What does sanuk mean?
Allow us to answer this in anecdotal form… Across Koh Samui’s popular beaches, food and snack vendors often patrol the shore with all sorts of yummy things: fresh corn on the cob, ice cream, meat sticks…. Here we salute the man who truly knows his target audience. (Parents – this is what you’re up against).
As a tourist family – a mum, dad and small toddler – played in the waves at Choeng Mon Beach together, Ice Cream Man walked right up to the toddler and began his transaction – totally ignoring the parents. No wasted time with “would you like an ice cream?” The parents would have said no. Instead?
We all agree that he wants it.
We all know he’s going to get it.
So let’s get on with it.
An endearing and very Thai ploy – great “sanuk” – a word to describe anything fun or funny. In this case – boring made funny, routine business turned cheeky and the entire spectacle worth a laugh. Can’t say no to that.
Learn more about sanuk’s meaning in Thailand
Dive into the most enjoyable cultural anthropology with any of these excellent Thai cultural troves…
If you’re ever not going to judge a book by its cover(s), let it be Carol Hollinger’s Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind. It offers – we think – the best insight into Thai culture from a Western eye. It’s fantastic – interesting, funny and very readable. Used paperback copies are all over Amazon – definitely pick one up for yourself to learn about sanuk, and a whole lot more. Enjoy!
Photo credit to Michael Bentley (with changes) via Flickr Creative Commons