Readers' Submissions

Isaan Women In The West

  • Written by Anonymous
  • January 14th, 2009
  • 6 min read



My fiancée is from Thailand, and because of this I've spent considerable time on your site reading both your own & readers' commentaries on the culture, women, marital practices, social norms & stereotypes, etc. I'd love to offer a first-person account of my experiences in Thailand, but I can't, because I live in the West, and can only comment on what I've seen of Thai women OUTSIDE of Thailand, and what I can infer from what I've learned so far.

First of all, let me explain personally how we met: I got married to a Caucasian wife way too young, started a family, and it all fell apart about 2 years ago. I don't have an "Asian fetish", but I am picky in that I won't stay with just anyone, and I ended up dating quite a lot for about a year. I have no problem meeting attractive Caucasian women, and no problem satisfying them, but my problem was with the "princess-like" attitude that's impossible to satisfy and frankly set my ego off just a little bit. My ex-wife has 3 university degrees and made 6-figures, so maybe I'm just used to a bit higher standard than what I found in the local dating market.

In any case, without rambling too much, I got tired of shallow, alcohol-induced relationships pretty rapidly and gave up dating entirely – which is the same day that I met my fiancée, completely by chance. I can tell you that in terms of the Seattle / Vancouver dating scenes, the reasons why a Caucasian man would end up with a Thai woman are pretty obvious: better looking, better educated, and more family-oriented than single Caucasian women, nearly hands-down. I guess that makes sense, since all things being equal the good Caucasian girls are already taken, but since Thai women here are working immigrants they're more likely to be young, single, and educated.

We've been together now for about 10 months, which is more than long enough for me to have picked up on several of the stereotypes & cultural issues mentioned on your website. Yes, Thai culture DOES seem to promote an ideal of lighter-skin, and from the celebrity-magazines she sometimes reads, I'd have to guess that the "perfect Thai woman" is actually half-farang, because they have pale skin & western eyes. In terms of physical appearance alone, I can only attribute this to cosmetics companies needing to sell something, because Caucasian women spend a lot of time baking themselves leathery to attain the exact same golden hue of color that my fiancée was born with.

The other stereotype that I'm still trying to fully understand is discrimination against people from Isaan. This is a tough one for me, because my fiancée and nearly every single one of her friends & acquaintances are from Isaan, so I simply haven't met enough people from the rest of the country to know why people don't like this area. Supposedly it's because Isaan is Lao culture, and mostly rural, which essentially makes them the Thai equivalent of country girls – and based on what I've read, I guess that's not desirable.

One stereotype of my own that I'll add to the fray is a collection of horror-stories about Thai men: however, even I take this with a grain of salt, since the women who have great relationships with Thai men presumably live in Thailand, and many of the women who left for the west probably did so because they weren't happy with their dating opportunities at home – basically a reversal of the same issue a lot of Caucasian men have with the local girls in the USA or Canada.

I've been to a few local Thai temples, and noticed that nearly all of the Thai women were from Isaan, and nearly all of them were married to Caucasian men. The last part was very surprising, as I've been to Chinese, Indian, and Sri Lankan temples and noticed very little cultural mixing & cross-cultural relationships: in contrast, the only men I could find in the Thai temple were the monks. My fiancée's explanation is that immigration makes it easier for women to come to BC as nannies & childcare workers, which seems to make sense.

I'm not with my fiancée for the "stereotypical" reason. She's not demure, and isn't particularly domestic. Nor is she a bullish career-woman out to make a name for herself in business. She is, however, very loving and cares deeply about the people around her, and as a result, we have a good, solid relationship based on trust & honesty. While I don't feel that she's particularly drawn towards Caucasian men per se, I do believe she feels pushed away from Thailand: those tales about Pattaya, back-alley abortion clinics & elderly farangs scouring the countryside for young girls <This is an exaggeration and very seldom happensStick> get mentioned from time to time.

One trend that I don't see mentioned enough is the Thai practice of "dowry", which is probably more interesting in the west right now than it is in Thailand. I can't speak for what it's like in-country, but BC girls from Isaan in their 30's are now often quietly saving money to pay for their own dowries, and girls in their 20's are leaning more towards just saying "screw it" and ignoring the practice entirely…and that's a good thing, since it gives the woman more options in the kind of men she's able to marry.

For what it's worth, my fiancée is quite beautiful — not just by my standards, either. She competed in and won several beauty competitions in Thailand, and has many comparably beautiful friends, also. It's not that these women are leaving Thailand because nobody wants them there – it's that they want a better life for themselves than they expect to see in their homeland, and apparently Western media has them convinced they can find that in the USA or Canada. I know many of her friends are also in Japan, so the trend towards emigration out of Isaan seems to be a routine practice for a lot of middle-class Thai women.

I do appreciate your site in terms of providing perspectives on the whole issue of interactions between "farang" and Thai women…these culturally ingrained attitudes are something that stay with them, unfortunately, even after they immigrate to the west. Sometimes that can be difficult, because the reflex is to associate "Caucasian" with "farang" – in truth, I'd say that "farang" only applies to a Westerner in Thailand. Here, it's the Thai that are farang…

— Anonymous, near Vancouver, BC

Stickman's thoughts:

Good luck to you and her.