Thailand Or Farangland
Well, I’ve been reading the Stickman website for a number of years now, and thought it was about time to send in my submission. Now I have that overused introduction over with I’ll tell you a little about my story, followed by the issue
which is on my mind.
I’m about 30 years old, and have spent a reasonable proportion of the past 12 years travelling around Asia – mostly Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. A quick count of my passport reveals 29 stamps entering Thailand. The first few visits were the best in hindsight, less tourists around, the people I’d meet were crazy (good), and we’d have many crazy adventures. One which sticks out in my mind was a decision to travel overland from Bangkok to Phnom Penh in the late 90’s. A 150 km road section took several days, and hopefully will be the feature of a future submission.
I had a long-term farang girlfriend at home, good personality, but she was a little plump, a smoker, a drinker, and dabbled in drugs, not too dissimilar to many a farang girl I suppose. Not really the kind of person I could imagine myself settling down with, although it took us many years to reach that conclusion and go our separate ways. Ever since I was a young schoolboy I’d always had an attraction to Asian girls; their distinctive look, an air of mysteriousness that always seemed to surround them. My attraction was definitely not borne from a failed farang relationship or despair with farang females ways. There are far too many guys on here verbally bashing farang girls, and while it may be entertaining for awhile, if it is taken too far or too seriously then I think it says more about the guy than it does the girl.
Anyway, during my trips to Asia, I would regularly engage in extra-curricular activities with the local girls. For me, it wasn’t so much about the sex or about the drinking, for me it was for the thrill of the chase, the adventure, a real sense of adventure is what I sought to give me my highs. And Thailand compared to Cambodia and Vietnam is most definitely not adventurous. Vietnam was an adventure, even today it is still challenging to actually get laid in Hanoi. I would enjoy befriending locals, going to crazy places, getting drunk, and riding around the streets at night looking for some fun, all the while avoiding the police. I speak reasonable Vietnamese and had contacts / friends which allowed me to experience so much more than I ever would have as an ordinary tourist. Over several visits I feel like I went with every imaginable type of girl there is: hill tribe girls, students, good girls, bad girls, old, young, rich, poor, MILF’s. I was experienced and wise well beyond my young age and I was 22, blonde and loving every moment of it.
Anyway back to my story and the question which is on my mind. After adventuring and f’n my way around Asia for the umpteenth time I was introduced to a program called ICQ by a friend of mine. There were Thai girls online! Lots of them, and they all seemed to enjoy chatting to farang guys! This was around 00 / 01 when the online scene was a lot different than it is now. While not quite bored of my usual crazy adventures into the backblocks, I felt like I wanted a new adventure, a new experience. And so it was I started chatting to a few girls and exchanging pics, chatting for a few weeks before getting bored and being left with nothing to ask / do / say. During a search, there was one particular name which popped up and I dismissed it as she was 1 year older than I, and I really do prefer the younger variety, but I did go back to it later and decided to strike up the usual conversation.
To cut a long story short very short, we chatted online every day. Several times a day. We’d SMS each other every day. It was fair to say we were both obsessed with each other right from the outset. She had a Thai boyfriend but left him shortly after we started chatting online. We chatted for 6 months and I’d never even seen a photo of her. I was too afraid to ask as usually after receiving a pic of a girl I would start to lose interest. Besides, what if she was fat?! Anyway after 6 months she eventually sent me her first pic, but there were 16 people in this pic, including 14 girls, all of whom were her work colleagues. I was somehow supposed to guess which one was her. There was one particular pair of eyes which caught my attention. Either that or probably more likely was that my attention was grabbed by the most beautiful girl in the photo! Her flawlessly smooth skin was more tanned than that of her Thai-Chinese colleagues, but not Isarn (I later learned she was 50% Thai, 25% Chinese and 25% Isarn). Beautiful radiant smile, bright eyes, dimples, perfect white teeth, good height, and a perfect 44 kg figure. Could it possibly be her? Even after receiving the pic it took 2 more weeks to confirm which one she was, and I was not wrong…
We continued chatting for many more months. It was relentless, messages would flow to and fro, we would make videos and send them to each other, I sent her a calendar and some silly gifts from my country, which she would use as props in her videos to me. I learnt that she was even more intelligent than she was beautiful, being accepted for Thailand’s top universities, and later obtaining a scholarship and obtaining her Masters Degree from a London university. Not only was she beautiful and intelligent, but she seemed to be cultured and open-minded, she had marched with her peers demanding democracy in Thailand, she followed all the UK bands' (although detested the US ones) movements, she had a real x factor. She was 3rd generation Bangkokian, and while her family was not rich, they were very comfortable, and held influential and respected positions.
