Stickman Readers' Submissions September 18th, 2008

Happy in Thailand (Well almost) Part 5 & 6

I stayed in the province but E was still working in Bangkok and her daughter was still at school there. She would come up to see me (7 ½ hours on a bus and I would go to see her (7 ½ hours on a motorcycle) quicker going from Bangkok than going to because I would set off early to miss the traffic. The best time I made was 6 ¼ hours to do 530 km and I can tell you after the first hour it hurts. The seat is foam of course and when it fully compresses it's like sitting on a board. I found that putting a folded towel on the seat helped. The house was finished in June and I stayed there most of the time. I think E trusted me more in the province than Bangkok because I would wind her up about the young girls from the university near the apartment. Wow, it seems to be the fashion to wear their skirts and blouses at least one size too small. I've had many an entertaining ½ hour waiting for E at the 7/11.

The visits to the province became more frequent as we were both missing each other. On one long weekend we visited a cattle market because she wanted a beautiful cow for her father to look after for us. I think this was face for him and a way to get him to accept me. It cost me 42,000 baht, 35,000 for her father's and 7,000 for 2 calves that we liked because they were proper cows, not ox. After about 6 months we sold them to the butcher for 1,500 baht profit. One of these cows, I think, had been mistreated because it thought nothing of turning round and butting you if you tried to make it do something it didn't like. Once it had me tied to a tree with its rope and once it butted me in the balls but I doubled up to protect myself. Entertainment for the family but the biggest entertainment was the butcher trying to lead it away. It ran past him and up the lane with him hanging on to the rope and then turned round to butt him and ran past him again with him in pursuit. I would have given him the calf for that much entertainment.

To be continued.

Part 5 was too short for a stand alone submission hence I have published parts 5 and 6 together.


Happy in Thailand (Well almost) Part 6

We started planning for E to move to the province with me but we had to wait for her daughter's school year to end the following March and she had to give notice to her employer. Her friend and her husband who were school teachers kept pigs so she wanted to try keeping them in partnership with her sister and brother in law for when she finally retired to the village. Guess who was putting all the money up front? We rigged a sty up where they used to keep frogs and we bought 9 piglets. Unfortunately the price of pork plummeted and we ended up breaking even everything considered but I gave her sister 5,000 baht for looking after them so I lost. Ah, you're saying? Stupid farang again. Her sister and brother in law actually do a lot for us so I don't mind giving money to them.

I found out that the land we had built the house on had been given to her father by one of her aunts because she owed him money but the title had never been transferred. WTF, you let me spend the money on the house and the land is not yours?

It is mine.

How is it yours if the title is in your aunt's name and your sister's house is standing on half of it anyway? What if something happens to your father? Who does the land belong to then?

It's different in the village, they do things the easy way.

Well no more money on the house until the land is in your name.

So I'm a bad guy because I kept on like a dog with a rat until she did something about it. We then found out that they were going to borrow money against the land but changed their minds and the lender wanted so much money for his time and trouble. They wouldn't pay so he wouldn't give them the land paper back so this made it so much harder to get the title in her name. This must have been going on a year and she is only just going to get the title now. Her father died in March and I dread to think where we would stand now if I hadn't pushed. Maybe the aunt would have been honest about it and honoured the agreement. Who knows? TIT.

Now I said from the start that I don't expect to make money from Thailand but I would like it to pay for itself.

The end of the lease on the apartment was coming up so instead of finding somewhere to go before giving notice she gave notice because she wanted to find some where cheaper. By the time I persuaded her otherwise the landlord had found a new tenant and wouldn't go back on it (This is E, eternal optimist, no foresight. She thinks things will happen because she has decided they will with no thought or planning. Thais seemed to be programmed in a certain way and that’s the way things happen. What happened today will happen tomorrow. Never let a Thai plan anything, more likely than not it will be a haphazard disaster.). He offered other apartments in the same building but none were suitable. We looked around other apartments but they were all either too much for her or unsuitable.

I was spending most of the time in the province anyway (I hate Bangkok and I see no pleasure in spending an hour to travel a few km and breathe in toxins all the way) so she decided to move back into the house where she was before. Now this place should have been condemned years ago as the joists under the bottom floor were giving way and the water from the shower ran under the house. In the wet season damp started rising up the walls. Anyway I emulsioned out 2 rooms and made them presentable and we moved in, myself and E in one room and her daughter in another. There was a massive hall and we used that as a kitchen and also left the fridge in the hall way. This was a mistake because it was an open house, if any one was short of food they just took it out of our fridge. It wasn't the value but the inconvenience. E was working and I did a lot of the cooking so I would know what should be in the fridge for me to prepare a meal. WTF, should I have to rush out to buy something because some arse couldn't be bothered to? This is a big gripe with me and one instance in the village when we walked out of the house to visit someone and found we had forgotten something. We were walking back and I noticed the bedroom light was on! Now the house wasn't secure as it was possible to reach through the front window and open the door as the glazing wasn't in yet. When we got inside E's sister was in the bedroom using E's creams on her face and had raided the fridge for beer. Now our bedroom is sacrosanct to me so just going in there without being asked is a big crime. I spit the dummy big time and threw her out of the house. We had locked the door so I tried to explain that this is breaking and entering and a crime but farang is a bad man again. Apparently this is normal in a village Thai family. They will walk into a house and go straight to the fridge, if there is food prepared they will just help themselves, if you are eating a meal they just join in without invitation. TIT.

To be continued.

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Stickman's thoughts:

I love your advice about not letting the locals plan things. Yep, they are ever the optimists, especially when it comes to dealing with their own. Great observations!

What you say about people helping themselves to your food, drink (and other items such as clothes etc.) is also spot on and something I personally am simply unable to deal with. The idea is that they can do it at your place and you can do it at their place. They don't seem to realise that certain items might be special, or being saved for a later occasion or something like that. The Western and Thai notions of individual property and that which can be used / accessed by groups / families are oh so different!

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