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Old 09-10-2018, 08:16 PM
 
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Can you speak/read/write basic Thai? Is it possible to pay bills such as utilities, phone, rent without knowing much Thai? Or do you still need to get someone's help for those?


In Singapore and the Philippines, one can function only with English as pretty much everything functions in English. Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia are in Latin alphabet without diacritics, so much easier to type and translate what is meant. Vietnamese has lots of additional diacritical marks, but it's at least still in Latin alphabet, so while there is more difficulty in typing the characters (to translate online), at least still recognizable. For Thai, Lao, Khmer and Burmese, I really have no idea how to type the characters and the learning curve on how to read is steep. Most tourist stuff in Bangkok have English signs, but not sure when you transition to daily life.


Last visit to Bangkok, I needed to find a Thai person so I can connect to the Internet using a prepaid phone SIM. It kept sending me instructions in Thai to change some simple phone settings and send a reply back, but I had totally no idea what it meant unless I get an Internet connection to use Google translate! I also had to pass my phone to a totally random stranger to tell the Uber (before it became Grab) driver where I was waiting for the car.
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Old 09-10-2018, 10:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by GoldenTiger View Post
Can you speak/read/write basic Thai? Is it possible to pay bills such as utilities, phone, rent without knowing much Thai? Or do you still need to get someone's help for those?
Here are a couple of links that might help with regard to understanding and paying utility bills. Many can be paid at certain 7-11 shops. Or get someone to help you out. You'll get the hang of it after a while. You can also pick up Thai to English (and reverse) dictionaries, and phrase books from most bookstores in Thailand. SOme are small enough to carry in your pocket or backpack. There are also electronic pocket translators for a variety of words and common phrases.
https://www.tielandtothailand.com/ho...electric-bill/
https://tastythailand.com/where-shou...iland-and-how/
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Old 09-10-2018, 10:35 PM
 
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I hailed a metered cab go get my two cases of Tiger home from Tesco...took about 10 seconds to get the cab, and 3 Km was 51 THB. Airport last year was 26 KM and metered cab was 211 THB. Problems with taxis are confined to the very touristy areas, and even there, you say meter, and if they don't acknowledge , you just don't get in. The try to do flat fees for bar hoppers in the entertainment areas....mostly walkable trips....They did arrest 14000 cab drivers in the last year for malfeasance, but most said that barely scratched the surface.

Street signs are in English out here, but I have seen my street spelled four different ways on the signs, due to transliteration. I can read, write, and speak the numbers which would be a great starting point for anyone. The written numbers are mostly only used on government docs, though...but their calendar is often used...2561 is actually 2018. There are Thai keyboards and also Thai fonts in windows...and Thai typewriters at government offices. Electric bill is mostly Thai with some english, but all Arabic numbers. I added them as a payee in bill pay and I just click and it already knows how much I owe, and won t allow payment unless I owe...free too. Water bill has the meter readings and amounts in Arabic numbers..3 bucks last month. Internet is mostly Thai, except Arabic amounts and unlike electric, my name in English is on the bill. I pay that at 711..they just scan the bar code.

But, yes, there is a pretty big language barrier, and their English hasn't improved over the years, and ironically some very blue collar people will often speak better English than some highly educated.

I am still a beginner after 20 years, kind of like many golfers, but taking care of routine stuff is very routine, and sometimes can be easier than the US, and usually a lot cheaper. Learning Spanish is much easier...so if that was a big problem than you might reconsider. Lonely Planet Phrasebook is a good start.

Tourist are having trouble with prepaid sims..best to go to a kiosk at a mall and let them do it....every mall will have every service, more or less. But a Malaysian tourist sought my help with the aim she bought On her flight....nope. But her friends worked fine. Smart phone frequencies vary by country, and unlocked doesn't necessarily mean unlocked, BUT you can use your smartphone from the US in a Wi-Fi area..as a start. And there are also new rules on foreigners with sim, some kind of registration process. The terrorist use them, so they decided to end easy off the shelf purchases of Sim, but you might just have to show your passport at 711 and register it.
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Old 09-10-2018, 10:40 PM
 
Location: Macao
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Originally Posted by Hal Roach View Post
The Chinese are buying up Cambodia, and thus ruining it. And yes, the young Australian s and Brits are very clicky, had drinking, fight starters, and the guys are worse...kind of like the way the college kids ruined Cancun and Florida on Spring Break....proximity has a lot to do with it, obviously.

