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20 February 2011 ~ 31 Comments

Why Thai girls chase money or become bar girls

Sawasdee ka everyone

Last week I talked about the difference between successful relationships between Thai and Farang and the failures. I will talk more about that but one comment was very interesting and I would like to talk about that in this post.

Bob’s comment about no girl grows up wanting to be a bar girl and scam men for money….it was very touching and caring comment and it is very true. Perhaps though these days some of these girl are now quite happy with this lifestyle but how many are not, how many hate themselves for it and as Bob said had not the idea when they were a little girl.

I got to thinking how some of this might have started because I don’t believe Thai women  have always been like that and sex tourism has not always been so widespread in Thailand……and I know it’s not just limited to Thailand because much of South East Asia has this problem.

I know that there are some historical reasons why all this began in Thailand and why we have a problem with so many Thai girls chasing Farang for money.

In WW2 the Japanese began a trend called Comfort women which were women they mostly forced into a type of prostitution for the Japanese military. Young women from countries under Japanese Imperial control were reported to be abducted from their homes. In some cases, women were also recruited with offers to work in the military. These comfort stations spread to other Japan occupied territories and also women from other countries were recruited for this work including women from Thailand.

There were 20,000 prostitutes in Thailand in 1957; by 1964, after the United States established bases in the country, that number had increased to 400,000

While Japan did this for their own needs the sex trade really began in Thailand with the Vietnam war. There were 20,000 prostitutes in Thailand in 1957; by 1964, after the United States established bases in the country, that number had increased to 400,000.” Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the US because in 1967 Thailand agreed to provide “rest and recreation” services to American servicemen which they called ‘I&I’ intercourse and intoxication. The reason for this? It brought around $16 million into the Thai economy.

The problem was that after the war this left a big hole in the Thai economy and this was filled by tourism which then set in place the whole bar girl and scamming Farang for money industry, and it is now an industry. As I said this is not really the fault of the US because I know that Thailand has an acceptance of this type of work by women. Although it is not exactly legal they turn a blind eye to it all and much of Thai society accept that it is part of life.

Kritaya Archavanitkul, a Thai human rights activist, interviewed by UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies, said:

‘I don’t know about other countries, but in Thailand the sexual behavior of Thai men accepts prostitution. Every class of Thai men accept it, although not all Thai men practice it. So they don’t see it as a problem. So when it comes to the policymakers, who are mostly men, of course, they don’t see this as a problem’

Now the problem has become so big that Thai girls are recruited from all over Thailand and especially the country areas. They are sometimes coerced into this and because they come from poor families with no education and they become the sole support for the whole family and sometimes even whole villages, some of these girls have very sad stories too.

Thai girls now go into it all with open eyes, they hear stories and see neighbors in their villages with big houses paid for by Farang husbands and boyfriends

But some of these girls now go into it all with open eyes, they hear stories and see neighbors in their villages with big houses paid for by Farang husbands and boyfriends and they are seduced by the idea of earning much higher money than they can in a normal government job or worse doing unskilled work in the countryside.”Why work in a factory for 2,000 or 3,000 baht a month ($80 to $120), when one man for one night is maybe 1,000 baht?”

Interesting…recently I went to Pattaya…I took Dean just so he could see it for himself as he had not been there before.

His comment was that it was hard to be confused about what all these girls are about but in the West there is a perceived mystique of Asian women as being beautiful, obedient and available, many times this is actually promoted and that it plays on the urges and emotions of western men and so they fall for it so easily. When you combine that with the need for money in Thailand by many of these Thai girls there is your equation….it’s simple supply and demand.

Women who suffer with this kind of lifestyle do because of their karma

Another issue I often hear from Farang is that because Thailand is mostly a Buddhist country  how does this sit with Buddhism. What you might find interesting then is that in Buddhism women are viewed as naturally inferior to men. Buddha himself said women are seen as impure and carnal and can corrupt men. Buddhism is also about acceptance of the suffering and pain in life and as you might know also uses the idea of karma and it is often thought that women who suffer with this kind of lifestyle do because of their karma.

So what we see is that this type of behavior has become part of our culture and society and is very difficult to stop because so many of the people who can stop it or at least reduce it actually accept it. The sad part is that sometimes this type of attitude about getting money from men can leak and filter into normal society, not just the bar girl types but normal girls working in normal jobs who see it as a man’s duty to provide financial support.

This attitude is especially seen in women with Chinese heritage where as I discussed last week it is expected of the man to provide all the financial support in the family. However the positive side to that is that these women also have an understanding and acceptance that all the gifts, gold that their husbands might buy them will be used if their husband have a financial problem in the future.

Many Thai women are genuine and hardworking, maybe even more than their husbands

Now although this might sound very negative for my Thai women I also know there are many, many Thai women who are genuine and hard working, maybe even more hardworking than their husbands as in fact many Thai men can be quite lazy.

I hope some of this information you find interesting and help you to understand that this is part of our culture and also understand what you need to be aware of if you become involved with a Thai woman. They are not all bad but it is easy to get caught so you need to be careful.

Until next week I hope you all have a safe and peaceful week.

13 February 2011 ~ 89 Comments

What Do Successful Thai and Farang Relationships Do Differently From the Ones That Fail?

Sawasdee ka everyone!

One thing we know is that relationships between Thai women and Farang men have both success and failure. If we are honest then yes we must admit that there are probably more failures in these relationships than successes, I have witnessed both in my experience.

But as far as we can tell these relationships between Thai and Farang are on the increase.

One website I visited recently which is based in Thailand, quoted that almost 50% of these cross cultural relationships,  in this case actual marriages failed and the most common cause for failure was communication. As we know it is actually not easy to get official statistics out of Thailand so we cannot verify or prove these unfortunately. Also these are just the ones that get married and we know there are many more relationships that are unofficial.

So Why do so many of these relationships fail?

Is it Communication?

What wasn’t made clear with that website comment about communication being the cause of failure was exactly what that meant. Was it because neither person could speak each other’s language enough so that a good enough understanding could be reached about each other? Misunderstandings are so very easy to occur in this situation.

Or was it like so many relationships Thai with Farang or between same culture that communication was not made a big enough part of the relationship? Was the relationship based on other things apart from the ability to just talk and understand each other?

Is it about money?

Well we know by just reading the forums that many Western men consider Thai women are the cause of so many of these failures because they are just after money. But is this really the main cause or is this the mistake of Western men just getting involved with the wrong type of girl which can happen in any country. Thailand is a popular tourist spot with a resort lifestyle in some places and so there are a lot of girls who are just looking to hook a Farang man on holiday for that reason.

Consider if we take just a normal Thai girl, not a bar girl or any type who is purposely looking to scam or cheat anyone, is it wrong for her to want to have some financial security from her husband, whether he is Farang or Thai? I can tell you in Thailand between Thai and Thai this is normal or at least it has been.

The man will be expected to look after his wife financially and also provide in some way to her family often by Sin Sot. This has been the tradition of Thai culture for many years and although it may slowly be changing as more Thai women become independent and self sufficient financially it is still very much normal practice.

In Chinese culture this attitude is even more prominent. Chinese men are expected to look after the whole family financially while women look after domestic duties and only sometimes will they contribute to income by helping their husband in his business.

I know many men say that she lied or was dishonest she just wanted money but I didn’t know until it was too late. Is that the Thai women being crazy after money or is it The Farang man who does not consider that money may be new to her? Did she have any right to be looked after? What promises were made to her, was it clear to her what was expected?

The same can be said to Thai women too.

Was she clear on her role, did she just think she could live comfortable life now without having to do anything? Did she respect where she had come from, often a poorer background compared to the West and become seduced by the money available to her now? Did she become greedy and lose herself?

Is it Cultural differences that cause the problem?

Is it the differences in belief and attitudes conditioned by culture that causes the problems? For Thai women perhaps they are taken to a western country to live and have to adapt to a new lifestyle, often missing their food, weather and not being able to carry out their religious practice, at least as easily and regular as they would in Thailand. Depending in which country they are in they may also have to deal with prejudice issues about her relationship and also her culture.

For western men, although it may be slightly easier for them to adapt or at least fit into the Thai lifestyle with its easy climate and relaxed way they may feel they have, due to Thai social and family culture, not only married their Thai woman but her whole family and sometimes the whole community too. Along with all the expectations, petty jealousies and also envy that can come with that.

