Monthly Archives: January 2011

Reflection on Mindfulness


I listened to a really interesting show on Being on NPR  today.

To listen to the program, go here.

The host interviewed  Mr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is the author of Coming To Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness.

The part of the program that I found profound was when Mr. Safina said that in Asian languages the word heart and mind are the same or interchangeable. In fact, this remark is true in Thai. I was just talking to one of my students yesterday and he said that on one occasion Tha Nation newspaper translated the King’s speech that a judge should use a”heart” to judge, while Bangkok Post translated the word as “mind.” In fact, the word combination “jai” (heart) are found the most in Thai language.

Perhaps, the best example can be seen in Khao-jai (to enter heart), which means to understand in Thai. This means that the cognitive process actually enters through the heart, rather than the brain.

Another intriguing point from the program was when the guest mentioned the idea that our perception of the world was through what happened to us at that point. If we received a bad news that we lost our loved one, then the world seemed to be crashing down. It seems that Mr. Safina feels that in Buddhism suffering and pain are acceptable and a reality of life. I was just thinking about Ecclesiastes’s “there’s time for everything,” when I heard that remark. We can’t just expect everything to always go our way. When it got to this point in the program, I felt like I was back in my secondary school where we were required to meditate for our Buddhism class twice a week, regardless of religion. For me, those mind exercise still helps me today to tune out and be contemplative when life seems to be overwhelming.

In brief, studying languages and spending time contemplating about its roots and origins can be really rewarding to a learner like when we discuss the word Jai (heart) today. When you learn a new language, you are, in one way or another, expanding your perception of the world.

Photo Credit


Continuity is key to learning a new language.


ความพยายามอยู่ที่ไหน ความสำเร็จอยู่ที่นั่น– Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I have been thinking about Thai students that I have taught over the past five years and one word best describes the successful students–continuity. Learning a new language when you have limited exposure to the language can pose a challenge. Your only exposure might be the Thai restaurant in your neighborhood where the wait staff might be busy to talk to you more than taking your order.

My recommendation to learning Thai when you are not in Thailand is to keep at it. You definitely should find yourself a good teacher, find resources outside of your lesson and be disciplined. The goal to become proficiency in Thai reading and speaking is surely obtainable within one year or less, with only a lesson a week. I have seen countless students do it and so can you.

Picture Credit

My friend’s blog–Reeses in Thailand


I came across my friend’s blog entry this morning and I feel like it is a breath of a fresh air.

Coffee and Religious Dialogue

When I was young, I wanted to become a nun. First, it was a Buddhist nun, then a Christian nun.  I even formed a nun club at my church. Apparently, that idea did not pan out well, but I still have a wedding band that is a replica from the marriage of Martin Luther and Catherine von Bora, a runaway nun.

I think Derran’s blog entry vividly describes the beautiful encounter of the minds in regard to religion. I feel strongly about the roles of women in religion.

Uhh.. I would love to write more but I have to finish writing some stuff for school so I will come back to this topic when I have more time.

Phayao, Thailand

Photo credit

Thai language book review


David Smyth’s Thai: An Essential Grammar

I have been using this book for around four years as it was recommended to me by a former Thai student who studied Thai in college in America and I think it offers the best explanation for non-native Thai learners. As a Thai, David Smyth’s book offers a clear sense of how Thai structures work since I did not learn Thai the way I learned English syntax. Personally, I think that this book offers a better explanation of Thai structural concepts than Thai Reference Grammar by James Higbie. Higbie’s book though focuses mostly on colloquial Thai, I find the book’s content arrangement confusing. If you are serious about learning Thai and can get a hold of this book cheap, I highly recommend this book. The part that is a “turn off” for most students when they use this book is transliteration. However, if you are not willing to learn the Thai basic writing, you will have to face that problem that all Thai books use a different system of transliteration anyway.

The way to use this book: start from the Appendix in the back and you will learn how Smyth’s transliteration system works. After you learn the transliteration system works on the chapter on verb and question.

Benjawan Poomsan Becker’s Thai for Beginners

I typically use this book for vocabulary learning. Considering its inexpensive price, it should be your first Thai learning book. If you can get a hold of the audio CD, it will also be helpful. The multimedia version, however, has not been as useful to my students. I recommend using this book for its extensive word list and David Smyth’s Thai: An Essential Grammar for structure.  Both books should get you started in putting the sentences together and engage in a conversation. Try to categorize the words you learn from Becker’s book since if you jump in to try to memorize all the words from lesson one to ten, you might have a real serious headache, and give up learning Thai altogether. For example, memorizing places from lesson two and try to use a visual map of your neighborhood and start calling the post office as Bprai-Sa-Nee.

Thai Phrasebook from Lonely Planet

This is a quick reference book if you are about to go on a trip to Thailand. Some of the words will need a major revision since Thai expressions do not work the same way as English does so you cannot simply do a direct translation. However, my students find the dictionary at the end of the book really useful.

Colloquial Thai by John Moore and Saowalak Rodchue

The merit of this book is in its extensive exercise. It also provides a learner with funny and realistic conversations. I think the chapters progress naturally and the book includes the Cultural section which I find tremendously useful. The horrendous part is still the transliteration so the book should be useful after you have some knowledge of the basic Thai writing.

