Stickman Readers' Submissions October 28th, 2001

Meeting Her Folks At The Farm, Or Villa


Once you have a decent relationship going with a Thai girl, you may be asked if you want to visit the family farm. If you are prepared mentally and fortified financially, by all means you should go for the experience of visiting your girlfriend's family and home. But, be sure to bring lots of extra money because it will be expected that you'll pick up the tab all the time for your little teeruk and her family – both immediate and extended.

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If you are going to up North or to Isaan, be prepared for a bit of a shock. Many of those region's farms have become barely functional garbage dumps since the '97 collapse of the Thai economy. The poverty can be staggering in Isaan, even as the spirit of most of these country folks can be intoxicating. (Remember, Isaan girls are not necessarily trying to hustle you because they want to, it's because they have to!)

I would also advise that you read the following books before you go: "Culture Shock: Thailand: A Guide to Customs and Etiquette" by Robert & Nanthapa Cooper, "Thai For Lovers: A Complete Guide to the Romantic Culture of Thailand," by Nit and Jack Ajee, and the Travellers Tales Guides "Thailand: True Stories of Life on the Road, edited by James O'Reilly and Larry Habegger. Spend some time at Border's Books in the travel books section for free.

Of course, you also should have been reading Stickman's regular weekly reports and the other stories on this site for more information so you can be better prepared for your adventure, or misadventure if it comes to that. Be prepared, be forewarned, but leave your cynicism and paranoia home if your want to have the best time of your life.

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It would also be most useful to take a Thai language course (most larger cities offer them in adult extension programs or through university adult programs). All you really need to learn is a few phrases and properly enunciated key words to get by. The best part of these classes is the story telling among participants, who often are guys like you and me who just want to learn enough to be able to better communicate with their girlfriends and their families.

I have had the privilege of the "Thai family visiting experience" twice – both as different as night and day.

The first was a journey two years ago up to mountainous, once infamous communist battle zone, Khao Kor in Phetchabun (North Central) with my friend May, whom I met in Phuket one blessed night. Her family works a hard scrabble, yet functioning 44 acre sweet tamarind farm with water buffalo, sticky rice, lots of fruit and veggies, defoliated hills, cool nights, lots of rain and a 115-year-old great grandmother with a killer laugh and an amazing whiskey recipe! That in itself was worth the experience.

My first night, May's father, Dang, (just a year older than I, and who spent 6 years in jail for running guns for the Khmer Rouge) invited a couple of his friends over to drink great-grandma-ma's home brewed Mekong whiskey recipe with this farang and to gamble excessively.

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I went to the outhouse, then came out to join in some serious fun. I brought lots of gifts with me for her folks, which earned merit with them right off the bat that I was a "good hearted farang." It was not expected, but was much appreciated. I also knew how, who, and when to wai properly, a plus that can keeps you from looking stupid."

May's father grabbed his least favourite rooster and put it in a makeshift pen ("makeshift" being the operative word in describing the condition of most upland Thai farms). He then took a stick, went over to the outhouse I'd just come out of and rattled the walls loudly. Within a minute, two large cobras! came slithering out from under the walls, looking pissed off.

He grabbed one by the tail, put it in a bag, then took it over and released it into the pen with the rooster. We then all placed bets on how long (minutes and seconds on a watch) it would take the chicken to take his last breath in the ensuing fight with the deadly cobra. That was just one of many ways that May's dad and friends figured out to separate me from my hard earned money in a short time – though it was no real problem by Western standards of gambling losses.

Sound like fun? Exotic fun? The kind of fun that's hard to find in most parts of the West these days, or over at your in-laws' house in New Jersey, Islington or Paramatta?!? You bet! But you must keep your attitude right and see it as sanuk (fun) and not financial abuse of your accounts (which it could feel like). It's a new experience. Be open to it and not afraid to look foolish or to make mistakes. Most Thais truly are "good hearted people."