So what do the people in successful Thai and West relationships do different then?

We do know there are success cases too and so the question is what do these relationships have that is different from the ones that fail? This is only my opinion but from what I see one thing that stands out is it would seem that the ones that are successful often have a smaller age gap difference. As we know it is very common for Thai and Farang relationships to have the man being quite a lot older than the girl, sometimes 25 years or more but the ones that seem to have most success the age gap is more like 10 years or less.

Maybe this is because with a closer age, goals and dreams for future life together are more similar. There is more in common to work towards than when a man is close to retirement or in fact retired and wants to wind down in some comfort but his wife is still of an age where she wants to party a bit and enjoy life, maybe travel or even do some sort of business.

Of course please don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to say an older man is not capable of enjoying life with a party or two and some travel and business. I just want to point out that life priorities can be different with different ages.

This is only my opinion and so what I would like to know is what do you think the causes are and what is different about the success cases?

Also,

Maybe if you have had a bad experience with a Thai woman you might not want to do it again but if you had the chance what might you do differently?

As always I look forward to reading your comments and like to thank you for taking that time and effort to do so. Please take care and Chok Dee for now..

08 February 2011 ~ 15 Comments

When And How To Wai Properly

Most of you who have been to Thailand or are planning trips to Thailand have heard about the Thai greeting called the “Wai”. In its most basic form the wai is a gesture of greeting, but did you know that it is used in Thai culture for much more than simply greeting others. In addition to greeting the wai is also used for the following reasons:

  • Giving Thanks
  • Good Bye
  • Apologizing
  • Praying to the Buddha
  • Begging

The wai first appeared in Thai culture during the Sukhotai Period (13th century AD). It is a part of the unique Thai honorific system and is used to convey a variety of emotions and modes of deference including politeness, respect, honor, gratitude, apology and friendship. In order to wai correctly it is important that the person waiing do so with their whole heart. You should feel your wai and be sincere in paying your respects physically, mentally and spiritually.

Wai or Greeting in Thailand

In its most simple form the wai is performed by placing your palms together at chest level with your elbows close to your body and your fingers pressed together. You then bow your head over your hands. The hands are often raised during the wai as you bow your head, however there are rules regarding where the hands should be raised to. Generally the higher the hands are raised the more respect that is being shown. It is also important to note that the hands are not jerked upwards, but rather are raised in a fluid and graceful movement. The hands should also point slightly inwards towards the body, not outward as in Christian prayer.

There are a number of rules surrounding the use of the wai. These include when to wai and the type of wai to use for various people. What many foreigners don’t seem to realize is that it is not necessary to wai to everyone. That’s right, there’s no need to wai the 7-11 clerk after paying for your bottle of water. Typically there’s no need to wai any service type individual and this includes waiters/waitresses, shop clerks and anyone else you pay to perform a service. If you feel that you MUST wai these people only do so if they wai you first and then make your wai very generic i.e. palms to the chest and no bowing of your head.

While Thai’s can recognize and use a vast number of types of wai’s depending on social status, power, age, and prestige there are 3 major groups of higher prestige people in Thai society. Initiating a wai to each of these groups is different.

Royal Family/Monks
When waiing someone in this group you bow your head and raise your hands until the index fingers or thumbs touch the forehead.

Parents/Teachers/Older Family Members
When waiing someone in this group you bow your head and raise your hands until the index fingers touch the nose.

Older acquaintances/Superiors at work
When waiing someone in this group you bow your head and raise your hands until the index fingers touch the mouth.

In all three cases you want to keep the elbows tight against your body. When returning a wai you can typically use the stranger’s wai which is a slight lowering of your head until your fingertips touch the point of your chin. This is the wai used when you don’t know the social status or age of the person you are waiing and is generally accepted as a happy compromise. This is also the most useful wai for us farang as typically we won’t know the social status of the Thai person.

Etiquette and social status determines who initiates the wai. Younger people will wai older people first and those who are lower in social status wai those of higher status first. Because you are a farang and outside the Thai social hierarchy it makes it difficult for many Thai’s to know where to place you. In fact, it is only recently that a Thai person would even consider waiing a farang. This wasn’t meant as an insult, but rather a way to avoid embarrassment since there was usually no way for either Thai or farang to know the social status of the other and insult could be given if the wrong wai were offered.

In some cases (especially business situations) a Thai will offer a handshake to you instead of a wai. Simply returning the handshake is completely acceptable. If they do offer a wai the polite thing to do is to respond in kind. And don’t worry too much about getting the wai right. You’re not Thai and no one expects you to be able to wai properly. The fact that you attempted to wai back is enough to make the person who initiated the wai happy.

In many western cultures a nod of the head is often acceptable as a response to a greeting and it is important to note here that in Thai society a wai can be acknowledged by a nod of the head or an upraised right hand, BUT this is only done by monks or royalty. It is called Rap Wai or acknowledging a wai. If you respond to a wai in this way it may be perceived as if you are impersonating a monk or royalty and there is a slight chance that you will cause offense. At the least it can certainly be seen as amusing to the person you Rap Wai.

In fact, outside Bangkok and the other tourist areas of Thailand you will likely generate loads of goodwill along with some amusement and possibly even amazement if you are able to wai. I guarantee that you will get many genuine smiles of appreciation at this small act of politeness.

What do you think, is it necessary for us as foreigners to know how to wai properly when in Thailand or is it just a “Thai” thing?

04 February 2011 ~ 4 Comments

Zin Jia Yu Eaa… Zin Nee Huad Chai or Happy Chinese New Year

Sawasdee ka

Zin Jia Yu Eaa, Zin Nee Huad Chai to everyone…

Well it has been a busy week for me. It has been time for me to honor my family heritage with the strong Chinese roots and influence that we have as today is Chinese New Year. Yesterday I spent time with my family performing various customs to honor our ancestry and this evening I visited Chinatown in Central Bangkok to enjoy the atmosphere and festivities as well as to visit a Temple.
Angella,Thai Girlfriend Advisor,Chinese New year

Thailand has a very strong Chinese influence and community. Around 14% of Thailand’s population is Chinese or have at least some Chinese Ancestry so many people in Thailand want to honor this heritage. I always think it is important for couples in Intercultural relationships to have some appreciation of each others culture and so as a Thai woman who is part Chinese and this being Chinese New Year I will share just a taste of this beautiful cultural tradition.

If you have spent any time in Thailand then you know there are many temples everywhere. Maybe you don’t realize but many of these temples are actually Chinese. Thai and Chinese temples are actually different and many of the customs and rituals that are performed in them are also different. It is funny because I know to many Westerners it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference.

The Chinese people take their customs very seriously and many have been handed down for generations of Chinese people living in Thailand. The first Chinese people to have settled in Thailand were traders and are believed to have migrated down from the North mostly from Fujian and Guangdong around the 13th and 14th Centuries. Today’s Chinese communities in Thailand have carried on the Legacies of these early migrants.

To western people Chinese customs can appear what you call “Superstitious”. We have strong belief in the power of numbers, birthdates and many other auspicious symbols. Practices such as Feng Shui and Astrology date back thousands of years and many Chinese people still carry out their lives in this way today. I know many western people are surprised and even confused when we are very particular about the numbers of our houses, phone numbers and many other things because these can represent good or bad luck to us.
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This year will be the Chinese year of the Rabbit and this is another very important issue for us. Our birth year in Chinese astrology is assigned a particular animal symbol and each year it will change. This can be good or bad for you depending on what your birth year animal is. This year is not good for anyone who was born in the year of the Rooster, Rat, horse and Rabbit. There are things that we can do to try and balance this and so we must visit Chinese Temples and carry out various customs to protect ourselves.

The day before New Years day is also a very important time for Chinese people and great effort will be made in preparing for it. This is a day for family and everyone will be expected to get together to celebrate and pay homage to all the deceased relatives in the family. We will prepare a lot food as gifts for our deceased relatives to enjoy in their After life. For Children it is also very exciting as they always look forward to ‘Hong Bao’ where every child no matter their age who is not earning money will receive a special Chinese envelope with money in it.

So that’s just a short overview of some of the customs Thai/Chinese people enjoy at this time and so if you know a Thai person who is doing some of these things perhaps they have some Chinese Ancestry in their family.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week and once again Happy Chinese New Year 2011 to everyone, be safe and happy.

