My Thai Girl and I Part 3

PookieWell, I guess I’m finally getting somewhere with this. You know more about my past than I like and I have yet to tell you about my present or future. Once you get through all the various cliché’s, and you do have to get through those cliché’s when you are in a Thai/Falang relationship, you begin to realize that it’s not much different than any other relationship.

Sure, there is the language barrier but most people in similar relationships will tell you what I’m about to tell you…thats easy. Especially when you both have at least a small grasp of each others language and a willingness to learn. The cultural aspect of my relationship with Pookie has been more of a learning curve, not because I don’t want to learn or am resistant to change, but basically because  I grew up in the west and I have forty some odd years of seeing things one way. So, sometimes I shake my head in wonder about certain things but I am quick to realize that these things are important to Pookie so I do my best to go with the flow. Likewise, Pookie does her best to understand my western background and even understands that every great now and then I need a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…she likes the strawberry preserves but the jury is still out on the peanut butter.

That’s about the way of any relationship though isn’t it? You learn what makes the other person tick, their likes and dislikes. You bring aspects of their life into yours and they do the same. You learn together about each other and sometimes you have to over look the fact that Grandma spit her chaw out the window and it landed on your shoulder…It’s not like she was aiming…I hope.

The family at a Thai BBQProbably the biggest consideration in my relationship with Pookie is her family. Thai’s are very family and community orientated which is hard for some Falangs to understand. We love our families in the west but as soon as we are of age we want our freedom, our alone time, our privacy. Thai’s on the other hand do everything they can to remain with their family and family is everything in Thailand.

Pookie’s family goes out of their way to make me feel at home when I am in the village. They always want me to have the best chair, bed, portion of food…I politely decline a lot of the time because I don’t want or like the special attention but sometimes I have to swallow hard and accept things because the family would lose face if I didn’t. I’ve gotten pretty good at realizing when those times are though. Although they treat me very well, and usually send me home with armloads of gifts for my family, I still get the sense that they believe me to be rich…at least the Aunts, Uncles and grandparents do.

The ever adorable FaAnother of the family, a sister on the fathers side, has a Falang husband who apparently buys everything for the family and of course the rest of the family wonder why Pookie’s Falang doesn’t do the same. Like I said earlier I made it very clear in the beginning that I’m not rich but I do what I can to help the family out when they need help, and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for Pookie’s little one Fa.  I take the whole family out for Thai BBQ as well. They get all dressed up and there is much face in it for everyone. I get off lightly at roughly $35 for the whole evening and it’s nice to spend the time with her family.

There are some other aspects of this relationship that are difficult to get used to though. Spending any deal of time up country means certain rules are in effect. You don’t hold hands or kiss in public and being the man I haven’t once received the check when out for lunch or dinner, the woman gets the check…but the man still pays. Although it’s trying at times I have to smile because I know it’s trying for Pookie as well. More than a few times I’ve felt her hand slip into mine or have had her turn and give me a kiss only to look around to see if she got caught doing it.

I guess the last aspect of this relationship we have, and another one for the book of cliché’s,  is the age difference. There is an 18 year difference in our ages she being 25 and me being 43. I didn’t go looking for a younger woman and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t looking for an older man, although in Asian societies older men are seen as more stable. It really wouldn’t have mattered to me if she was 18 years my senior, it was never about age and I think there may be another reason for this as well.

I don’t feel like my American self when I am in Thailand, I feel like I’m a better version of me who is more free and susceptible to life and all it has to offer. I’m an explorer who is happy to keep the exploration going without any obvious goal in site, always peeking around the next corner with anticipation like a child looking for Santa on Christmas eve. Pookie doesn’t know the American me, the me that works too much, worries too much, has gotten lost in the remnants of the American dream and I hope she never meets that me because he’s not the me that is full of hope and wonder when he kisses her.  Some may call that a mid life crisis…I’d call it an awakening.

This may not have been a well rounded or full explanation on my experience with the Thai/Falang relationship but thats only because it’s an ongoing tale that hopefully will take a long time to tell.

Me and my Thai girl

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12 Responses to My Thai Girl and I Part 3
  1. Lloyd
    June 22, 2009 | 6:42 am

    Great read and well written.

    I think your concerns and comments about money are a cliché in themselves and detract from the strength of a good relationship.

    Hopefully one day I can drop by and read Part 4.

    • Talen
      June 23, 2009 | 12:19 am

      Lloyd, Appreciate the kind words.