We went to sleep that night. But at around 4 AM, nature was calling me. Naturally, my first thought was, "Oh no, there are deadly snakes in the outhouse!"

May's father had a great laugh and sense of humor and that little snake bravado was just a part of the great fun he had in store for me. He and I became quite good friends, though physically and in every other way were like night and day ( I'm 6'5" and about 230 lbs. He's about 5'4" and maybe 105). But in terms of energy we felt like brothers, so much so that his wife (May's mom, Dai, was younger than I by three years) had a bit of an attitude about how much fun we had together.

They are also raising May's 10 year old daughter as their own daughter. It was kind of strange, because Nongbor actually would compete with May like a sister for her parents' affection. May and Nongbor didn't get along all that well.

All in all, we partied for about nine days and communicated perfectly, even without a shared language! I never laughed so hard in my life. May's dad still asks May whenever she visits home, "When Hawaii sanuk man come again?" I'm sure he likes me for my personality, right? Sure…..

The main event was Great grandma, at 115 (no BS, she really is 115), and who was the oldest person I've ever met. She still worked everyday, had all her teeth, and laughed at me all the time whenever May and I were near each other. She probably imagined that sex would be nearly impossible for us to easily manage (May is 4'10" and about 80 lbs.) or that it must be simply great which it is (it is the most amazing sex of my entire life!!!) Who knows?. Perhaps Great-grandma-ma knew all too well. Whatever, she sure laughed at me a lot.

Great-grandma-ma sure brewed up great whiskey. But she herself said she owed her longevity to the simplicity and freshness of her diet. Mostly vegetarian, it consisted of home-grown sticky rice, veggies, very little chicken, mangostein, durian, rambuttan, somtam and papaya, sugarcane and occasionally some river fish – all in fresh curries or garlic. She made a great masaman sauce one day for a veggie curry lunch! That's all she's ever eaten in her entire life! She'd never eaten anything which she had not prepared herself from scratch and still had all her teeth and moved as well as a 50 year old! Unreal! Think about that the next time you reach through your car window for that proverbial bag of burgers, or fish 'n chips.

Great-grandma also told me that a snootful of her hootch kept her going everyday. Of course, it was her contribution to the household as well, sorely needed income from whiskey sales. So she had to keep on working. May once had had to leave school at age 9 during one very tough year to help great-granny keep the whiskey business going. Relate that to your grandmother's experience?!?

She was such an amazing person, perhaps the most remarkable lady I've ever met and certainly the oldest. What a lecherous laugh! But such soul, soul that I can feel in May. (Note: Great-Grandma Prathumta died last month at the age of 116. Not a victim of the disease of civilization like cancer or heart disease, she died instantly at her still from a cerebral haemorrhage. I'm so glad I met her. I can still hear her laughing at me. Wow!

I had a great time up in those Central Highlands. These earthy people and their devout form of Theravedic Buddhism showed me why they had grown such an amazing and unusual (for the bargirl scene) daughter – in her beautiful, earthy and natural exterior beauty, her farm girl physical strength, plus her mental, interior toughness, overall morality, and in her resolute gumption born of fighting rural poverty. I would have missed seeing where it all came from had I not gone on this adventure outside of the box!

But, these people had no idea that they were poor, nor did they act like it. They make about $500 a year working their asses off on that farm. They don't know that May is a bargirl (they think she works in a hotel, which she does, part-time) either and why they've been getting the money from her to buy out the farm. Of course, one day, it will be May's farm. She has a dream to rotate sour tamarind into the crops, more of a "boutique" condiment and more lucrative.

May still writes to me, asking if I could be her partner in that dream and have a couple of kids with her (she's 29, I'm 51). But I can't imagine living so far away from culture, arts, music, friends and the ocean that I enjoy in Hawaii. I really love May in my heart of hearts, but I also recognize it, sadly, but realistically, as an impossible pairing. She's still a bargirl with a sixth grade education, nuff said? And Phetchibun's rich earth is way too far from my Lanikai's healing green waters!