Agree about Nam...in Thailand if you are doing something wrong, but not criminal..the cops tend to be pretty passive..same with rent-a-cops....they are most concerned with stepping on the wrong toes...say drinking some place you shouldn't of a little jaywalking. But, in Vietnam, there is no such thing as a friendly look by a cop...everything gets a complete dressing down. The Viet Girls are so hot, though, lol, but it is a gold diggers world, even more than BK K which is no small feat. The Malaysians may be the cream of the crop as far as the neighbors..
Yeah, I noticed that about Vietnamese as well. Extremely money-obsessed, much more than Thai. Thailand are kind of smart about it...i.e. just provide what you want in exchange for money. Let you hear what you want to hear, etc.

Vietnamese can just be cut-throat about it, making it very clear they have no other intentions whatsoever.
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Old 09-10-2018, 10:45 PM
 
Location: Macao
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Originally Posted by Hal Roach View Post
most condos do not allow dogs, but there is an occasional squeaker. Street dogs are a problem, and a good reason to live on a main road, where there are none...not pitbulls, but dogs pack. Not good for walking, but great conveniences. Good paths and dogparks? wrong country. I have smelled 420, but it is very covert. You could find yourself in a position to get extorted (kind of like parts of the US). And sellers might be working for 5-0. Fines would be 150 USD and up, but the fine in court would only be 60, but you still run a risk of jail and if deportation. Lawyer might be 2000 usd....but others have faced the judge alone, apologized, paid 60, and we re fine. Like the US, you are much safer at home, and never underestimate how much joints stink, even compared to a pipe. Reasonably cheap and legal to get some teacher's helper (valium). My biggest conundrum is the four Good lookers selling food across the street, at least two are sisters, but they all look related. I had the pork, ginger, onions tonight and that was 90 cents. but they are quietly very flirty, typical, and nice as can be, and want to know if I am single...but I just have to be cautious as I have to walk by every time I leave my building, and there are very few foreigners around here. I think they know what time I am coming by, before I do. Being single can end abruptly, here.
I'd like to add more on that as well.

Dogs are EVERYWHERE in Thailand. Yes, packs. That is one of the unnerving things about smaller cities at night in Thailand. The streets are deserted and the dog packs start roaming. It's unnerving to have to walk down a street in those quieter mid-size cities of Thailand because of them. In Bangkok, I usually saw the stray dogs around the temples - Buddhist monks feed them, keeping them alive and mangy and diseased, but kicking.

420. Yeah, huge huge no-no in Thailand and throughout Asia. There is a really good Locked-Up Abroad episode about a backpacker who just accepted some 420 at the beach and was thrown in jail with the typical extortions. I really think the U.S. (and Amsterdam) are the best countries for that. Nowhere in Asia is good for it. It's not that it's not there, it's just that foreigners pay a very hefty penalty for possessing even the smallest amounts.
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Old 09-10-2018, 10:59 PM
 
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true. my condo is so much better for sleeping than my house was in suburban Chiang mai. A friend jokingly told me..you won't get burglarized, not so sure about a dog bite. Thais rarely walk more than 50 meters, so they just don't realize you will gladly walk a mile or two to not drink drive or to save a few bucks..you won't find peace and quiet in the suburbs of the country...roosters, dogs barking, village public address systems. And yes, the temples can be the epicenter of the local dog problems. I have never been bitten, but closest calls were in the upscale planned community in Chiang Mai. I have met several who were bitten.
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Old 09-11-2018, 10:00 AM
 
5,091 posts, read 8,069,993 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal Roach View Post
I hailed a metered cab go get my two cases of Tiger home from Tesco...took about 10 seconds to get the cab, and 3 Km was 51 THB. Airport last year was 26 KM and metered cab was 211 THB. Problems with taxis are confined to the very touristy areas, and even there, you say meter, and if they don't acknowledge , you just don't get in. The try to do flat fees for bar hoppers in the entertainment areas....mostly walkable trips....They did arrest 14000 cab drivers in the last year for malfeasance, but most said that barely scratched the surface.
I remember when taking a tuk-tuk from Sukhumvit to the Don Muang airport was about 55 baht. By unmetered taxi, around 100. Even metered taxis would turn off the meters (in the wee hours of the morning) as they were prepaid by hotels. Those days are pretty much gone forever.