      Yeah, the money part is cliché and can detract from the relationship if you let it …so far I’ve done pretty good at that but I do have my moments.

  2. Catherine
    June 22, 2009 | 8:59 am

    ‘You learn what makes the other person tick, their likes and dislikes. You bring aspects of their life into yours and they do the same.’

    So true, so true. And if you think about it, men and women are miles apart so they might as well be totally different cultures anyway, yes?

    The man of the house is British. And even though I was raised partway in a British commonwealth, I’ve found many cultural differences between the two of us.

    Throw in my being the only girl and youngest child out of three, with him being an only child, and you have more differences.

    But (cliché alert) we are all human…

    ‘You learn together about each other and sometimes you have to over look the fact that Grandma spit her chaw out the window and it landed on your shoulder…It’s not like she was aiming…I hope.’

    Hah! So funny. Grandmas can get away with SO much, no matter what culture you are in :-D

    Great stuff Talen. You’ve put a lot of work into this series and it shows. And each time I get to the bottom of your posts, I find myself looking foward to reading what comes next!
    Catherine´s last blog ..Webster’s Thai to English Crossword Puzzles My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      June 23, 2009 | 12:13 am

      Thanks Cat, Means a lot when a blogger such as yourself pays me a compliment. :)

      And you are correct in the fact that men and women are seemingly of different cultures if not different species.

      Grandma…unfortunately she is 86 years old and spends most of the day in her room. When hanging out under the house in a car port like area you are just below her window…and the falang didn’t know.

      She basically leaves her room once a day to collect the ingredients for her chaw ( which is another post I’m working on) which is a stimulant.

  3. Windmill
    June 22, 2009 | 10:02 am

    Ha! Talen, another great intimate writing.

    I do agree with what you’ve said about the cross cultural issues. The Asian, and in this instance, the Thai culture, it can be very disarming for a Westerner.

    Demands a good deal of give and take.

    Wishing you many more happy years!
    Windmill´s last blog ..June 13th, Confucius says… My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      June 23, 2009 | 12:14 am

      You are right Windmill…it takes time and patience on both sides to cross the divide but it is very worthwhile.

      Haven’t been by your blog in a bit so I’m heading there now to make up for it…the upside is I have a bit to read :)

  4. Martyn
    June 22, 2009 | 10:53 am

    Excellent heart on the sleeve stuff and the restaurant bill to the lady actually gives me a wry smile nowadays. I find now that after 5 years Wilai’s family has sorted itself out from the good and bad. The one’s who borrowed money and didn’t pay back we don’t see much of and the one’s who showed warmth and friendship from day one are now what I consider good friends. The cultural differences are actually quite interesting and eye opening when as you write you want to take it all onboard. Wilai actually has a cheese toasted sandwich for breakfast when I stay at the house, that still does amaze me. Loved the Grandma spat her chaw bit, writing from the top of the tree.
    Martyn´s last blog ..Giving a Little Bit Back My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      June 23, 2009 | 12:17 am

      Martyn, I pretty much know the good from the bad apples of the family now myself. Pookie’s immediate family is great but her Pappa’s side leaves a lot to be desired and a bad taste if you know what I mean.

      It’s funny, the one thing Pookie really does like are those horrible ham and cheese sandwiches you get at 7/11.

  5. Andrew Hicks
    June 23, 2009 | 7:21 am

    Hi Talen!

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading all about your ‘Thai girl’ and you.

    It’s an inexhaustible subject and as you say is riddled with clichaic misapprehensions.

    In reality each relationship is unique and as you know I’ve written about mine with my Thai wife, Cat.

    I know you know, but for anyone who doesn’t, my book is called MY THAI GIRL AND I and is available in Thai bookshops. It tells the story of five happy years together blow by blow and I hope it dispels some of the more negative sterotypes of the Thai/farang relationship.

    Keep up the good blogging!

    Best wishes to you both,

    Andrew Hicks

  6. Jeff Gray
    June 23, 2009 | 7:46 pm

    “I don’t feel like my American self when I am in Thailand, I feel like I’m a better version of me who is more free and susceptible to life and all it has to offer.”

    This is a really interesting thing to say. Often we hear that people don’t change, but this is a good example of how the environment can change us.

    I guess for people who are open to new cultures, like yourself, they are more likely to take on aspects of that culture.

    It is very thought provoking to think about this.

  7. Sarah
    June 23, 2009 | 9:28 pm

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say
    that I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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