Readers' Submissions

It Is Real



Swimming and Drinking Beer

We were down on one of the southern islands for vacation one time. We went out on a small boat with some friends to go snorkeling/fishing. My wife gets motion sickness very easy – boats, cars, airplanes, you name it, she just can’t handle it. So we stop somewhere near an island to do some fishing. Well, that got old fast, and the snorkeling wasn’t too great in the location that we stopped, so we just sat out, enjoyed the sun (the farangs anyway) while relaxing and drinking some beers. My wife gets nauseous in the boat, but she’s enjoying a beer. So what does she do, puts on a life vest and hops into the water with her beer. She just sits there in the water, relaxing, drinking her beer, and feeling much better in her stomach. Lovely. I still have pictures of my princess floating around the boat with a Chang beer in her hand.

Argument

I remember the first time we went to visit my wife’s family. Of course it’s such a small town, everyone knows every one, every one is related. One day we got into an argument, I can’t even remember about what. Next thing I know, I’m surrounded by 10 of her aunts, cousins, sisters, etc. She is at one of her relatives houses down the street, surrounded by another 10 relatives. They are trying to put my wife and I back together, talking sweet to us, telling each of us that the other one has said they were sorry and for us to go talk to the other one. It just got too late and I wasn’t in the mood for the games, so I laid down to sleep. A short time later, I felt my little sweetheart get under the covers with me and give me a hug and snuggle up close to me because it was chilly. Argument over with.

By the way, that was many years ago. And I’m happy to say that communication has increased considerably over the years, her English and my Thai both getting better, and the arguments are few and far between these days.

Throwing hatchets

I remember one night sitting outside the house with my wife’s brother and a few of his friends. We were just having a few beers and talking. None of her family speaks English so my parts in the conversations are solely in Thai, which is good enough to get by, but far from great. Anyway, somehow her brother got out the hatchet that he had been using to cut coconuts earlier and started trying to throw and stick it into one of the nearby coconut trees. Typical thing men and boys from any culture will try. I was watching in amusement, mostly at his failure to stick it. Now I haven’t thrown knives or anything at a tree since I was a kid. But soon the inevitable happened and he handed it to me with a big smile and said “tahan, tahan” – him knowing that I used to be in the military a lifetime ago. I suppose the obvious conclusion he and all his friends had was that all military guys know how to throw hatchets. OK, I let it rip and sure enough it sticks, first time. I somehow kept the excitement I felt inside to myself, gave a polite smile, and did my best to seem as though “of course I got it in.” What a relief that damn thing went in the first time. Talk about saving face.

Visiting the friend in Prison

Thai prison stories are usually pretty interesting. Anyway, I remember going my first and only time with my wife and her family. We were going to visit a friend of a friend in the Buriram Prison. I counted in the back of the pickup truck alone we had somehow managed to cram 15 people in, from little kids to 80 year old women. It was a great big party all the way there. We got to the prison, it was on a Saturday, and there were hundreds, maybe a thousand family members outside waiting to get in that day. It was so hot. So we finally get inside along with these hundreds of other people, and I thought I was at a Thai carnival. There were food vendors, dancing girls, musicians, and all kinds of entertainment and food. What the hell was this? I had always heard the stories about Thai prisons, and this sure wasn’t what I had heard. So anyway, the hour or two of family visiting time goes by and it’s time for all the families to squeeze through the main corridor back out onto the streets. I remember saying to my wife later that night that if that’s what prison is like in Thailand, it doesn’t seem all that bad. She laughed. It turned out that the day that we had gone was a special family day, and they only have such a thing one time a year. All the rest of the year the visits are what you would expect, two people sitting on opposite sides of a cage talking to each other, but nothing else. Despite my average Thai language ability, I learned years ago that I only know what’s really going on around me in Thailand about half the time, so I wasn’t surprised.

It is real

I have lived here in Southeast Asia for many years now. My job has given me almost 7 years total living in Thailand. It only took one trip to the Thailand for me to get the “fever.” I fell in love with the place, just like many of the guys I work with. What is the difference between me and them? Most of my co-workers are married to farangs, have kids…”tied down” in some ways. That’s not a bad thing: to each his own. Many of the guys like to have their fun, then go back to “reality.” For me, that wasn’t good enough. Why should I settle for “reality” being a less-than-fulfilling life, while Thailand is only a fun getaway that lasts for a limited time and then it is over with. So I sold the farm, got a divorce from my western wife who made my life a pain, and moved on (No, we didn’t have any kids, which I know is a big, if not the biggest factor for some guys who don’t want to be left poor after a divorce). Years later, I’m happily married to my Thai wife, have a house in Thailand that my wife and I visit when I can take a vacation from work, and we enjoy life. Of course things aren’t always perfect, but what marriage is? Overall though, I’m extremely happy with my life and my relationship with my wife. I remember many years ago I was in Thailand with a good friend of mine and some other coworkers. We had some new colleagues with us who had never been to the Thailand before, and they were just having a blast. My friend, who had spent much time around SEA like myself, and who is actually married to a SEA girl, told me how he had talked to the newer guys and warned them not to get too caught up in this world because it was not “real.”, and that they would eventually have to go back to the real world. Well, I strongly objected to such a claim and made up my mind right then and there that for me it was going to be my reality. It takes courage to make big changes in life. It’s up to each of us to do what we want to do with our lives. Life is too short to be sitting in another country, unhappy, thinking about the next time you will get back to Thailand. You can make up endless excuses why you can’t leave a currently unhappy life behind and pursue that happiness that you know you enjoy in Thailand. In an April 04 article on Stick’s site, one man wrote about the allure of being in Thailand and being with a wonderful Thai woman, “It’s like taking a drive in the countryside, on a beautiful day, with the sun shining, in an open topped car. You know you will have to return to the city at some time, but while you’re out there driving you hope it will never end.” Well, my response is that if there is something in your life and you “hope it will never end,” and you have the power to make sure it will never end, then why would you let it end?! You only get one shot in this life. You can keep “hoping,” or you can figure out a way, and believe me there is always a way, you just have to want it bad enough. Why do some guys settle for unhappiness? I don’t know. Life is just too short….you only get one shot. Do you want it bad enough? In another article on Stick’s site, visiting Thailand was compared to keeping some kind of “fantasy” alive. Why keep the fantasy alive when the fantasy can in fact become reality (or some weird, twisted, admittedly-sometimes-frustrating, fun version of reality). Yes, I think Stick will say that there are many downsides, but in the end he's still living here too.