But May is really something different from most bargirls, so decent, so real, and not a money-grubber at all. Some lucky younger Thai man will probably father those kids and work that farm with her. God Bless 'em!

My second trip to a girlfriend's house in LOS was completely different. Nit's parents were wealthy and owned lots of lucrative land and compounds in central Phuket near "Two Heroines" Thalang town (rubber plantations and Patong Beach hotels now, and originally her Chinese side had owned lots of the original tin mines there. Very wealthy and powerful people)!

As you'd expect, Nit's home and family behavior was much more formal than May's. They were educated and more aware of life outside of Thailand. They had a few Mercedes, gold jewelry, college degrees, an appreciation of the art and design side of Thai sensibility and they enjoyed among the highest social status in their province.

Nit was hardly a bargirl, but indeed a European educated, straight Thai girl looking for marriage with this farang type from Hawaii, much to her father's dismay. She worked as the general manager for one of his hotel chains. She had an international tourism dream for us because for many years, I had served as the director for Hawaii's global tourism marketing efforts.

Nit is an amazingly beautiful woman who has been courted by some of Thailand's best men. But, lucky for me, she also is very independent and headstrong (almost like one of the better Western ladies).

Nit simply likes older, educated, experienced American farangs like me for some reason. Of course, it's not about money, she has her own. Go figure! She says that "we" simply treat Thai women the best and are the most interesting and global in "our" thinking. She likes farang men in bed too. Whatever. Before Nit, I thought the social stigmas in Thailand would preclude me from ever meeting a fine straight Thai lady, let alone a total winner like Nit. We just clicked, that's all.

I enjoyed my visit with Nit's family, enjoying far-reaching discussions and using greater depth in my communication with them (they speak English). However, I really felt that they were much more judgmental of my every move. Of course they were only being protective. They wanted to see if I was only in it for the unbelievable sex that Nit and I cooked up together every night (she's a more modern kind of Thai straight lady) or if I was being truthful about my intentions. I was, I swear I was. Ok, maybe I wasn't in terms of marriage.

However, I was being true to most of their "dream." Eventually, the geographical distance between us began to take it's toll as it often does for Thai girls and Western men once he goes back to 'Farangland.' I may have blown it with this gal. She could have been "the one" – if "the one" ever truly does exist for anyone. I've thought I found "the one" this before only to see it all fall down. "The One," for me, simply does not exist. But….in all honesty, I don't think I really want a wife again, for obvious reasons.

Still, Nit and I remain great friends who communicate regularly and who sometimes still get together and do the nasty when I visit LOS a few times per year. However, I just found out that she is about to become engaged to a wealthy Thai businessman and will probably marry him next year. I guess her family won the argument, and she was only slumming. No more marriage for me, period! Sadly, there probably won't be anymore incredible nights with that world-class woman. Nit is all of our dreams wrapped up in one gorgeous, bright Thai woman, gentleman, and she's soon to be "off the market."

Between these two greatly disparate family experiences, and despite the opulence of my Phuket girlfriend's lifestyle and family, my Phetchabun lady's family – almost stereotypically – really made up for their lack of comfort and "things" with greater heart and hospitality and much more sanuk. I had the time of my life there. I hope to return there someday, even if May is playing mommy-farmer with someone else!

So I say to you my friends in lust, just Go For It! But, know something about her family first, plus the language, the culture, regional customs and food, the social expectations and taboos of her region before you go. Oh, and bring lots more money than usual and gifts for the folks. Still, it will be nothing compared to what you'd spend in a month on one of those spoiled, nasty Western cows, I mean, gals. Remember that.

Of course, we'll expect that you will share all the lurid and fun details with us here when you return (if you return).

Stickman says:

A nice comparison. Sometimes I think that half the farang world, at least those who are sold on Thailand, are looking for a girl like Nit, but the reality is that there are some areas where Thailand's rural maidens come up trumps.

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