Okay, back to my story, after 10 months of online obsession she was pretty infatuated with me and was beginning to think I wasn’t actually real, so one day I decided at the drop of a hat to get myself over there, and meet this person who had become the object of my obsession. In keeping with my opening line I’ll now include the second most overused sentence in these submissions: When I arrived in Bangkok there she was waiting at the airport for me, as beautiful and perfect in every detail as I had imagined and seen from the earlier pics! I was feeling, looking and smelling pretty bad after a long flight so I don’t think she got the best first impression of me! She drove me to the Tong Poon Hotel which was terrible in many ways but recommended by one of her friends. I suspected it might have been because it is probably the hotel furthest away from any type of action you can get, without leaving Bangkok province! They had an exceptionally awkward shower which was permanently mounted 3.5’ off the ground and I had to shower on my knees all throughout my stay there, and washing my hair was an absolute nightmare. While all this was going on she dutifully waited downstairs in the foyer, and after my shower antics we went out to eat some noodles in Silom.
Again I’ll skip the detail and deal with the pertinent parts. The whole trip was bit of a whirlwind. She worked for a multi-national on Silom during the day, and we’d go out every night and at the weekend. Mostly we’d go out just the 2 of us, but sometimes with some of her many many friends, who had all graduated from the UK or USA and spoke excellent English (like her). I found them all to be really great company, very genuine and sincere, and I was impressed she had such great friends, and that she enjoyed showing me off, although not to the family (yet). I thought we pretty much knew absolutely everything about each other before we had even met, but we were a bit more open now that we were in person. She had had several Thai boyfriends, but never a farang, not even during all the time in the UK. She told me that she had been infatuated with farangs since she was a kid, but she was too shy, and I realised her thoughts were remarkably similar to mine (towards Asian girls) when I was at that young age too. I couldn’t help but think we were 2 people the same young age thinking the same thoughts at the same time on the opposite side of the world, and here we were now all these years later drawn together like this. I thought of all the things that had to have happened for us to meet like this, and I thought of where I’d be and what I’d be doing if I hadn’t been introduced to ICQ, or I hadn’t come back to that name I initially skipped over. It was one of those moments of reflection.
After about a week in Bangkok, she managed to get a few days off work and with some white lies to her family (who adamantly believed she was still a virgin), we travelled to the south of Thailand with her friend and his boyfriend. Before this trip we had barely touched, let alone kissed, despite the supercharged chemistry and passion in the air between us, which was building cumulatively on a daily basis. However what is said about Thai girls is absolutely true (that you will get nothing whatsoever during the getting-to-know period, but soon after that you get everything), and we slept together for the first time on that trip. All of a sudden the floodgates were open and there was no stopping us, there were all kinds of activities to keep us busy, we were on a spectacular beach, beautiful sand and trees, swimming, snorkelling, we were even more inseparable than before. During this period, I also learnt she had been a competitive gymnast, but gave it up when the training regime required for the top level became too much. We were both in a state of euphoria, and anyone who saw us could tell it immediately, and they did tell us so. There was one moment I will never ever forget while we were frolicking in shallow water. A little girl aged 9 or 10 walked right up to my gf, looked her straight in the eye and said in Thai “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen”, and with that she promptly turned around and continued off down the beach.
