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11 March 2011 ~ 13 Comments

The Trouble with Trying to Cook Farang Food

THAI TIDBITS No.2.

Personal observations on matters of great, little, or no importance.

The Trouble with trying to cook farang food.

I rank this as being of great importance.

If you happen to have a good Thai partner who can be trusted in the kitchen, there’s no need to worry about this. I showed my lovely missus once, and once only, how to make things like chili con carne, beef stew, liver ‘n bacon casserole, and Indian curry. Admittedly, I sweated over a hot stove for hours during the training period, but what a result!

The first bonus materialized when she banned me from the kitchen, declaring she had mastered the art of making farang food. Not wanted, I dutifully trotted off to the bar for an hour – okay, hands up, it might have been a wee bit longer. On returning, my satisfied grin quickly melted to a frown when the most pungent aroma of cooking chilies and garlic hit me. Don’t get me wrong; I love the stuff, but this was way over the top.
Holding out a huge dish containing a mountain of chopped onions, with tears streaming down her cheeks, the wife asked, “This okay, darling? Plenty onion?”
Then I spotted a black garbage bag full of tomato skin, and the empty packet of dried red kidney beans that would’ve been enough for a banquet. If only I’d taken a peep inside the pot where the soaking process took place overnight; this extravagance could have been prevented. She’d also hand-chopped at least three kilos of prime beef too.

After emptying a can of air freshener, together, we watered down the overenthusiastic concoction. Eventually we had three giant pans full of the stuff. One thing I’d overlooked to suggest in our culinary lessons was the fact you can freeze some foods. I dined on probably the best chili con carne ever for a whole week – perhaps longer. It seemed longer.

Another farang dish I yearn for sometimes is ‘toad in the hole’. Wait! It’s probably not what you’re thinking. I’m not sure if non-UK citizens are familiar with this dish. Originating in Yorkshire, England, a substance known as Yorkshire pudding is the basic part of ‘toad in the hole’. Mix flour, milk and eggs in a large mixing bowl until light and airy. Bake in the oven until it rises, light, crisp and brown. It’s supposed to come out rather like a shallow dish. To create ‘toad in the hole’ you shove a few tasty raw sausages into the uncooked version, then cook it all up.

We don’t have a conventional oven, so I nipped into the supermarket and bought one of those little tabletop jobs. Once again, the wife assured me she could handle this delicacy.

While relaxing in front of the TV, a loud thud from the kitchen stirred me to action. The door of the miniature oven had burst open. A creeping mass of gunk menacingly advanced over the work surface and down to the floor.

With hands clamped to mouth, my beloved gasped, “Me not know what happen.”
“Oh, maybe a touch too much flour, eggs and milk, Honey.” After scraping up the mess, and binning the electrical marvel, we decided to risk chicken and fried rice.

Well, off to McDonald’s now. See you.

10 March 2011 ~ 216 Comments

Why Farang Get the Wrong Type of Thai Girlfriend

I see many on here who tell of stories about how they have been cheated by their Thai girlfriend. Some have been left disappointed and confused when their Thai girlfriend just leave them…some have been online and things have broken down, often they have sent them money…some have had relationships where they have lost lots of money, maybe she left when the money ran out…there are many stories like that. And I know many of you reading this have your own story of heartache and pain.

I want to share an honest and open post here with you all. I have spent many months now writing on here and reading your comments, your stories and reactions with much great interest. I have learned a lot by reading them.

I want to ask you why do you think this happened to you? I want to ask you do you feel that it was all her fault and that you had nothing to do with it apart from being there. So you are the victim of a heartless and cruel Thai woman?

I say this not to make you feel bad but because I really always believe that in some way we are always the cause of everything that happens to us. I read so many negative stories and comments which I know many will point to as evidence that Thai women are bad.

But do you think its possible that just some Thai women are bad, just like some western women are bad and some western men are bad and some Thai men are bad and that there might be some reason why you got mixed up with her in the first place? We know that there are Thai women just out to take money, but that does not mean you have to get involved with one.

This doesn’t mean you are bad because you attracted something bad

I believe we attract to us that which we hold inside…this doesn’t mean you are bad because you attracted something bad (although that is possible too) but in some way you attracted it and you took yourself to the place where you could get what you really wanted. You don’t have to be conscious of everything you want for it to happen. Our subconscious mind is in fact much more powerful than our conscious mind and it is that mind that really creates your life.

