Communication Issues

Being here in Thailand as a Hmong American, I had many encounters where someone starts speaking Thai to me, and I just nod my head and smile, not understanding a thing. Funny thing, I mistaken other Thai’s to be Hmong, or Hmong to be Thai too. I find myself searching for interactions with Hmong and wishing I can speak more Thai also.

One of my first encounters with Hmong people here on this trip was at the Sunday Market our first night in Chiang Mai. We had a lively chat, then again with other Hmong people at the Night Markets. Then luckily again on the mountaintops, at the markets and at the restaurant where kids were selling flowers. Also at the Hmong New Year, we met some Hmong people. It’s pretty awesome, the instant connection one feels when there is something that is similar.

In many cases I wished I had more Thai vocabulary. During the home stay, communication was a little rough, but body language and a little Charades helped out with basic conversations. When we were talking with our Chaing Rai University buddies, I might have gotten super excited and asked a lot of questions, because it was great hanging out with someone my age. We talked a little bit, but she apologizedbecause she could not communicate with me well. I said no need to apologize because she knows more English than I know Thai. Man, I really wished I knew more Thai so I can get to know these people more.

I have talked to some one who traveled to Italy, and she told me something that I can really relate to here. She said that when we (American) travel somewhere, you feel like the country adapts to you, but why should they. You are visiting their country and to an extent I can relate to this. For example the language. They speak such great English, compare to me, I probably know five words in Thai. That’s is one thing I noticed which is almost like a privilege . Although I felt that our group did well with dress codes, being respectful and trying to communicate with others in Thai. 

Leave a Reply