The 2 months of my visit were over too soon and it was time to get back to my country, the obligatory pains of missing my girl and all things Thai set in soon after departing the country of course. It was decided she would come visit me. Leave was obtained
(man, Thais are overworked by their bosses), the visa was a breeze and she even paid for her own return flights to see me. The only hurdle (which was a major one) was with her family, who were losing face that their virgin daughter was going overseas
to visit a guy! She didn’t much like it here (it improved later), too cold, too windy, and bland food topped the complaints list! Still, we toured the country, saw the sights, visited the obligatory attractions, we even went skiing, and
had a really great time. You could say my family are pretty “hi-so” and weren’t too impressed with my drop-dead beautiful companion (more so my mother). I think they lumped all “Asian girls” into the same basket
if you know what I mean. They all played a few mind games together and soon she earned a degree of acceptance, or perhaps it was fear.
I followed her back to Bangkok shortly after her 2 week visit, and decided we couldn’t keep playing this cat and mouse between our 2 respective countries, as I don’t believe a long-distance relationship can be successfully maintained for any reasonable period of time. I had very enjoyable and profitable investments at home which I wanted to manage, and didn’t really want to live in Bangkok. But there was no way her family could suffer the indignity of letting their single daughter, their precious princess travel overseas again. The only option was to get married, except I was still young, I didn’t want to get married! But I did want to make her happy, and I am known for making major spontaneous decisions, and that day was no exception, so a marriage was agreed! A married daughter going overseas to live with her husband is perfectly acceptable apparently.
Despite being Bangkokians, financially very comfortable, and well educated (everyone in her family had graduated from the USA), there was still a request for sin-sot, some money or gold. I later learnt it was just about face and not about the money. Anyway, I was a little surprised as I had never considered it before, but I had a strong aversion to paying money for a bride, so I negotiated what I think may just be unique terms, and resulted in a win / win situation (I love making deals!). Basically, her family would arrange and pay for the traditional morning ceremony, and I would pay for the evening ceremony. I would not pay a sin-sot, but I would let her family keep any money which invited guests gave as gifts. This way I wasn’t technically paying sin-sot, and the family could still save face. Even if you don’t use these measures, I think it is a good idea to negotiate the sin-sot issue, and I don’t just mean how much, as they say “Your price & My terms. Or My price and Your terms!”. If you’re happy to pay then pay by all means, but refusing outright to consider the issue could well lead to an impasse.
The morning ceremony was held at her house in Bangkok. To keep to the point, it was a truly wonderful, unforgettable experience, small, emotional and personal. It was exceptionally hot though, wearing that Thai suit in 100 degree heat with no sign of a fan, let alone air-con. I felt pretty faint at one stage, although I wasn’t sure if it was due to dehydration or the fact that I was actually getting married. I was completely unprepared for the evening ceremony though, which was the complete opposite of the morning one. I thought it was a lot of money for me to front up with (700,000 baht), and I realised why when I was there, everything was amazing, mind blowing. It was in a 5 star hotel, there were photographers, video camera operators, melting ice sculptures everywhere, amazing chandeliers, and there was the biggest cake I had ever seen in my life. Everything was beautiful and white and impeccably presented. And the people, there were so many people, where did they all come from. I later learnt there were about 650 guests, and my wife could only choose to invite about 100 of her friends (I don’t even have 100 friends).
