a new contest each month for everyone to compete in which I give out prizes to the winner at our next meet up. I actually got the idea from another member a couple months back who started it all with a simple trivia question.

In May, Oop who you see in the pic up there, asked if anyone knew what important holiday it was. For those who don’t know the answer since it was May 5 was easy to figure out, it was Coronation Day. Two minutes and a carefully worded search on Google was all I needed to find the answer hehe. Our great webmaster Richard, as usual, wrote a terrific blog on the holiday that you can read here.

The contest is sent out by our group e-mail and the first one to reply with the correct answer wins! Unfortuately since I usually live on e-mail when I am at home I had a disadvantage over our other members. Therefore to be fair I took up the torch and started my own new contest each month to which I would obviously be disqualified so everyone has a fair chance 😛

The next month I continued the game with a related question, what two, also very important holidays in Thailand, celebrate the Royal Family. This was a fairly easy one and fellow farang member Tiffany quickly researched the answer. The two holidays are of course, Fathers Day on December 5th which is also HM the Kings Birthday, and Mothers Day on August 12th also HM the Queens Birthday 🙂

Now this was a pretty cool idea to come up with every month but I wanted something more challenging and not so easy to answer just by looking it up online 😀 So I came up with something new for this months contest. This time out it was an essay, yes, yes I can hear students out there groaning already as an automatic reaction haha. This new contest was actually, I thought, a really unique idea.

All you had to do was send an e-mail telling me What is your favorite Thai word? simple, just write what your favorite word is, what it means and why you like it. You can make your essay as long or short as you like, you can make it serious or witty, surreal or silly, just not naughty like your what’s your favorite pick up word to use over in Patpong 😉 As an add on if you can send in your favorite word written in Thai then you get bonus points!

I admit I was a tad disappointed there was not more response to this one but we do have a winner! So without further ado the winner of this months Thai langauge contest is……drum roll please!

Joe our member from Woodbridge, Virginia!

Congratulations to both Joe and Tiffany for being winners! This coming Saturday is our next group meet up get together and Joe and Tiffany (who had to miss the last meet up) will get their prizes. I am sending out an e-mail after this blog post to our group members to come here and find out who wins hehehe. So you’ll have to wait until this weekends blog to find out what Joe and Tiffany each won but I can definitely tell you they are getting some pretty cool prizes.

Now for the official unveiling here is Joes winning contest submission, especially if this even works with the Thai font!

My favorite Thai word is (meaning ‘love’) because it reminds me of my visit to Thailand. I loved the people, the food, the countryside, the weather (in the northern area) and the list goes on. How’s that?

P.S. Please excuse the very crappy drawing.

As you can see Joe actually submitted a written รัก to my e-mail so he also got the bonus points, a free appetizer at the resturant this Saturday when we get together, that much I am giving way here. Thanks for the great word and extra effort!

How about you? Let’s hear it from everybody out there in Blog land 😀 Whats your favorite Thai word? Sorry I don’t have prizes for you too but everyone gets an honorable mention here in this blogs comments section, hows that? Till next time!