Stickman Readers' Submissions September 27th, 2005

My Viewpoint On Thai / Farang Relationships

By Rak Suaii Thai

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I have read a fair bit on this site from posters like Jayson among others regarding Thai/Farang relationships and I would like to add my story.

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I am about to be married to a Thai girl living in Thailand, but first a note on my background. I am 34 and have been married once before for 4 years to a beautiful (both in mind and body) Filipina I met over the internet. She came from a simple background
and moved with me to Toronto after a marriage in the Philippines. Contrary to what many posters state here about problems with cross cultural marriages, things really went smoothly for us and we were very much in love. The problems we encountered
had absolutely nothing to do with how we met or our different backgrounds. I was managing a growing business and simply lacked the time needed for sustaining a healthy marriage. She became incredibly lonely in a small, isolated town due to my
time away from home and heavy workload and I failed to correct this. We were so much in love at the beginning that I took so much for granted and assumed things would simply continue as before. Of course I could have hired more staff and spent
more time with her but by the last year, I had also begun to lose interest as I spent more time apart. We talked of hiring more staff (easier said than done for a new business) but thought maybe some time apart would give us new perspectives.
After she left, we were both very depressed but in time I began to see that I wanted something different in life. There was absolutely nothing "wrong" with her and I wish her future partners all the happiness in the world. I just began
to get a feeling that I had always wanted her to be with someone different and wasn't being honest with myself. We had visited Thailand several times (using company travel privileges) and all my life I was fascinated and curious about "Asian"
culture, whatever "Asian" means. I recall upon first visiting Cebu and Manila and her family that the Philippines didn't seem "Asian" at all. The food was somewhat bland, the religion was way overdone and I just never
enjoyed the country. Upon landing in Bangkok on our first trip and seeing the city, eating the food and visiting the temples, my stereotypical "Asian" experience was realized.

During this time apart, my mind kept going back to the people and sights and sounds of Bangkok and Pattaya and I felt this was what I wanted more than continuing my marriage. We had a completely friendly divorce and she wanted nothing from me. My dad
still helps her family out from time to time as they are very good people but that was never asked of him. I thought about what I could have done different in selecting someone and thought (Jayson will like this one) maybe a Bangkok high class
girl will set everything straight. No worries about money, no dishonest objectives of marrying me for a passport and so on. I met a girl on the internet fairly easily and went to Bangkok to see her. She was an honest, well educated, light skinned,
sexy girl, hard working and well off. We spent time together but simply lacked chemistry, even after sex, so we went our separate ways. What I found most interesting though was her friend who was from the top of Thai society, educated with an
MBA from UCLA, servants, cars, holidays in Hawaii, and all the rest. She had her choice of any Thai man she wanted and she was stunning. The interesting thing was she was planning to use her own money to travel to Canada to meet an oil rig worker
she had met over the internet who had a very modest lifestyle and education. It just goes to show that one can never generalize about Thai people. I asked her why she would be interested in meeting someone so far below her socio-economic background
and her reply was, "he seems to be the kind of man I wish to live my life with". So Jayson, the Thai only understand other Thai expert can explain that one.

After all this, I just sort of gave up on the internet and dated girls from my own town. It was so easy to head to the bar, pick up, have your fun and laugh with your buddies the next day. What I really missed though was the closeness and intimacy I used
to have. I had sort of been emailing a Thai girl on and off but was never particularly interested in her as I didn't know anything about her. She had an ad on an internet dating site but it was a Thai site for local Thais but also had an
English translation function. We just sort of kept in touch but after several months, things seemed a little out of place. For instance, she never asked for money. She would ask about my goals and feelings on different issues and was very well
spoken and insightful. I began to look forward to her emails and then started talking to her on the phone occasionally. Jayson would probably see her as the model Thai girl; 24, light skin, educated at a university in Chiang Mai, a great job in
Bangkok as a graphic artist, her own apartment, a dating history of only Thai men, a slight dislike towards Farang, savings in the bank, a Visa and so on. This never really made a difference to me though after my last Bangkok experience. I wasn't
particularly attracted to her either; she was nice but not "stunning". It was from this that we began to develop a unique kind of friendship where we were both curious about each other's lives and culture.

