Monday, January 18, 2010


I'm sure if you live in the LOS or have visited for any length of time, you have heard this expression. For those of you married ,or living with a Thai lady , it is an all to common and many times frustrating statement. Where do you want to eat ? " UP TO YOU" , what do you want to eat for dinner ? " UP TO YOU", what do you want to do this week-in " UP TO YOU" do you like this shirt, ? should I buy it ? "UP TO YOU . how much money do you need to give to your folks this month ? UP TO YOU . How much money do you want to put in the envelop for the merit making ? UP TO YOU". It seems like me that the Thai's are sooooo afraid of loosing face , that almost anything you ask them ,that would cause them to take responsibilty for the decision made ,will always ,( 99%) get a" UP TO YOU ". Now this (when I first moved to the LOS) use to bother and upset me to no end , but after a while, you just go with the flow and say to yourself "Mai Pen Rai ". It works wonders and certainly keeps your blood pressure down to normal and causes a lot less stress in your life. It also keeps you from making a snap decision , because if you are wrong or, it was not what they wanted you to do or say and it doesn't go the way you planned, and turns out to be a mistake, you will get THE LOOK and sometimes a critical "SOM NAM NA" roughly translated "I TOLD YOU SO" or " I KNEW YOU WERE WRONG" .SOOOO after a while I have learned ,when you hear these words " UP TO YOU" , that sometimes (most) it's best to change the subject and move on to something else or wait 15 min and give them a chance to think about it and come up with a way to make it look like it was their suggestion or their question in the first place . If you are honest, you know that they ( the Thais ) have to be right. I give them a few hints and facts and let them come up with the decision and that seems to save face and also get the answer that I wanted in the first place .
Have you ever experienced this sort of thing ? What do you do or answer when you hear these famous Thai words "UP TO YOU" ?
This was just a thought that ran thru my head as I was having my coffee this morning and was sitting there thinking ,where should I plant the new tree we bought at the market ?and all the time knowing that if I ask Ciejay that I would hear the words "UP TO YOU" Sooooo to say face and act like the BIG BOSS of the yard ,I planted it where I thought was a good place , only to have to dig it up and plant it somewhere else and this time I said (very quitely) to myself "Som Nam Na". Ha Ha Ha.


Mike said...

Hi Malcolm now shall I live a comment?

Whats that "up to you?"

Well I have to say that those three words do still wind me up a little.

Decision making doesn't seem to come out very highly on Thai skills for life. Or perhaps I am being a little harsh and just don't understand the culture?

That said I have found a few work- around's with MTF, its surprising how powerful suggestion can be if you are subtle enough when feeding it into a conversation:-)

Anonymous said...

Ya. Go with the flow. Haha

Martyn said...

Malcolm the saying 'Up to you' must be spoken thousands of times each day in Thailand. Every popular tourist spot in Thailand has probably got an Up to You bar and I even found one with such a name in Udon Thani's Nutty Park.

Nowadays I'm streetwise enough to avoid asking Wilai questions which will inevitably produce an 'up to you' reply. Like Mike and yourself, I use ways to get around it even if at times it is a tedious game to play. Of course when asked a question by your Thai partner you can always answer 'up to you' yourself. That one throws them a little bit.

Talen said...

at read malcolm :)

I have heard "up to you" so many times from Pookie that I began to counter it with "no, up to us" and after a while she caught on.

Then one day we were at Mikes shopping mall in Pattaya and she wanted some new Levi's and she reminded me of our up to us thing and then said this isn't one of those times..." Up to me!"

Britinbangkok said...

I usually say "Up to you" first :-)

In my seven years in Thailand, I've discovered, most of the time, my Thai friends DO know the best restaurant, the best place to buy vitamins, the best way to get somewhere etc. etc., and usually, when I disregard what they say I end up the worse off :-)

I think I've been in Thailand too long, as nothing much bothers me anymore!