This is a difficult thing for all of us to accept sometimes  because we will say I did not want it to happen but the point is that nothing happens without reason. Where there is cause there is effect and where there is effect there was a cause and in your life you are the cause.

I have written a much deeper article about this on my website and you can read it here if you are interested in this part but I warn you it is very sensitive although I hope it will help in the long run. Read it here at Thai Girlfriend Advisor.

We also know that Western and Asian people are different cultures. We maybe the same underneath with a heart and a soul and a mind but on the surface we are different. We speak different languages. Our environments are often different, our belief systems, our childhoods and our whole way of living. This means we cannot expect too much from each other. We cannot expect each other to change culture because it is all these things that shape us on the surface.

Perhaps what Western people see as one thing Asian people see as another? What is acceptable to us is not acceptable to you and what is acceptable to you is not acceptable to us. From what I see there are many things that we have to accept about each other and not expect about each other because I believe it is this expectation that causes the problems, not just between cultures but in many relationships.

If a man eats green leaves all his life because in his country the green leaf grows and his culture always eats green leaves and then another man from another culture comes along and doesn’t like the green leaf because his culture does not eat it or even like it does that make it wrong to eat green leaves? Perhaps he tries the green leaf and it makes him sick and so now he tells his own culture do not eat green leaf because it makes you sick. But to the first man and his culture it is no problem. But now the second man decides he likes the look of green leaves and wants to eat it because it looks nice so does he now expect to change the taste of it so he can eat it?

I know it’s just a simple analogy but I think sometimes simple analogies are better to point out things and as you may know in Asian culture we like simple proverbs like that.

I will share with you my thoughts that there are many things about Western culture that I must accept to be apart of it. If I am involved with western people and their culture than I must learn to accept and not expect while still retaining respect for my own culture. Some things I do not quite agree with in Western culture because they are different from my own but I realize it is not for me to judge because to western people they are normal.

They are what they are and they have their own reasons for being that way

So for me and in my opinion it is this expectation that can cause many Farang to get caught with the wrong type of Thai woman. First they attract into their lives the situation and the conditions and then they expect to be able to change them. Now please don’t get me wrong. I don’t want you for one moment to think that I accept what some Thai women are like because believe me when I tell you they embarrass me and make me sick but then I cannot put the blame all on them. They are what they are and they have their own reasons for being that way. They will also face their own karma at some point.

What I believe is if you really don’t want to get caught by women like that then simply…don’t get involved with them because that is their way. If you don’t want to get eaten by sharks then don’t swim where sharks are and if eating green leaves makes you sick then don’t eat them.

Everyone has the choice.

As I said I talk even more about this subject in another post so feel free to read on here at Thai Girlfriend Advisor For now I hope you will all stay safe and well and be careful of sharks and green leaves…!

Sawasdee

09 March 2011 ~ 1 Comment

An Adventure in Thailand

We all have our own stories about how we came to Thailand, what attracted us to the country and what makes us stay (or leave). Woven throughout many of the stories are similar threads and I’m sure many will be able to see parts of their own Thailand adventure in this story that I received from a long time reader of Thailand Musings. Because the story is quite lengthy I’ve decided to break it up into segments and will be posting them over the course of the next few weeks.

Thanks Steve…………….. below is really just some of my adventures in Thailand from 2002/3 up to now. I hope this makes for interesting reading not just for you, but for many people who have gone to or are thinking about going to Thailand in search of love. I hope the full story is good reading and will make people understand we have to sometimes change to make things work !!!!!!

My adventure started around the year 2002/3. We were planning the trip of a lifetime (for my wife and myself), but it didn’t start out as a trip to Thailand although in the end that’s what it was. For many reasons the trip we wanted to take was not working out the way we wanted it to when we were deciding on the details for the trip and so the Asia trip was born. Firstly though, we had to get all details finalized with the travel agent due to my wife being disabled. That was not a problem on any count as we were told the Thai Airways flight team would make sure everything would be dealt with for my wife to have an easy trip. I have to say at this point they were fantastic and always on my subsequent trips back and forth from England or Thailand I try my best to use Thai Airways. However we did not consider if it would be easy to use a wheel chair on the coast of Phuket or anywhere else in Thailand, but when we eventually arrived in Thailand it was lucky my wife was able to get around without it as roads, curbs and pavements were not really suited for wheel chairs.

