The Thais have a few, shall we say 'character traits' that will either infuriate you, or you can suck it up, learn a few things from the way they handle the world and rather find these traits endearing. After all, as the saying goes, 'if you can't beat em, join em!'
One saying you will hear frequently is 'Mai pen rai', which loosely translates to 'never mind, it's OK, or no problem' or the equivalent of Africa's 'Hakuna Matata'.
So set the scene:
Farang (westerner) loses his wallet.
Thai says: 'Mai pen rai'
Farang gets upset with this response. How can you say don't worry! Don't take offence to this response - it is the Thai's practical approach to life, along the lines of 'if you can't do anything about it, don't sweat it..'
In the above scene, the Thai might also say 'Chai Yen Yen' which means 'calm down, take it easy' - they are constantly trying to maintain a calm surrounding, and hate to see upset. They are brought up to be very tolerant of others and of situations that they have no control over. Losing your temper or being out of control is seriously frowned upon, and a Thai feels humiliated should they be caught losing their temper.
Speaking of saving face...
Thais HATE to be wrong, or appear to not know the answer.
PLEASE BEAR THIS IN MIND WHEN ASKING DIRECTIONS. So you are supposed to meet friends down at the Ark Bar in Chaweng.. and you can't find it. You ask a friendly looking local (they all look friendly). Little do you know that said friendly local has just moved to Samui from Bangkok - and hasn't the faintest idea where the Ark Bar is. But he happily smiles, and points you in the (wrong) direction. You see, a Thai willnever admit to not knowing - saving face!
I recently met a farang (although he is a local as he has been here for 12 years) who finds it rather humorous to put this 'saving face' theory to the test. He calls it the SHOE POLISH TEST.
'Just watch' he says, as we walk into an ice-cream parlour.
Farang: 'Can I have shoe polish flavour please.'
Thai server: ' aaah, solly (sorry).... it all finish!' You see, they will NEVER admit that they don't stock shoe polish flavour - rather save face and imply that it is so popular, that it is all finished!
'Try it sometime,' my new friend says...'you will always get the same reply!'
Two other sayings that I have come to enjoy are 'Sanuk' which translates to 'fun' and 'sabai! sabai!', which loosely means 'relax, enjoy!' - something that the Thais are very good at. Thai's believe that everything in life should be fun - even work. Now that's a theory that the west can learn from.
And in this spirit of 'Sanuk' and 'Sabai, sabai!' I had a wonderful day on Sunday, sailing to a small island just off Big Buddah Beach, by the name of Koh Som. See the gallery below.
If you ever find yourself in Samui, and want to take to the waters, then I can highly recommend SAMUI OCEAN SPORTS