• Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Learning Thai and Bangkok Taxis....

    I've been thinking that I really need to improve my command of the Thai language if I'm going to stay here, which it looks more like being the case. We're all reasonably settled, despite me not actually being in gainful employment and struggling to find a way to earn a crust.

    I'm kind of conversational in Thai but I'm still a bit rusty and my vocabulary and knowledge of the Thai grammar needs improvement. I'd also like to learn to write. I taught myself to write Thai many years ago but now I can only write my name.

    Thai language schools and teachers are a plenty in Bangkok but I'm not a good student. I've never actually studied Thai as such, just picked it up. The best way is by talking and asking questions. Most of my experience came from talking to taxi drivers, an excellent source of experience.

    Mostly taxi conversation is based on the drivers many mistresses and ability to drink copious amounts of Singha beer. Every now and then you get an interesting one. Today I had an old guy of 68 who came from Lopburi province. He couldn't speak a word of English but we had a great conversation and he told me all about how he'd moved to Bangkok when he was 15. He was a policeman in the department responsible for royal security and then took to the taxi 25 years ago.

    When I asked him about his feelings about taxi driving compared to being in the police he explained that the taxi was much better. Issarapab - freedom. He worked when he liked and how hard he liked and didn't have superiors breathing down his neck continuously. Life is good, life is easy and he meets a wide range of people, though not all good. We went on to talk about how Bangkok has changed over his 53 years here. Basically it has gone downhill. He felt life was better in the past and Bangkok used to be a more picturesque city with less hassle.

    I envy people like this. He even spoke in a relaxed manner and it was clear that everything in his life was truly mai pen rai - nevermind. A true embodiment of the traditional Thai spirit of taking it easy.

    I learnt a few new words and got some practice. An excellent way to learn Thai. I might still have a few lessons but taxis will always be a big part of my Thai learning curve.

    Learning Thai and Bangkok Taxis....



    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hi As a beginner I use Speakeasy-Thai it has a phonetic guide and works fine, keep up the good work. Ben

    6:25 pm  
    Blogger Life Out East said...

    I'm sort of conversational but there are big gaps in my knowledge of the language. I had a book once that was great: Essential Thai by James Higbie.
    I'll keep a look out for the one you recommend. Cheers!

    7:37 pm  

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