02 February 2011 ~ 2 Comments

Moving from Childhood to Adulthood in Thailand

This is the continuation of What Did My Thai Childhood Look Like by Golf.

When I started the university it was a tough situation for my parents because just a couple years later my sister started hers too and both of us needed money at almost the same time.

It was a sudden and huge move for me. I had never had to leave my home that far for my whole life and never had the opportunity to stay in Bangkok all by myself. Bangkok; the city of colorful, wealthy, and civilization as the idea from an innocent teenager like me. Ahh…now I can do anything without my parents eye sight, and I felt like I was an adult who could live their life and didn’t have to let somebody else have control over me.

The beginning was rough, I spent 1st and 2nd year in the University at Salaya, Nakhon Pathom about 15-20 minutes distance from Bangkok. I didn’t do well in those years and almost got expelled, everything was out of control. I was too lazy to go to class or study as I should have, it didn’t have anything to do with partying or anything like that. The internet chatting online was so alluring; much more than going to class, so every time when other people would go to class I would tie myself to the computer room or the library all day. Chatting non-sense with somebody on the other line and talking on the phone days and nights (it was like an illusional person being). It cost me so much when I started to realized all the consequences of wasting my time, money on the telephone bill (and that from my parents working so hard), and the failure in my education.

The 3rd and 4th years I moved to Bangkok because of all the clinical classes. Life in Bangkok was totally different than Salaya. I found out there was nightlife out there that I had been missing and I really enjoyed it (I think because I never had the chance to do something like this when I live with my parents). I would go out and party almost every weekend. While I also realized if I wanted to finish and graduate the same time as all my other friends then I better work harder. It seemed like the actions speak louder than word for me, I didn’t do what I would have told myself was necessary again and again. Finally I barely did it. And I got my first job as a nurse at one of the public hospitals in Bangkok. I worked there for almost a year and had to move on to the private hospital because I didn’t like to work rotating shifts and I realized I wanted something more in my life.

I never had an actual boyfriend since I can remember, all were just a short relationship and this was even up until later when I was ready to get married. My father was always strict about who will come to our house and who I was talking to. I remember my first puppy love when I was in high school my dad would sit there while I was on the phone and listen to the whole conversation between me and him, it was so embarrassing. And he would open my mail too when somebody would mail something to me. So that didn’t work out well at all.

Thai guys weren’t really my type, so that being the case, to have a farang as a boyfriend was one of the reasons to move on to the private hospital. Surprise surprise…you would not believe that many people out there who work in the private hospital will have the same idea as me (not always though, but most likely). Unfortunately I’m not most farang’s type and it was very rare to meet the patient, to go out, and to date with it seemed impossible to happen. At least I was accomplishing my goal to do what I like; such as no more rotating shifts and practicing my English skill.

The internet dating site was introduced to me by one of my co-workers. There were so many times it didn’t end up the way I wanted. Most of them were not looking for a serious relationship and just looking for a one night stand (which I hate so much). I always wanted to get married when I was young and almost gave up on it until I met Steve. Find out more after that in “Sawasdee Kaa from Golf”.

I pretty much had a bitter childhood life and there are not many good things I really want to remember about it. I believe that whatever the parents create in the kids’ childhood will affect their life in the future, although it also depends on the kids themselves somewhat; if they will learn something while they are growing up or not.

31 January 2011 ~ 11 Comments

Thai School Uniforms Redux

I was quite surprised yesterday when I read the article proclaiming Thai student uniforms to be the sexiest student uniforms in the world. Not surprised about the uniforms being sexy, as a hetero male I am quite aware of the charms of the Thai student uniforms, but surprised about the source – Japanese Media!

My surprise stems from the fact that the schoolgirl fetish in Japan is quite possibly one of the largest fetishes in the world (my opinion only). If the Japanese are saying that Thai school uniforms are the sexiest in the world then by damn it must be true!

I’m not going to turn this post into a discussion of my feeling about the rightness or wrongness of requiring adults to wear uniforms to attend an institution of higher learning, although I could probably go on for quite a bit about that. Instead I will comply with the requests from this thread on Thaivisa requesting more evidence. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth 100 posts!

30 January 2011 ~ 2 Comments

Lost In Translation

Lost in Translation – A rescue(ish) story
by Grem Wooding

Well then… Once upon a time long long ago, there did exist my ancestors. A brave and resourceful bunch they were too. They lived in a time yonder when life was simpler and communication much easier, when they asked for a sandwich what they got was a sandwich.  You see, my Great Grandfather and Grandfather were Coxswains’ on the Aldeburgh Lifeboat, and my other Grandfather was an ambulance driver in WWII, coming down a generation, my father was a police driver with a 100% catch rate, and my mother, a hospital manager, in a Hospital funnily enough. All of my mother’s sisters were/are nurses, and I have police and some soldier types in my peripheral family. My brother is a crime scene something secretish, and then comes me. I guess my ancestors are waiting patiently for me to start my birth right as a rescuer of some sort, and on New Year’s Eve 2010/2011. I started a night on the town, but this would be no ordinary night on the town. Instead of drinking cocktails and dancing I would be drinking coffee and driving (very fast Yeah!) around the town of Phitsanulok in a Kia. With Three cool and crazy Thai natives and Bun, my trusty girlfriend cum translator, I set of on what I thought would be a night observing the action. I thought a few car crashes and off’ed motor cyclists would give me a better understanding of road safety, and the aid the victims receive, as it happens there were to be a few lulls in translation, many a thrill and a loss of a creation.

8.30 pm – I sit in the Area Office, a ramshackle HQ if you will, serving rescue, not design, it is packed with a plethora of rescue apparatus and personnel. A huge TV plays a Thai pop tune and there is joking and drinking of waters.  This office is one of two teams that serve the province. All volunteers, all Thai, all happy, they tap words into iphones and surf the web just like any office anywhere. For my delectation, pictures of heroism and epithets to the forsaken and taken adorn the walls, resting in front, a huge pile of white towels and helmets of green and yellow. The crew sit relaxed retorting their SMS messages and chatting. I pan the room for the exact words I have just said and the phone rings, it is answered by the main man, who tonight is Eak, a 30 (hmm I think 40) year old local man who has been in the game for 15 years, his knowledge would become apparent later on in the form of utter confidence in his dealings with whatever came at him.  He is truly the man to ride with tonight, I feel comforted and by him and shuffled listlessly when I listened to him tell Bun about the team. As we roll out to meet the other crews I am introduced to tonight’s Wheels.  A gleaming Kia is sitting skew-if on the pavement, and as the sliding door closed I am immediately aware of an odour, my nose struggles to translate it into an answer for my brain, and it’s left to the wind for now, as we dismount the pavement and head off, cool like and energetic. We arrive to a rendezvous point near the one train track that runs through the town, and the sight that greets me is a nice one.  A row of shining rescue trucks and their keepers behind make a glinting spectacle as we pull in, now part of the massive.  A few glances my way by of some members add to a slight nervousness, but all in all I am comfy.

We are taken immediately to the boss man, who sits half out his aging truck smoking; his fingernails are the first thing I spot. They are huge and long, I daydream maybe one day they can help prize open a locked something and save the day. I am jolted back by a steely eyed face, one of obvious courage. He talks like a machine gun and Bun is struggling to keep up, but I am getting a good amount of info trickling through. I am walked through the stickers on the car and their meanings and the DRABC protocol. D for Danger, R for Respond, A for Airway, B for Breathing and C for Circulation. They say for the D&R you have Ten seconds to decide the safety of the situation and act accordingly, if it seems dangerous leave it, I think is the drift. After the wise one we chat with a nameless old timer who knows how, what and even when. He begins to tell Bun the details of his mind and we glean the 4 levels of the first responder, and that the rescuers numbers are into the hundreds and are from all walks of life. Also from the quick mouth of the nameless one came the knowledge that Two Farang are volunteers in Bangkok, and I should be number Three. I love the Thai passion for newness; the welcoming smile and the brother together attitude gather me in the group. They are all chatty, and some shy with the White face, only through the barrier of language. We all sit, mooch and smoke lots of cigarettes as the evening’s people pass us on the way to party hearty.