Having never been to Thailand or any Asian country this was going to be an adventure to tell the grandchildren (yes we have two) and probably never do again we thought, however we can never know what is around the corner…can we!! Unknown to us was the adventure fate had in store or how it would have an amazing affect on our lives which would change so much for us both. We arrived in Bangkok late afternoon around Xmas time (we decided it was time for us to use the Xmas break for our adventure as the children had grown up and Xmas time was always stressful).

The 2002/3 Xmas trip was an amazing assault on our senses in every aspect possible. The beauty that is Thailand was overwhelming to say the least, but no more so than the first steps after getting off the long flight from England. My first steps were greeted with what can only be described as “the feeling of someone walking straight through my body” and at that point it was as though I had returned home…An epiphany would probably sum it up, but why now and why me!! The 3 weeks we had from that point was amazing, we met lovely people (almost everyone at the hotel, but none more so than Orropan and Siriwan) at our expensive hotel the Patong Merlin in Patong Phuket, we had awesome food, went on beautiful trips and of course did the tourist bars and pretty much most things associated with going to bars and clubs, as my then wife was very liberal minded due to the fact that our love life was slightly lacking due to her being disabled. This enabled us to have special friends whom we had great nights with, so as you can imagine I was given my cake and allowed to eat it, so to speak.

Anyway let me go back a little to Bangkok…. Our package deal gave us beautiful hotels and the one in Bangkok was no exception. We stayed just three days in Bangkok or as I know it now as Krungthep, this allowed us time to get around the summer palace, winter palace and all the sights one should see when you go the first time. Of course this meant Patpong market, bars and clubs and I have to say it just made the senses tingle with a feeling of electricity surging through your body!!! This from a man whose wife would pretty much let him have sex at anytime and with anyone as long as she knew about it and was there. Yes were cajoled into bars and clubs, but in the best possible fun. We saw ping pong shows that left us in disbelief of what people would do for money, we bought many things from the market, fake or not who knows, but whatever they were and for how long they lasted it all added to the great Asian/Thailand adventure, so after drinking at several bars this was the first time I had ever had sex (I was going to say “been to bed with”, but you cannot call 20 minutes going to bed) with an Asian girl/lady. Even then we all agreed condoms (2) had to be used. At that time (so many years ago) I am guessing my wife paid a few pounds, although I am not sure. Afterwards I talked with my wife and said I am not sure it should have happened, but as all of us were consenting adults she said it should not be a problem.

Three days later and we were heading down to the coast of Phuket/Patong and that fantastic hotel Patong Merlin on the Patong beach. Not an inexpensive hotel by any means, however the staff was the best we had met on any trip we had made in all the other countries we had been to in the past. Staying in one hotel for a long time and you will strike up friendships and probably more so with Thai people as they are the friendliest people we have encountered in our trips. Orropan and Siriwan tried to teach us little words in Thai as I am sure they did with many other guests and even today almost 10 years on I still have contact with them and other people you will encounter in this adventure. As a keen photographer I would go out every morning and walk the beaches and streets to capture something of everywhere we went and Thailand was no exception, but with even more beauty to excite the camera lens and myself. We would go out most nights by tuk tuk and see more of the island during the day and then go to the red light/bar area of Patong in the evenings. At this point I have to say I was in paradise, good food, great beaches, fantastic people, great scenery and a fun nightlife. So it was no surprise to us to sit in a bar watching a show and end up chatting to the girls/women about our children, their children and their lives working in bars. It was there that we met a lady called Mar who with her friends danced at this bar in between the shows they would put on. Entrancing I would say she was as she danced (if you could call dancing against a pole dancing) on the stage; we chatted with this lovely lady and showed each other photos of ours and her children. Now at this point you could not imagine the turmoil that was going to befall ours and our families lives from that very first trip to Thailand.

Well the trip of a lifetime was soon over, the 3 weeks passed and we were on our way home and planning the next trip for December 2004.

Read Part 2 of an Adventure in Thailand

07 March 2011 ~ 2 Comments

Where To Be Seen In Bangkok

There’s one street in Bangkok garnering a reputation for fun and fashion like no other. It stretches almost two kilometres long, has a strange fondness for wedding shops, is connected by canal and BTS and all Bangkok’s young and trendy are flocking to it. It goes by the name, Thong Lor.

