Stickman Readers' Submissions September 16th, 2008

Happy in Thailand (Well almost) Part 3

Back to E, the next hurdle now that she has committed herself is to meet the family. Her mother died of breast cancer (something that worries her and me because it can run in families) so it was her father, brothers and sisters. Some of the sisters I had already met at the house in Bangkok (she was 1 of 9 kids) but she had 2 sisters in her old village and a brother in another village about 20 km away. I think we went up in a minibus with a driver and I stayed in the best hotel in K, 800 baht but E stayed in the village with her sisters.

She had started building a house on some land her father had given her and had the concrete pillars in and the roof on. I don't think I met her father this time and I'm sure he didn't approve and never did until the day he died in March this year. We visited her eldest brother and I got the first experience of Thai fishing which consisted of spreading nets across a pond and then beating the water with tree branches to drive the fish into the monofilament nets where they got tangled. They caught 2 quite large tilapia so back to the brother's house where we had barbecued fish with rice and beer and very good it was too. It was soon time for me to buy the beer but at about 350 baht for a case of large bottles I wasn't complaining. E said no, not to but I did anyway. They eat glutinous rice up there which is steamed in a basket until it all sticks together and I can't stand it because it's like chewing rubber. Her sister, who lives next door to the house she was building, can go browsing in the garden and fields and come back with a meal. Her other sister there grows rice and breeds frogs, only place I know where you can go in an animal feed shop and buy frog food. You're no one in the villages unless you have a cow, one of these long droopy eared things we would call an ox. Too many bones for my liking and not enough meat. They don't even milk them, just rear calves to sell.

Back to Bangkok and we decided to rent an apartment and try living together and see how it went. Again E is very frugal and didn't want to spend a lot but eventually we found a new apartment, one big room with shower room and balcony I think for something like 3,500 baht a month and with everything else in it ran to 5,500 baht a month. Part furnished with satellite and we arranged to lease it from 1st March 2006.

I returned to UK in February to sort my visa and mail and returned in March. Eve had moved what furniture she had into the apartment and we bought a bed for her daughter, another wardrobe, a fridge and a new TV plus odds and sods. The apartment wasn't really suitable because it was one big room and we had her daughter but TIT so we screened off a section for her to give her privacy and we managed ok and were reasonably happy. I bought a bicycle for us all so we could get about locally and get some exercise. E wasn't keen but myself and her both used to wake up early so we would go out before the traffic built up. She changed from being a lazy Thai office worker who wouldn't walk anywhere to having some muscle definition. Her daughter wouldn't go out with us because I made her walk a couple of hundred yards instead of using the motorcycle taxis.

E never had any money, even at the end of the month when she was paid, and I started to find out why. She said she had debt and I paid a couple off. I was now committed to her so I accepted it. She was scared to tell me the truth but I was finding bills here and there and I paid some more off. At this time I became angry and told her to come clean and tell me everything but she was still holding out. If I didn't believe in her I would have left then but after several months I found out about everything, paid it all off, made her destroy her credit cards and told her if she ever borrowed again I would leave her. She was in melt down and had been borrowing to pay her debts and getting deeper and deeper in the shit. School fees for her daughter, a little money for her father and helping her son through college, money she just could not afford. Your readers will say I'm stupid but in total I paid something like 200,000 baht. I couldn't believe that in one place she was paying 10% a month in interest but although it is illegal, it is normal with the lenders in the sticks as there are so many defaults. I've even heard that some of the shops do it but get the customers to sign an agreement with the legal interest on it that they can go to the police with in case of default. TIT.

On my birthday in March we went to the Honda shop and I bought myself a Phantom (in E's name of course) and with a screen and panniers (the panniers were a Honda accessory and were utter crap, the screen was brilliant for keeping the flies off) the cost was about 95,000 baht. Only 200cc but brilliant for getting about on, not that I went far in Bangkok, I hated the place. It would cruise quite comfortably at 100 km/h and I've been to the province on it doing 120 on the open roads. I even did it at night with E on once but it's too dangerous as you're likely to hit a dog or a cow. The worst trip was during Songkran, no consideration there when you're doing 80 km/h with 500 km in front of you. You get a full bucket of water and f—k you. The stupidest one was when they smeared my visor with wet talcum powder and then lifted my visor and did my glasses as well. Very amusing. TIT.

To be continued.

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