Stickman Readers' Submissions December 15th, 2008

Why I Moved to Thailand Part 3

The Big Move! Final Part? For now anyway

Suvarnabhumi Airport in mid June and I was welcomed by my taxi driver who I'd rang the day before from home and he drove to the airport to pick me up. I did pay extra but it was worth it to see his smiling face. He was happy to see me and as we drove back to Bangkok he told me about the PAD and the protest rallies that were going on. He mentioned at the time that he didn’t think that this would last long and things would get back to normal (well here we are in December and they are definitely not back to normal and getting worse by the day).

He Clinic Bangkok

I caught up with Amm later that day and it was good to see her again and we shared a great time that night. I had checked into a budget hotel since I didn’t know how long it’d take to find an apartment, (turns out I had to wait three weeks before moving into one). Now there’s plenty of apartments near On Nut or Mo Chit but since Amm’s’ job required her to be within half an hour's drive from work and Bangkok traffic in the afternoons can be horrendous, Amm had told me that if I lived near On Nut or Mo Chit then she’d be unable to come over as often as she’d like. So I had to look for something close to where she worked. I finally found a small studio apartment near the Asia Hotel for ฿5,000 a month with unlimited internet but no hot water.

Amm & I started spending a lot of time together, most nights we’d eat at my place or go to one of the many small markets close by for dinner and on weekends we’d explore parts of Bangkok that I’d not seen yet. Some of the best places I visited were the National Assembly Building
or known officially as the Anantasamakhom Throne Hall.

And The Vimanmek Palace, which is the world’s largest Golden Teak building.

CBD bangkok

Early July I moved into my apartment and bought what was needed so that I’d be able to cook most of my own food at home (not always cheaper but much healthier). I’d also found some part-time work teaching English at a language institute, the pay wasn’t great but it did keep me busy while looking for something better and also meant that I wasn’t using my money that I was getting from overseas.

Now my relationship with Amm was moving along very well and even though I’d only met her in March and had spent little more than 2½ months with her I’d made up my mind to marry her (Yes I know, I was too eager). The only thing stopping me from asking her to marry me was the sin sot issue. Now we’d discussed this issue before but Amm had told me it was up to her parents and she told me that she talked to her parents about this. About two weeks later I asked Amm if she’d talked to her parents and she said that she had talked with her mother and that she’d said it was “up to me”. I asked her what that meant and she said that it was my choice whether I paid sin sot or not. I asked again if her parents understood that if it’s up to me then I won’t be paying sin sot. She told me yes! that is correct. Now it’s not that I’m against paying sin sot, but since Amm had already been married and sin sot had been paid already by her first husband so I shouldn’t have to pay! What are your thoughts Stick? <In total agreementStick>

So with this cleared up I asked Amm to marry me and bought a gold necklace as an engagement gift. Amm had told me that she didn’t want a diamond ring has her first husband & last boyfriend had bought her a diamond ring and both had been unfaithful to her and that for her a gold necklace would mean more so I bought a one baht gold necklace for her.

Amm rang her parents that night and told them that I’d asked her to marry her and she told me that they were both happy for her and would like us to visit them, so the following weekend we drove to her village. The drive out to her village was good and it only took us 7 hours and we arrived around lunch time and this included a stop in Buriram to see one of her friends. Her parents were pleased to see us and after lunch and a sort rest we set off to visit the family’s rice farm which was around 5km from the village. We stayed there all afternoon and only came back at nightfall. It was planned that we go into Surin for dinner that night to discuss the marriage details around a family dinner. The dinner was great and we all had a good time and the only hard part was keeping up with the questions that had to be translated by her brother in law. Amm & I had agreed on a small wedding as this was her second and we settled on 50 odd people to have on the day. We disused this with her parents and they agreed to this so we set the wedding day for early January. Time came to pay the bill and like most times I picked up the bill, but I couldn’t complain as ฿1,400 (US$40) for seven people including drinks was very good value.

wonderland clinic

We left the small restaurant and drove back to her village which was about 25 km away with Amm's dad in the back seat. We were about halfway home when Amm said to me that her dad had just asked her how much I was going to pay for sin sot?

