Paradisus Terrestris – A Thai Village ?
Mr. Korski wrote quite harsh about Thai village life in his submission: It’s Not About Western Women. I kind of feel
compelled to answer and donate my two cents on the subject.
I also came to LOS in the search of some ‘fun’ as so many put it. I was in the look for the same sex – a fact that really bares very little difference in my opinion. Anyway, to cut the story a bit shorter, I never intended
to stay and even less considered living here. Now I have two residences, a shophouse in quite large university town and a house on the rice field about 45 minutes ride from that town center. I divide my time between these two places and enjoy
the benefits of both of them. With modern technology and its advances one can enjoy internet and HBO programs even in the heart of Isaan.
I have been keen observer of Thais and Thai families over last five years and my observations have produced much more interesting picture than Mr. Korski's. I do admit that point of view has a lot to do with it. I work home so I have
plenty of time to look and try to see how things work and also some foreign friends that have lived here much longer than myself. I use their perception as a tool to my better judgment.
Let’s face it. So called regular Farang lives in an area like Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Phuket or similar place that somewhat resembles life back home – partly that is (otherwise we can see it also as a floating dream paradox).
This guy normally complains almost non-stop about Thais and Thailand and ladies and men and all other aspects of normal Thai life. He drinks – remember that we talk of an average punter here. He normally doesn’t speak much Thai and
sticks to his friends and drinking pals. He does not bother much to understand the life of a Thai or things that he sees in Thailand. This Mr. Average Punter wants to create something that resembles his own place of origin and then proceeds to
complain why prices tend to rise to that same level…see what I mean?
Okay, okay. This was supposed to be about village life so here I take some of Mr. Korski’s words and try to comment them.
“Marry an Asian woman, as in Thailand, and live with her in her village, and you will live a life unlike anything you have been accustomed to in the West…”
Hmm…I am not 100% sure of this. I do admit that life in the rural Thailand is somewhat basic compared for example to my own country but on the other hand my generation still has some connection to farm animals and we had to do our part
of manual labor during summer holidays so I actually see sense in much what Thais in their villages do. I’ve been shoveling shit and that didn’t do any harm to me. Actually it did mentally good after an extended period of more theoretic
studies. It’s sometimes good to dirty ones hands.
“and here the negatives simply swamp the positives of keeping the woman out of the West and all of its influences”
I don’t simply agree here. What suits one doesn’t do it for someone else. I see plenty of good in a change in one’s life or at least an attempt of a kind. Don’t mean that it should be forever. One can have different
periods in life.
Thais tend to play their music and loud. This was one of the reasons to purchase enough big piece of land so no-one can make it intolerable to stay in my own place. Other benefits are that I am relatively safe from someone putting up a motorbike
repair shop to my doorstep. Once a month they have a traveling market arriving and they play their music from 7AM until noon. This happens every first Saturday of the month. I am quite used to it and when I see them putting up their thing evening
prior, I just hope they will have plenty of customers since their trade is not that great around this part of the country. After all, they are working to support their families.
Otherwise, there are occasional monks and Buddhist events making sounds but these take place early mornings and go unnoticed from me. I tend to sleep – that’s why.
It is actually funny that someone who seems to like go-gos and similar even takes noise as an example of negatives in a country village. Same lot of people tend to drink more often than not and in my recollection alcohol soothes up many annoying
things. At least this applies to me. Furthermore, the village that I live seems to close around 10PM and there are very few occasions that have made me notice any disturbance from any direction after that hour.
And to see the positive…why don’t you participate in the action? Why stay complaining about it?
I do hate plastic bags that Thais throw everywhere. But I get rid of them by collecting them and burning them. Bigger trash I take to town and dispose of it there – in a proper manner.
Some cow shit has also been detected left behind by those fleets of not-so-well-nourished animals. I collect those clumps and fertilize my plants with them. Sometimes I joke to my family that I am really a scrooge (kee niau farang) and shit
stuck to me. Besides that there are some considerations to take care of the litter caused by my three dogs and that strange red dust that seems to get everywhere but there is an easy solution. I just clean regularly in my house – not even daily
– and it seems to work and it isn’t any different than in my town premises.