I realised that really all the wedding is about is inviting back all the people who had previously invited her family to their own wedding (if that makes sense). And the family showing off that their daughter is now married, so she can be with a farang,
and she can go live overseas now if she so wants. Each guest's donation was meticulously recorded for future reference, so that when the family were invited by one of them in the future to their own child’s wedding, that they could
make a donation of the same amount. At a later date offering a smaller donation than that received would result in a serious loss of face. I got the impression that in the future to make a bigger donation might cause the other party to lose face
too. I figured each guest might donate an average of 1,000 baht (although 1 person gave 20,000) so they probably made 650,000 baht for their sin-sot. The ever-cynical side of me thought the extravagance was to increase the amount
of donations, but I am certain it was more to do with face than anything else. Anyway, it was an amazing night and I’ve never been photographed so much in my life. The food was great, the apparently obligatory VIP dignitary was very drunk
and happy, and we were exhausted by the end of the night. Fortunately we only had to retire to the penthouse suite, where some of the food was waiting for us. Definitely the most amazing day of my life.
We returned to my country as newly weds, and life together was as good as ever. Unfortunately my wife couldn’t get work, although she didn’t try too hard, I think she’d resigned herself to the fact that no farang was ever going to hire her in a role at least comparable to what she was doing in Bangkok, strategic planning. She did enjoy writing and photography though, and my work was flexible so we spent most of our time together. Over the following couple of years we travelled overseas to many countries together and went back to Thailand several times to visit, after which we moved to Thailand semi-permanently, where we learnt my wife was pregnant. Now before I was a father, I always thought it was funny how parents would boast how clever and cute their baby is. I mean all babies are the same right, parents must be pretty cynical to believe their kid really is that great. But now I am a father I know exactly how they feel, for our little boy IS the cutest, smartest and most well-rounded baby there is!
I am not sure if it was luck or fate which bought us together so randomly and so successfully. She was my first Thai girlfriend, and I was her first farang boyfriend. She was the first person I have ever met through the internet. Was this my destiny, or do I just fall in love too easily? And how is it that the internet and this very website is littered with so many stories of disaster; demands of money, misappropriation of a newly built house, brother is a hidden husband, Thai internet girl still keeping her options open behind your back, a total lack of trust. How did I manage to avoid all this, is it because my girl is from Bangkok? Is it because I am a pessimist and always covering my backside? Is it because I wouldn’t tolerate for a second a girl who has the intention to take advantage of me in any of the ways mentioned above? Or am I merely biding my time right now, waiting for disaster to strike me from out of the blue, like it has to so many others?! <You married a woman similar in education and background / upbringing to yourself. Why most guys choose not to do this, I have no idea. They wouldn't marry trailer trash at home, but they happily do in Thailand! – Stick>
Anyway, back to the original point of my submission. For me, I feel a submission should pose a question or thought to ponder, rather than just a story. So, the crux is that I don’t know where to live now. Fortunately (although more due to skill than luck, as I don’t much believe in luck), I am in a position where I have good investment income, I don’t have to work, and we can basically go anywhere and do anything we want at anytime. We have options. So do we live in Thailand, or Farangland? I can’t decide and I have just realised that I have been indecisive on this matter for the past 10 years, floating back and forth some 29 times now. I suppose it is a good decision to have to make, better than being stuck at home working in a JOB (just over broke), but one that is weighing ever more heavy on my mind, especially as our boy will soon approach school age, at which time I think he needs to be more settled.
My wife is 50 / 50 on the subject. Actually, she is geared more towards Thailand. She has the family, the friends, the contacts, enjoys the food. The only drawcard for her (which is a major one) to live overseas is so that our kids can grow up in a farang environment, with farang culture and values. This is a very important issue for her, and one she feels strongly about. Basically she is happy with my decision either way, but does want me to make a decision.
I have lived in Thailand for about 2.5 years if you add all my visits up now. I love Thailand, love the hot weather, love the food, love the entertainment options, love driving around, love the beaches and islands and having multitudes of interesting places to visit. Our boy is adored by the family, and (through contacts) will qualify for an exceptionally hard to get into school. I have enough equity and income that we can live very comfortably, and never have to work again. I can speak reasonable Thai now too. Note re the recent submission on whether it is worth it to learn Thai – it IS worth it 110%; you get better prices for virtually everything, people are much less likely to rip you off, people will appreciate you and that you are interested in their culture / language, you gain a lot of respect in their eyes, and most of all you get to communicate with people who can’t speak English. If you’re lazy or tonally challenged then okay fine don’t learn Thai, but don’t ever not learn it because it’s not worth it, as that is nothing but a lame excuse.
