First Trip To USA
This is the story of a Thai woman's first trip to the "Land of Golden opportunity" otherwise known as the USA. For a little background we have lived together for two years and on Valentines Day this year we took the "Big Step"
and registered our marriage with the Thai authorities and decided to try and get a visa so she could come with me on my annual trip to the USA.
This is a story of the trip but a quick segue about the "Visa application story" may provide some information for others trying to get a visa to the USA. We had heard all kinds of stories about what a nightmare getting a Visa from the US embassy was but in our case everything went smoothly.
The first step was getting the application and this is a one stop no waiting deal. The forms are fairly easy to complete and the instructions have to be followed to the letter. While we were in the process of getting her visa most of the stories we heard from other applicants that had been denied were that they had been denied because they did not have all the paperwork requested in the forms. Remember you are dealing with American bureaucrats and every "T" must be crossed and every "I" dotted.
After we gathered all the necessary paperwork listed on the forms we then took them to the "document checking line" which is on a first come, first served style so there is some waiting involved and the forms must be submitted at least 8 weeks before the start of your trip. The hours for document submission are posted and they start early, at 8am, but the line for the door starts forming at about 6:30 am so it pays to get there early. Once you get to the window the checker will check your application and if everything is in order they will give you an interview date for sometime in the future depending on when you are planning to leave.
Then it's time for "The big interview" before the interview you are dealing with lesser bureaucrats and not so formal attire may get you passed this stage but for the interview take your "talac" by the arm and scrub off all the makeup except for light color on her eyebrows, make her take off ALL her precious gold jewelry for this day, take out all her visible piercings, take her to a good store and buy one American business type shirt and insist on long sleeves that cover any tattoos, with matching skirt that comes to mid-knee and flat heel business type shoes.
The interviews are now all conducted by career State Department, Thai speaking, American bureaucrats and they like everybody else would like to conduct business with someone who looks like them not someone wearing one strap see-thru blouses with 5 inch heels and a face covered in makeup. Put aside your dislike of "The system" and petty bureaucrats for one day and go back to your "normal" look after you get your visa.
We had brought along plenty of "Evidence" of our marriage, as listed in the forms, complete with wedding photos but our guy never even looked at them. He asked my wife where and when we got married, where we lived, what she did for work before the marriage, and then he asked the same questions in a different form about three times and then he called me over. I had brought along my old passport showing that I had been living here for over 10 years and he even commented "well I guess that proves longevity" and that was that and he said "well I guess we can issue this one". The whole interview took about 15 minutes and when finished you have to come back the next day to pick up the visa.
On to the trip, as with most Thai ladies my wife had never been on a plane before so this first trip of 20 hours flying total was going to be a real doozy of a first trip. The night before she was causing me a real pain in the ass with all her movements in our bed as she couldn't sleep for the excitement of "Her trip".
We have to leave our Bangkok house at 3:30 am to make the 2 hour early check-in for a 6am flight and it's really dark out at that hour if you are used to getting up at noon. We started security check-in and one of those crazy things that will annoy you for the whole trip popped up, her 199 baht shoes have a steel re-enforcement inside the arch and those dam shoes set off every alarm every time we had to go through, requiring her to take off the shoes and pass them through the x-ray equipment.
It was a great disappointment for her when we tried to take some photos in the airport in Bangkok but were stopped by security officers. Things at the airport went ok except for those dam shoes and we soon were on the runway waiting for take off and she got a little green looking when we rolled down the runway and she literally dug her nails into my arm but soon she relaxed and started to enjoy looking out the window. She found the food on the plane to be just ok and loved seeing clouds "From the top".
While fooling around with the controls in her seat she managed to press the "Stewardess call button" resulting in the stewardess giving her personal instruction in operating her seat controls. As with most Thais, who can sleep anywhere, she was soon asleep all crunched up in those tiny airplane seats they give you in economy class.
6 hours later we landed in Tokyo and those dam shoes set off the alarms again. We had some good luck in Tokyo as the authorities there allowed taking photos so she finally got some airport shots to show the people back home that she had really been out of Thailand.
Back in the plane and after several thousand little kid like "are we there yet" questions and 13 hrs. later we landed in the USA for a welcome that pissed me, an American, off. After those dam shoes set the alarm off yet again the creep at US immigration started his version of "The third degree". He started with the why are you here, where are you from, where is your marriage license questions in a real snotty voice and said she didn't look like her photo in the visa, by this time after all the flying I had enough and asked him if he carried a copy of his marriage license with him and that her fingerprints matched using their new fingerprint computer and why didn't he just go get his supervisor as I wanted to complain about his shitty attitude. That did it and we were soon in the baggage area awaiting our luggage after this rotten welcome to the USA.
