Thai Girlfriend to the USA Stories
Random info: I am 30 and D is 23. We've been together for three years living in Chiang Mai. We have been on trips to Kuala Lumpur and Phnom Penh but she hadn't been to a high income country. We stayed in the USA for about 6 weeks.
The day after our arrival we were at a street market in Denver. D got excited when she saw a stand selling young Thai coconuts. She really wanted to get one and see if it was the real deal! A few people are lined up and I look for the price and do a double take when I see that they are eleven dollars. I tell this to D and there was this long pause where she is doing some mental math. D looks *really* confused after a bit of thinking, watching the people in line. I couldn't help it and just started laughing. I'd told her the ridiculous prices Americans pay for things. She didn't quite take it to heart I guess because she was just dumbfounded. I will admit though that even I was kind of shocked at the price in this case. <That's *really* expensive, Thai coconuts in New Zealand are $NZ 2.99 = 75 Thai baht or a bit over $US2 (the standard price on the streets of Bangkok these days is 40 baht / maybe 45 baht in a supermarket) – Stick>
D is an extremely frugal gal, often irrationally so. For example, in Thailand that might be deciding against cooking basil pork because the basil costs just a few extra baht that day. So we're staying in my friend's apartment in downtown LA for a few nights. There are great food choices within walking distance from pretty much any country in the world. I had picked places for us to go to thus far. She liked them a lot, although she silently resented the high prices. After all, in Thailand the price you pay for food is not really related to its quality whatsoever (I truly believe that for Thai food). Not considering any of this, I told her to find us a place to eat. She directs us to a Chinese restaurant a few blocks away. We arrive and it is just 5 dollars for a large plate of food, a very low price by downtown LA standards. Right away I realize what had happened. D shopped completely based on price! I decide to just go with the flow. So we order, the food is straight up awful and I crack up a little bit when I see that D thinks the same. As we were walking away D says, "You should pick the food for us."
We stayed with another friend in Newport. He and his fiancé were interested in D's thoughts on America so far – this was about 10 days into her trip. Her first comments were, "America is very clean and the traffic is so much safer than Thailand. Everything is so easy to do and you don't have to sit in traffic for a long time." After some pressing about the negative aspects of the country she says, "It is so boring and quiet, especially at night. Things like hotels and taxis are so expensive." Yup, sounds about right to me.
Our final stop for the trip was to a condo I own in Las Vegas. It is smack in the center of the Asian part of the city. I took her around several of the Asian markets in the area. She really liked that she could get pretty much any product they had back home and at a reasonable price, too. In my three years of knowing her this is the only time she used the word awesome to describe anything. Clearly this was an important thing for her. Also interesting is that she thought the Thai one was by far the worst, being extremely overpriced, dark inside and with often unripe products. Unsurprisingly, it was always empty. She liked the Vietnamese one the best.
Here are some other random thoughts:
D really loved it that cherries were just 2-3 dollars a pound. She probably went through 20 pounds on the trip. The day after we got home she sent me a picture from Rimping where cherries were 470 baht for 450 grams, followed by a frowning sticker.
She really liked one of the taco restaurants we went to and is positive that Thais would really love an *genuinely* good taco. Not the awful "Mexican" food options that we have in Thailand. So to anyone reading this: this is easily a million dollar idea – *It just has to actually be good!* Another one that would knock it out of the park would be a solid Chipotle rip-off. I doubt there would be a time between 10 AM – midnight where you didn't have a line if it was on Sukhumvit and of the same quality.
Before checking out America she was dead-set on saving up money to buy a house in Chiang Mai. That is despite me telling her that life in the USA might be better many times. Just 5 days into our trip to the USA she randomly commented to me, out of nowhere, "I don't want to buy a house in Thailand anymore." I'm not sure what triggered her to say that so randomly but to me it seemed like something just clicked in her head. At this point it is clear that she wants to set up a life in the USA instead, after we spend a few more years in Thailand. In the Korean airport during our layover she mentioned visiting again in the winter, before we had even set foot back in Thailand.
Getting a bidet set up was of paramount importance to D. It really drove her crazy when we didn't have one. Luckily I found a good solution: A store like Home Depot sells a do it yourself, Thai style bidet kit for just 40 bucks. If anyone is thinking about bringing your Thai lady back home: get one of these for her if you have a place you're going to post up for a while. She'll really appreciate it! By the end of the trip she could cope a little bit better with just paper but both of us think that this is one spot that Thais are doing it a lot smarter.