Photo by akeyser on Flickr
I book in at Bangkok airport, sat waiting for my flight home and engage in a conversation with an Englishman. He was happily married to a Thai wife and had been for some 10 years he lived in the North of Thailand. He was now returning to work in England. After much talk he offered up the following advice. Do not talk to people about Thailand unless they have been there. I did not know how true his words would turn out to be.
I arrive back at work, place the new picture on my desk, Saow at Buddha, the picture I love and that means so much to me. Not long before everybody wants to know the story of my holiday. Bit by Bit the story unfolds, my friends and work colleagues all offer words of advice, all she wants is your money, all Thai woman are the same. You sure she is really a woman and not a man. Forget her, she will have many boyfriends all sending her money, now your here she will be working behind a bar in Bangkok. I remember the advice I had been given at the airport. I should have said nothing.
Still time will tell how I really feel about her. I will listen closely to all my telephone calls to make sure she is telling me the truth. A little doubt creeping in. Anyway the time difference between London and Thailand is 6 hours so I stay up late to speak to her. My telephone cards I have purchased are great £5 talk to her for 750 minutes. But I was talking to her for so long at night my sleep was suffering. Then I had an Idea, I will work nights, that’s it sleep in the day talk to her all night long. That worked a treat we talked and talked. Her English was poor but in a way it all added to the most enjoyable phone calls. but the text messages where the best, I received, I love you High, High, and I love you one million fingers, followed by I love you sky and land.
By the middle of October, I loved her and trusted her, I wanted to be with her. The job was coming to an end, so I got a 3 month Thai visa and booked the flight, I was going back to Thailand at the end of the October. With all the parting words of wisdom from my so called friends here in the UK. I arranged to start back end of January. Then I am off back to Thailand.
First thing on the agenda was my Saow the second a Motorbike. The new Honda Click was great we went out everyday far and wide. If I had any doubts about her they were soon gone. She was and is the most beautiful person I have ever met. Kind in every way, caring, thoughtful, and quite unlike anything the people back home could imagine. I wanted her and I was going to keep her, I wanted to get married. Which she knew anyway from day one. When are we going to get married? Buddha will decide. I will ask. The date came back 18th November. OK that’s fine. I was told family will do everything nothing for you to worry about. OK that’s good. In the days ahead people arrived from everywhere to help and arrange the wedding.
How many people will come, 500, how many, that seems a lot seeing my side is made up of one, me, The whole village will come, do they know, yes of course they do. OK. My Saow is busy, so I set about reading the book I brought at the airport, Thai Culture. A special idiots guide just for me. The book was good and gave me insight into Love, marriage, and the Dowry, what Dowry nobody told me about that. Saow what’s this, just how much are you worth, Look, your 34, have 2 children, tell your father I will give him 10 Baht no more to take you off his hands. I thought it was funny, but she did not.
You give what you think, Oh fxxk me, bloody book gives no indication. I have no idea. I change the subject, I will leave it for another day or two. A few days later, your father don’t look too good. What’s up with him. He has a medical problem and needs an operation. When is he going in to have it done. He cannot afford to have it done costs big money. How much? 50,000 is the answer. That’s it then the dowry is 50,000. She liked that, father seemed to perk up a bit at the news.
Lots of things for Saow and me to sort out. Drink for the big day was down to us to sort out, so off we go to the drink store, which turned out to be a kind of wholesaler for just beer and whiskey. While I am trying to work out how much beer 500 people would drink, she’s straight in, I want 50 boxes of beer and 30 boxes of Whiskey. I said, What, that’s got to be wrong, Beers ok, 30 boxes of whiskey, you’re crazy, you know how many bottles that is. Still trying to work it out myself. Who is going to drink all that whiskey? Everybody. Really and what do the woman drink, Whiskey. Oh I see.
That’s the drink, What about a cake, I tell her I want a big one, OK we go and see a woman at a road side stall who I am told is the cake maker for the village. The price was agreed. I hold my breath 5000 baht or £75, What, £75, I want a proper cake, on tiers, eatable, I don’t what to look a cheapskate in front of the whole village. She knows what you want. I left feeling very uneasy. No wine, no champagne and a £75 cake. This is going to be bad.
We need 2 pigs for Buddha. OK, that’s fine. No idea what she is going on about. £40, here it is. I am still thinking this wedding is going to be bad.
Next stop is the Salon, Where many choices of wedding attire could be hired. I sat for hours while negotiations took place this was obviously a major part of the whole wedding thing in Thailand. I must have returned to that shop 5 times before Saow was happy. Still I felt happy this part was receiving a lot of attention to detail, which is more than can be said for the cake or the drink.
