Train Modelling in Thailand
Dear friends, let me put my views on screen and web about Thailand the country and people that we love or have loved.
My association with Thailand started in 1987, when I found a travel brochure from KUONI that had pictures from Thailand and I still remember a picture of the Asia Hotel there and what fascinated me was the peculiar squiggly Thai script on the entrance of the hotel. I thought at the time I should visit this place at least once. In fact I stayed in the Asia a few times and even my parents stayed there for a couple of days when they visited us.
My trip to BKK in 2008 where I met my wife
Having met and spent time with Thai ladies in bars in my native Cyprus (I am half-Cypriot and half British, but lived my younger years in Cyprus), I held a fascination that grew slowly during the beginning of the 90s. I was 20 years old when I madly followed one of these early encounters, to Bangkok.
Escaping from my studies in London, I bought a ticket to Bangkok and visited her for a couple of weeks in October ‘91. My memories of that trip were hazy, but I do remember that Bangkok was so different to what it is now. My first night in Bangkok was spent at the Sukhumvit Crown, a run-down Vietnam-era hotel, that is probably long gone by now <Amazingly, it's still there – Stick>. We visited Patpong a few times and I remember we had a good time at the Starlight Disco and we also went to one of those infamous upstairs bars were they did those x-rated acts. That was my one and only visit to those types of bars. I wonder if these bars still exist nowadays.
Thanon Suksawat on the Thonburi side, Bangkok, 2010
Anyway, 20 years later and I have visited Thailand almost twenty times and been back almost every year since 1991. I was always involved with Thai girls during my visits and although I had good times the tears were much less than the happiness. For me it was natural, I couldn’t imagine being with women from the West, it just felt so natural with Thai ladies. Although, I do like western women, I just don’t feel the same way for them, but I have nothing against them and God bless them all.
I used to visit Bangkok and Pattaya mainly, but in the first years it was mainly Bangkok. I would get a reasonable hotel room somewhere in Sukhumvit and go out every night to the usual bar areas, and visit Pratunam and MBK for jeans and t-shirts and Thai music CDs. I also visited the usual famous temples, especially the Erawan shrine, where I always made merit after I was taught by the various ladies of the night how it is supposed to be done.
Estuary and Fisherman Shelter at Ko Chang, 2012
In 2008 on one of my sojourns, I met my wife to be, and we are still together. It was love at first sight and I asked her to be my wife just as we entered my hotel room. Utter madness, and I wasn’t even drunk. Yes, I did meet her in a bar in Soi Cowboy, and I even considered at the time engaging Mr. Stick to check her out for me. I decided not to do that, because my instinct told me that if Mr. Stick did carry out the investigation, we would not have been married. Bargirls are by circumstances of life and work not trust-worthy. Still, I trusted her then and trust her now. She did throw her SIM card with all her contacts in the dumpster on Soi 16 after our first night together. Maybe she had a notebook somewhere, but I never saw it. I don’t think the report of Mr. Stick would have been positive. Regardless, I thought at the time that if I could not trust my bargirl fiancée, who could I trust? Sounds silly, but wrong or right, we got married in the early days of 2009. We are so happily married and our love grows stronger each year. Since 2011 we have a lovely and naughty little boy who is now 3 years old.
Beach at the southern shore of Ko Chang Island, 2012
I realize that there are many who have been deceived by Thai bar girls, but there are also many who have not been deceived and live a happy life together. I am lucky to be in the second category.
Although I had been visiting Thailand since ‘91, I didn’t experience Thailand fully till ‘11, when I was fortunate enough to actually work there. Having worked many years in the UAE and other Gulf countries, getting accepted to work in Thailand was a dream come true for me. And I can tell you that the day my son was born in ’11 at Bangkapi (Bangkok), was my happiest and it was combined by the fact that I’d just started working in Thailand, for a now defunct branch of an Australian company. I would still be in Thailand now, had the Aussies not sold their branch to the Thais. As a result of the sale, I got laid off, and that was one of the worst things that could have happened to me.
Lake on a rainy day behind our accommodation at Sri Racha, 2012
I worked for almost two years in Chonburi, with meetings in Bangkok once a week and stayed in Sri Racha, close to my work. Although, I earned slightly less than in the UAE, it was a decent amount of money and I was getting by rather nicely.
I have always treated Thai people with respect and I have not let any Thai treat me with dis-respect. Yes, I have paid my 500 baht bribes to various constables on the roads over the time, but generally it was always in good nature. The life in Thailand is quite different to the holiday life one experiences when on holiday. Yet everyday at around 6 PM when I used to drive home from my work through the lush greenery I felt like I was on holiday. The little annoying things that many readers complain about regarding noise, scams, driving etiquette etc. are insignificant in my opinion as they are part of the Thai experience.
Driving in Thailand still does not compare to the driving in Dubai, or the worst of all death-wish driving, Libya.
My reasonable command of the Thai language helped me have a relatively good time and it is my recommendation to all those who think of making Thailand their home to make a determined effort to learn the language reasonably well. I still learn Thai every day from my dear wife and I learned everyday from my great co-workers during my working time in Thailand. I am fortunate now to work in UAE in a company that employs many Thai expatriate workers (mostly drivers and machine operators) and it is so much easier to manage them when the essence can be communicated in Thai. At least I can practice my Thai out of my home too. I even talk Thai to my son, and my wife wishes I talked more English to him.