After that rotten welcome it was nice to arrive at my mother's house and the first thing my wife noticed was the combination clothes washer dryer that fits into a hall closet, she loved it so much she insisted on me taking a photo of her standing there, the first of many photos in the USA is of her standing next to this washer dryer set …..go figure.
Well maybe I was wrong, the real first thing she noticed was the COLD it was about 15 Celsius (60F.) and for anyone from the Northeast USA that is still a pretty nice day but for a young lady from Thailand it was freezing. As it was getting late we prepared for bed and she had on her clothes, one sheet, THREE blankets, one quilt, and the bedcover folded over from my half of the bed on top of her side and she was still cold. In comparison I had just the sheet and one of the blankets and I was comfortable. That first night she found something she really never had run into, COLD FEET that I just happened to put on her butt and she let out a scream that woke some of the soundly sleeping senior citizens in the next apartment.
She found something that she wanted to buy right then and there, it was my mothers couch that open out into a bed. She thought it would be a good thing to have when the horde of her relatives descends on our house.
In walking around the house she found the one handle faucets in the kitchen and bathroom quite confusing and found out the hard way that farang hot water taps really put out VERY HOT water. Her first trip into the Hong nam had her all upset as she thought someone had stolen the hose type "Butt washer" that is found all over Thailand, I had to try and explain that farang don't have them installed anywhere in Farangland.
We took a walk outside my Mother's senior citizens complex and they have a small pond at the rear and lo and behold they had installed a floating plastic alligator head that was in the middle of this small pond, my son and I had her watching that plastic alligator to make sure it wouldn't attack us as we walked around the pond. After about 10 minutes we couldn't hold back the laughter and when she found out that it was fake and we really didn't have alligators in Connecticut I thought she was going to throw me into the pond.
As we were walking around the pond she kept spotting bushes with small various color berries and she kept asking "can you eat this?" and was amazed that Farangland has so many plants and berries around and we can not just go out into the bushes
and find something to eat. We were in the middle of an apartment complex and a couple of white-tailed deer wandered by and she again asked "can shoot the guang mi? taste good" and again was amazed that we couldn't shoot the deer
right there to eat.
The next day started her "adventure in Farangland" and of course she tried getting in the "Wrong" side of the car and it took a bit for her to get used to me driving on the "wrong side of the road". I took her to a large deserted parking lot and let her try driving a car for the first time in her life (big mistake) and she took to it like a duck to water. She absolutely loved it and made sure I got her on video tape so she could show everyone back in Thailand that she had been driving a car. When we returned to Thailand and I asked her what she liked best she immediately came back with driving a car and suggested that it might be time to get her a car here in Thailand (thanks a lot god). She was dumbfounded that everyone had a car and the only motorcycles we saw were big Harley choppers ridden just for fun.
While cruising around looking at the scenery a couple times we came across wild turkeys walking alongside the road and again it was "can shoot and eat?". I must explain that while in the states I always carry a pistol, I am a retired police officer and carrying a weapon is second nature, and that is why she kept asking about shooting everything.
As we drove around we kept passing roadside vegetable stands and when we finally stopped to buy some sweet corn she asked "where are the owners?" and again I had to explain that sometimes here in Farangland the owners just leave the produce in the stands and the customers come in and buy the produce and leave the money and make change themselves. Her eyes got real big and she said "no one steal the money or corn?" and she was dully impressed that farangs could leave money and produce along side the road and no one would steal it. I had to explain that you could not do that everywhere but in small towns you could still count on the honesty of most people.
She really liked the big tractor type lawn mowers the highway crews were using to cut the grass alongside of the highways and thought we could make big money if we brought one of them back to Thailand.
I got the best laugh of the trip when one of the mowers had run over a skunk and the smell was everywhere, I had tried to explain what a skunk smelled like when we saw them on discovery channel but was at a lost of words to explain what it smelled like. She then said "it smells just like some of the French tourists I have walked by" and I had to pull the car over to clear my eyes of the tears from laughing so hard.
While out and about I took her to the local "Asian market" and she stocked up on hot chilies and rice so she was happy to have something she was sure to be able to eat. We went next door to the local Thai restaurant and she got her first lesson in very expensive Thai/Farangland food. We had one plate of rice, one som tom (what else?), one laab moo, one plate of pat see yu (fried noodles), one glass of water and one Thai style iced tea and the bill came to $35.00 (1435 baht) plus tip. She was floored and said in Thailand that would be only 120-130 baht for the same food!! After only one trip there, being the good kid that she is, she said "Not go back there too expensive" her first lesson in why it seems farangs have lots of money when they come to Thailand but now she was beginning to understand when you get back to Farangland most farang aren't really as rich as they seem in Thailand because everything in Farangland is much more expensive.
