Let me say up front that I am not making fun of Thai people, culture or language. But at the same time, things happen, or I read things that give me a good chuckle. And I don’t see why I shouldn’t pass along those things, so that you can chuckle too.

I make mistakes. People laugh at me – good-naturedly, I hope – so why can’t I return the favor?

The Thai language continues to confuse me, as it does most farangs. It must be second in complexity to English. But the main problem is that things and concepts are phrased in different ways, that make no sense if you just try to translate a Thai phrase word for word.

I find it embarrassing when a Thai person takes the time to translate something and to speak to me in English, and I find I haven’t a clue what they are saying. They know they are speaking English words. I do too. But when you put those words together in the same order as they were expressed in Thai, you get something of a meaningless jumble. And very often the Thai words seem to express a concept that cannot be directly translated.

As an example, if I wanted to ask “How much is a glass of beer?” in Thai I’m supposed to rearrange those words to say “Beer, glass per, how much krap?” Yes, everything ends in “krap” – especially after a Thai curry.

thailand, ministry of labour, language
thailand, ministry of labour, language

Now, you see, there’s a lot of things us farangs are not allowed to do in Thailand, unless we have a work permit to undertake some specific task. Most of us just want to live here, not work here, so quite reasonably there are restrictions. Unfortunately though, those restrictions were phrased in a very vague format. Something about not being allowed to do anything that requires expending effort or using expertise. So, that rules out an omelet for breakfast!

Recently, the Ministry of Labour decided to be somewhat more precise. On their website they listed 39 specific things we’re not allowed to do. But, someone decided to do the exact thing I’ve just explained that you can’t do. They translated the words, and assumed in English they made sense.

I could send you to the relevant web page, but wisely, it now says “Access Denied.” I’ve reproduced it here, but it’s not very readable, so here instead is the list. You be the judge:

Career aliens do not.

Not alien to the professional set of career. Professional and not an alien to do.

Account end decree.

Set in professional video and tea alien life that do not.


  1. The proletariat.
  2. Farmers gas party animals of the forest or fishery, except that the use of specialized expertise or the control of farms.
  3. The masonry construction or other carpentry work.
  4. Carved wood.
  5. The driving vehicle. The driver or vehicle that does not use machinery or mechanical. Exception of the pilot countries.
  6. The sale of every page.
  7. The auction.
  8. Monitoring or control services unless account the interim audit.
  9. The cut or polished diamonds or pebble.
  10. The haircut or the curl of beauty.
  11. Work hand-weaving.
  12. Of woven mats or work appliances with rattan reed or straw, hemp bamboo pulp.
  13. Paper hand job.
  14. Lacquer work.
  15. Thai musical work.
  16. Job filling machine.
  17. Work a gold or silver otter.
  18. Lghin a job.
  19. Job Thai dolls.
  20. Berth blanket mitt work.
  21. The card.
  22. The products made from silk hand.
  23. Job Buddha.
  24. Work knife.
  25. Indoor work with paper or cloth.
  26. Work shoes.
  27. Work hat.
  28. The broker or the agent unless the agent or broker in the business of international trade.
  29. Work in the engineering profession. Civil Engineering. Associated with the design calculations and organize research project construction control testing. Or advice. Excluding the special expertise required.
  30. Job-related professional architectural design drawings about price director of construction or advice.
  31. Crafts apparel.
  32. The sculpture or pottery making.
  33. The roll by hand.
  34. The guide. Or the organized tour.
  35. Hawk the product.
  36. Work individually hand-printed Thai characters.
  37. The young, and some hand-twisting spiral.
  38. The clerk or secretarial staff.
  39. Work for legal services or legal action.

Well that seems clear enough. I don’t think I’d want, or even like, to do any of those. Although I must admit contemplating the potential for getting a paper cut while doing #13 did bring a tear to my eye.


...has been travelling the world for more than sixty years; having lived and worked in five countries and travelled to many many more.

He likes to write about his travels - present and past - along with his other main interests of Drones, Information Technology and Motorsport, and he adds a few general twitterings along the way.

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