Sukhumvit Road congestion near the Thonglor intersection, Bangkok, 2012
I agree that the Kingdom is facing a political stalemate, but it is a stalemate that has its roots in the fact that democracy is still quite immature in the Kingdom. Modernity and the differences with the elite, the rural masses and the increasingly important middle class are bound to cause these problems. And although there has been blood spilled in the recent past the Kingdom did not spiral out of control as some of the unfortunate countries of the Arab Spring movement. It will take time but I am confident that Thailand will be good again, politically-speaking.
The recent crackdown on visas shows that Thailand is not prepared for the influx of foreigners. There are more and more foreigners interested in making Thailand their home, whether their intentions are involvement with the Thai ladies, or increasingly, otherwise. In countries such as UAE, the visa system is much more efficient and it is quite easy to be an expat here. The visas are good for two years, there is no 90 days reporting and some types of property can be owned by foreigners. I remember going to the ‘one-stop’ immigration centre in Chamjuree Square in Bangkok with the girl from our office to arrange my Non-Immigrant B one year extension and my work permit. I had to help the poor girl carry the pack of documentation, as the pack was too heavy for her. Here in UAE, it is a simple procedure, take an X-ray, blood test, have a PC shop print a one page electronic form, take some passport photos and within a week you can have your visa and ID. They even SMS to you to go and collect your passport. Of course you do need a sponsor. In most Gulf countries the system works through sponsors – who are usually your employers.
Whatever may be the case, apart from the awkward visa regulations, I have always truly felt at home in Thailand. For me, looking at it from my own circumstances, I would wish that a more relaxed view is taken in accepting those with a Thai spouse and children, with a emphasis on their contribution to the Thai society. That is particularly if they can display a minimum of Thai language ability and some knowledge of the Kingdom’s geography and history.
Little funny anecdotes that make me love Thailand that I feel I must include here:
1. I am at the booth at Bang Na Tollway waiting to pay for the ride and the guy on the Tannoy is shouting TAO RAI? (how much?) The girl at the booth says ARRAI NA?(how much for what?) He asks again TAM NOM TAORAI? (your breast enlargement operation how much did it cost?) I start laughing…She says NGIEP LEY – FARANG HUALOT DUAY (Shut up even the farang is laughing at me)!
2. I am filling up my Toyota Hilux at a Shell gas station in Minburi in Bangkok and the girl there offers me a cookie. I say no thanks. Then she says it is free. I said no thanks again. Then she says can I be your GIK? I did get her number though, but I didn’t call.
Stuff like the above make me love the people. Always funny and playful.
I have a hobby which is H0 train modeling, and I continued it in Thailand too. I have through the Thai model shop owners met a few other like-minded Thai gentlemen and have developed a little friendship with them that went beyond model trains. Also my wife and I had a very good relationship with our neighbours in our moobaan in Sri Racha. I still continue with my train modelling hobby but it is somewhat subdued nowadays because I am worried that my little fella would get at them and break them.
I have had many visits to various bars, In Bangkok, Pattaya and Ko Chang and have given many drinks to bar girls, but I have always been a good boy and I took my wife along with me, (as she wouldn’t let me go alone…) Sometimes we also took the little fella with us. I did my own share of bad boy activities when I was single…I even got the T-shirt, ‘GOOD GUY GOES TO HEAVEN, BAD GUY GOES TO PATTAYA’, had to give that one to my brother, my wife wouldn’t let me wear it.
I will never forget what one particular bar lady told me one night when I was still single during my visits to the Kingdom. We got to talking a bit seriously one night at the soi 7 bar in Pattaya regarding her life and what she considered the term ‘love’ to mean. According to her ‘love’ is like a breeze, it is a movement of air. There is no substance. ‘Love’ to her meant someone who can provide for her, someone who can make her happy in all her life needs. And how she could give back all her care and attention and love to the man who could do that.
This is one of the basic reasons that we Westerners misunderstand Thai ladies. Our idea of love is to feel so good in the presence of that particular someone that we feel we cannot do without. And sexual activities play a major role in the way a Westerner feels. For the Thai lady it is your commitment to her that is the major role in how she feels.
It is common for Thai ladies to offer some food to you when they feel good about you. That is an expression of love at a basic Thai level, that is to provide you with that one meal. When you have been with your bar fine to a disco or somewhere and she proceeds to buy you some sticky rice and fried pork pieces from a street vendor, she is expressing that Thai way of love. In a purely commercial transaction with a barfined lady you will not get that sticky rice and fried pork snack.
I am happy with Thailand and I feel I would be a different person altogether had I not read that travel brochure back in ’87. Thailand has become a more difficult destination to live and work nowadays, but I am thankful for the time I had there. I left the country in February ’13 and went to work for 8 months in that very dangerous disaster of nation that is Libya. I was in the middle of the Sahara desert, but this website, and the daily calls to my wife and baby son kept me sane. At the time I had my family move to Cyprus during my time in Libya.
So my advice to those who consider Thailand as a country to live and work in, study the language first and know and love Thai people before you give it a go. To live in Thailand is not easy, but it is very worthwhile if you can pull it off. Otherwise, get a job in the Gulf which is reasonably near. I am going to Oman soon for work.
And do send submissions. I got motivated by Mr. Stickman’s words to all of the readers to send more submissions, this is my first time and I hope my way of writing was not too tiring to read.
National flag on top of the belt conveyor no. 5 at my work location, Chonburi, 2011