Yesterday we took a break from home and went to a lake close to our house. We drove through very green ricefields that in about another three weeks, will be ready to harvest. When I first came out to our village, moving into a house with Fhons Mum, Dad and brother were not that easy for me. I had been alone for some time and the previous relationship I was in was for all the wrong reasons and I made a lot of mistakes. I had some idea of what it would be like living with a Thai family due to my other experience, but when you are faced with moving in with people you really do not know, it is hard
At this stage, I was just starting to take my medication properly and I was in many ways, very volatile and I liked my own space. When you move in with a Thai family, your problems, if you get a good family, become their problems and they will, in all honesty, try to the best of there ability to sort things out. Fhons father told me I needed to take things slow and they would help in any way they could.
Now you get all sorts of stories about how the families expect you to pay money as you are the farang or foreigner to cover costs for everything. If you get a good family, that is wrong. As to date, everything in my home as been paid 50/50 by the family. I get asked for no monthly payment to look after the parents. Fhons brother works hard every day as an electrician and he helps the family out most of all. You need to understand that everything in the house is family-owned, so you have really no rights to anything. If Fhons brother needs to work in town today, he will take my motorcycle as it is much safer to ride. If I need Fhons brother to take to me to the doctor, he will stop everything and do this. There is give and take in everything that you do. If I am asked to take Fhons Mother to market, I take her or if I am asked to pick something up, I just do it. We all work together.
Many foreigners come out to the village, buy a house for the wife or girlfriend and try to move in. For the wife or girlfriend, this is a big show of face and it makes the girl look rich. Many of the men try to slide into Village living but have trouble as it is very quiet and in most cases, the only people around are family. If you cannot speak Thai, it can become very difficult. If you get a bad family, there is a good chance you will be paying for more then you think and that you are just treated as the cash cow. I have seen this happen on a few occasions and the relationships never last anymore than two years.
So it is very important in many ways, how you are looked at within the Thai family and if they can see you are tough but fair to everyone, things are pretty easy. Within my family, they know I do not have much money but see that I look after their daughter with much respect and I do not run around chasing different women and drinking as many do. They know that when I married her, things would improve for them but they had to pull there weight as well in being respectful to me. Being able to live in a Thai family means that I need to respect my Thai elders (Mum and Dad) but they need to respect me as well as I treat their daughter well.
When I am sick, everyone treats me very well and they help as much as they can. Normally, I need to rest a lot and Fhons brother needs to drive me to the doctor. I have a good family and am very lucky. For most people, living like this would be very hard if you are brought up with a Western background. We are taught independence from an early age and we leave home to build our only lives at a younger age. Thais need to work together as families to be able to survive and if you come from a poor family, this fact is very important. Sometimes this fact can make the girls do some very bad things to be able to let the family survive. It is a sad fact but true.
I am one of the very few people that have moved in with a Thai family and had to change the way I live so I can fit in. It has not been that easy but now, after three years here, I am used to the way of life and find it okay. You need to understand that nothing gets done today if it is not important. Everything is slowed down and for some, it just may be too hard to handle after being used to a social life like in Bangkok. I find it okay but for most, unless you have a good family and you are prepared to change a few things, it is hard. Life in a rural village and with a rural family may not be for most. If you are building a house and thinking it will be easy, just be prepared for the fact you are not back in the West and things are very different here.
If your the type of guy that likes to have a garden, it may work out well. For me, it is the long afternoon rides on my Motorcycle that make my days easier. You need to have several hobbies and you need to exercise as well. Some of my friends have done massive improvements to their homes and they spend a lot of time doing the upkeep maintenance to keep the place looking good. They might spend a few hours each day in the garden or they may need to sweep leaves up. Still, none of my friends live like I do – live with a Thai family full time. They have bought houses, moved in with the wife and made there life.
Living with a Thai family does have its rewards. Everyone helps out most of the time and most of all, most Thais are very funny people. Everyone is joking all the time and smiling. My wife and her family really only think about today and tomorrow for them never really comes. Only when it becomes time to do something serious, like my Visa every year, do I see them being serious about anything. No one stresses. Fhons brother may not have work today, but he does not worry as he will say, work will come tomorrow. It is a very easy way of life.
I am happy now with what I am doing. For that I am grateful.