Mai Pen Rai

Bangkokians talk clever conversations. The kind of dialogs that cannot be interpret literally. In other words, they never mean what they say and vice versa.

When you ask your Bangkokian friends whether or not they want you to buy anything on your trip overseas. If they say no, it usually means a yes. If you fly back to Bangkok empty-handed, you might have already lost a friend.

Things get a bit trickier when they really don’t want you to buy anything. They will also say no. So, it is your job to guess if it’s a real no or an implicit yes. You may beg them to tell the truth, but they can never do that. This kind of guesswork had driven a lot of westerners crazy.

When you go out for lunch with Bangkokian colleagues, you might ask them what they would like to eat. Most of the time, they gonna reply “Anything.” Again, do not interpret literally. Do not take the liberty to pick the restaurant you want. Bangkokians have their favorites in mind, but they cannot speak up. In this case, I suggest you should keep suggesting restaurants. If it is not the same place they want to eat, they will keep quiet. Once you hit their place, they will say something like “Okay, if that’s what you want to eat.” Then, you can safely go to that place for lunch.

You can imagine two Bangkokians go for lunch together. Oftentimes, they would keep asking one another back and forth for a long time and never reach conclusion.

To Thai people, it is considered evil to have personal desires. But in reality, every human has personal desires. Therefore, Thai people get away with this by trying not to be the one who speaks about their own needs openly. This is very weird, but having or not having own desires does not matter anymore. It is not saying it that counts.

Tip: When you say sorry to a Bangkokian, you might get a rude response as “Never mind.” Don’t take it seriously, because he probably didn’t mean it. Many Thais confuse the phrase with “It’s alright.”, because in Thai they are the same words i.e. Mai Pen Rai.

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