The essence of Thong Lor is neatly captured in the swanky pedestrianised inlet about half way down the road called J-Avenue. Here well dressed boys and girls wielding iPads sit around in the cafes drinking ice lattes thinking about how much they enjoy their lives. Ferrari’s and other expensive cars linger in the parking lot and a glut of sumptuous Japanese restaurants prepare for evening patrons. Despite this recently emerged image of Thong Lor, delving a bit deeper will reveal a number of fantastic sides to the ever evolving street which is easily accessible from most Sukhumvit hotels.

Bangkok - Thong Lor

On the corner of Soi 13 is the celebrated Thai restaurant Thon Kreung which has made a well deserved name for itself over decades of service. Very reasonably priced, the food is as authentic as it gets and customers come from all over the capital to savour the lively cooking. Providing it’s not a school night, heading to Soi 10 for some Thai nightlife is a great way to start your evening. This Soi is loaded with extremely popular nightclubs; expect to see bottles of Johnnie Walker Black wherever you turn, a loud Thai band playing crowd pleasing favorites as well as dance floors bizarrely obstructed with tables ensuring no one can actually dance. These are nightclubs Thai style.

Few may know it but Thong Lor still holds onto small pockets of traditional Thai street life and the onslaught of modernity hasn’t taken away all traces of character. Near Soi 17 are a string of rice and curry shops, noodles stalls and made to order restaurants. Similarly right down the end of the road hidden next to the canal is a charming outdoor market selling anything from pig ears to pyjamas.

Bangkok - Thong Lor Traffic

Catching the little red bus which splutters up and down Thong Lor is a great way to take in the whole road. If you see somewhere you like, hit the buzzer and hop off. Despite the increasing sophistication of Thong Lor there are still a range of cheap Bangkok hotels to stay in nearby.

04 March 2011 ~ 10 Comments

The famous little blue pill – or any of its derivatives

Today’s post is a guest post from mark Damaroyd. He moved from the UK to live in Thailand six years ago. Happily settled in Isaan with his Thai wife and family, he enjoys writing about The Land of Smiles. A novel written by him and called Pursuit to Paradise, released in 2010, is also set in Thailand. He should be a regular contributor here and I believe his musings are much wittier than my own.

I expect to be fairly quiet for the time being as we get everything in order to make our move to Thailand finally this July. You’ll be hearing more about that as it gets closer and much more once we are ensconced in Bangkok. Enjoy!

THAI TIDBITS No.1.

Personal observations on matters of great, little, or no importance

The famous little blue pill – or any of its derivatives.

Let’s start with this important traveling companion for many men.

A guy I know from the UK, well into a romance with a Thai girl in Pattaya, stocked up with what he thought were good value pills, purchased online. In fact, he considered them excellent value, so doubled the order, ending up with enough to take on holiday, and leave backup stock at home, ready for use when he returned with his girlfriend. To be precise, this trip happened to be specifically to marry his girl.

While in Thailand, he received an email from his employers, informing he no longer had a job. He managed to find work in Thailand, obtained a business visa, stopped paying rent on the UK house, and arranged for a relation to clear out personal belongings. When asked what should be done with a large padded envelope containing masses of blue pills, he flipped somewhat. His reply doesn’t take a lot of working out, but I wouldn’t recommend it – could have nasty side effects.

It seems the new wife wasn’t too pleased on discovering she couldn’t go to England after all. To add fuel to the flames, the blue pills didn’t work either. The marriage lasted three months.

Pity really, because I could have directed him to a homemade aphrodisiac that some say works. Take a watermelon, cut it up – skin as well, and smash it in a blender. Boil the liquid until reduced to next to nothing. When cool, strain the residue into small bottle and drink. According to an alleged pharmacist, it actually works. However, after all that preparation, the reason for making it doesn’t make sense anymore.

Well, I’m off to buy a watermelon. See you next time.

* * *

27 February 2011 ~ 20 Comments

2 Interesting Thai and Farang Stories With a Twist

Sawasdee ka

I want to share 2 interesting stories with you concerning Farang and Thai women. They might seem negative but there is something very interesting about both and I like what can be learned from them. In fact I find them heartwarming and at the end of this post I am going to ask you to do something for me……but first the stories.

