Thai Proverbs And Culture Part 2

In today’s post we take a further look at a few more Thai proverbs, sayings and culture notes that follow on from the last post


 At an end of a romantic relationship in the west, you are likely to hear
that ” there are plenty more fish in the sea”
In Thailand they say
The land is not so small as a prune leaf


Culture Note:

The Thais put cleanliness very high up on the priority list and bathe several times a day. You can be certain that smelling nice is part of the Thai culture. They are certainly one of the cleanest living people on the planet, but it is not all down to the 3 or 4 times per day they bathe or shower. A further point is diet , the Thais have a diet light on dairy and meat, but richer in chilli, lemongrass and coriander. 


In Thailand they say:
There’s a thousand friends that will eat with you,but barely one will die with you.

Culture Note:

All around the world the Thais are known and regarded for their friendliness, but in reality it can take quite a while for a Thai to trust and accept you a  real friend. You can enter in to one of tree groups…..

  • A friend that appears when you put food on the table and are prosperous, but gone like a shot when you have problems.
  • A genuine friend and together you share your problems and achievements
  • Or as the proverb suggests a friend to death, one who is prepared to die for you or with you…..  surely hard to find.

China Town Bangkok a hive of activity


In Thailand they say:
ท่านต้องไปสุขา ห้องสุขาจะไม่มาหาท่าน
You must go to the restroom, the restroom won’t come to find you
Meaning: For things you need, you must not wait for them to happen. You must go for it yourself.


In Thailand they say:
ไก่เห็นตึนงู งูเห็นนมไก่
The hen sees the snake’s feet, The snake sees the hen’s breasts
Correct: Snakes and hen’s don’t have such things, but there are people who look for bad things and think they see things that aren’t there.

 The Thai’s consider feet the basest part of the body. Base things like feet and private things like breasts represent mistakes or bad deems that are wanted to be kept private.

Culture Shock

On the account of both the Thai and the Westerner a newly established friendship together is not without it’s complications or mis-understandings. When a Thai accepts you as a friend there are no secrets and everything is fair game to be checked out. What the westerner sees as being nosey a Thai will see as just being curious. The Thai will find the westerner’s way of hiding everything away very strange. The westerner of course is a very private animal, being of an individualist nature and self orientated, but the Thai is more relationship natured and group orientated. It is hardly surprising that misunderstandings arise from time to time.


In Thailand they say:
มือถือสาก ปากถือศีน
The hand holds the pestle, the mouth holds the precepts
Meaning: It’s about one who professes to be noble while engaging in less than honorable activities…. saying one thing and doing another …. hypocrisy.

Nice setting along Sukhumvit Road Bangkok

Culture shock:

I spoke to an Englishman the other day who was moving to Thailand for good with his Thai wife and nothing wrong with that at all. I asked him how the Thai language learning was going assuming he would be making the effort. He replied that he had no desire to learn Thai and that the Thais would have to speak English to him and further more he would not be eating Thai food and he hated the heat. I guess that was where our conversation ended as I advised him to cancel the move. The advice was more for the sanity of the Thais to spare them having another beer drinking, non-smiling, sour faced old farang added to the community. This part was due to be about adapting and change, but after this brief chat, I have put this here as ” what not to do” when you move to Thailand.


In Thailand they say:
เอาน้ำเย็นเข้าลูบ (ความโกรธจะหายไป)
Use cool water to stroke and anger will disappear
Meaning: It refers to speaking gently. One strokes anger with cool gentle words that enter….. then anger will disappear.

Culture Note:

A cool head is required in Thailand and those who can orchestrate a calmness and refrain from anger will be held in high regard. Feelings and emotions are by and large kept in check at all times, respect is instantly lost for the person who throws his or her toys out of the pram when things are not going their way. In other words those who lose control in a public place. Aside from the loss of respect and the loss of face, you can be sure whatever your request was will certainly fall on deaf ears as well. I know it’s an old cliché, but a cool head, good manners and a smile will get you a long way. if you feel like shouting or screaming save it for a karaoke evening or something and ask to do ” the ace of spades” by motorhead , that should get any pent-up frustration out of your system and you save face.


 In Thailand they say:
ไม้ล้มควรข้ามได้โดยหมาย คนล้มจักข้ามกายห่อนได้
A fallen tree should be intentionally crossed over, a fallen person’s body can never be crossed over.
Meaning: Never hit a man when he’s down.

 The fallen person denotes the one who is suffering misfortune. The Buddhist philosophy warns that one’s fate is changeable. One day rich the next day poor. So if a fallen tree lies in the road you can cross over it, but a fallen person, you cannot cross over.

The Thais just love a market ”walking street  market” Chiang Mai


In Thailand they say:
The truth is something that doesn’t die, but the person who speaks the truth may die.
Meanings below … a bit more complicated

Thai interpretation of this proverb:
The truth is immortal but telling the truth sometimes cannot be done , it is wise to conceal the truth if it will cause sorrow to others. e.g not to tell your friend all his or her faults or mistakes. So…
 Also spreading what you believe to be the truth in a negative form about someone in Thai society might see you discovering the last two-word of this proverb come home to roost…….. prematurely.
Culture Note:
Occasionally you will hear people from the Northeast of Thailand (isaan people) being called Lao. Sometimes the isaan people will even joke and call themselves lao. However this is sometimes directed in a not so light-hearted way. The best thing from a foreigner point of view is to avoid using the term even in a jovial way, to avoid unintentional insulting.
In Thailand they say:
Take your ear to the rice field. Take your eyes to the farm.
Meaning: One shouldn’t pay attention to unimportant matters or things that aren’t one’s business.
This is a great one, focusing on what’s important in your life, avoiding the trivial stuff and minding one’s own business…. priceless.
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