So those are the pluses outlined above, but sometimes I get bored in Thailand, not really bored, but having nothing much constructive to do. I miss doing business at home, finding deals, putting deals together, and making a lot of money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about the money, for I have enough already, but I have a passion for deals and doing business, it’s what I love. That passion is what I miss in Thailand. I am an entrepreneurial person, but completely unqualified (not that anyone would ever guess), so of course I considered teaching English to pass my time, but I seriously couldn’t handle the fact that I was working in a job. I have a major aversion to being an employee.
So I started looking for business opportunities in Thailand – restaurants, language schools, property development. Anything which I thought could make some money and would give me some “rangbundunjai” (inspiration). I did a lot of research and eventually came to the conclusion that overall, it is not worth it; there is too much risk, too much corruption and too much anti-farang legislation to make anything work, not to mention all the hoops one would have to jump through and stressful situations than would ensue. And even if it did work, in all likelihood it wouldn’t last very long.
If I was 65, 50, even 40 years old then I might consider retiring in Thailand, passing my time drinking, exercising, playing golf, and travelling around, whatever it is retired people do. But I am not yet 30, and while I have stopped working a job, I am certainly not ready to retire. Conversely, if I didn’t have the financial means to move to Thailand then my decision would be made for me by default, and I would be comfortable in the knowledge that I would have to keep working hard at home to ensure our financial security. Sometimes I wish (not seriously though) that I was broke so I’d have to stay home and not have to ponder this decision. Or wonder that if I was single it would be much easier to make the decision to stay in Thailand and enjoy all that Asia has to offer. Or if I wasn’t a father then I wouldn’t have to worry about the kid's future, and factor that into the planning.
As mentioned, the other major part of my considerations are for that of the effect on the growing kids. From reading recent submissions, and talking round, it seems this is an issue that is affecting many expats, many of whom are choosing to return home so their kids can grow up in a western school environment. As Stick has previously alluded to, I am confident that Bangkok has educational options that are as good as anywhere in the west (if you can afford them). But it is the aspect of culture that weighs more heavy on my mind. Despite being a half-blood, top schooling, and speaking impeccable English, if they grow up in Thailand they will for all intents and purposes be “Thai”. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but I feel that a kid growing up in the west will become more assertive and confident and outgoing than if they were to grow up in Thailand. I feel they will be more open-minded and worldly, and generally grow up in a better environment that they might in Bangkok. They might go on school excursions hiking and skiing, they might go biking or play in the park with their friends, these are some of the many things that they would probably never get to do in Thailand. I got to do all these things when I was a kid. Or deeply inside do I really just want my kid to grow up the same way I did?
On this particular subject there are so many aspects to give consideration to that I can’t help but feel I am only scratching the surface here with my submission and thoughts, especially as there have been longer and more detailed submissions in the past. I can usually make big important decisions very easily, running through all the scenarios in my mind and coming up with the definitive best decision, but not on this occasion. I somehow thought through the process of writing this submission it might assist me to make a decision as to where to live from hereon in, to sway me in one direction. Alas, it has not helped much, only raised a few new issues I hadn’t thought of before! For now, we’ll keep traipsing between continents, and hopefully have a firm decision before too long.
First of all, congratulations on finding a great woman.
As far as where to live goes, if I was in your situation, I would be in the West. Like many people, one of the reasons I live in Thailand as opposed to the West is that I simply do not have enough money to really enjoy myself in the West – but I have enough money to do that in Thailand. If I was a millionaire, I would be back home.
But more than anything, I think growing up in the West is SO MUCH BETTER for your kid. Maybe until school age Thailand is ok, but once they reach 5, I'd be in the West.