Thai and Farang Story Number #1

Firstly there is a man I have consulted with a few times now called David. David is an older gentleman from England and has now had a few experiences with Thai women. These experiences have not really worked out well for him though because all 3 relationships have ended in a sad way.

She was not being sincere about her intentions. It wasn’t really about money but she was playing a game

The first was because of such a large age difference and that the young Thai girl involved really had never considered a relationship with an older man and a Farang. She wasn’t against it but she was not positive either and in the end David ended it. His second experience was a bit of a disaster. I shan’t tell the exact detail here and I will tell you why at the end of this story but it ended because she was not being sincere about her intentions. It wasn’t really about money but she was playing a game. It was a game of revenge for something he had done even though he was not aware of it at the time. When her game was revealed obviously the relationship ended.

Their relationship just broke down, along with David’s heart

David’s last relationship started very well and continued for some time. He visited her family at one time who were all very genuine and not poor and he had since kept in regular contact and planning to go to Thailand again. However it really faded as she had some misconceptions about David and what he was prepared to offer her. Yes she became a bit greedy and started to see bright shiny objects which were not really available, meaning David is not a rich man at all and was not able to give her all the things she thought she wanted, including him being able to spend more time in Thailand at that time and so their relationship just broke down, along with David’s heart.

He has been heartbroken and disappointed 3 times with Thai women all for different reasons

Now I know many of you will have all sorts of opinions about these girls and David. Some of you might say he is lucky to escape and some may think he is stupid. What I can tell you is David is a very genuine and caring man. He is intelligent. Yes he is older and so he understands that he doesn’t have the luxury of plenty of time to find a new partner for the rest of his life. This can make him a little desperate and now he has been heartbroken and disappointed 3 times with Thai women all for different reasons.

None of these Thai women have been bar girls or are in anyway scammers. Even the one who was playing a game with him. So what is heartwarming about this you may ask?

Well the answer is his attitude!

You see David still has a positive attitude about Thailand and Thai women. He doesn’t blame everything on them and come away with the attitude all Thai women are after money, bad or trying to cheat and lie, he doesn’t paint all Thai women with the same brush.

He still dearly wants and intends to have a genuine and loving relationships with a good Thai woman

What is truly good about his attitude is that he accepts his own part in each of these relationship failures. He sees that he made mistakes, he had expectations that maybe were not realistic or possible just yet and he has taken the view that he will set his life up in a way to be more able to find the right partner. He still dearly wants and intends to have a genuine and loving relationships with a good Thai woman. He is not being negative but he does realize that there are dangers and he has to take care. I personally believe that with his attitude he will get what he wants eventually.

Now I have not revealed all the detail of David’s story because I shall be posting it in full on my website Thai Girlfreind Advisor very soon so if you would like to read all the details of what happened to him then please keep a look out for that because it is really interesting!

Thai and Farang Story number 2

The second story is about a dear friend of mine. I have known Steve for many years and whilst he is from England he has lived in Australia for many years. Steve has recently got married to a Thai woman from near Phuket. She lives in Australia and has done for about 4 or 5 years and I know her personally too. I can tell you that Steve is a very spiritual person and also very intelligent. His Thai wife is a country girl but she is hardworking and loyal and has learned a lot in her time in the West.

Steve is also not a rich man, far from it but he and his new Thai wife still offered to help her parents with extending their kitchen

Last year Steve went to Phuket to see her family and they stayed for a few weeks and in that time they got married with all the things that comes with it which I know Steve really enjoyed. He is very happy with his Thai wife and she is with him. Steve is also not a rich man, far from it but he and his new Thai wife still offered to help her parents with extending their kitchen. Steve and his wife have also bought some land behind her parent’s house and intend to build a house there and spend half their time in Thailand and half in Australia.

Steve told me recently that it was funny because her parents had now said to them can they build another story on top of their house now that the kitchen is done, which of course Steve and his wife will need to pay for.

Now I know again many of you may quickly jump and say oh there you go see, they are after his Farang money just like all the rest of them and that perhaps now Steve has been caught and might be in trouble now.