14000 cab drivers arrested last year for malfeasance? Like gouging passengers by taking the longest routes instead of the shortest to get a larger fare? Or for driving through traffic like there's no one else on the roads? Who needs rides at an amusement park? Just hop in a cab. Maybe we've been pretty lucky, but nearly all the cabs and tuk-tuks we've been in, the drivers were chatty, helpful and pretty good people. Maybe the cops see them as another source of income. Admittedly, there have been a few that had no idea what they were doing or where they were going. Most of them were fresh from upcountry with no experience in BKK.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal Roach View Post
Street signs are in English out here, but I have seen my street spelled four different ways on the signs, due to transliteration. I can read, write, and speak the numbers which would be a great starting point for anyone. The written numbers are mostly only used on government docs, though...but their calendar is often used...2561 is actually 2018. There are Thai keyboards and also Thai fonts in windows...and Thai typewriters at government offices. Electric bill is mostly Thai with some english, but all Arabic numbers. I added them as a payee in bill pay and I just click and it already knows how much I owe, and won t allow payment unless I owe...free too. Water bill has the meter readings and amounts in Arabic numbers..3 bucks last month. Internet is mostly Thai, except Arabic amounts and unlike electric, my name in English is on the bill. I pay that at 711..they just scan the bar code.
LOL. That reminds me of how many different ways English words are spelled on street signs. Look at how many different ways Chatuchak is spelled. Wittayu is also spelled Vittayu. I understand the reasons, but it's not always consistent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal Roach View Post
But, yes, there is a pretty big language barrier, and their English hasn't improved over the years, and ironically some very blue collar people will often speak better English than some highly educated.
Much of the language "barrier" you mention is related to Thais learning English from Thais, as well as the amount of time spent practicing. The "problem" is even greater in villages well outside of the cities or in areas where there are pretty much Thais only. Not that much of a problem for me though. Personally, what I hear in the way of butchered English, is usually in pronunciation (heavy Thai accent) and grammar. True, a fair number of blue collar people do pretty well with English. But so do the more highly educated. It pays to speak English reasonably well. Taxis, hotels, many restaurants and food vendors, hospitals, department stores, international companies, airports, banking, tourism, etc. As far as I know, schools still teach English to kids, but the problem is that once the kids are out of school for the day, they're right back into Thai only at home and play, which makes it easier to forget what they learned. Dedicated language schools are probably better for Thais learning English. If the family can afford it, sending their kids to colleges abroad, such as the USA, UK, etc., gives the kids much better exposure to English. A good number of colleges in the US have schools that teach English for foreign students. The better they are at English means a higher TOEFL score and greater opportunity to attend better universities. And having a good university listed on a resume can mean getting a better job back in Thailand. I have to admit that I'm pretty bad when it comes to reading Thai numerals, although I can say them. Thai reference to clock-time is another I have a hassle with. I know it, but it's still a confusing system to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal Roach View Post
I am still a beginner after 20 years, kind of like many golfers, but taking care of routine stuff is very routine, and sometimes can be easier than the US, and usually a lot cheaper. Learning Spanish is much easier...so if that was a big problem than you might reconsider. Lonely Planet Phrasebook is a good start.
Lonely Planet might be okay, but it wouldn't be very high on my list of preferences though. I don't know if it's still in print or not, but Thai Phrase Handbook, by E.G. Allyn, is much better and covers a wider variety of typical everyday subjects. It's a WYSIWYG type of phrase book. Size-wise, it's about 8.25"x5.5" and about 300 pages. Looking around online, it looks like it's still available through Amazon. There's an Audio CD version of it, but I don't think that'd be very handy to use when you're out and about. The drawback to such phrasebooks, is you can't hear how something actually sounds. Also, like any language, in real life, there are differences from person to person. And there are the electronic pocket translation phrase and dictionaries, some of those are with voice so you can hear it. Some can be rather spendy ($300 to $500). But there are some that are in the range of around $40 (I presume text only).

These are 2-way speech devices:
https://www.ectaco.com/ECTACO-ETh800...HHBFE4P33W0S42
Thai - English - Thai electronic dictionary and language translators.