Everyday Thai for Beginners by Dr. Wiworn Kesavatana-Dohrs

Finally, the Thai learning book with a good illustration. This book is highly recommended if you are choosing a book to use for a small class. The content is categorized into different topics, similar to Progressive Thai by Rungrat Luanwarawat. However, I personally prefer using Everyday Thai for Beginners to reinforce vocabulary when I teach  based on scenarios. For examples, when I teach on a restaurant and ordering food chapter, Everyday Thai for Beginners offers possible sentences than merely offering the names of food items like in Progressive Thai.

Upcoming Thai movie “Insects in the Backyard” banned in Thailand


After watching the trailer, I am extremely excited to see this new movie. Unfortunately, the movie is being banned by the Ministry of Culture of Thailand. The movie Insects in the Backyard, based on the description appeared on the official document from the ministry, is banned because it may portray teenage prostitution while students are still in uniform. (So if they are not in uniform, it would have been fine. Seriously?) I admit that I will have to read more on Thai censorship law but the decision to ban the movie in Thailand altogether is simply outrageous. The rating of NC-17 is not even granted to this movie so it will not be shown in the country to the people who need to see the reality of sexuality in Thailand.

Why can’t we respect art for art’s sake? If people are willing to spend money on the movie, just let them watch it. Do we always need to sanitize our art?

Synopsis of Insects in the Backyard

The case of Mai Muan ใ


This lesson is for intermediate to advance Thai level.

Though ใ (mai muan) and ไ (mai ma-lai) both create the sound “-ai” in Thai, there are only twenty words that use ใ (mai muan).

As a kid, this is how we memorize it in school. It is a poem that has all the words spelled with Mai Muan ใ

I have also provide a word for word translation of the poem since translating poetry is not my expertise.


(the head of the village)(look for)(cloth)(new)


(for)(daughter in law)(use)(hang, to wrap around)(neck)


(desire)(take)(to put in)(wrap)


(not)(yield)(anybody)(ask)(to look at)


(will)(want)(go on board)(sailing boat)


(watch, look at)(water)(clear)(and)(fish)(crab)


(something)(is located)(in)(cabinet)


(is not)(located in)(under)(bed)


(mad and mute person)(hold)(lotus fiber)






(20)(mai muan)(to remember)(well)

Quote of the day


“Discover what you love and become engrossed in it.” —  DJ Nakadia

“ค้นหาตัวเองให้เจอ แล้วหมกมุ่นกับสิ่งที่ตัวเองทำอยู่ตลอดเวลาค่ะ” – สีไพร มุ่งพันธ์กลาง หรือ ดีเจนาคาเดีย  อดีตสาวโรงงานที่ผันชีวิตไปเป็นดีเจเปิดแผ่นระดับโลก


Picture Credit

Thai for Muay Thai Practioners


ศิลปะการป้องกันตัว              Si-la-bpa-gaan-bpong-gan-dtua                                Martial Arts
มวยไทย                                 Muay Thai                                                           Thai boxing
มวยโบราณ                           Muay boran
the word “boran” literally means ancient  so the word muay boran means ancient boxing
ชก                                          chok                                                                       to punch, to hit
ต่อย                                        dtoy                                                                       to strike
ศอก                                       sok                                                                         elbow (n.)
หมัด                                        mat                                                                        fist, punch
เหวี่ยงหมัด                            wiang-mat                                                          to throw a punch
ไหว้ครู                                   wai-kruu
A ceremony performed prior to a fight to show respect for one’s teacher
รำมวย                          ram-muay
A dance performed to pay respect to one’s Muay Thai master before a fight (Please see)
มงคล                                      mong-kon
Auspicious fillets worn as a head piece. It is typically removed before a fight.
เตะ                                          dte                                                                         to kick
ถีบ                                           teep                                                                       to kick, to push with the foot (for more information see)
ฝ่ายรุก                                    faai-rook                                                              offense side
ฝ่ายรับ                                    faai-rap                                                                defense side
หัว                                           hua                                                                        head
หน้าแข้ง                                 na-kaeng                                                             shin
กำปั้น                                      gum-bpan                                                           fist
คาง                                         kaang                                                                    chin
หัวเข่า                                     hua-khao                                               knee
เท้า                                          thao                                                                       foot
ขา                                           kaa                                                                         leg
แขน                                        kaen                                                                      arm
สะโพก                                    sa-poke                                                                hips
หมุน                                       moon                                                                to turn one’s body
กระโดด                                  gra-dot                                                                to jump
โจมตี                                      jome-dtee                                                           to attack
คู่ต่อสู้                                      k00-dtaw-soo                                                    opponent
รอบ                                         rop                                                                         rounds
เวทีมวย                                  way-tee-muay                                                   boxing ring
สู้                                             soo                                                                         to fight
การแข่งขัน                            gaan-kaeng-kun                                          competition
คะแนน                                   ka-nan(nan as in van)                                    score
กรรมการ                               gum-ma-gaan                                                    judges
ชนะ / แพ้                               cha-na/pae                                                         win/lose
แข็งแรง                                 kaeng-raeng                                                       strong
แข็ง                                         kaeng                                                                    stiff
เหนื่อย                                    nuai                                                                       to be tired
เจ็บ                                          jep                                                                          sore
ช้ำ                                           chum                                                                     bruise
เลือด                                       luat                                                                        blood