It did dawn on me at this stage that I really had no clue to what was going on. But never mind I had my Saow and we were happy.
What I needed was a bit of light relief this came when we went to a party being held at Buddha. Lights, music, food stalls many people and fireworks a very good night. The band playing on a large stage was very good. Saow said we need to talk to the band people. Oh really, yes they are doing the wedding. It turns out they are providing all the food on the evening and table, chairs and entertainment. The cost was to be 37000, quick through the math, oh no, the sums don’t add up, but I give up. I am going to look a proper dick at my own wedding , I am just glad nobody from the UK will be here to see it.
The day before the Wedding things started to happen, people arrived and took the fence down around a vacant plot of land opposite. The grass was cut. Then the first of the trucks arrives. The same stage that I had seen at Buddha was being constructed in front of me. A second small stage also arrives and is built in the middle of the street. The road has been closed for two days. An hour later the music started at a level that I can only describe as house shaking. This I was told was quite normal and lets people know where the wedding is going to be held.
No time to stop and listen, time for shopping. Vegetables and rice was needed. Much activity going on behind the house as a makeshift kitchen was constructed. This is the area where the Priests special breakfast was to be prepared. Barbecue was goes well. Late afternoon, women turned up, I was told these are the cooks, two big pigs arrived and along with all the vegetables and spices the girls start preparing the breakfast. It’s getting dark, we must have twenty people and all are very busy and look like they know exactly what they are doing. Wish I did. Time to have a drink, so I have the honor of opening the first box of whiskey and me the cooks are going to drink the lot.
Midnight, time to go, what to bed, no to the salon of course. So I arrive back at the salon at 12.30am, for my bride and the two children to have the works, Hair, makeup, and get dressed in the hired outfits. I sleep in the corner. I am woken when it’s my turn. I have my hair done, and then dressed in a suit which fits well. Then my Saow came out in a full traditional Thai costume. Hair up and looking stunning. Daughter turned out the same. The little boy same outfit as me. We return to her home for an inspection by the now very happy cooks, who showed much approval.
Then the salon people arrive and start decking out the whole place in flowers the whole scene is changing into something out of a fairytale. It’s now 4 in the morning and more people to start to arrive and start putting chairs out in the middle of the road. Ribbons, Signs and banners are erected, I have a drink and sit and watch the whole thing unfold in front of me. I know we are to get married at 6 in the morning, so I go to find my bride. She is fussing over the kid’s hair. She is truly beautiful.
Now light outside many people have arrived. I spend a few minutes alone with my bride. Then it was time, the priests had arrived I follow orders and the ceremony is under way. The whole thing goes on for what seems a very long time with one ritual after another. Then it’s over and now we are married. I turn around, I was amazed to see everybody from the village had turned out. This really is a special place to get married, with the whole of the village to witness it. There’s nothing like this in England.
We get changed and returned the outfits to the salon. As we left they said make sure you are back by 4 for the second part. What second part. I cannot remember the rest of the day, but we returned to the salon for another costume change, hair, makeup. This time the transformation of my bride was magical, completely different, looking like something from a Hollywood movie we returned home. The transformation here was breath taking the street was completely covered in table and chairs and each table decked out really well. Then I saw the cake, fault less in every way and so well presented. Each table had whiskey but not the whiskey I had brought and pop for the kids the food was starting to be served to each table. My new wife and I had our pictures taken at each and every table. Then I sat down and found every item in front of me was the food of my choice. I looked around me at a scene I had never dreamt of and much better than I could of imagined. This could never happen in England. I am in a way happy I did not share my wedding with people from the UK with preconceived ideas about the Thai people. Following dinner the group started up and what a night we had. All the drink was needed to fuel the merriment.
The next day I settled the bill at the salon, money well spent. I settled the band who had supplied the evening food and excellent entertainment. My Thailand wedding was something very special shared with the whole village. People reading this may well point out that a Buddhist wedding is not a legal wedding at all, and really you are not married, you try telling that to the people in my village, they know as do my wife and me, we are married, a piece of paper will not keep you together. Love will and that’s what I found In Thailand.
Consider my story are Thai woman really so different to Western Woman. You bet they are and for all the right reasons. Find out for yourself, visit Thailand and see why they call it, The Land Of Smiles.
This ends Part 4 and the story Love Found in Thailand
I hope everyone enjoyed this story as much as I did. I thought it was amazing and quite a testament to what love can create. Thank you to David for sharing with us.
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