If a person is going to spend a considerable amount of time in Thailand, such as to live or work, then it's a good idea to learn the language, at least reasonably well. It'd make life a lot easier and open more doors for you. That said, there are people in Thailand who never learn any Thai. They pretty much stick to wherever and whoever speaks English only. I know a few expats who know very little Thai, but are married to a Thai who can also speak English.
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Old 09-11-2018, 10:46 AM
 
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only 7000 Thai students studying at US Unis...so 1 in 10,000 at any given time...3/4 likely from BKK...so most are learning here. The Thai English majors are mostly laughable..add eastern europeans, philipinoes, indians, and Africans and it is just about a circus, not to mention The Scottish, who are often outdone by Germans in pronunciation. And quite a few brits are tough to understand, too. The vast majority of the students are going to speak Thai at home, and that isn't going to change..same situation with the Spanish speakers in the US, although they still get a lot of exposure and need English more to survive.

I was able to locate a window shop, tell them what I need, the size, make an appointment for them to install, and negotiate a price and addition for tinting today. I doubt the guy could count to 20 in English...and it was really very pleasant. We both knew the context and the important stuff. Oh, and how thick the glass would be, and how many panes. I might not even get a second estimate. and one day service. Same with the fieldwork I did in CM...worked side by side for three days..never really got annoyed..and learned a very often used word by contractors: poo-knee....means tomallow..lol.
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Hal Roach View Post
only 7000 Thai students studying at US Unis...so 1 in 10,000 at any given time...3/4 likely from BKK...so most are learning here. The Thai English majors are mostly laughable..add eastern europeans, philipinoes, indians, and Africans and it is just about a circus, not to mention The Scottish, who are often outdone by Germans in pronunciation. And quite a few brits are tough to understand, too. The vast majority of the students are going to speak Thai at home, and that isn't going to change..same situation with the Spanish speakers in the US, although they still get a lot of exposure and need English more to survive.

I was able to locate a window shop, tell them what I need, the size, make an appointment for them to install, and negotiate a price and addition for tinting today. I doubt the guy could count to 20 in English...and it was really very pleasant. We both knew the context and the important stuff. Oh, and how thick the glass would be, and how many panes. I might not even get a second estimate. and one day service. Same with the fieldwork I did in CM...worked side by side for three days..never really got annoyed..and learned a very often used word by contractors: poo-knee....means tomallow..lol.
I've usually heard the term proong-nee used. But I can certainly imagine "poo-knee" is likely as well. A lot of Thais often speak in a somewhat lazy manner, as well as with shortened words, especially in very casual, informal conversations, or from small villages, sort of a mix of Thai-Lao. It could be because the "R" sound doesn't always come through clearly. Not hard to understand by context though. Same goes for using an "L" sound instead of an "R" sound. Sala-bulee, instead of Saraburi. I think it's also common in radio broadcasts. My wife does that sort of thing pretty frequently.

I agree, most of the average Thais who learn English, learn it in Thailand. I don't know about Thais who are English majors. Most that I've known in the US are generally Business majors studying for a master's degree, or Medical degree. I spent about 5 years as a volunteer for the English Language Institute's Conversant Program, and worked mostly with Thais because of my familiarity of the language. On one occasion, I was a guest speaker at Chulalongkorn University's sister English Language Program. The object was to let the students experience hearing a native speaker of English in a classroom setting. The director of the program at Chula was, of course, a Thai. It was an interactive class that included the students to ask questions in English as well. My memory of that occasion was how brutally hot the classroom was, even with numerous ceiling fans going. That all happened a couple of days after I arrived. No time to acclimate.
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Old 09-11-2018, 02:08 PM
 
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I noticed you could hear the NG in Chiang Mai..on "mai tung" (no bag), but in Udon it was simply "mai 2" ...and in bangkok, it is in between. Lamphun and Lampang are always L words, and you always get a bit of g in Lampang..but Lad Prao..is Rad Plow...apparently the islands are Go , not Ko..but it has been mispronounced for so long even the Thais do it. And KSR is Cow San road...named for the rice (kow) milling origins of the area..but it is often called Co.

Last edited by Hal Roach; 09-11-2018 at 02:31 PM..
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