Mai Pen Lai

Tara's picture

My three favorite words in the Thai Langauge. Mai pen lai. Nevermind.
The other day on my way to work I got pulled over. Apparently part of the street I go down to get here is a do not enter zone. Sure, there was a little no entry sign, but it didn't seem to stop anyone else, so I figured it was just a suggestion. On Wednesday, though, there were a couple cops standing down the way stopping people.

They spoke English pretty well, which could be a good thing or a bad thing really. He asked for my license, which of course I don't have. So I figured I'd just be honest and tell them, 'no license'. They didn't seem too concerned, and certianly weren't surprised. They asked if I saw the sign, and I figured I'd be honest again and just said, yeah, I saw it, but people were still driving down here anyway so I didn't think it was a big deal. They paused in thought for moment, and repeated the same question, and then told me several times I have to go around.

I've heard that the average price of a bribe in Thailand is 200 baht. Which is only like 5 dollars, but still, it could buy alot of food. So when the cop paused and thought for a moment, and came out with a 'mai pen lai', I was very happy. But, in order to get a bribe they have to threaten to take your bike or passport until you go and pay your ticket, and really, it was probably not such a big deal that they could have pulled that off without losing face.

But now I have to go down and around the block to get past what is a barely a couple hundred yards stretch of street to get where I'm going. Because I'd feel stupid if I got pulled over by the same cops again and did get a ticket for not having a license.