Taxi Teachings: Thai Lessons

I’m in the backseat of a taxi, driving from BKK to what will hopefully be my guesthouse a few blocks away from Khao San Road in Bangkok, when he asks:

“You fir time?”

“Sorry?” I lean in closer, trying to understand through his accent. He holds up one finger. “Fir time? Bangkok?” “First time? Yes.” I say.

“Aah.” He nods and when I ask him if he’s from here, he enthusiastically starts showing me different cities in Thailand on the invisible map that exists in front of all of us.

thai teaching taxi driver on cell phone, bangkok, thailand“Bangkok – here.” He points at the air, and goes on to name other cities in different directions. “Chiang Mai nors (north), Patthalung sows, Pai nors-ess, there.” I nod as he repeats himself, but after he names about nine different cities I no longer know what he’s trying to tell me.

“What is most beautiful city in Thailand?” I ask.

“Yes, yes, very beauteeful. Suwaiee. Beauteeful.” Huh? “Beauteeful. Suwaiee. You – suwaiee.”


Suwaiee is beautiful?” “Yes, but me – no suwaiee.” I laugh, but he says, “Lady – suwaiee. Man – low. Handsome.” He pats his chest to point to himself. “Chan low. Lady – suwaiee.”

Score! Thai lessons!

“You say hello: Sawatdde-KHA – hello!” he waves at no one in particular and repeats until I get it right.

Sa-wat-dee-KHA.” I hark out the last syllable. “Yes!” He laughs. “Sawatdeekha. Hello. You say good morneen, good afternoon, good eveneen – all same same: sawatdee-kha.”

“You want buy.” He hold up his bottle of water. “You want buy, you say: Tau rye HA? How much? Tao rye ha?” He’s so excited I can barely keep up typing it all on my phone.

En route to Penpark Place, Bangkok, ThailandHe goes on to teach me how to say I want to buy water (chan suuh nam noi ha), turn left (leyo sai) and right (leyo hua), ‘I love you’ (chan rak-hon), women’s toilet (hong naam), and ‘okay’ (tok long kha). So, all the basics.

Wait! “How do you say ‘thank you’?” I ask before I leave.

“Tank you. Kop-hoon kha. Tank you. You want say tank you very much, you say: kop-hoon MA kha.” I close the door and he drives off.

Kophoonmakha indeed! And what a great intro to Thailand – I’d recommend it if I could.

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