9.30pm – We hear a shout and my note scribbling has to end. All in the car we zoom off south, unknowing what’s gonna happen I enjoy the surprisingly quick Kia, here another translation mishap occurred, as I thought the Kia would be rubbish! But we pull away pretty well and the torque is strong and propels the wagon and 5 adults properly, and with confidence. To the Kia I say, ‘I was a badge snob and didn’t respect you, and for that I apologise’. Soon after full throttle on a wide and open road we off the lights and sound – the radio has told us the first responder is easy and the incident no big deal. We return in-bound on cruise setting, the mood happy and professional.  After a while we arrive at a petrol station just east of the centre, Phitsanulok is not a big town but it serves many an Amper (borough) and village. It is a through-way south and north. A quiet place with gentle townsfolk, it’s not a tourist destination and there are no super clubs to take E in, it’s all about the Johnny Walker round here, but generally with food and possibly followed by driving, the very reason I chose this night to observe the action.

Sitting in the darkened petrol station my first rescue is called for. It’s only helping my girlfriend Bun from a savage mosquito attack, but it’s a rescue none-the-less, so my rescue tally stands at one and its only 10pm. I return to a half eaten and rather expensive Snickers bar and a translation problem occurs. You see, the chocolate bar in question is twice the price and half the size of a UK Snickers, now somewhere someone mistranslated the umbers on norder form, I am sure. Suddenly some of the lounging green suits all jump up and I am on their heels, they all hop into the back of  a sexy looking Toyota Hi-Lux and I am moving toward the Kia, there is no movement from my posse and I am given the sign language for ‘food’, and I realise they are just off to eat. I sit meekly down, my cheeks reddening as the chuckles continue. I notice a baby amongst the rescuers, a Thai tradition indeed, I look to see if they have a potted plant and some Tesco bags in the back, as they slope off to assuage their hungers.

10.45pm – You must learn and pass an exam on EMS skills and such, then you can work towards a Yellow uniform, which is a rank higher than the Green uniform, which are generally worn by the younglings.  The White uniform signifies Ambulance, and others wore basic jumpers with logo. I am learning this as I sit with Joe at the computer in the HQ, I am learning of his fame as the province’s No1 snake catcher. A title richly deserved by the looks of the glum snakes dangling off sticks on the screen. I sup water and see pictures of the association’s endeavours, they attend not just motor crashes but murder, suicide and disaster. After the Tsunami the province gathered 30 crew members and flew down to help. Respect!  I see a dead corpse in a barrel and the effort to raise it from the water, I am glad not to be exactly right there, that’s for sure.  I ask about response times and I hear a time of 5 minutes to arrive at the scene, this being a small town that should be no problem, I like the sound of the challenge and wish to get somewhere in the magic 5 and…

11.11pm – We are off the kerb, the Kia gunning down the road followed by a slammed low riding Dmax almost bouncing along behind us, both sets of lights are spinning a pretty sight and the Waa Waa’s are Waa Waa’ing tunefully. We are heading south on an empty road, weaving to and fro the moving cars. We are looking for something now. Tee, a female member, and the photographer and Eak are owl-like in their scanning of the road. I hear a drunken woman has called in and we see a drunken sight waving and swaying not far down, the two racing machines slow to a crawl as we, quite comically, watch her staggering down a Soi, her large bottom illuminated by the headlights, she seems a one woman disco. The mood of the car now ponders the necessity of our presence, drunks must be the pain of rescue teams. Soon the inebriated one hangs a left and I see an open door in a house, a bright white rectangle inviting us to help. As I approach the door my immediate action was to remove my shoes, a behaviour well ingrained in me by now.  I am stopped by Eak and given gloves, a mistranslation on my part.  Once in the wooden house I see an elderly lady lying on a wooden bench, she seems weak and it’s obvious to all her tick is tocking. Maybe she has just found out the price of Snickers and collapsed. I am not sure at this point, I gather round to help load her fragile body on the stretcher, and as we carry her outward she reaches up and grabs my arm. I take it with my loose left hand and smile down to her gaunt face, trying desperately to look like I know what I am doing.  The fading lady is loaded on the Dmax ready to bounce her to hospital. Racing round helping grannies, this is Boy Scouts on steroids.

12.10 – We sit in a second petrol station closer to the town and gather and relax. About 5 rescue cars in total, some sleek Dmaxia and a crusty but super older pick-up.  An ambulance sits nearby, and the trusty Kia shines bluish under the forecourt spot lamps next to the fleet. Then came the Coffee mistranslation, because I had brought what I innocently thought was a coffee from the 7/11, and it had turned out to be hot crack cocaine water with some foamy stuff, because the kick I got was akin to being kicked by a massive angry statue, the likes Jason and the Argonauts had to deal with. But as it turns out, this unwanted burden would later turn in to my elixir for the courage I was to need.

Then suddenly a high tone from Eak and we decamp on the double, the Kia is already moving by the time my sliding door shuts. The Waa Waa noise is straight on and it teams up with the huge red lights to make a path through the cruising traffic and, sometimes, ignorant road users.  We hit the train line again with another equally loud Unit behind us, this wagon is a lowered Dmax in White and fast too! We have some motorbikes hovering around us as Eak crams the Kia into unfathomable spaces, and weaves through the lines of cars and trucks, annoying those in a bored queuing slumber. We hit the train station as the crowds grow, there are people everywhere, including the road, and we must slam to a halt. A stunned fireman side steps our raging car van beast.  We are now round the big Christmas tree and west bound on the main road to the river, it is solid with partygoers and the Waa Waa struggles for attention, it seems Thailand hasn’t gripped the whole move-over thing when it comes to ambulances, we must start nudging the peoples. We hit the river, and to our right a stage displaying music and dance, the fresh New Year is underway and abundant with joy. We start a small Goose chase and end up, after a few circles, at the main Entrance to a private hospital.

Still unaware of the pending commotion I alight the Kia to find some nurses, huddled around a Motorbike cum trolley and a guy pointing. I am given gloves by Joe and I walk with a shy smile to what I think is a drunk man. I am drawn to his torso which is apparently riddled with bullet holes. The stark reality of my endeavour hits me in the face Tyson style, I am stuck fast, I am a little boy, I am Jacks quivering bowels. The Tinnitus like rush depletes, and I am standing over a young man bearing impressive tattoos. Strangely my eyes scoot clean over the bloody torso, the bullet holes, the dead eyes, focusing instead on the dead man’s teeth braces, they are a reminder of the age of this victim of god knows what. His goatee beard grows like a pubic medusa from his chin, so so young to be bullet ridden. After some deliberation from the team we move the body into the Kia, my eyes are fixated on the body and the missing soul not long departed.  In no time there is a reporter, oddly arriving before the police, craning over the hapless show corpse, still and stark under the interior lights of the Kia.  The Thai word for observe is ‘obswer’ so you can see how they confused that with ‘lift a dead man into a Kia’. Then, ‘I want to see your team in action,’ was confused with ‘I want to hold a dead man’s face up to the camera’, as this loss of communication hits me, a thousand photos are taken and, with me modeling the dead face, I look to the camera myself. This bring shakes of the head and I realise I should look away, but they don’t realise how utterly alien this is to me, not only as a civilian but a westerner, seeing corpse modeling and gabbling reporters huddled in a van door. They are tripping over themselves to capture this poor boy, I suddenly turn English and say, ‘he’s not going anywhere, mate’. Then I am pointing at the bullet wounds which are small, there are 4 in total, all in the chest, no surviving that, for sure.

Soon though the girlfriend of the deceased arrives, and my melancholy disposition is jolted as her pretty face screws up and she is trodden with horror. Helping little old ladies this is NOT. She runs for shelter from the crowd, as an eager reporter deigns to allow but a moments grief for the stricken teen. She is soon accompanied by her hugging friends, and a solitary police man attempts to crowbar her questioning attacker off.  Numbers of people are growing, other police arrive and we will now shift the body to another hospital. The cameras return to a thousand flashes, apparently a farang looking at the camera is bad for everything, and more are taken, Oopps!  A stern looking cop is peering in at the mess now, seen it all before, no doubt. He is clearly not in the mood for this. From under his low hat he seems professional and calm; he questions the girlfriend, before taking a statement from the man who delivered the body after witnessing the shooting. I love Thailand because of people like this. On his way to deliver something, he happens on a shooting and drives the victim round the corner to hospital. Amazing Thailand!

