A Thai Wife In The UK
I’ve not posted anything for some time, but now that we’re all in our second week of being home during the coronavirus crisis, it’s time to say something about how my wife is getting on here.
I feel really sorry for her; on March 24th when we were furloughed by our employer where we both work, her first response was to go to the bank and withdraw all her savings in cash. When I asked why, she said it’s for Thailand.
Normally, we travel to Thailand during the school summer holidays so that her daughter doesn’t have to miss any classes but she was keen to escape back to her homeland before things closed down.
As people will probably know, this was already far too late. In the UK media there were pics of enormous queues outside the Thai embassy in London. The Thai government has said that returning Thais from overseas needed to produce evidence that they are Thai citizens and that they are free from the virus at time of arrival in Bangkok. I don’t know the details of how the embassy is able to provide all this, especially the second requirement when at the time of writing it seems that not even NHS workers are able to be tested when they want. The embassy is now closed to visitors who don’t have appointments, which can be made by phone or email; however you can imagine how unlikely it would be to get an appointment at short notice.
We live in the South-West of England, some 220 miles from the Thai embassy. To tie up some future unknown appointment with a flight to Bangkok almost immediately afterwards would be most difficult, bordering impossible given that direct flights are presently non existent.
When I looked at what flights were available for the remaining days of March and in to April, only airlines such as Qatar, Lufthansa and Swiss were still offering a service and who knows if these services will still fly, given that the virus has not yet peaked around the globe. I also had to break the news that I was not able to accompany her anyway; the Thai borders are closed to all farangs who don’t hold a work visa, that is work conducive to being of use to the Thais and not work, such as being a bar owner.
Personally, I felt some kind of relief at not being able to go, as I feel it’s better to sit this out at home in the UK rather than travel across the world to another country in this situation.
I understand that nowhere is safe, but at least the NHS is free to all UK citizens. Getting ill in Thailand from the virus is not something I wish to contemplate for a number of reasons, one of which would be placing an unnecessary burden on my wife’s family.
The current figures show that Thailand’s numbers infected by the virus are much lower than the UK’s, but I’m not sure of their accuracy, nor indeed the accuracy of any figures, wherever you are.
In the end, my wife accepted the situation with pragmatism and seems to be ok about it, not showing any signs of stress or depression. Shopping trips to stock up on rice, cooking oil, vegetables and nam pla became her main concern, together with catching up on jobs around the house that she hadn’t had time to do.
I have never been a great one for social media, but thank heavens it’s there for her to contact her family daily, in a village close to Lopburi in the central region. When she first arrived in the UK in 2006 there was no such thing, only long distance calling via a cheap international call provider on landline. How things have changed in such a relatively short time!
My wife also knows many Thai ladies in our locality and found that two of them happened to be in Thailand at the moment but are now unable to return to their UK husbands. With the coronavirus situation likely to continue for many months before things ease up, no one knows what the world is going to be like just a short while from now.
I wish good health to Stickman and all readers – be sensible and stay safe wherever you are.
The author of this article cannot be contacted.