I was speechless for a few minutes and looked over to Amm wondering what was going on! Her dad must have realized that something was wrong and asked her what was wrong. Amm replied that I had been told by her mother that I didn’t have to pay sin sot so was surprised by all of this. Her dad told her that the money would be given back to me after the wedding but I had to pay so that Amm could regain face.
I asked Amm to ask her father how much and was told ฿100,000. Now that’s quite a bit of money to try and come up with in 6 months but left it at that for the night and decided that I’d talk about it more with Amm later.

The following day I was able to have some time alone with Amm (not easy when you’re sharing a house with 4 other adults) and asked her what was going on! It turned out that her parents weren’t talking to each other and her mum had made the decision without talking to her dad. I told her that we should try and have another family meeting as this would upset our plans to get married in January. She told me that she’d try and talk to her dad and explain the situation to him. Well we stayed for two more days but nothing happened which I was annoyed at but let it go and told Amm we’d have to come back in the next few months to try and work something out. Well we got back to Bangkok and work got steadily busier and this stopped my plans to go back and visit her family, so I paid for the bus fare so that Amm could go up to see her parents and try to work something out. This turned out to be a waste of time as all she did that weekend was go to the temple and see some friends as her parents told her that this was what they wanted me to pay and if I couldn’t pay then it showed that I wasn’t able to support her. When Amm came back and told me this I was very annoyed that they’d changed their minds and now if I wanted to marry Amm I had to come up with ฿100,000.

By this time it was early September and due to visa rules and having to do some business back in my country I made plans to go home for a week. I told Amm that if her parents weren’t willing to compromise then we’d be unable to marry in January as there’d be no way I could come up with that amount of money by then. She told me that she’d try and talk to her parents again to see if they’d change their minds.

I flew home for a week and when I came back things hadn’t changed so I told Amm that because some of my family wanted to come over I’d have to know by late October what her parents had decided. She told me that she tried to talk to them again before then and again explain the situation to them. Amm then told me that if she got pregnant then her parents would allow her to marry as having a baby before being married would be a big loss of face for her and her family. I told Amm that I wouldn’t go along with this as this could cause resentment between her parents and me.

All of this was starting to put some pressure on our relationship and I decided to let things be for a while and just keep living as we had been. This did help somewhat and things were getting back to normal. To help us cope with all of this we agreed to go away for a weekend at least once every 4 to 5 weeks work permitting, so since I wasn’t working that weekend we went to Ayutthaya.

I’ve realized that Thais don’t like confrontation and that everybody was thinking that I’d go along with this so as to not rock the boat (so to speak). Well sorry but this was going to have to be sorted out or there’d be no wedding in January. By this time we were now in mid October and nothing had changed so I told Amm to try one more time talking to her parents and if that failed then I’d have to postpone the wedding until a later time. Well her parents didn’t change their minds so I decided to postpone the wedding. Amm wasn’t happy but I explained to her that she knew I didn’t have that kind of money and also reminded her that I had agreed to marry her because her parents had said that I didn’t have to pay sin sot and now they’d changed their minds.

This has to some extent affected our relationship as Amm used to be a happy go lucky person who’d laugh & smile all the time and now I rarely see this side of her and it takes a lot of effort to make her happy and it doesn’t take much for her to loss her cheerfulness. This does worry me sometimes and I wonder if I’ll ever see her happy again and think that maybe if I just went along with all of this that she will return to the person I first fell in love with.

About a week after I’d decided to postpone the wedding her brother in law rang me and told me that Amm's parents wanted to know why I had postpone the wedding. I told him that I’d agreed to marry Amm on the condition that I wasn’t going to have to pay sin sot and now her parents had changed their mind and the amount that they wanted was more than I could afford. He told me that it was part of their culture and that I’d have to pay sin sot if I wanted to marry Amm. I said I know it's part of Thai culture but believe that since Amm had already been married once and sin sot had been paid then there was no reason for me to pay a second time. He told me I was wrong and that even if Amm had been married 2 or 3 times then sin sot was still payable. I told him I disagreed with that and if Amm's parents weren’t willing to come to some compromise then there would never be a wedding.