1.20am – We have decamped to another hospital 2 minute drive away, still the body remains uncovered in the Kia, the body jiggles as we drive, very surreal indeed. The crew, all quiet and business like, remain calm. We wait again in a hospital front area, the sobbing girlfriend is here too, what a walk that must have been. We must wait for yet another cop, a big dude I think, but he arrives silently like a middle aged ninja from the dark, he looks casual and calm, almost librarian in demeanour. After what seems like an eon of peering and pointing, the body is finally being moved to the morgue. All the while a thousand cigarettes are smoked by the crews. I take a time out to wash my hands and face in the hospital toilets, seeing back in my mirrored reflection a paled and tired man. My nerves are strong and I want to comfort my girlfriend who looks shaken. One more trip for the body, round the back of the hospital to the silver draws of the morgue, where he shall sleep with his lifeless brethren. I find out now that he was shot mistakenly. His friend had punched a man earlier in the night; someone had mistranslated the punchers’ description and shot this guy instead. Shit! I am gutted for him, he will not see 2011, nor his girl. He has no parents or family, and his attacker is at still at large. He is one more notch on a wall in a police station as we head off to the HQ.

2.20am – Eak, Tee and Joe are sombre and unruffled.  Bun is shaken and wishes to depart the Kia and go home. I am pondering the mistranslations of the evening, and I finally click about the huge pile of towels in the office. Those were not towels; they were body bags, the last outfits the ill-fated wearer will wear, before departing to their God or non God. I say my thanks and Wai my gratitude to the crew members. After a night of thrills and mistranslations I knew a few things for sure. The brave rescuers of Thailand are born from warriors and I am off to bed. And the Kia smells of death.

For the total pictorial lowdown visit herehttp://www.kawphab2.com/Jalbum/01-2554/01-01-54/index.html

28 January 2011 ~ 31 Comments

Why the Stronger Pound and Dollar Will NOT Last

I haven’t chimed in about the strength of the Thai baht in almost 2 months and in that time we have actually seen a bit of retreat in the value of the Thai baht. We are now seeing the U.S. Dollar at over 31:1 against the baht and the Pound Sterling over 49:1. Does this mean that we can hope to enjoy some respite from the weakening currencies over the course of the coming year? Is it time to contact your forex broker and sell Baht?

I honestly think that this strengthening of Western currencies is a blip and the normal downward trend will soon re-emerge. I truly wish that weren’t the case as I would be a very happy man if I was getting 35+ baht to the Dollar once again, but I think this current baht weakening is a short lived affair.

What we’ve been seeing is the result of some profit taking in the SET. Over the past 2 years investors in the SET have seen their investments gain close to 170% and now that they are seeing the market as fully valued they are beginning to pull their money and profits out of Thailand and moving on to greener pastures. This capital flight causes some weakening of the baht in the short term as investors sell baht to convert back to dollars, pounds and euro’s.

Long term though there is no way the baht can do anything but become stronger. Western monetary policy is sure to keep interest rates low in the west and keep currencies weak by design. A side effect of the increasing money supply in the West is the increase in inflation throughout the world as the newly printed dollars, pounds and euro’s seek out higher returns than can be had in their home countries.

Thailand has seen this effect first hand as inflation continues to heat up, mostly thanks to the incoming capital flows, not due to any internal pressures. Now that profits have been made some of this inflation should be released, which is good news for everyone in Thailand as prices have been increasing on many goods and services, squeezing the consumer somewhat.

So, enjoy this short respite while your pounds and dollars get you slightly more baht. The tide will soon turn and the upward trend for the baht will continue for at least several more years.

27 January 2011 ~ 10 Comments

Is This Dishonesty or Fear?

Sawasdee ka everyone

Hope you are all very well. Well I have had a couple of interesting days as I have just come back from surveying Pattaya. Somewhere I have not been for many years…and yes it was interesting experience.

Last week I shared some of the Thai perspective on truth and honesty in Thai Culture and I want to thank everyone who took the time to share their thoughts  and ideas and it is always good for me because I learn a lot from your comments……as well as the bonus of many new words!!!..lol.

I have an interesting story this week, it is a true story and it involves so much of what I have been writing about recently. I want to share this because I would like to know what you think about it and if it happened to you what would you do……….try to put yourself in either person’s position and feel free to share.

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The story begins with a man who is from England so we will call him Mr UK. He is a man in his early 60’s and he has serious problems with his health. It has caused him big problems before in his life a few years ago but it is under control right now and at least for the close future. He is a genuine good man, very kind hearted and caring. Has been divorced now for many years but his children are grown up and now he has grandchildren. He is still working with his own business and financially very stable so no problems there.

Apart from his health problems his life seems fine but one thing he always yearn for is for a good Thai woman to be his wife and his friend for the rest of his life. He unfortunately cannot have a physical relationship with her because his illness means he is not capable of that but he still wants to love and be loved.

One day he found a Thai lady online and had been speaking to her by email, telephone and online chatting for a few months and he decided he wanted to come to Thailand to meet her. We will call her Miss TL, she is 46 years old and she has 3 children. Just like him she has a ‘degree’ level of education and works as a lawyer in Thailand and speaks very good English.

When he planned to come to Thailand he wanted also to meet a good friend of his who is a Thai woman he had known for many years and all her family well too.

But he had a concern in his mind because he want to meet his friend and her American husband but he worry about Miss TL because they planned to spend all his time in Thailand together. Even though his friend is married he feel concern that if Miss TL find out he had a friend who is a Thai woman she will be jealous of her.

Then, he asked his friend and her husband to lie when they met and this is what he said:

Mr UK“I am afraid that she would be a little jealous of you..Perhaps we can say that I am your husband’s  friend for a long time, and you are his wife, ha ha. that is true!!”

His friend replied“ Why tell it like that, what you afraid of, why will she be jealous of me? We are good friend for a long time and our friendship is genuine. I think you better be honest because there is no need to lie. We are glad that you find a good woman and my family will welcome you and her to be our special guest”

Mr UK - “This is a very smart lady so we have to be careful,,,ha ha. I don’t want to make her jealous or unhappy as she is a good lady with kind heart”

His friend replied“But to be honest..I don’t think that is a good basis to create a long relationship on maybe it seem to save you this time but it’s not going to work in the long term. Anyway I do accept what you ask for even I do not agree with this idea so don’t worry….I can understand your situation and you will be fine 100 % from us”

This would not be easy for his friend because he had in fact never met her husband and she would have to pretend never to have met Mr UK. Can you see how complicated and confused it can be when we try to lie and create a story even when we do not need to.

So what happened is they all met one evening. All 4 people had dinner together and actually it all went very well. Nothing seemed wrong because Mr UK and Mr US got on very well very quickly and you would have thought they had known each other before anyway..lol

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This story makes me wonder: If one day Miss TL discovers he has lied to her and he tells the truth, that there is nothing more than genuine friendship. That he was afraid she would be unhappy or jealous if he had a Thai woman just as a friend and so this is why he lied.

  • So what will she think when she knows this?
  • How honest is he?
  • Will she believe him?
  • Can she trust him?
  • Will she think that they are all liars?
  • Will she be jealous if she does not believe him?
  • If she does become jealous….who creates the jealousy?

Is he dishonest or just fear?

With Love Hope and Solutions

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26 January 2011 ~ 7 Comments

12 Ways to add Value to your Thai home

With so much choice for the potential purchaser in Thailand it amazes me just how blind and misguided many sellers are.  Additionally, several Real Estate agents here in the ‘land of smiles’ are scared of upsetting owners and rarely provide constructive criticism to improve the chances of a speedy sale at maximum value.

Want to increase the price of your home without spending a fortune? Here are some well proven ways to add value to your property.

If you are looking to sell your home then chances are that you’ll want to squeeze out every penny possible from the sale. So what can you do to get the best price?

1.  Sort out the exterior

When a perspective buyer arrives to view your home it’s likely they will already know the asking price. As a result they will immediately start judging whether it’s worth the cost?

Making sure that the outside of your home is neat and tidy can make a powerful positive first impression and have a knock-on effect for the rest of the visit.

It’s not very expensive to weed the garden, paint boundary walls and if wood, paint your external windows.  However doing these things can make a big difference to the value of your home.

“Keep it simple’ – white or off white paint only.  You or your partner might like purple but most buyers don’t!

2.  Sort out the roof

Problems with structural essentials can easily reduce the value of your home; but a damaged roof is on display for everyone to see.

It’s important to remember that your roof forms part of the image of your home, unlike the foundations or pipe work; because of this any visible damage will immediately be evident to potential buyers and no doubt have a significant impact on the amount they’re willing to offer – if it doesn’t put them off completely.

