Family And Thailand
So, why did you go to Thailand? What brings you here mate? Where are you from? – Talk to any random bloke at a bar and one of these questions will surely pass between your bottles. Besides the week-long sex tourists and the “I hitch-hiked here from Europe” backpackers, I’m generally interested in why guys left their country and their lives, to spend time in Thailand. Many made the move here for the women, while other ill-advised souls came to the country with the hopes of making money. A lot were running away from failed marriages and bad memories. One of the few similarities between these men was that almost all were not with their families. Inductive reasoning would suggest family and Thailand do not mix…a seemingly obvious conclusion, although I wouldn’t fully understand this concept until it was too late.
My boring story…
The main reason why I came to Thailand was to get away from America and expand my cultural horizons. Typical huh? I just graduated from college and I wanted to spend a couple of years in a different country. If I were a bit richer I would have traveled to Europe or Japan. However, Thailand and the surrounding countries fit my budget so I decided to go to SE Asia instead. Sometimes it pays to be poor! Thailand turned out to be an excellent choice and I’ve never had so many different experiences compressed into such a small amount of time.
Besides the good food, cheap living, and relatively chilled locals, I enjoyed my anonymity and independence the most. I love how the time zone in Thailand is 13 hours ahead of my home and on the other side of the world. My parents don’t expect me to call them frequently and I hardly do. The last time I talked to my mom was some time in October. No one knows who you are or where you’re from. Foreigners don’t generally judge each other in Thailand and I love it.
However, I found this complete independence can be easily shattered by a visit from family. For me it was my uncle who needed to be in Bangkok for business. Initially, I was looking forward to his arrival…as he was worth at least a couple of meals and maybe a night or two out. I also thought it would be nice to catch up on how things were going back home. Unfortunately for me, family and Thailand don’t mix.
Imagine watching your old man or some close relative finger and fondle a girl younger than their own daughters. I’ve seen it, and it’s not an image I’ll soon forget. I dread the day I come back home and have to attend various family parties and see my cheeky uncle with my cousin and aunt in his shadow. Awkward. The “dirt” I have on him could mar a good 30 years of his life and shake the foundations of my close, conservative family.
In Thailand I make it a point to try and not judge anyone. If I started to criticize what people did in Thailand, that’s all I would be doing and I wouldn’t have time for anything else. When my uncle came to Bangkok I also decided not to judge him, and I was happy to show him around the city, happy to give him directions to Akane, and happy to introduce him to Marc of the Eden Club. But now, after he has left, I feel that I pretty much ruined my relationship with him. When I come back home and visit my uncle, who will I see: the kind fatherly figure who taught me how to ride a bike when I was five, or the dirty old man paying someone to ride him?
At the time of the debauchery, I thought he was the coolest uncle in the world as he rammed his tongue down a young girl’s throat and wormed his hands inside her underwear. A night out at the gogos on my uncle's baht was one of the more enjoyable gogo episodes I had. The girls got lots of cola and I got my ears polished. It was only after the euphoric effects of the draft beer had tapered off that I became aware of what I just did. It’s like getting smashed at a college party and sleeping with your best friend’s girl or the resident slut. It seemed like a great idea, but in the morning you feel sick.
I was confident that what happens in Thailand would stay in Thailand, but I don’t think it will. My uncle cheated on his wife, my Aunt. I grew up with his daughter. I helped him cheat and I’m just as guilty. I should have taken a hint from all the sob stories plastered on Thailand websites. Family is different. Family connections run deep and no amount of distance will change that. When I go back home I hope I’ll be able to put this all behind me, but I doubt I will.
My parents and other members of my family are coming up later this year to visit me. I hastily volunteered to plan their trip. We’re going immediately up to Chiang Mai and visiting all the hill tribes in the country. Every one of them. They will become experts on Thailand zoos and see lots of exotic zoo animals. Bangkok will be too dangerous to visit with all the scary bombings, and I have absolutely NO idea where Pattaya is…in fact I’m pretty sure the Indian Ocean Tsunami razed the whole city. If all goes well, they will return home with images of dancing elephants and prancing tigers, and I will hopefully still have a family to return to.
Interesting perspective this. I have never thought about, nor read about someone writing from this perspective. I wonder if anyone else has been there – and what the "fall out" from it was?