I am an expat who has been visiting Thailand since 1989. I got through my “Petal” stage long before coming here for the first time. I read your column every time I am in-country. It amazes me that how many expats my age are so naive when it comes to Thailand. So many of them come here and think that they can change the culture to suit their need. What they SHOULD come here for is for the culture to change them into a better person. Why is that so difficult for them? Maybe they are too arrogant to accept the sanook? I met my wife in the usual way that farangs do. But, when I first saw her, I had the impression that she was in a place where she didn’t want to be. Her and I spent the next seven years getting to know each other. When the time was right, she introduced me to her mother and her son. When I saw where they were living, I knew that I had to do something about that. So I bought them a house. This is where I am writing to you tonight.
My wife and I have had our bad times together. There was a time when I was so baa that my wife said to me, “I cannot live with you any more. You are too crazy for me. You make me sad all the time and I don’t want to be sad any more.”
Then she told me, “You bought this home for me. It is just as much yours as it is mine. The only thing I ask is that you tell me when you come to Thailand, and I will stay away for that time.”
That was when I knew just how far I had wandered from myself. It scared the hell out of me to realize just how bad I had been treating her. I came to my senses and asked her for one more chance. She wasn’t going to give it to me. I begged her, because I knew that she was worth begging for it. She gave me that one last chance, and now we are P Nong again.
It saddens me that so many expats come here with such unrealistic desires that they usually miss the greatest opportunity of their lives.
Dear Slowly, Slowly,
You are certainly very different in your attitudes to living in Thailand, compared to many of your buddies. I liked the fact that you took “the next seven years getting to know each other.” That shows real commitment, something that many foreigners do not have here. However, it is not that easy to change, even when living here. There are cultural differences which are difficult to get over, but have to be met, or the relationship will fail, as has happened to so many who write to me. You have got through the sticky patch by examining yourself, and not by expecting everyone else to change to your cultural concepts. Well done, you deserve to be happy here, with your lady who has helped you in so many ways.