The best thing to do is repair any damage before anyone comes to see your property even if it is just a few loose tiles. Clearing gutters and drains is also a cheap way of improving the appearance of your roof.

3.  Make your home lighter

Light creates the illusion of space. A dark and dingy property is of less value than a lighter one, even if it’s slightly smaller. So making your home lighter is a cheap and easy way to increase the value.

One of the first steps you can take is to clean your windows, this will allow more light in to the house and make both the inside and outside look more appealing.

Secondly, consider installing brighter and more energy efficient lights. This can be especially important if you are looking to sell your home in the rainy season when it can be dark and miserable outside.

Within reason – the more lights the better.  Without question make sure you opt for the crisp, brilliant white energy lamps and not soft yellowy white, as these do not create the right sort of ‘white’ and can actually make your rooms feel old fashioned.

You could also install skylights, or additional sliding patio doors to increase the illusion of space your home. While these are more expensive options, more natural light and an unobstructed view of the garden can be very appealing to buyers.

4.  Paint & Decorate

This piece of advice comes as standard for homeowners looking to sell, and the simple reason is because it works!

If you home falls under the category ‘needs work’ then you can bet that it will have a bearing on the price. Doing odd jobs such as fixing door handles and painting drab looking walls can make a significant difference to the price.

While a home covered in Magnolia can be somewhat uninspiring, if you do decide to wield your paintbrush avoid using bright colours. Painting a room in lime green or a deep violet will likely be unappealing to most buyers, and it will simply draw attention to the fact that they will need to redecorate themselves when they move.

It’s worth thinking, every job you do and room that you decorate is one less task that the new owners will need to worry about. Inexpensive updates can make all the difference.  If in doubt – stick to white!

5.  Flooring

If the flooring in your home is quite old then you may want to consider modernising.  Larger (60 x 60) plain off-white floor tiles with a gloss finish are all the rage and here to stay.  Go check out any new development and you will see a common theme with the flooring tiles used. Why?  Again – because it works!  Labour and materials in Thailand are relatively cheap and modern floor tiles will transform your property and you are highly likely to recoup your costs.

If you have wooden floors in your home then consider freshening them up by sanding them down and adding a light oak varnish finish, or again just give them a thorough wash before viewings.

Remember, if a buyer thinks that they will have to replace the flooring they will expect this to be reflected in the price.

6.  Front Door

A solid, attractive front door is as important for a house as it is a condo. First impressions! A ‘spy whole’ is also a simple yet appreciated feature in any external door.

7.  Security & Locks

Making your home secure is a must when it comes to selling your property. Installing extra security measures from a chain on the front door to an automatic light sensor can add to the value of your home.

Remember, if the person viewing your home doesn’t feel that it is secure then it may put them off making an offer.

Of course be careful not to try too hard with this improvement, if you install motion detectors and CCTV surveillance, they may wonder just how safe your neighbourhood is!

8.  Extra Sockets

In a world where we rely on electrical appliances a house with cables trailing everywhere is unlikely to be very appealing. In a sense it may show a perspective buyer moves that they too would end up with cables everywhere if they moved in.

So consider getting an electrician to install a couple of extra electrical sockets in more convenient locations, especially in the living room, kitchen and bedrooms and remove this irritation.

While it’s unlikely to add thousands on to your purchase price it could equally be that little extra positive that seals the deal.

9.  Internet Connection

In Thailand it seems that 99.9% of people now rely on a mobile phone as their main means of communication day-to-day.  This has meant many houses and condos are without a telephone line.  Just like there are increasing numbers of people who will not book a hotel if it doesn’t have internet access (or it is expensive) there are an increasing number of purchasers who will be put off buying your house/condo if there is no telephone line installed.

You really do need to install an [ADSL] phone line, even if it is not connected.  Making it easy for a buyer to connect to the internet is an absolute must nowadays – and will help no end to maximise the attractiveness of your property.

You do not need to install more than one internet access point/telephone socket as the majority of people now use WiFi, but it is handy to have the telephone point ‘central’ to your property so that any WiFi signal is likely to be picked up anywhere around the house/condo.

10. Kitchen

Old fashioned solid wood cabinets everywhere, two tiny electric hobs and no oven sound familiar?  You might not be a budding Michelin Chef but with eating out becoming increasingly expensive, many long-stay expats eat and entertain at home.

Replacing your whole kitchen can be expensive, so unless you own a larger house or condo with the ‘wow factor’ (panoramic sea views or beautiful garden) a new kitchen is unfeasible.  Instead why not retain the units and change the doors for something clean, crisp and modern?  The carcasses and be repainted white/off white and any work surfaces covered or replaced with marble/onyx-look work tops.

Installing a four hob stove and an oven will also win-over any expat wife/partner and believe you me, they are the ones who wear the trousers when it comes to deciding whether to put in an offer or not!

11. Don’t overspend

Although the tips listed are focused on what you can do to increase the value of your home on a budget, there is sometimes the temptation to keep spending in the hope that you will re-coup your money and more when you sell.

However, be warned!  No matter how many extensions and extra features you add to your home there is likely to be a ceiling price for your proprty. Essentially this is where your home becomes too expensive in comparison to the other properties in your neighbourhood/building.

If you are unsure what this might be for your area then you may want to contact your local Real Estate Agent or simply look online to see what prices homes in your area are being sold for.

It may also be a good idea to see what properties currently on offer in your area offer potential buyers and their asking price so you can match or better what’s available.

12. Buyers need to be led…

Take some time to consider what type of lifestyle you have and the kind of person who is likely to be attracted to your property?  If you have a beautiful, quiet or private garden then put tables and chairs outside.  Similarly, outside seating on the balcony of a condo with great views will inspire purchasers, who will subconsciously imagine themselves outside relaxing and/or eating.

It is also worthwhile ‘prompting’ Real Estate Agents and buyers with a list of positives about your property, such as any of the items (above) that you have already seen to.

25 January 2011 ~ 19 Comments

What Did My Thai Childhood Look Like?

Another comment from Martyn that I would love to write about because it was a reminder to me about my childhood; both the good and the bad memories…

Steve and Golf, I can only go with my first thoughts which remained with me as I read through this post. I’d love to read a bit about Golf’s life growing up as a child in Thailand (I’m assuming and hoping it was in a village) and her views on how Thailand has changed in respect of Thai kids growing up today. I guess it’s not a subject which Golf will want to write about but it certainly is one I’d love to read.

I come from a small village in Tak province, my family is considered a average (when it comes to an income). My dad is a teacher, and my mom is a farmer, but since she is too old for that, now she is only stay at home housewife.

My dad is originally from Uttaradit province, but once he graduated from college, became a teacher, and married my mom then he decided to move to Tak province. When I was a kid, my dad’s job made us move from place to place so many times up until I was ready to start my kindergarten, then we settled down in a small village called Maeramad, in Tak province and where he still works as a principle in one of the schools there now.

I have one younger sister, who is 2 years old younger than me. My sister and I were pretty close up until I went to university in Bangkok and then our relationship became more distant. We still talked and met from time to time after that because then she was in another university in Bangkok also, but we were not as close as we were during the time we were growing up.

When my sister and I were born my parents didn’t have money to support our family much. My dad’s job only paid not many thousand baht, while my mom tried to help out as much as she can by working on the farm, as a hair dresser, and selling food. So often that we struggled about money and living with loans either from outside with very high interest, from my mom’s sisters/brothers or from the government official tied to my dad’s job.

My mom’s family is pretty big and well-known (because of my grandfathers last name) around where they live now. My grandparents from my moms’ side had 12 children, and at that time they were supporting only male children to have high school education and wanted them to have a job and work as a government official. And yes all 6 of my grandparents’ male children have a job as a government official as they wished. For the girls, they didn’t think it was necessary to stay in school because they will soon get married and have kids and take care of the household anyway. So my mom only went to school up until she was 10 years old. All she learned about was to count, do simple math and okay to read and write some but not fluently.

Thanks Buddha, by the time my sister and I were born, that idea was changed, and my dad and mom wanted us to have a good education as far as we can. So even they have to struggle to support my sister and I financially, but they were willing to do that. Even though the idea of sending their kid to have a good education was spreading, still not every family was willing to do that. I have seen some friends have to drop their dreams after finishing elementary education or high school because the family didn’t have the money to help their child and they don’t believe that the education will do the child any good. Because after they graduated they have to come back to work on the farm anyway, so why waste their time.