They don’t have much money but they have a lot of love and kindness

But let me tell you what Steve’s attitude is about this. When he was telling me this he was smiling and just said that both he and his wife had said to them….woah just hold on. First we want to build our house. He said he is happy to give them money and to help the family and he knows when the house is built they will all be in it all the time. But he said that’s all ok, they are now his family and that is their culture. They are not bad people they are very good people with big hearts and they would do anything for him and his wife too, they don’t have much money but they have a lot of love and kindness and that is all he wants from them.

He accepts that is just part of the culture and their way and that is what he has now joined by marrying their daughter

He is happy to help out, maybe he just need to control them a little and not get carried away with thinking there is an endless supply of money but he does not blame them. He is not negative in fact he said its quite funny and cute really and accepts that is just part of the culture and their way and that is what he has now joined by marrying their daughter.

My thoughts on this……

I love the attitudes of both my good friend Steve and also David because they both show an ability to accept people for what they are and not judge everyone with the same standard. They are willing to look at things from many different perspectives and also take responsibility for their own actions and what may come from them. They can take what might look like a negative and turn it into something positive, they see there is always two sides to everything.

It is for those reasons I have a warm heart about their stories and I believe they will always meet with good fortune even though sometimes they may have to learn along the way.

Once again I very much welcome your comments and thoughts about these but this time as I said at the beginning of this post I would like to ask something of you.

This time I would like you to see any negatives you might at first think about this post and the stories and try to see the other side. What is the positive side of what you might think, what can be learned from it? Try not to go with your first instinct but rather try and peel that away and see what lies beneath it.

Until next week I hope you stay safe and positive in your life

22 February 2011 ~ 24 Comments

What Am I Going to Miss (in the US) When I Move Back to Thailand?

Soon my accustomed standard of living in the US will become my past. One minute I would say I miss Thailand so much and could not wait to go back to my homeland, but the next minute I start to feel stunned and don’t know what it’s going to be like to leave this country. I will probably miss you so much America!!! So today I’m thinking why won’t I write about what am I going to miss when I’m not here anymore :).

US family and friends – We usually go to Steve’s parents’ house every Friday to have dinner together. And since I quit my job to be a full time mom we’ve been so close. They’re all so good to me and my daughter. I have no doubt in my mind about why my husband is such a wonderful person, just because his parents are such a great people also.

Friends: I really don’t have many friends here beside my Thai friends who live in New York, Chicago, Texas. Other than that would be friends from the places I used to work.

I will miss their company!!!

The best (junk) food I ever ate – 4 and half years ago when I moved to this country, I didn’t really care for junk food that much. I weighed about 128 lbs when I first moved here, but since I’ve been living in this country I have to admit I LOVE JUNK FOOD!!!!! And of course my weight has mirrored that clearly ;).

Pizza – I’m a big fan of pizza now and so on, especially from Lombardi’s in New York, they have the best Pizza ever in my opinion! And even around where I live there are several places that have decent Pizza too. Of course in Thailand beside Pizza Hut and Pizza Company, there is nothing else that I ever tried. When we started dating Steve and I used to try pizza from one of those place together, and he said its taste sucked! I didn’t believe him at that time because my opinion was that was how Pizza should taste. Up until I got a chance to try pizza in the U.S. and I thought to myself that Steve was totally right and I don’t know that I’ll enjoy eating pizza from those places again. The weirdest thing is Pizza Hut in the US and in Thailand don’t taste the same, but McDonald’s does.

Burgers – I wasn’t crazy about burgers either, but I had to change my mind as quick as I could after I have tried burgers in the U.S. I don’t know how am I going to deal with this issue when I move back. Probably end up have to make my own burgers after all.

Other than that would be..

Good Steak – I’m talking about $20 and up (per person) in general and decent restaurant. I know that here we can afford it once in a while and on special occasions. Hmm…in Thailand I can’t see that happening quite often at all. Steve told me in Thailand we have to import beef from Australia and the price would be double for what we would pay here. Plus it doesn’t taste the same as U.S. beef anyway. Nonetheless we will not be able to find in general restaurant or from the street vendor for sure!

International food – First impression would be Italian food. I’m pretty sure if I do some good research about it I can probably find some good Italian restaurants out there somewhere in Bangkok. One bad thing is they don’t have the family style restaurant like Olive Garden, Buca di Beppo or anything like that with decent food and reasonable prices.

