Castle On The Sky
My close friend used to remind me when I was dreaming that you can dream all you want and make a castle on the sky but you can't move in it. This was the time when I was studying and had all those dreams of a young and innocent before they get hit by various realities. That said, I have never stopped dreaming and developing new ideas.
I have been reading through all these submissions regarding morals and later on going to the very character of Thai or Asian ladies. Jayson seemed to hit the nail in the head judging by the anger he created. I thought his words as they were to me he made perfect sense – although, it came from Asian perspective that does not cover all the multitudes of reasons and wants and needs that do exist. We people are so different.
Or are we actually?
This submission was sparked by Stick's remark that there are so many train wrecks. Why is it so? I have personally observed a few and have quite realistic view why those unfortunate things take place. Disclaimer: These are personal views so no rants are needed.
The Vicious Circle
I assume that many – let's say 90% at least – foreigners that live or spend their time here are sticking it to the Farang side of life. They consume goods and services similar to those they've been used to somewhere else in the Farangland. They like cheese and cutlery, they have all kind of favourite things that are not readily available at local village store. Nothing wrong with that but it's Thailand. If you try to live with locals maybe you should try their kitchen. There are plenty of choices that can be consumed without flames coming out of your mouth.
The bar scene is not Thailand or at least a very thin margin of it. This has been said time over time and there are still people who can't comprehend it. There was a good weekly column where this website's author claimed that we should keep up appearances since that is what Thais expect us to do. Privately one can do whatever one chooses but expecting that one can speak loud and clear about what lovely things he has done in more seedy scene is similar to picking a confrontation with Thais. Or they might look like they are enjoying and laughing but that would only result in a very big loss of face – yours! They would simply take you as an ignorant and stupid person. Not to mention physical touching, kissing or slapping somebody's rear. Touching or affection in public just doesn't happen. Young Thais might kiss in a disco or something but believe me that in front of their elders they would behave. Thais don't understand that we as foreigners tell what we actually have done when arriving Land Of Smiles the first time or so. They may have an idea but regarding culture try to avoid speaking about Pattaya or Soi Cowboy or similar. Thais – even the ones that know exactly what's going on – would never admit that they know! Or if they do it might mean they are part of it. Okay, a bit strong here but you get the idea, I hope.
So all this sticking it to the Farang scene means that we never get adopted or exposed to the real Thai life. We don't speak their language, eat strange food, habit the foreign owned bars and possibly don't like to attend to family occasions due to the personal discomfort that it might cause.
Frankly speaking, we don't try to assimilate in most cases. There is us and them. It is a vicious circle very rarely broken. Blame laziness or lack of will. Compare Thailand to other countries and complain from the bottom of your heart. Blame Thais being lazy or ignorant (just try working a day in the rice field!). Or try convincing them that their way of life or concept of family is flawed. Tell them that their language is impossible to learn and it's futile to try even. All their beliefs regarding religion are naive and full of superstition. That they will never achieve the level of the West. Or that they are inferior people. I have heard all these in real life and you know what?
You are the one banging your head towards the concrete wall! You might be surprised. It will outlast all your efforts.
As said, I have witnessed all these things and a couple of times seen a train wreck coming and the results after. The problem is whether to interfere and warn about it or just simple do nothing. As Stick might probably confirm, very few ever listen what you are saying to them. <I have given advice so many times to people, including this close to me – and only when they asked for it – and they chose not to follow that advice which of course is their choice…and the train wreck that followed was horrific – Stick> They simply ignore your warnings and advice or get angry and abusive. So why try?
This is the part of my answer to question why there are so many train wrecks. These people simply dream a castle and then try to move in it and finally wake up realising that the dream isn't exactly what they bargained for. Whether they have had something similar before outside Thailand has very little to do with their success rate here. Again, this is not Farangland. Keep that on mind all the time.
Here are few examples of train wrecks to give an idea:
There is a guy I call Mr. Perfect. Retired, not so old, American citizen, originates from Sicilian background. Does not speak or understand Thai or Thai culture. His first Thai lady was found from internet. Few months living together before he started paying for house, car, this and that, you name it. Lady was a gambler and lost it all and in a very Thai manner expected him to just pay more. We who were observing saw the lady taking his valuables to the local pawn shop and after a moment saw him coming to rescue his stuff. One might see a funny aspect to all this. However I doubt if he saw it like that. Well, it all went belly up and caused a lot of harm to people around the couple since the wife was not so easy to get rid of. She actually came even to my doorstep accusing me of badmouthing her which was ridiculous since I had never said a word. I was not the only one. The person who helped Mr. Perfect to move out got her visit every other day almost losing his nerve. I simply ignored her and asked her to leave my house. This is probably the reason why Thais very seldom interfere. They don't like problems. Mr. Perfect lost about 1.5 million baht in this spectacle.
The problem with Mr. Perfect is that he didn't learn anything from this. He got involved with another lady in no time and now is playing Mr. Scrooge on her. Me and another guy that has lived here 15 years tried to give him some idea about what the lady in question might want him to do. To no avail.