“small minds everywhere”
This one is a quite a challenge. Has Mr. Korski lived very long in a Thai village to know what these people really think? I live opposite to a retired Thai school headmaster. His family speaks rather good English, some live abroad in USA
and all have high education. I do acknowledge that there are people that are rather opposite to that. Anyway, I strongly believe that going to live as a gay couple in UK, USA or Europe in a small country village would be much more difficult than
it is here in Thailand. They may not agree with us but at least they communicate, work if needed and we get along. I feel that in some countries this could be more of an issue. I think that Thais are quite tolerant. There are few that I would
never trust but in a small community it is easier to detect problems and deal with them beforehand meaning also to avoid them by not getting involved with wrong persons. I think this applies to most countries as well.
I also would like to point out that some of these older Thais may never have seen Bangkok and its wonders. But on the other hand, what do we foreigners know about planting or harvesting rice, taking care of cattle and many issues that at
least to myself are very unfamiliar. There is a world of ‘muu baan’ that I have no clue whatsoever and I believe that it will never really reveal itself to me fully.
I don’t agree with this ‘small minds’ argument. There is knowledge, skills and wisdom as well as stupidity, recklessness and wrong beliefs as in any other town or village allover the world. Who am I to tell people that
have lived here for generations what they are?
I see great potential in the younger generation and a real need for education related to other aspects than traditional farming. Thailand is changing and rice fields don’t support as many people as they used to do.
“constant demands on your scarce resources”
Some distant ‘relatives’ have made requests but turning them down few times does the trick. They learn to not to ask anymore. I also have made clear that my house is not some resort where people can come without asking first.
I made only one guest room since I didn’t want anyone staying on more permanent basis. This is my working area and when I work I need my peace.
My Thai family has also handed me money when I was in the need of it. They are those good people that so many wish to meet. They also have no connection to bars, nightlife or tourist areas. They are proud Thais and very hard working. I really
appreciate the fight that they have gone through from miserable poverty to achieve their goals and better their lives. I salute them.
I think this money factor is more common in people that have adopted wrong ideas about foreigners and their supposed wealth. I hear so often pure nonsense how much farang husbands give to their wives that I want to laugh. My husbands answer
when asking how much I give him monthly is: “Oh, he is poor farang. I give him money.” You really should look the expressions on their faces when he says that. In reality we share. When I have money I give it to various needs and
he does the same when the salary arrives. We plan our finances. Has anyone heard of such a thing before? Equality. That’s the word.
“a complete lack of privacy”
No. I believe that these aspects are merely a question of reasoning and dealing with them. Or does Mr. Korski suggest that foreigners enter into the Thai family life and their houses? Totally a different scenario than mine. Let the Thais
have their houses and I will have mine.
I built and planned my house so that I have my own side of the house completely for myself and my husband. There is the bedroom, terrace, working space/office and private bathroom and a view. There is private entrance and all doors can be
locked if necessary. I spoke beforehand that I will not allow any disturbance while working and since Thais have their own side of the house they never seem to bother me. The connecting room between is dining room followed by kitchen so evenings
we do have dinners together. This country residence has only our room, mother’s room and a guest room. More visitors, well, they have to sleep on the floor. Works well for me. When I have an urge to relax doing something else I work in
“to mention just a few of the many issues one must deal with to be able to live in a Thai village”
I have lived quite much the same way I would anywhere else. One great aspect is that when wanting I can just drive to town and get the benefits of that and later return to my Tusculum when willing again. I admit that something like a “Pattaya
lifestyle” would very badly suit in a Thai village. This is due to the same reason why it does not suit to some small community in Europe. People in the village are conservative Thais. They may laugh with you if you misbehave and drink
yourself silly but at the same time they think you are an idiot. Acting like in a tourist destination makes you loose all respectability what you might have.
Just try to act naughty and you might get into real trouble or at least be thrown out of a possible gathering. Also the words that you learn from naughty nightlife are not to be used if you want to earn some respect.
Also that sexy lady that allowed you to grab her ass while holidaying on Samui might act very differently when visiting her own village. Just think how you would act after returning to your family from heavy wildlife partying. Would you throw
all the details on your family’s face? Somehow I doubt it.
Generalizations are very common but I would hope that when writing about a subject one would talk about things one knows well and has experience on them. I have no clue whether Mr. Korski knows Thai village life or not but the image he paints
before our eyes of imagination is very bleak indeed if I compare it to my own experiences.
