Thai Lack of Responsibility

I could write a whole chapter for a book on this topic with the experiences I’ve had over the years with Thais. If you have stayed in Thailand or visited for any length of time, you have probably seen it too.

The most recent event, and the one that prompted this post came yesterday…

I had dropped off a new snake the week before – a deadly, and rare snake for this area, with some Thai friends that also keep venomous snakes. I didn’t have a good place to keep this new snake, and I trusted that these guys would take care of it for a few days until I was able to take it myself for a week and get some video of feedings.

So, I put it in a cage with about 3 other innocuous snakes – none big enough to bother my snake, and none small enough to be eaten by my snake. It’s a big cage and more than adequate for the small number of snakes that were in the cage.

I returned a few days later to find a king cobra in the same cage as my snake. King cobras eat other snakes. I explained to my friend – this wasn’t a good arrangement. He insisted it was fine. There were other snakes in the cage that the cobra would eat first before risking anything with my snake – also deadly to the cobra if bitten, but with a slight chance it could actually inflict damage to the king cobra.

I didn’t like the arrangement – but, my snake was under a rock, hiding and my friend insisted it was safe. I told my friend I’d come back the next day and pickup my snake. He assured me that the king cobra would not eat my snake. I wanted to believe him – thinking – he must know what the hell he’s talking about.

I returned 2 days later – having been unable to return the following day.

My snake was gone.

There were no openings in the cage – the snake could not have got out.

All the other snakes were still in the cage – including the king cobra.

Result – king cobra ate my snake.

So, I was bummed yesterday, and even more so because my friend showed no sense of responsibility at all. No remorse. And, least of all – no “Sorry about that…”

Thais so rarely say “I’m sorry.”

My wife doesn’t do it. My Thai friends – after having just destroyed my ping pong paddle, or 800 baht badminton racquet, or camera, or anything else… never even offer… “Sorry about that…”

That kind of sucks. I don’t expect it to change… it just sucks from my perspective because I go way out of my way to make it “right” if I break or lose someone’s things. There is a feeling of responsibility among farangs to do so – don’t you think so?

Thais just don’t have it. They don’t feel it I guess. Their culture taught them that “shit happens”. Karma, fate, whatever – it happens. Wasn’t my friend’s fault the king cobra ate my snake. There were 9 other cages my snake could have gone into – or that the king cobra could have been placed into and it would have been safe… but, no.

Thais have this tendency to do whatever the hell they want, and whatever results, results, they don’t get upset about it or feel any responsibility for what results – it’s as if they have no “me” sometimes. While this is the Buddhist ideal, hardly anyone in the country even meditates… none of my friends do. My wife doesn’t. It isn’t a lack of me – induced by Buddhist practice…

What is it then?

No idea… I just live with it. Yesterday was pretty much the last time I’ll ever trust a Thai with anything of value – even people I know very well. My friends knew how important that snake was… they had never even SEEN one themselves… and to be reckless with it – just doesn’t add up in my head.

Another thing that is hard to understand…

Over the years – I’ve been the reason for tens of thousands of baht going into their pockets… I never ask them for any favors at all… and this one time, I say – can you take care of my snake for a few days for me – until I get a good cage?

Sure, sure… yes, we can…

And they fook me over…

Such is life in Thailand.

Anybody else see it that way?

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.

10 thoughts on “Thai Lack of Responsibility”

  1. It is a symptom of unawakened mind, not Buddhism. Buddhism emphasizes “egolessness,” “Not I,” “Not Me.” Thais’ problem comes from ignorance and it isn’t their false. They had not been taught points and counterpoints of views. Nationalism, pride (false pride), and superstition are parts of the Thai’s culture. I think if you and your spouse are planning to return to the West, it won’t hurt if you can tactfully and gently point out different ways of thinking to your Thai spouse. Example of this is: A young Thai-Chinese professional family who moved to the US refuses to let their child participates in a academic program because there are too many “black” children. Thais must deal with their “superiority complex.” On the other hand, Westerners must accept that there is such a thing as an “enlightened Thai.”

  2. wazzzuuuuuppp Brudda Vern,
    sounds like a good plan to open up a pineapple smoothie
    business. but its better if we get our pineapples from South
    America where its cheaper to get. thats why Dole plantation
    went pretty much out of business from the cheaper competition
    from Mexico and such. Mo betta we make one pineapples smoothie
    business hea in Thailand. mo Cheap!
    Catch u lataz,
    Brudda Jon

    1. Shhhhh brah, like 600 people read this blog a day – let’s not giveeeeem da business.

      I wonder would pineapple smoothie work here – I think so… put on ya thinkin’ cap brah, we might have one beeeeeezniss.

    2. Shhhhh brah, like 600 people read this blog a day – let’s not giveeeeem da business.

      I wonder would pineapple smoothie work here – I think so… put on ya thinkin’ cap brah, we might gottem one beeeeeezniss.

  3. Howzit Brudda Vern!!!!!
    Got back from Hawaii earlier this week. I just seen this blog and thought that you hit it right on the mark!! I thought I was the only one who thought that about Thais. Drives me nuts. Especially on the road when someone cuts you off or is driving straight for you on the wrong side of the road and they look at you like you’re wrong. I have to stop here I could write a book for all the dumb things people do here and not take responsibility for. Anyway, At least my wife and my daughter (who we taught from early age to take responsibility for her mistakes)and my family here learn to at least say sorry for their mistakes. If even my family here didn’t, I would probably have moved back home in Hawaii by now. In the words of my dear friend in Hawaii “other peoples mistakes can get you killed” and so this is why it drives me nuts. Other than that I love this place!!!

    1. howzit bruddah Jon?!!!! I loved that quote… other people’s mistakes can get you killed. This is what is behind my anger when i drive and someone puts not just my life in danger, but, my family too. Thais take nothing all that seriously except respect for HM The King and the Royal Family. Is there anything else that is taken seriously? I’m not sure – I don’t think I see it. Oh wait, yes, Thai Face. Which is, I guess, the reason nobody says “Sorry” in Thailand because it is an admission of doing wrong – and losing face. It’s the reason drivers look at YOU as if you’re out of your mind – when they’ve just done the most ridiculous move…

      Ahhhhh… living in Thailand… it doesn’t compare to Hawaii, does it Jon? Let’s move back, come on – we’ll buy some land and make a pineapple plantation and sell pineapple smoothie like Dole Plantation… you stay wid me brah?

  4. I’ve been in Thailand, like you, for a while. We both know that the Thai’s don’t take accountability for their actions so why trust them in the first place with something that is important to you?

    1. Hi Steve,

      You’re right – of course. Essentially I’m the idiot that trusted them. Latest update is that they lost the snake out a hole in the cage. Then, they found it the next morning. Then, they lost it again. I don’t expect to see it again. Anybody have a krait they want to give me?

      1. Hi Vern,

        How long have you stayed in Thailand Vern?
        Never trust a Thai with something that must be done a certain way. When I was building my house in Khanom I had to be on the site every single day. If I went away, even for a couple of hours, they started to do as they wanted…..and that was not the way I wanted things to be done.


        1. A long time… years. I have also heard that about building a home – you must be there day in and day out and watch what they’re doing – or they do it Thai style and your house is not like it should be… So, how did it work out – any roof leaks? Fooked electric? Anything to complain about? Where is Khanom… you know in Thailand, the name of a place could be found in 6 different areas… Khanom – is like Khao Phanom Bencha area – there is a place named Khanom. I think there is also a Khanom between Surat and Don Sak Pier, if I’m not mistaken. Where is your Khanom Chris?

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