I’ve been based in Chiang Mai for two weeks. These two weeks are focused on Thai language training. Ajaan Lah, a feisty 40-something private tutor has changed my life. Not only is she a gifted Thai language instructor, she is perhaps the funniest Thai person I’ve ever met. And by funny, I mean wildly inappropriate. It’s a match made in heaven.
We meet for 12 hours per week and the time is absolutely invaluable. She has taught me so much about language, culture, and life according to Thai women. Our sessions consist of her continually correcting my tone, reminding me that she is the best teacher in all of Chiang Mai, throwing new information at me, and then winding down with a game or two of poker (I’ve only won once). Once I asked her how to get to Nimmanhaemin – a hip area of town with good restaurants and wine bars – and she replied, “Your tone wrong. You just ask me where is stinky pussy.” Tone is everything in Thai. Get it wrong and you really get it wrong. I continue to mispronounce words and Ajaan Lah continues to correct me: “You saying brothel instead of two.” “Why you talking about balls of man?”
Aside from the hilarity and naughty words, Ajaan Lah has taught me so much and I’m so grateful to have met this woman. I truly adore her. She is strong-willed, opinionated, determined, hard-working and direct. She expects progress and will not settle for anything less than 100%. I once asked her why many Thai women don’t want to be with Thai men, but prefer Western partners. Her answer was simple, “Because don’t have freedom with Thai men.” We talk about sex, love, family, NGO work, prostitution, the Thai government and any other matter relating to life in Thailand. Ajaan Lah is so much more than a teacher!