Thai Food Is A Gateway Drug
I'm not sure exactly why I penned this submission. I hope it helps someone, or entertains someone.
I first started visiting Thailand for the food. Not so much the beaches, not so much the women … the food. I'd made Thai restaurants here in Farangland a frequent visit, and I tried new restaurants with great enthusiasm … even if my menu choices were, in hindsight, fairly limited. I did some cooking courses here in Australia, before finally deciding to bite the bullet and go abroad for the real deal … cooking courses at Thai restaurants, in Thailand. I was going to master this cuisine yet.
My first trip was in 2000 or thereabouts. The course I'd enrolled in included the food you cooked as your lunch, and I was – to my surprise – the only student. I was a little disappointed in some respects of the "cooking for dummies" coursework – since it was a restaurant, a lot of the vegetables were already cleaned, peeled and chopped – but some aspects pleased me, like having a muscley katoey kitchen hand at your beck and call to do the heavy mortar-and-pestling required to make curry paste. Whenever I've made this at home, I've used a food processor. Less "authentic", one might argue, but it tastes the same to me.
I sampled the nightlife, as everyone does, but it didn't hold much appeal. I have a sensitive stomach to the point where I can't tolerate loud music without feeling sick. I did like the bath-house massage joints, which had no such loud music, but the pampering of having someone bathe you carefully was new, and I liked it.
I eventually settled into a pattern with my frequent trips. Early morning swims, cooking during the day, massage in the afternoon, and drinks with a good book in an upscale bar (with no loud music, natch) in the evening. I usually retired early, and alone, always looking forward to doing it all again.
Then one trip I met M. She was a hairdresser in Saphan Kwai, from near Chiang Mai, and would later become my wife. She had very little English, and I had very little Thai but something just clicked. I stopped going to the courses, stopped going to the massage joints, and spent all my time with her. I gave her money, but not much. She repaid me many times over with her immense kindness and consideration. She would sometimes send me small gifts between my increasingly frequent visits. I was self-employed with a viable internet business that didn't rely on my physical location – all I needed was internet access. I decided to move to Thailand.
My friends in Australia were happy for me but a little worried too, I think. More worried was my family, who had never heard mention of M before, until I announced my decision to move. I took that onboard, and took some precautions … I had a fully flexible ticket, I kept my apartment in Australia, and could have left Thailand within a few hours if I'd needed to.
I'd stayed in M's "loom" a few times before, but if we were going to do this properly, we needed something bigger than the shoebox she lived in. We got a nice condo near Sukhumvit, for what I now consider an appallingly large amount of money (B30K/month) and settled into life there together. It was great. I took extensive Thai lessons, M took English lessons. M wasn't particularly close to her family, which from what I've read here is a blessing, but I gave her enormous face by paying a pseudo sin sot to her mother – 260,000 baht and 6 baht of gold. Plenty of people reading this will think I paid over the odds, or shouldn't have paid at all, but I'm happy with it. The money went towards building a house that we will one day inherit, but even if we don't, the happiness it brought everyone was still worth it.
I should clarify that it wasn't always smooth sailing – we had some issues, which M described the fundamental cause of as my "heart being too small" but I think could be better described as protecting myself in case things went bad, as so many relationships you read about in LOS seem to.
We had lots of visitors from Australia visit us in Bangkok, and were very happy. After a year, M became pregnant, and we had our child's future to consider. We decided to pursue a visa for her to come to Australia, and we'd resettle there. We had moved to Chiang Mai to be closer to her family, and their local government office, and I began the paperwork in earnest. We legally married at the start of 2009, and the visa was approved in March. We forfeited the security deposit on the house we were renting, and moved to Australia.
Since arriving here, life is different, but still great. I am over Thai food. The collapse of the global economy meant that my online business significantly decreased, so I got a comfortable job I'm quite happy in. M goes to school in Australia, constantly improving her English. She took our son back to Thailand to visit friends and family last month, but does not really miss Thailand, even though she says Thailand is better for her since she always understands what's going on. She has made new friends at school, a lot of which have children, so she combines coffee dates with play dates. Our boy is happy and healthy. When he is grown, we hope to return to Thailand to enjoy our retirement.
That's just a really nice story. Congratulations on making it work by keeping things simple and realistic. And good on you for moving back to Australia which I presume was largely for the benefit of the young one. The child will get a top notch education in Oz and will have a world of opportunities.