Tales from Thailand – Part Two
Thailand tales for your reading pleasure. Names changed to protect the innocent.
Stick’s leaving! So, in this post I will write about a few topics. I planned to write these over a series of posts but no time now, let’s get them down on print….
The lovely Bee
In my Tales From Thailand Part 1 previous post I wrote about how I met ‘Bee’.
Well good news on that front, since then I have returned to Thailand and we met up again. I was wondering how it would go after a few weeks break to ‘cool down’. Well, it went great! I was concerned it wouldn’t work out actually. Reason being, normally I hang around with the Bangkok hi-so gang. You know the drill, university-educated, wealthy parents, drive nice cars, go to Europe on holidays, great English, white skin, high maintenance….. but cute and nice. Bee is my first introduction to a girl from Issan. Or any girl from the countryside for that matter. Up until now I haven’t spent any time getting to know a girl from outside the hi-so gang. Also the hi-so group do look down on the ‘farm girls’ as they call them, not openly or in a rude way, but they make it clear these are not people worth mingling with and generally refuse to talk to them socially. Any of my western friends who had a ‘farm girl’ was regarded as a bit idiot.
Bee of course has not been to university, parents own a rice farm, has dark skin, English is basic and doesn’t drive a Mercedes, or even have a car licence. I know there are millions of people in Thailand which meet this profile, but it’s a first for me.
I won’t tread over the usual ground which has been covered before on Stick’s site, but wanted to offer some observations I made, while listening to her story.
Firstly, she’s not dumb. Actually she said she came first in her class at school back in the day, and I believe it, she’s quite clever. But of course, the educational opportunities were not there and the family didn’t think of it. Also her attitude to money is very different from what I’m used to. There was horror when she saw me spending on five-star hotels. “One night in this hotel is more than I earn in a week”. Another example was flight tickets. I fly business class, which costs about 100,000 baht more than economy. The reaction to this was “that much money could feed a family in my village for a year, how can you spend that much money just because you want to sleep on a plane for twelve hours???”. My rationale to her was that I needed to sleep and a flatbed seat is the way to do that.
Of course, the hi-so girls don’t complain like this, they just glide through five-star like they own the place.
The other thing I noticed is the Issan girls are a bit more raucous in general language tone and public behaviour. The hi-so girls are quite well-behaved, well in public at least. With the boyfriend, they can go mad at times and if they do it’s thermonuclear.
Also, discussion was held about public services, e.g. hospitals, police, schools. Problem she talked about was “If you go to hospital, even if government, still have to pay doctor, if not pay he makes you wait or not see you”. There was a lot more behind this, I won’t go into detail, but there was a deep-seated anger that the establishment treads on this group. Interesting. I suppose this is the mirror image of what’s happening in the West now as well, with stagnant wage growth in the lower end combined with grinding inflation, leading to Trump and Brexit votes.
Back to the money topic, another interesting thing is this almost slavish sense of duty to the parents. All her wages just get handed over to her mother. Now, her mother is a good person and is frugal, buying necessities and running the household. But, lo and behold, there is a wicked younger brother, who lives with his wife and children in Taiwan. He turns up from time to time, rinses the family cash and runs off, leaving the women folk to continue grinding away re-filling the pot. I have to say the menfolk in Issan sound very selfish, also when you hear the stories of young girls getting pregnant and the young guys legging it.
But Bee’s great. Sharp mind, nice girl, loads of energy, good chat and great company. Yes, she missed out on the gene pool lottery. Obviously if she and I actually became a permanent item, it would be quite a transformational change to her lifestyle, and certainly mine as well. I’m back over there next month. So let’s see how we go!
The loneliness of being Thai
Another topic I wanted to cover is an odd sense of loneliness I see in single Thai women generally.
Now, you might think nonsense, as the Thais always hang around in gangs and have strong family connections. Have you ever seen a Thai do something on their own? Usually, they go with someone else. Everything is done in company. Friends congregate in ‘gangs’ as they call it. Lunch at work is with a group. Evenings spent chatting with friends. If they are on their own for a bit, for example waiting for the BTS, they stick their nose in the phone and scroll through Facebook as a substitute for company.
However, all this company does not have much depth to it. I’ve noticed this with the Thai women, that they do crave someone as, firstly a companion and secondly somewhere to share their thoughts and concerns with. Of course, this is true of the human species as a whole and certainly is correct in the West as well. But in Thailand I have seen it as more acute. Thais are not comfortable with their own company, and seem to have a stronger need for someone to co-join with emotionally. In the West women are raised to be more independent perhaps.
So, the point of this is that I’ve formed a view that if you really want to be in a successful long-term relationship with a Thai woman, her emotional needs in this area need to be met. Otherwise you in for trouble somewhere down the line, as eventually she will seek solace elsewhere. I see this with western guys married to Thai women. In some situations, the girl speaks basic English and the guy has made no effort to learn Thai or get to grips with her culture. He’s of the view she will be fine back in the West and will enjoy the merits of the first world living standards he can provide for her. She’s of the view he’s rich and a new life will be exciting. Both eventually turn out to be wrong and she gets bored with him and he gets frustrated she doesn’t sync into his established western life.
Where it does work is where the western man engages with her. Listens to what she is saying and seeks to understand her worries and thoughts. Them of course is the common activity time. Thai girls are very happy if you partition some time each week to follow them around on their shopping and eating ‘routine’ and you chat away as good company. If you’re dead bored with all that, I get it, but maybe then a Thai girl is not for you? Just because they are cute doesn’t mean it will last.
I really do think this is important to understand.
On living in Thailand full-time
Much has been said about this in previous topics. I can attest to having living in three countries, including Thailand. Yes, people have lived there a long time looked ‘weathered’. They gone a bit native. Somewhere along the line they lose their edge and get that ‘no worries if things don’t more forward’ routine, which is not good. Also some long-term expats on low budgets seem trapped. On the flip side, some retirees I meet are having the time of their life. I note they were the ones with more money. Also people who were skipping back between Thailand and the West were doing great. It’s harder to do, as you need to sort out our income stream to manage it, but that’s the dream.
I’m sold….. fine a nice girl, yes there are unicorns there, form a good bond, and live part-time in Thailand, keeping a base in the west. Now that’s living !
Thai women and loneliness is an interesting topic. Thais certainly seem to struggle with loneliness more than a Westerner does and many Thais cannot understand when a Westerner wants some time alone or actually chooses to live alone. Loneliness is very painful to Thais and many will do whatever they can to avoid it.
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