So I suppose it’s time to give my list of dislikes and likes of Thai rural community. I start with the negatives. I discussed this topic with my husband and these views reflect his analysis as well. He is hard working Thai that has
struggled his way out of poverty without any easy shortcuts and still remembers how people treated him BEFORE he became a man of means.
This of course is a very thing that varies from person to person. I observed the workers making my house and some did merely what they could get away with and some really committed to their effort. You can guess which group was the majority.
The pay was the same to all but those more committed were the ones that stayed longest from the beginning to finish.
Government loans have recently been used to buying cars, mobile phones and new motorbikes rather than using them for what they were intended. This has led to a debt ridden circle of loaning and borrowing money. It seems that when there is
a free lunch it has been taken for granted. People have lost their own initiative and wait for the free money. I see this as another mark of the declining traditional life.
This lazy attitude affects also the way people treat their property. I have rarely seen them renovating their houses or repairing their machinery or cars or motorbikes in a proper manner. Many actually have houses that would look very nice
with little improvements. Unfortunately, when having money it tends to go to a spur of the moment things like drinking or paying off debts. I have seen far too often some daughter or son sending money from abroad and instead of using it wisely
it normally goes to most silly things. So not all neglect can be blamed on poverty. It’s the attitudes that instead of making repairs one waits for a completely new house and new car and is jealous to someone working hard for his.
More often than not ill-willed and outright mean. Especially if one is not prepared to donate his hard earned money voluntarily to the vultures.
This is one of the reasons why I attend the more official side of village events than participate in more private terms. There are some that make up malicious rumor and gossip that can be easily avoided with NOT revealing everything about
you and your thoughts.
No gasoline for the poison tongue league.
This has something to do with observing Thai relationships and happenings. There is plenty of people that I see being dysfunctional misfits. They do not manage, plan or execute their life in any way. They go with the flow – normally
a ‘lao kau’ flow – and the consequences are obvious ending wit broken relationships, debt, alcoholism, gambling, parentless children (who may or may not adopt the ways of the D-Misfits) and possible ‘mia noi’
in case they have some extra money. The real issue is that these bad ways of conduct are inherited and they can spoil the lives of otherwise totally lovely children and young adults
I argue that there are plenty of foreigners as well in the D-Misfit Club but that’s another topic.
I like the relax atmosphere of rural Thailand. I drive around with my Phantom to see those green fields and trees and things of nature. Those fields do prove that someone somewhere are working their asses off. I have also witnessed a rare
village that was spotless and had plenty of work done planting all kinds of flowers and shrubbery. Beautiful. The village had decided to be a shining example of clean and well-managed place where they take things a bit further than minimum.
I have plenty of space growing my mangos and flowers and looking all this from my terrace I feel inner peace that I can never achieve in the whirlwind of a hectic city. My work has improved since I can now give it full 100%. The distance
also allows me to meet my friends when I choose to. That saves me from interruptions when not willing to meet or greet. I truly value my privacy when needing it.
To be close to the town is also a big plus. I get the services when needed but can retrieve back to my hiding from the world. This balances my whole life between work and leisure. I get the best of both. Also when considering relationship
it sometimes works better when you give the other half some time of his own. Thai-Farang relationships have an extra burden of stress due to many cultural and other issues. I have found it very beneficial not to push the other person too much.
Thais don’t deal very well with stress and they simply can’t understand sarcasm. Somehow, though, they can deal with problems amongst themselves rather well.
Prices in small villages are much cheaper than in more busy locations. They have to be since otherwise they would have no customers at all. Same money seems to circulate around and very little of extra value is added. This is due to the reason
that money for work is a pittance and it goes directly from hand to mouth.
I love to people watch. And I get many ideas observing things happening around me. I am also not constantly distracted with multitudes of action like in the big cities.
Visually – besides plastic bags and occasional other litter – Thai country side has plenty to offer. Stick sometimes seems to say that there are no views available but I look the beautiful light and colors that overwhelm me.
People are what they are but as in Stanley Kubrick’s movie ‘Barry Lyndon’ they are all equal in the end…
Every small village is a miniature of the world.
Keep an open eye and mind for it!
I am away in the northeast of Thailand at present and pressed for time hence no comments. Sorry!