Next stop was the American style Jeans store. On my past trips I had tried to find some jeans that fit her and now she could try herself. We started at the size 2 rack as last year I got threes and they we too big. Nope 2 too big, the salesman looked at her and next tried size 1, nope, he was really looking weird by now and he dug into his stock and found a size ZERO adult lady that he had around for sometime as nobody was that small. You guessed it too big. The salesman was laughing his ass off by now and suggested the KIDS section. My wife is not small she is 160 cm. and looks normal size when you look at her but in American now all they have is sizes for the buffalos they call women. So off to the kids section, started at the largest kids size 18 and still no way!! went down through 16,14, and finally 14 petite, slim, short, tight fit and bingo finally some that fit. She was almost to embarrassed to buy them because they were from the Kids section but finally got them when I explained that it was impossible for her to find any in the ladies section as all the farang women had bodies like buffalo and she had a good laugh and took the kids jeans to the check out.
While in stores she really liked the fact that you could fill up a cart with stuff and go to one check out and not have to pay for things at every section of the store. She almost fainted when in one store they had a check out with no cashier, you bring your goodies to this check out, scan them yourself, and then pay by credit card you swipe yourself, no store workers around. Again "No one steal stuff?" she couldn't believe how trusting farang were and that MOST people wouldn't even think of stealing stuff.
Off to a big grocery store and she couldn't believe all the stuff they had in one store. When she tried to buy some plain old potato chips (crisps for you Brits) she found the vast variety of plain, salted, non-salted, BBQ, baked, etc. so confusing she couldn't make up her mind and almost had a brain freeze up trying to make up her mind. When she saw that everything in the store had several varieties she left the selection to me and now knew why some farangs were disappointed when they get to Thailand and can't find the just perfect variety of stuff they were shopping for.
At the local restaurant she was game to try farang food and got stuck into a "Philly Cheese Steak" sandwich which for you Brits is a sandwich started in Philadelphia that has chopped steak, cheese, and fried onions, she ate only the "Insides" and left the long bread rolls intact and put it back onto the plate. When the waitress came with the check she saw the uneaten roll and thought my wife and not eaten any of the sandwich and asked if it was bad or something, she had a good laugh when I explained that the sandwich was fine and showed her the open roll with no "insides" left.
We had been blabbing away in Thai and the waitress asked what language we were speaking and then came out with, "your wife is so beautiful, just gorgeous, is she a model or something?" this was to happen several times again while waiting in line for food and at stores and my wife, like most Thai ladies, really loved all the attention she drew. We never came across any "negative vibes" or crude comments anywhere we went.
It was the season for local county fairs so we had to go to one. She was shocked by the size of the cattle used in the pulling contests, and she could almost walk under some of the horses used in the cement block pulling shows. When she saw the size of some of the 600 lbs. (300kilo) fuc thong (pumpkins) I had to tell her to keep her voice down as her yelling of "fuc thong" was getting her some strange looks because in American you can't go around saying FUC.
It had been a rainy, cold (7 degree C.), and windy day at the fair and when we were walking back to the car she started screaming "my cheeks are falling off", "I can't feel my cheeks". I forgot to warn her about cold cheeks. When we grew up in the Northeast of the USA you had numb cold cheeks since you we a baby. Every time you went out in the winter to chuck snowballs at "cootie" girls your cheeks would always get real cold, red and start to feel numb but try to explain that to a hysterical Thai lady that has never even seen frost. I told her when we got to the car and she started to get warm the feeling would come back. Got the heater, in the car, going full blast but she kept giving me dirty looks like it was my fault that her cheeks were falling off.
Last trip was to a farang bar to meet some friends that had come to visit us in Thailand. The guys took great pleasure in calling her a farang here in the USA like we were when we went to Thailand, she took it in stride but later confessed that she wasn't quite sure what they were going on about. She sampled the local beer and found it wanting and now knew why some farang would get drunk on Thai beer so easily because they we used to drinking this swill they call beer in the USA.
As she looked around at the local women she began to understand why so many farang escape to Thailand to avoid the buffalo women in the USA. It was funny to watch the local guys trying to be cool and steal a glance her way when they thought she wasn't looking. The local women were open mouthed in staring at her and after a few beers some would come over and start with the "you are so beautiful and you a model?" routine. She had a good time and we were amazed at all the people who had been to Thailand on their honeymoon, or holiday.
All and all it was a good trip and she really liked the Washer Dryer and driving the car and REALLY HATED the cold and expensive prices of everything. If you are planning to bring your tilac to cold areas of the USA warn her of COLD CHEEKS.
A thoroughly enjoyable read. I can just imagine the way she blamed you for the cold weather as if it was your fault! I hate it when Thai girls do that!