He has started 'renovation' on her mother's house and we are just about to see another train wreck. He has no idea of renovating a house and Thais around him are against him doing anything. Notice! If a Thai says 'NO!' this is something you probably should listen to. Listen! Thais normally say something like 'Up to You!' but if they say 'No!' you should be careful. And does Mr. Perfect listen? Of course not. He lives up to his nickname.
Regarding his future he has a lot of ideas – or should I call them dreams? He wants to make a fish pool, raise chickens, make a shop for his lady (but NOT to provide for her elderly mother or two existing underage sons!) and loads of things that I personally would never even consider. Or do we all have knowledge about raising animals? Or we all are handyman with carpenter skills? I would just live my life and enjoy it in his shoes. Maybe a small house next to mother's and few baht here and there. Much easier. I see him banging his head on the concrete wall and at some point getting fed up with it all and possibly returning home and telling everyone how bad Thai people are.
Another guy is a local bar owner. Call him Mr. Mumble since very few understand what he actually says – the benefit of UK local dialect, I suppose. He has been here for years but occasionally gets involved in the love game. Speaks very limited Thai. Last lady cost him the stock and the barrel. He has no income coming from elsewhere so the only way to get by is his bar. Odds are not great. Last time he needed to loan money to pay the yearly deposit or key money or whatever you call it. He does absolutely nothing to improve the premises. Beer caskets lay in front of toilets and there is no food available. I mean that he could easily enhance the place and even get few extra baht. I sometimes wonder what the customers do there. They could easily walk few meters and get the same beer in Thai street side bar with less money and I dare say – better service. This since he clearly doesn't take care of the customers, does not speak to them and provides lousy service. Not that it affects me since I only go there when somebody wants to have a chat with me. I am not a great bar person any more and have other things to attend to.
So what might life have in it for Mr. Mumble? In his shoes I would be worried. No income besides the bar, no security and no will or way to improve his life. I see it as very bleak, indeed. The rental agreement might not be continued or he might fall ill. There is nobody that he could rely on besides his friends. The only reason he is in business is the fact that the very location he operates is the best in town. It is a question of whether that will do and if so, for how long. Good luck, anyway.
I and his friend once tried to suggest to him some improvements like renting the empty premises (there are several rooms that have never been occupied) and/or try to sell some food since the location is perfect. Actually he just avoided the suggestions. Some local farangs got actually quite agitated and even angry that I dared to suggest improvements. Maybe they do have similar issues in their life and nothing to gain? Who knows. You might get the idea that I am a person mingling in affairs that are not mine but if a suggestion for something gets such aggressive answers I can just imagine what it would be like if there were real big issues involved. Scary!
Mr. Chef is from Australia. He also has been having a long distance relationship with his Thai wife for the last five years. Now retired he is here more permanently. He is also waking up to the realisation that he got more than he bargained for. His lady has quite a few children and they eat all the profits and more than he can get from their small shop. Also there exists a Thai 'uncle' that I am very suspicious of. I don't say anything, feeling a bit sad for the old guy but he isn't stupid and recently made it clear that it is either him or the so-called uncle that stays under the family roof. Uncle packed his gear and left.
I think all things considered he might actually be okay since he is old school and clear on what he wants, a person who can put things in perspective and still feel comfortable about it. There must be all kinds of considerations that he didn't realize earlier but now he is working on it. He told that he has not so long to go so I suppose he is looking things from a very different angle than I am. I do wish the very best to him.
These three persons are unfortunately more common than one might think. I could go on about more personalities but I see very little more to gain from that. Stories about train wrecks or accidents are not by all means rare in Thailand. And now I try to summarize why.
Expectations And The Reality
It is not easy to say anything of value about reasons why things go wrong. This website has its valuable side on telling stories that are based on one's own experiences. As such they give us an insight of happenings which foreigners or even Thais have in this lovely country. However, it is quite limited due to the fact that the exposure is so much on the tourist side of Thailand and its naughty nightlife. That also comes with a price, talking about damaged people. I agree that people heavily exposed to that kind of life pay a price for it. Both ladies and we participants on other side. Nobody is safe from overexposure.
Lately authors of these submissions seem to have been rather fond of lists so here's mine.
1. I see as the biggest reason of failure here that people have such a Great Expectations (read Dickens, it gives you a good idea). They actually believe that leaving their Farangland will put a stop to all their problems. Why is that? Do they believe that moving into a totally different culture and environment they will have no problems adapting? There is no Paradise on Earth. We have to work on it to ensure that the snake stays away from us.
2. Sex and looks. Yes, I agree that Thais are good-looking – at least in my eyes. They are petite, smooth skinned, sometimes rather fit (unlike me) and normally they have no objection to have sex. One can get delusional and believe that this is continuing forever and all is rosy and well and so different from the place where we came from. However, Thai valuation of life is different. They might not blackmail you with access to get your rocks off but they are the same kind of humans that you are. No different. I actually laughed out loud when some submission writer told that some Thai lady's advice to her sister was: 'You give him all sex he wants but make sure it is only you who provides!' That actually quite summons it up. Thais – when in a relationship – try to keep you happy. Just make sure you do the same!
