Readers' Submissions

A Certain Kind Of Buffalo

  • Written by SAM
  • November 29th, 2012
  • 6 min read




Stick mentioned something in his comments to 'Tales From The Hill Village 2' that it takes a certain kind of a person to live in the sticks of Isaan. Might be so. Also there was another submission where someone with very seeable prejudice was asking ‘Are You a Buffalo?’

This latter person seemed to put any person who has ever bought property in his wife’s name or given anything to his Thai family, to a category of a “buffalo”. Those who don’t know, calling someone ‘kwaai’, means that a person is utterly stupid and slow. It’s not an insult to be taken lightly so one shouldn’t use it if not really meant.

I have lived in Thailand now over 10 years. First love was Pattaya based and some money lost on hunting the impossible. I wised up. Quoting Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing again and again expecting different results.” And I fully agree. First visit I knew absolutely nothing about Thailand. I only came since one of my friends said that I would never leave if I would step on Thai soil. And he was proven correct. As a background, I hail from Scandinavia but have lived in Spain and Italy for years.

So, I started looking for someone more suitable for my needs and someone with compatible character. I decided that anyone living in tourist areas would be a no-go person. So, places like Pattaya, Phuket, Hua Hin and even Chiang Mai were put aside. That someone also should work since I am not fond of idleness. Also, I wanted someone who could speak a reasonable level of English since I can’t imagine myself being with someone who I can’t communicate with. Other requirements were no nude pics online – even if requested – since I don’t believe a respectable Thai would show the Full Monty to anyone that they don’t know. I was searching online and found a nice enough person (I was not going just for looks since I am not a looker myself) and we agreed to meet in Khon Kaen, which was unknown territory for me. Before meeting we were chatting online almost every morning before the work started in Thailand. I myself am a freelancer and work online. It doesn’t matter what part of the world I stay in.

In those seven years that we’ve been together, I have seen numerous times things going wrong in Thai-Farang relationships. In most cases, it’s all about money – or more precisely – the lack of it. Many start as two-week-millionaires and raise the expectations of the Thai family flashing dosh all over the place. That normally causes some problems when the money tree dries up.

Other problems include the Thai family and the people coming out of woodwork when they smell the money. The “Tales From The Hill Village 2” author describes some of the things that a foreigner might face entering the Thai village and family system. Thais are tribal and it’s sometimes very hard to understand the mentality if one is not prepared for it. I sort of giggle reading about the never-ending requests for money. It’s not the stupid who asks but the one that gives. Thais are – in my experience – pretty tight when it comes to their hard-earned cash. Try to borrow money from a Thai and you’ll see what I mean. My family is hard-working and they all have their own income. They don’t own any guns, they don’t steal or do drugs, some of them don’t drink at all like my better half and they are pretty decent people all in all.

The problems that they have are mainly of their own doing. They like to ‘gain face’ and spend money on showing people how well they are doing, buying meals and unnecessary things like new mobile phones and flat screen TVs (I still have my 7-year old 32” Samsung which I hope will last forever). They buy things on credit with huge interest payments that double or triple the price. They start “businesses” without giving much thought to the viability of it all. And then, of course, they have the Thai family of their own asking for “donations” and other Thais cheating on them. You read that Thais cheat Thais? Oh yes! In my opinion even more than they cheat us foreigners.

When reading the Hill Village story, I would suggest that you do as you would in your own country. I say ‘NO’ in mine so why would I start supporting a group of Thais that are doing everything that their life would not be a successful one? I have given advice, it has been ignored and suddenly things all went wrong – just as I predicted. Some advice has been very basic like making a written agreement on deals or such, which would stand in a court of law if ever necessary. But that was ignored since: “He is Thai and I can trust him”. Err…what to say? I wouldn’t trust even my own fellow countrymen if engaging in business without proper paperwork.

Since I have been saying ‘NO’ to almost everything that was ever suggested at me, I no longer receive requests for money. I live in a nice house with 5 rai of garden and fruit trees. I work the garden myself as much as I can and have a guy helping me with the heavy stuff. I have an adopted daughter of 10 years that I have put in a nice school and take care of my loved one and the mother-in-law. Relatives including brothers and sisters visit us few times a year like New Year and Songkran. I have been firm that that is the limit of my generosity and others if they are in need of money and have two legs and two hands can work. My house is for me and not some bunch of dysfunctional misfits – although, I’ve been lucky in this regard, as my family members work and earn their own living. They are not very educated so all kind of BS that advertising and Thai gossip network provides, is very well received without any critical thinking.

What comes to assets…Yes! I am a buffalo. I have bought land and a house in my wife’s name and whatever happens, it will stay in her name. I don’t have any regrets about it. I still have plenty of assets of mine and they are not in Thailand and they never will be.

I have enjoyed Sawaddee2000’s submissions. He is in Lampang, which is not in Isaan but been there, it’s much smaller place than Khon Kaen that is growing fast. I do not live in town but visit it whenever seeing friends or buying groceries. I live next to a rice field and am perfectly happy here. My life could be Sawadee's since much he says about trials and tribulations of living in the land of sanuk reminds me of my experiences.

As reading most of these submissions, I like to point out that there are many people happily married to Thais and I suppose they don’t much have the need to write anything. They are the happy buffaloes.



Stickman's thoughts:

Yep, I agree and cannot reiterate enough that you should not do things in Thailand you would not do in your homeland. Breaking that simple and sensible rule is a great way for problems to follow!