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It was only after 6 months or so that I thought about visiting her. By this time we were what I would call as close friends as possible given the limitations of the internet and webcams and telephones. We weren't really sure where this was going
to go but were interested in finding out. I landed at Don Muang and there she was. We smiled and said hello and kept smiling and smiling for 2 weeks. She is an incredible person and the funny thing that is contrary to so many posters here, a person
is a person regardless of nationality or culture. We don't think of each other as Farang and Thai and she shares many of the cultural norms of Thai people discussed here but she is also remarkably different in many ways. She is very sensitive
about being thought of as a bargirl when we are together but at the same time enjoys dressing sexy like any other attractive girl would. Many Thais would consider her beautiful but what impressed me was just how funny, witty and warm she is as
a person. I mean, no one would marry someone because they are Thai; you marry the person for who they are. I think it's fantastic that I love her food and am curious about Thai history and Buddhist culture, but that's just an added bonus.
The reason she wants to marry me is because she loves me; plain and simple. Yes, we will have our disagreements and days that we hate the sight of each other but we both know this going in and don't have any fantasies of the perfect life.
We are still happy and look forward to the time we have together over the net in the past 8 months and our feelings have only grown stronger, so we decided to marry. It may be premature and not having spent much time actually together may be thought
of as odd by most people but nonetheless people all over the world get married everyday for all kinds of different reasons. One thing that really made me aware of her feelings was when she was always trying to save my money in completely unselfish
ways. One day she suggested I just move into her apartment. When I reminded her of what she said about unmarried Thai people never inviting someone to spend the night because of the gossip the would occur, she said.."I have to change and
not just think like a Thai and it's okay in your culture, so I won't mind my neighbours". For Canadians, this is no big deal but for her to trust me to this extent was very touching as I could have just been stringing her along
and never planned to really stay with her.

She did ask for a dowry to be paid for our wedding (the only thing she ever asked for). Of course I initially said no as it is against my personal beliefs to pay anything to a family for marriage. She said her family would be disappointed and forbid her
to marry me but her love for me was stronger than her cultural and family ties and she would do what was in her heart and we would have a simple civil marriage. We discussed this issue for a long time along with the input of my family and I decided
I would pay the same amount as a Thai man. I began to understand why the money was paid and I would not have a problem accepting a dowry if I was marrying a woman from India, so why the double standard? This would save face for her family, allow
us the memories of a traditional Thai wedding and she had already proved to me how much she loved me so why make an issue of it. I think its a judgement call as to the amount and I told her what I could afford and she was happy with that. We agreed
on 250,000 baht including the wedding costs. It was really 200,000 baht but I wanted to make sure her wedding was memorable for her so I added the extra 50,000 baht. Maybe this is too high but she is leaving her life and family behind and her
parents have sacrificed everything for her. She was very sick growing up and they sold their farm and her Dad went to Iraq to work for 5 years just to pay the medical bills and I want them to know how thankful I am for how they helped her. All
her dad's neighbours have nice trucks, decent houses and so on yet her family has nothing even now. You never realize how fortunate it is to be Canadian until you see what happens to families in a country with no government medical plan.

We will be getting married in January and hoping to spend our life together, both in Thailand and in Canada. I really have no money now and she is okay with that. I've realigned my priorities with work to make time for her and we chat and talk maybe
2 hours a day with a webcam. She isn't marrying me to leave Thailand, she thinks Thai men are the same as Canadians (some bad, but mostly good) and we are able to compromise and discuss issues without all the silent treatment from my last
relationship. She writes to my ex-wife about our differences in the past in an effort to improve and learn from them and we treat each other in the same way that I see in Canadian/Canadian relationships. I don't have the courage yet to tell
my family I am getting married in January but I have my friends attending with their Thai wives and I have convinced some of my family to visit my fiancée at the time of our wedding so maybe they will be in for a bit more than a culture shock
upon arriving in Bangkok. But what's life without a little excitement and at least my dad will remember this one.

The point of this post is simply to add another perspective to Thai/Farang relationships and show that each is unique and not all start at a bar or end in heartbreak. Several of my friends are married to Thais and are very very happy together in Canada
but of course travel home now and again. I really want this relationship to work and I won't repeat the mistakes I made in the past. Everything seems so promising today but I'll provide an update down the road to share some more experiences
and maybe help out someone who's starting out the same way I am right now. Some Thai girls can see beyond their own culture and try to learn and adapt to a mixed culture. It all depends on the individual and I really feel that things will
work out for us.

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Stickman's thoughts:

Good luck, drop us an email after a year of marriage and let us know how it is going.

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