Mexican food – it is kind of awkward to talk about Mexican food in the US, but c’mon looks like half of this country is Mexican people anyway. It is impossible if we can’t find good Mexican food all over the place. I definitely will miss it and once we move back to Thailand, I don’t think we will get any Mexican food unless we will make our own. There was a Mexican restaurant on Convent Rd. around Silom area that we tried. We ordered Nachos and what we got was a dish with big pile of chips and a **it load of cheese on top of them. And something else I forgot what it was, but everything turned out to be awful and it’s not worth it to remember. When we went back to Thailand last time it was closed already and that pretty much proved my thoughts. So if anyone knows an awesome Mexican restaurant please let us know!

Japanese, Korean, and South East Asian food – I have no doubt in my mind that it will not be a problem for those kinds of food since Thai people are pretty much into these cultures with all the Japanese and Korean trends right now.

Bye bye Snow and see you Flood!!! – I used to ask this question to myself and my husband, Steve. We are still not sure which one we would prefer the most. Neither of them are good. Snow will be nice and cool to just stay home and watch all the pretty snowflakes falling down, playing outside with the snow ball fight, making snowman (but mostly for the young kids would enjoy that anyway), but once again I HATE the snow storm and hate even more when I have to drive in the snow season (wouldn’t mind so much though when it doesn’t turn to ice on the road).

Flood: Bangkok is the low land so whenever the raining season or big storm hits Thailand, Bangkok will be one of the cities that is effected by that. And the drain pipe systems in some area aren’t that good to drain all the water down. Even some provinces in E-sarn and the south of Thailand don’t escape as they had big floods last time.

Drive thru – OMG! I LOVE the drive through…it’s so so convenient for everyone who doesn’t want to step outside their car, who has no time, who wants to pick something up quick, etc. I love to use the drive thru bank because it’s so easy and no need to carry my baby in and out from the car seat, so it works out perfectly for me. It seems like they have drive through for almost everything at all from bank, food and restaurant, liqueur store, grocery store (not in my town though, but Steve said in some states they have it), or even pharmacy.

I definitely will miss it very much and I wish Thailand would have something like that..LOL

Returns and customer satisfaction – I came from a country where we usually buy things outside the store; as you can see they have the street venders, weekend markets and night markets all over Thailand. The seller will get the stuff for wholesale price from somewhere else and sell it at retail with their own price. So maybe you will find exactly the same T-shirt with a different price in the different shops (that Thai people and foreigners who live or used to live in Thailand familiar with). But that does not mean the seller will have the right to accept the return of the stuff.

I happened to have this experience for myself with several things I wanted to return in the past. Some of them were stuff from the outside shop. The seller will say NO to you as soon as you are just about to open your mouth. He/she will talk to you like you have never been to his/her shop before even though you just walked out from that shop like 5 minutes ago, they would say they have so many costumers and they don’t remember you. Some of them would say you can buy the stuff from somewhere else and want to return at their place, etc. That’s why when I buy the stuff from outside the store I will make perfectly sure that I like it, it’s in a good condition, etc. It will be even better if you buy stuff from the shop that they let you try it on (but barely that type of shop exists anymore). Nowadays some of the shops they are smart enough to have the sign up for “no return”.

Another experience happened with the big chain store when I bought an MP3 player and it didn’t work right so I wanted to return it. I don’t remember what happened to be exact, but turned out that I can’t return it but they were willing to exchange for a new one. I wasn’t happy about it, but hey…at least I got a new MP3 player not a broke one. And I bet they didn’t really care that I was happy about it or not.

So I was so shocked when I was treated differently about returning things in America. Almost everything the customers are not satisfied with…even food! I remember last year when my mother-in-law ordered take out from one of the franchise family restaurant here. They screwed our order up big time so we called to complain about it and ended up that they were willing to not charge for anything and besides that they also gave us a coupon discount for the next visit. I was like…are you serious? Because the price would have been almost $120 but we got that meal for free. If that happens in Thailand what would that be??? LOL

I think that is pretty much everything that I can think of for the time being. I know even those things are still missing in Thailand, but up to this point nothing will change our mind from moving back to Thailand :)). Nowhere in the world will have everything perfect. We just have to get use to it…and the most important is be happy with it.

20 February 2011 ~ 32 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 ~ 92 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.