My childhood was a little tough because my parents were not getting along well and we had no money. There were a lot of issues about my dad such as drinking problems and unfaithful to my mom, which is quite common for Thai guys. He could be the nicest guy you ever met as long as he wasn’t drinking or cheating. Because of that most of my aunts and uncles, including my grandfather from my moms’ side don’t like him at all. They tried to convince my mom to divorce him, but for many reason my parents couldn’t do it. So basically my sister and I pretty much grew up among the blame that they put on my dad and had to listen to the complaints over my dads’ behavior over and over. I love my dad even though sometimes I hate him so much for what he has done to my mom. If you ask me at that time I would say I hated the idea of separating the parents, how can I live without one or another, can I still see both of them, what other people are going to think about our family, etc. Now I am mature enough to understand all that and thought to myself it would be better for them anyway. At present they’ve been living together for almost 30 years and their relationship seems to stay strong :) .

The idea of growing up in that environment wasn’t pretty at all because all aunts and uncles felt pity for us (I didn’t want that). And the effect of that pity was that we got a lot of used clothes, shoes, and books from aunts or uncles’ children. Sometimes I thought to myself, oh come on…it’s going to be a new semester I really wanted to wear a new and clean uniform, I wanted to have a new pair of shoes and so did my sister. But hey nothing we could do about it because we didn’t have the money to afford all that. Once in a while we would get that opportunity, but only because our shoes are worn out and couldn’t sew them back together after 20 times of sewing already. Lol…

I was a stubborn and lazy little bitch when I was a kid. I would argue with my mom, sneak the money, lie, persecute my sister, or anything you name it, and I could get away with it, but when it comes to my dad, there is no way that anything like that would happen. As soon as he found out either from my mom, my sister or by himself he will take disciplinary action by beating me with a rod or cane that is used for punishing, or he will say go and pick a branch. At the end of the day Golf will end up with black and blue bruises on her calves.

I believe in hitting or thrashing your child. And that’s how Steve and I both grew up. I think it will teach the kid to remember not to do it again and to grow up to be a good adult (and that’s just my opinion). I know it is against the US law, but that’s okay because I will raise my child in Thailand anyway. LOL.

During the break from school and summer times my sister and I would go and work on the farm for money like in the corn, rice or peanut field. Sometimes we would work for somebody else, but sometimes we would help out our parents and then they will pay us some extra cash beside the regular money that we normally got. I have to admit that I was not a fan of that kind of work like my sister was; she is the tough one. I usually got yelled at by my parents all the time about how lazy I was when it comes to work. And when you’re an adolescent you would be shy and so ashamed of yourself that you have to do those kinds of jobs. I didn’t have much choice because if I wanted to get something that means I’m not going to have money for it if I didn’t work.

When it comes to school, I was always on top of the class up until university, at that time my life was extremely changed… (to be continued)

23 January 2011 ~ 1 Comment

Smiles in Thailand – The Land of Smiles

Thailand is most affectionately known by many as The Land of Smiles and for good reason. It seems as if no matter where you go and who you talk to you get smiles a plenty from the local Thai’s. While this makes some people think that Thai people are just happy the truth is that Thai’s often smile for very different reasons.

A smile MAY convey happiness, but it may also signify something completely different. Understanding the different reasons for Thai smiles can sometimes help you transverse this strange, unique and compelling culture.

If you’ve spent a good bit of time in Thailand or living around Thai’s you can usually see the difference in Thai smiles quite easily and will know that just because the Thai is smiling it does not mean that he or she is happy. While Thai’s do smile when they are happy, they also smile when they are feeling a variety of negative emotions such as embarrassment, regret, confusion and even anger.

Obviously this can create some confusion in the mind of the Westerner who is used to seeing smiles indicate only happiness. Understanding that Thai’s place a high value on avoiding conflict and maintaining social harmony and you’ll begin to understand the reason why Thai’s smile even in (what Westerners perceive as) negative situations.

There are quite a few common reasons people smile in Thailand even when they are not happy. These include the following:

    The “I’m sorry for the mistake” smile – This is commonly seen in restaurants or the like where a frustrated tourist may complain about the order only to get a smile in return from the server. Often this will make the customer more frustrated and angry as their perception is the server finds their frustration funny when really the Thai person has intended to apologize with their smile.

    The “I don’t understand what the heck you’re talking about” smile – Another very common misperceived smile in restaurants and shops around Thailand. While many Thai’s speak English their command of the language varies greatly and this is compounded by the range of English accents and the speed at which many native English speakers speak.

    The “I don’t know what to say” smile – Related to the “I don’t understand what the heck you’re talking about” smile, sometimes the Thai may not have the words in English to respond to your request. Or in some cases cultural inhibitions restrict them from having an answer that will satisfy their own mores and the foreigner’s expectations.

    The “Whatever you say” smile – This really shouldn’t be that difficult to see as I feel that we have the same type of smile in Western culture. Usually it occurs when there is a difference of opinion that you are unable or unwilling to argue about. In the case of the Thai it is usually because they want to avoid conflict and will smile and do what you ask, even if they feel it is the wrong course of action for the situation.

    The “I’m so embarrassed I want to disappear” smile – This smile will often appear as the result of a foreigners insulting tirade following the “I’m sorry for the mistake” smile. Of course it only serves to further enrage the foreigner and if they somehow don’t realize what is happening and calm down can be followed by the…

    The “I’m so mad I can break your neck” smile – This can be a very dangerous smile and you should take the time to understand when it is happening. Thai’s do have great self control, however even non-confrontational people can be pushed too far. If you are receiving this smile the best course of action is to leave and rapidly. When Thai’s finally break they can go into an uncontrollable rage and to compound matters every Thai within hearing distance will come to help their fellow country man or woman.

Thailand is a popular destination for many travelers looking for adventure, cultural exploration, great natural wonders, partying, great food and shopping. The combination of all these attributes along with reasonable prices, warm weather year round and friendly Thai people makes it understandable why many people come to Thailand and fall in love with the country.

By understanding a little bit of the Thai culture before coming to Thailand you will enjoy your visit much more and could very likely end up being like many other past visitors to Thailand – returning frequently or even moving to The Land of Smiles.

21 January 2011 ~ 23 Comments

Another Sad Day in Paradise!

I received the following guest post through one of my blogging friends and felt I had to post it just to highlight even further the difference in culture between Thais and Westerners. Many times we are puzzled by Thai behavior at the very least. In my mind there are few events that are as stressful as a death and it is during times of stress that these differences are often portrayed most clearly.

We were on a short break to Khao Lak, meeting some old friends on visit from Switzerland, that we haven’t seen for 3 years. On the 19th we had tickets for the night bus to Bangkok, to go back to the village near Chaiyaphum. Unfortunately, in the early morning on the 18th, my wife got that phone call telling her that her mom, who has been suffering with cancer for more than 3 years, was very, very sick. I suggested, to take her urgently to the hospital, which they did; just to be told that there was nothing they could do for her and that she would die in the next few hours.

Before knowing what the doctors said, my wife had already changed our tickets to the 18th. Around midday, her family called her to tell her and we decided to leave for Phuket airport straight away and catch the first available airplane to Bangkok. We got to the village just after midnight, but her mom was at least still alive.

My Missus had the chance to spend her last night with her mom. In the morning, things seemed as usual. Mom survived the night and I was waiting to get my coffee, when suddenly fire crackers were lit and I hear my wife crying. Inside I went, to ask what’s on, and she told me, that her mom stopped breathing, but seemed to have fought back again after a while.

Outside I go again, as I can’t stand this local behaviour around a dying person. People chatting and laughing, while my wife is so sad doesn’t seem right to me. Just some minutes later all the windows opened. Seems like mom left again and the windows are opened to let the spirits out, but once again she fought back after a while and started breathing again.

Some minutes later again, it gets very busy. I look through a window, to see my wife crying again and while some relatives, neighbours and friends around mom were frantically praying but others were still chatting away and laughing.

That was too much for me, so I went next door to an aunts shop for a can of beer, to grieve for my beloved mother in law in silence. After a while my wife comes over with a nice cup of coffee. I hug her and tell her how sorry I was, but she tells me, that her mom was still alive. Confused, I asked her why there were all those people praying around her. She tells me that they were people who have done wrong to mom in the past and praying before her death would make it all ok!

