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The joy of communication

Travel Forums Asia The joy of communication

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1. Posted by tortuga (Budding Member 20 posts) 9y

hey, i will hopefully be heading to malaysia/thailand this coming winter with my boyfriend and would like to know how difficult communication is on a daily basis concerning things like getting food, accomodation, getting around etc. is english widely understood or is it all about the charades?

2. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 9y

most people speak english - in varying degrees though. look out for young people, they probably speak better english.

most people in KL speak english. JB, too.

in thailand, the english is somewhat halted but u can probably understand them and they will be able to understand u.

we're not third or fourth world countries.. of course we speak english.

3. Posted by emma1979 (Full Member 126 posts) 9y

Hi Kate,

You will get around fine speaking english - as Daphne said most people speak and understand english very well. However it is polite to learn hello and thank you in their languages and it's always well received! Korp Kun Ka is thank you in Thai if you're female and it's Korp Kun Krup if you're male. Terima Kasih (pronounced kassie) is thanks in Malaysian and Sama Sama means you're welcome. You can also buy lonely planet phrase books for about £5 which come in really handy for certain situations.

Emma

4. Posted by NantesFC (Respected Member 531 posts) 9y

I lived in the Philippines for a year and took frequent trips to Malaysia and got through perfectly fine on just speaking English.

5. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1596 posts) 9y

Quoting tortuga

hey, i will hopefully be heading to malaysia/thailand this coming winter with my boyfriend and would like to know how difficult communication is on a daily basis concerning things like getting food, accomodation, getting around etc. is english widely understood or is it all about the charades?

When you are in Thailand pick up small cheap English Thai dictionary and look up the word you want. If you cannot pronounce the Thai word correctly you can simply point to the word written in Thai and you can get your point across.

Malaysia is a little easier than Thailand because they use a regular alphabet. You can look their words up in a dictionary to translate most Malaysian words.

6. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member 352 posts) 9y

Making yourself understood is not usually a problem in Thailand, but sometimes wires are easily crossed which can be funny or frustrating for some people! Learning Thai is hard, I had a dictionary, but the pronunciations are hard, it's best to ask a Thai person how to say something

I found that in Malaysia, it was easier to communicate, a lot of young people seem to be near fluent in English.

7. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Hello Tortuga

Bad English is quite widely spoken. At least, in the places that foreigners frequent.
In other places, there is usually a person in the village who can speak very very basic English. If u ask somebody anything, in English, in one of these places, they will go get this person, for u.

Mel

8. Posted by hellomaya (Budding Member 26 posts) 9y

I should I be starting a new thread? I don't know. Please let me know.

Anyway, I wanted to ask on the same topic: Will phrasebooks be very useful in India & SE Asia?

I'm spending 6-8 weeks each in India and SE Asia and I'm already buying Lonely Planet guides on these countries. Will buying the phrasebooks be really useful, or just another thing weighing down my backpack?

Cheers
Maya

9. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Hello Hellomaya

The lonely planet books, usually have a list of phrases, in them. That is usually enough for me.
If there is something specific, u will need to say to somebody, u can ask a local person to write it for u, in the relevant language.
I would only get a phrasebook, if I was particularly interested in learning some of a language.

Mel

10. Posted by emma1979 (Full Member 126 posts) 9y

Quoting hellomaya

I should I be starting a new thread? I don't know. Please let me know.

Anyway, I wanted to ask on the same topic: Will phrasebooks be very useful in India & SE Asia?

I'm spending 6-8 weeks each in India and SE Asia and I'm already buying Lonely Planet guides on these countries. Will buying the phrasebooks be really useful, or just another thing weighing down my backpack?

Cheers
Maya

Hi Maya, I found the thai phrasebook really useful for getting around and getting to know the locals better. The lonely planet phrasebooks are really small so don't weigh down your backpack at all. You can also buy really small 'Point It' books which are basically full of different photographs of things you may need when you're facing a language barrier and want to ask for something specific.

Emma