When you’ve stayed in Thailand for a while you may well have heard the phrase ‘Thai Time’ being used with regard to construction, refurbishment and other building related work. In fact, you may well hear this phrase used in relation to many other activities to such as queuing at Immigration, applying for a driving license and any other paperwork related exercises that seem to take forever.
Thai time ticks real slow and is similar to the Spanish ‘manana’, which simply means ‘tomorrow’. At first, as a foreigner, you begin to feel the locals are just deliberately wasting your time, but in fact they are wasting everybody’s time! Or are they? What’s the rush? It’s hot, humid and working too hard will certainly make you tired and put you in an early grave. Waiting that extra hour whilst all the staff take their lunch break at the same time at the Toyota service centre may seem ludicrous to you, but hey, it’s lunch time. Everybody has to eat and Thais are expert at eating for sure. Why don’t they have a staggered lunch hour, where half the staff have a break at 12 Noon and the other half at 1 pm? Seems logical to the western way of thinking for sure, but… Remember, this is the East. Things are done differently here and no one wants to listen to your crazy suggestions because if you’re right, everyone loses face. So a smile and see you in one hour, or so, will have to do. Live with it.
Here are some other examples of Thai time for reference, feel free to add your own;
Why in most Thai restaurants do you and your friends/partner get served at different times? You may have even finished your steak by the time your girlfriend gets her squid soup ensemble!
Third road traffic lights in Pattaya….. The busier the traffic gets, the slower the lights change. Thai time is affected exponentially by the rising stress levels of foreigners with black crash helmets slowly melting in the midday sun waiting for the lights to turn green! Keep calm and buy a white helmet on pay day!
Laos border visa run – Your bus arrives at the border at 4.30 am… The border doesn’t open until 6 am. Finally the border control Immigration officers turn up and start posing for photos and taking photos of the waiting foreigners with an iPad. It’s 6.20 am before anything really starts happening. Remember to smile and also that Laos used to be a part of Thailand. In fact Thai time runs a little slower here because it’s less westernized and more laid back. Not such a bad thing really, if you’re not in a rush!
Many believe it is a part of the Buddhist path to enlightenment to understand Thai time and embrace all that it means rather than fight against it. Ultimately though, it’s ‘Up to You!’