The next day Amm came over after work with tears in her eyes and I asked her what was wrong. She told me that her mum had rung her and told her that I didn’t want to marry her any more. I told her that wasn’t true. I still wanted to marry her but was not able to at this time due to the sin sot issue. I told her that her brother in law had rung me two days ago and had asked me why I was postponing the wedding so I told him the reason and also told her what he had told me. Amm rang her mum to see if this was what happened and was told that yes that’s what I’d said. This made me realize that things can easily be transformed to suit them and I wasn’t happy about it and told Amm so.

I told Amm that this was starting to get to stressful again and could also see that it was affecting her as well and if she’d agree we wouldn’t bring up the wedding issue for 3 to 4 months, then we’d go up and see her parents and try to come to some arrangement. She was ok with this and to cheer her up we went to Khao Yai National Park for a few days.

Life was going ok but I knew that until this sin sot issue had been resolved there’d always be some tension between Amm & I and I long for the day when I could again see Amm as the happy go lucky person who laughs & smiles all the time.

In Thailand there’s always a curve ball waiting to hit you and the PAD was this curve ball. What had started out as peaceful protest in May had slowly escalated into full on street protest & rioting! This had a marked effect on Amm and now not only was I wondering how I was going to marry her but had to constantly reassure her that even if things turned ugly I’d still stay in Thailand.

This put some added stress on our relationship as I help bring tourists into Thailand and with the airports closed all of this stopped and as Amm worked as a nurse for the government she was worried about what might happen to her beloved country and having to go and help the wounded like she’d done in October.

To top off all of this, I had Amm's parents stay at my place for 4 days during the airport shutdown while they went to the hospital for tests that they couldn’t have in Surin. While they were here I noticed that Amm and her mum argued everyday. I asked her what they were arguing about and she told me that her mum kept telling she had no money and that since I had no university degree I would have a hard time finding work and providing for her future, not like her sister who with her husband had a profitable recycling business and were doing very well. (What she failed to say but what I’d learnt was that since the economy downturn this business hasn’t been making any money and it’s her husband's mother who gives them up to ฿40,000 a month to keep things going). This did annoy Amm and on the last morning she had a huge argument with her mother and I had to tell her to stop and calm down. Her mum saw that I wasn’t happy about what was going on but said nothing. They just got dressed and left for the morning. I told Amm to calm down and we’d talk about that night. Well I tried to bring up the subject that night but her parents didn’t want to talk so we let it go and the following morning they went home.

So here we are close to Christmas and I’m faced with some big decisions.

* Should I keep trying and hope that her parents change their mind about sin sot OR

* Should I listen to Amm and get her pregnant so that I don’t have to pay sin sot OR

* Should I just walk away from the whole thing and put it down to one of life’s experiences.

To make things even more complicated I love this woman very much and walking away would hurt a lot, and I’m not just talking about bed time love here! I’m talking about someone who I hold very close to my heart and who means the world to me.

Yes! I do realize that I probably rushed in and asked Amm to marry me before talking to her parents about it and should have waited, but it’s done and I cannot change the past.

If this fails, would I still want to marry a Thai woman? Sure! But after reading many of the stories on this site I would wait at least 6 months before asking her to marry me. This would also have given me some time to really know the family (if there is such a thing!).

If you have some thoughts on this topic then send them to Stick and he can forward to me.

By the way if you hadn’t noticed I didn’t reveal my name or where I’m was from. Also Amm is not her real name, but everything else in this story is true. I did this to keep myself as anonymous has possible and to protect Amm as well.

Stickman's thoughts:

Your situation is in fact more complicated than it seems. Having talked through the whole issue with you in person at length, I initially felt that the family was being a little harsh with the sin sot. I questioned whether it should be paid given that Amm has been previously married.

But there really is more to it than that. What you did not reveal to the readership is that, sadly, your income is very low and your earning potential is not great. I hate to sound harsh here but I think what you actually need to do is get your own life together first and figure out a way to derive a decent income. You DO need more money than what you currently have and earn to keep a Thai woman happy. It is not that they need to be treated to the finest life has to offer BUT a Thai woman marrying a farang man does not want to end up in a situation like the wife of Mr. Canada as I highlighted in the Stickman weekly column a few weeks ago. My advice to you is to somehow get your financial situation together a bit better….and then you'll be in a much better situation. Having to work in a low-end English school just to make ends meet doesn't bode for a bright future!

nana plaza