3. Money. Sigh…this is probably the biggest hurdle and stepping stone in front of every foreigner. Much has been said and I don't really know whether I have anything new to say. Just imagine that you have been living in a family with a very meagre income and suddenly someone splashes more money in a day than you make a month. Thais, at least in my experience, speak about money almost every day. Also they speak about food. It doesn't however mean that you should be an overloaded ATM to them. Especially since recently we have seen price hikes and at the same time exchange rates are taking a hit. We need to plan our finances as we need to do in the West. This is no problem for Thais because they normally don't have excessive amounts of money and they know that during hard times they can always go back to their family. We, on the other hand, need to pay for out visas, sometimes bills that are due in our own country, insurance, child alimony, whatever and on the top of that sometimes the level of life that we want to have here exceeds the level that Thais are used to. And it ain't cheap! At least not anymore. Keep your head when it comes to money but don't try to be a scrooge or complain about what you have given before. Up to you! And do keep that credit card in your own pocket. I do!
4. Dreaming Dreams. Trying to really understand Thais and Thailand is no rocket science. They normally bring valuable information just by trying to understand what they want or value. They speak and you should listen and decide whether you want something to do with it or not. Listen to them, look at them, mingle with them, watch their body language, go around with them and finally try to grasp some understanding of the language and culture. The latter might be more important but not sure since these things go together. And…do listen to your partner or wife. They normally say nothing if not needed. If they complain there's probably a very good reason for it. Don't make a lot of expectations that you are the King and she is the Princess. Don't expect to have a Ferrari for the price of a Toyota. Do you eat caviar every day in the West? If you don't, why start eating here? You have a palace back in the Farangland? Did it cost an arm and a leg? Why wouldn't it cost a similar price here? Were you married to former Miss Universe? So why did you change her to a bargirl from Pattaya? Are you a millionaire? If you are, why are you stuck in a 5,000 baht room a month with only Mama noodles to eat?
There have been numerous occasions when I have been forced to listen to farangs explaining their supposed wealth back home or here. I laugh. It is so funny but later gets a bit boring. It seems that to keep one's self-esteem high one needs to create an imaginative alternative level of perception. Why just not be yourself? Come on, guys! I myself am just an ordinary guy. Your supposed wealth is not making any impression on me. Rather I like someone who is happy what he's got. As Leonardo da Vinci put it: 'I am not poor, people who want a lot are poor.'
5. Grasp Of Reality
Another sigh. When things go tits up people seem not to address those things that are wrong. This is not saying that things might be due to somebody else's' doings but how did things go that far from the right course? You did nothing? Really?
In my opinion, in Thailand one has to be MORE realistic, MORE active and MORE attentive than in similar situation in whatever country of origin. That is, if you like things to float in the right direction. Don't loose your grip. Don't loose your head. Take some time to consider and reconsider. They might say to you that you will loose an opportunity. So be it. There will be new ones.
I do have my own experiences. Wouldn't give them away but wouldn't do some things again, neither. My go-go life was on the gay scene but I see little or no difference than the object of desire being a male.
I came to Thailand with little expectations. I had had a very bad year both professionally and privately. I came for rest and relaxation. I bought a ticket at the airport on a whim and quite a few hours later I was in Thailand. I have travelled quite a lot (Europe, Africa, USA) but nothing prepared me for this country and for Pattaya. I was in shock for the few first days.
I suppose this effect is quite normal and most of us pay a price for the school of life. However, I never planned to move or live here. It just happened step by step. The first two years I was in doubt whether I could live with all the things that happen here. Now I feel relaxed and am getting friends and being accustomed to the Thai way of life so I am reasonably happy here. I don't expect to have it easy and all relationships have their hardship. Work on it and you can enjoy the results.
Later I got to know my partner. This did not happen in a bar (why I must say it, I wonder?). And we have lived together with his family ever since. They have helped me and I have helped them. Now it's been almost six years. Time flies. It has been interesting and fulfilling. It has been stressing and problematic. It's been full of happenings and quiet moments. It's been fun and not so fun. I call it life.
Keep your feet on the ground guys. Don't move in to The Castle On The Sky.
All you living in Thailand, I salute you!
Really excellent submission that is rich with so many good points.
I believe that many problems in Thailand occur because guys do things here they would never do at home. Follow the simple rule of only doing things with a Thai women that you would do with a woman at home and you can negotiate a lot of the problems.
There's also the willingness to accept reality. A good example just happened last week when a friend of mine who is broke moved a girl in to his condo. She has no job and absolutely no money at all yet he has agreed to support her, despite being in a dreadful financial situation himself. The train is rushing down the hill and the brakes aren't working…