One of the things you find out when you are either in a relationship with a Thai person, or live in Thailand, there is a lot of unwritten rules or unsaid do’s and don’t.
It is only when I started to speak to other ex pats, in Thailand or husbands of other Thai ladies, that I discover these things that are unsaid. Then things and incidents fall into place.
There had been a few times when Nui ( My other half) has asked me some questions, and I reply “I don’t know”
“No , no. you cant say that” came Nui’s response.
“But I don’t know?” I explain.
“You cant say that, you have to say something, don’t say I don’t know” she responded
“Errr, 65″ I said
” What do you mean 65, thats not the answer” Nui said.
“I don’t know the answer ?, you said say something, so I said 65. I don’t know the answer Nui ! ”
“Say something, don’t say I don’t know” was the her constant response.
I should have seen it coming or understood the concept, even though its a Thai concept.
So taking this into account, I will tell you two instances that relate to the “I don’t know” thing, and I hope you will understand what I mean.
There was I, with my other half, Nui, she was, wait for it, shopping in a large market in Chiang mai, and as she was looking at a few nice colourful dresses, I saw one that I liked. So, I go to Nui and asked ” How much are these?” As I wanted to get her one as one of them looked really great.
She looked at me and said “OK”
Then she continued to look around in the same stall. I wait, and wait, and I asked a few times and still no answer. So I must confess I was getting annoyed.
So then she finishes looking around, and bought a dress and walks off. Leaving me answerless.
The second incident was when we asked for directions to our accommodation, we asked a local who , politely pointed and spoke in Thai, and with a confidence of a local who knew the area gave us directions. So off we go, certain tin the knowledge we will be heading in the direction of our beds. But alas we dod not find it.
So we found another local and were again pointed in the direction of our destination, again with confidence and with lots of pointing, even though it seemed to be in a different direction that the first helper. Off we go again, with certainty to our beds.
So this happened about 4 times, so I decided to call the owner of our B&B , who by the way was English and he gave me direction, low and behold we got there, granted a few hours later than we wanted , or planned, but got there.
Now, if you knew that the Thai concept of ” You never say I don’t know” the length of time it took us to get home began to be clear.
Now , the Thai’s do not do this in a malicious way, its just the Thai way.
So you ask a Thai directions, and the kind local has no idea where you are asking to go, so, rather than admit they do not know, they will give you direction to where they think it may be. Now if you take into account t the four different directions, we were well lost.
So when you go to Thailand always remember that a Thai person , if they don’t know something will tell you something, it may be wrong, but its something.
I spoke to Nui about this and she said, yea, we never say I don’t know, they will always say something, which I should have guessed. I asked nui why she did not explain this to me and she could not explain this either.
I have lived throughout the world, and in most of the countries I have lived in , apart from Hong Kong, its easy to fit in with the customs as they are similar. This changes when you live in Asian countries as their customs and cultures are very different to European or American.