Of course does this make me just more confused. So you can be stealing from somebody, lending things and money without ever returning it, taking advantage of somebody or generally just disrespect somebody, but everything is ok again, just because you pray for that person before death? Not sure that is the real Buddhist thing, but I don’t want to go into a religion argument here, so I just let it rest.

After a short while, my wife comes over again to tell me, that she is going to the temple to get some monks to come and pray for mom. Again I think that she has died, but no, it’s just so that she can leave this world in peace. I guess that it’s similar to calling a priest before death. Not that I would really know or believe it, me being an Atheist.

The monks come and go and after a while mom does breath for the last time as well. We knew this moment was coming but still, it’s very sad and hard when it happens. Well, it seems that it’s just hard for my wife and me, because I still don’t see much sadness with the rest of the family, friends and neighbours. I do understand, that Buddhist see death in a different way then we foreigners do, but at least for respect of my wife it would have been nice, if they would have kept it a bit more calm.

What amazes me, is what follows now. Everybody seems to know exactly what to do. Everything is getting arranged within minutes. The street in front of the house is closed down, a huge tend is being put up, chairs are being put up, the coffin appears, envelopes with cards for the occasion follow shortly after, and so on, and so on.

Again, I am not starting an argument about local behaviour with the handling of death here, but I want to point out the solidarity and support by all the relatives, friends and neighbours. They surely handle things different then we Westerners do. But seeing everybody so helpful and supportive surely helped my wife and me to overcome a little bit our grieve for the moment.

As for what will follow from now on, well, I may write about it in a couple of days, maybe…

20 January 2011 ~ 53 Comments

Trust and Honesty of Thais from a Thai Perspective

Sawasdee ka everyone and I hope you are all very well.

We have been talking about jealousy recently which I think is a big topic and very sensitive for Thai women and I have given a few perspectives on why and I will keep adding more on this and  many of you have shared such interesting thoughts and comments.

One nice reader has asked me about Truth and Honesty and how it fits with Thai culture which is also a very sensitive topic and in fact very close to the jealousy one.

This is a good question and I think what they are asking me is why does it seem Thai people are not always honest. Why they prefer not to say what they are really thinking or what might seem to be the truth they will not always be open with it.

So I will do my best to explain some of what the problem is but this may take a few posts to explain fully and even then it may still seem confusing for Western people. This is not because of intelligence but just because our cultures are very different. Western Culture prides itself on freedom of speech. In your culture it is fine for you to speak out against any issues and to be open with everything but in Thai culture it is not the same.

The issue with our culture is that it is not always equal.

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I don’t mean just about equal between men and women even though there is still that problem but I also mean equal in our society. But if you ask me are most normal hardworking Thai people honest then I will say yes most are honest….as with all countries people need to be trusted on a case by case basis.

Western people feel we hide, or are dishonest or won’t tell the truth

But can we always say what we think and feel? No we cannot. And there are many reasons why and I know this sometimes makes Western people feel we hide, or are dishonest or won’t tell the truth.

Yes we have what is called “Greng Jai”…I am sure a lot of you already know about this so I won’t go into a full explanation about it here. But this is also one reason that can make us seem like we hold back on the truth.

Another reason is we don’t have the opportunity to be equal. Much depends on your family name, your rank, where you are from and your education level and where you got it and also the famous ‘Mia Noi‘ which we have been talking about in my last post.

Ok, so I want to tell you a little story to try and help you understand what I mean. I also want you to know this apply mainly to City society and the culture in country areas can be different.

There is a boy; and we call him Chokdee and he comes from a wealthy family, I believe in some Western culture you would say “Upper Class“. There is nothing different about this boy except one thing. But this thing is not something anyone else knows about except his family. The secret is that he is the child of the 3rd mum.

The secret is that he is the child of the 3rd mum..or Mia Noi number 3
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So first little Chokdee goes to Kindergarten and makes lots of friends. He doesn’t hide his family status and finds one day he get’s lots of comments like “Look Mia Noi” and maybe even worse. He also get’s ignored by some of his friends.

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So next he is a little older and Chokdee goes to junior school but this time he decides to hide his family status. He has learned from the last time and thinks it does not hurt anyone if he hides it but it hurts him if he does not and so it now becomes his secret.

Now he is older and goes to university. If people don’t know then he will be treated normal just like others but if people know then his life will become difficult in many ways and so he still  keeps it as a secret.

Next Chokdee he is a big success

So now the boy become Mr Chokdee and he is now a big success and a good  idol for Thai boys after he become a successful boxer sportsman and is well known on media. But the media find out about him that he is a child of “Mia Noi” but that’s fine, he has respect because he is a big success and famous so who cares.

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So Think about this:

If he didn’t hide his secret when he was younger maybe he believe what people call him and think of himself as bad and get into bad ways, take drugs and do bad things. He might still end up in the media but for the wrong reasons and he becomes a bad Mr Chokdee! and now after media find out he becomes “Ugly Look Mia Noi” again.

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He is still in fact the same person but now the judgment is different.

So let’s look at it another way.

Little Chokdee is sent to school in say England or America. Do you think the story will be different? If he tells his friends in the school in England or America do you think they will care about it? Would he still need to hide that about himself?

This is why this subject is very sensitive for Thai people. It’s not about right or wrong and I know it may seem easy to say what it should be from the outside but when you live in our culture and are born into it is not so easy. Thai culture has many layers and can be quite complicated.

Yes we can say it is based on fear this reason, that is true but it is a real fear in our society. Maybe it is changing but still slowly.

I hope you found this post helpful about our culture even if it does not seem right to you because like I said it is not about what is right or wrong.

So  Do you think How honest he is and  can you trust Mr Chokdee?

As always I am interested to hear your comments on this so please feel free to share them…no need to Greng Jai me!…haha.

Also I am writing more on this subject and jealousy and our culture all the time so just keep following me if you want to find out more about Thai women, Thai Culture and how it affects our relationships.

See you next week until then take care.

With Love Hope and Solutions

19 January 2011 ~ 4 Comments

More On Making Money From Websites

Based on the number of comments and emails I received in response to the post “Making Money from Websites” I think there is at least a bit of interest in the subject so I will continue to post about the topic and try to help some of you break into the wonderful world of internet marketing.

Before I get started I want to be very very clear that this is not a get rich quick plan and in fact it may not be a get rich ever scheme for most of you. Making money from websites is not rocket science, but neither is it easy any longer. There was a time when you could simply put some content out there with the right keywords and visitors would come, that time is past by several years. These days it requires a plan and the dedication to work that plan until your page(s) rank for the keyword you are targeting.

I want to make sure you all know that I don’t have any secret sauce or magic pills to help you rank websites well and make money. I do know what works, but I also know that it may be too much work for many of you. If you don’t like writing this could be the wrong business for you, although there are ways around that. If you aren’t comfortable learning new things then this might be the wrong business for you. And if you give up or get distracted easily then this might be the wrong business for you.

The thing that puts many people off of internet marketing and causes them to quit is that it truly does take time to rank a website, or more correctly a webpage, for any given keyword. And that means that you could be working for several months or longer with very little monetary gain for your efforts. Needless to say it can be very discouraging, but if you hang in there you will usually come out of the hole so to speak and start to see some real potential. I say usually because in some cases you will find that your chosen niche is simply too difficult and in that case it is typically best to move on.

Here’s what my mentor told me and you would be well to memorize this and use it yourself to keep moving forward in this business:

“In order to do well in this business you need to do the things that your competition is not doing.”

In a nutshell that just means work harder than your competition and in this business that usually means write more and better content and get more links to your site. In almost every case that I know of when someone has focused on doing this their website traffic has increased and so has their income. It’s not sexy and it’s not even interesting much of the time, but it does work.

So, hopefully you’re still with me and willing to move forward. Don’t plan on making money from this for at least the first 6 months and you won’t be disappointed. Depending on the niche you choose and the amount of work you put in it could take even longer, up to 12 months in some cases. I know from personal experience that most people don’t have the patience required to wait that long for their payoff, but you really do need patience in this business.

And so you can tell that I practice what I preach I will start posting about my own current brand new project as part of these web tutorials. I won’t be disclosing the URL of the site, but I will let you know what I’m doing to promote it and you can see how the traffic grows over the months. Or you can watch the whole thing tank and have a good laugh at my expense :)

You can find the first case study post here