On Saturday I taught a class in one of our campuses out in the stix, way out in this case. From the airport, we drove for forty-five minutes through mostly farming countryside, then turned off onto a smaller, even more rural road for another ten minutes, finally coming to a small city, the city of Ban Pai (“Silk House”). It was very nice.
My hotel was simple, but very comfortable in every way. Good air-con; good cable TV (including German and Asian cable news and Star Movies in English); comfortable bed and warm shower; free lobby Internet and free wi-fi if you bring your lap-top. All for $12 per night.
I was surprised to find out that our campus there was a large, beautiful park like area with lots of buildings, offering a full range of courses for bachelors’ and masters’ degrees in a few subject areas. The students were very friendly, which I have come to expect. My class was hard for them, because they were largely innocent of any pollution by the English language. (The course is required, I wish them luck.)
Town was as rural as a city can be. They rolled up the streets at five p.m., after that it was hard to find a place to eat. At lunch I had some delicious roast duck over rice with a couple of vegetables and Hoisen sauce for about seventy-five cents. It was a lot of fun. They see lots of Farang but were suitably amazed that I could read the menu and order in Thai. I went back at five-fifteen but it was closed tighter than a dog’s ass in a flood, that was on Saturday evening. I had to make due with street food.
There were more lottery-ladies than I had ever seen in one place before. Every street was full of them, all the time. These are roaming sellers of lottery tickets, almost always women, mostly young, but not all, manifestly poor, usually dressed as though to work in a field, straw hat and all. They carry a wooden box over their shoulder which they can flash open very quickly. It looks like the boxes that sets of tubes of artist’s oil colors come in, complete with bronze clasp and with a leather strap. They snap them open with a smile, “ow mai ka?” I always just smile and politely say no, “mai ow, cawp khun k’ap.” Lots of people scan the tickets for lucky numbers. Most Thais don’t smile back at these luckless women, they have very low status.
There was also a huge number of Farang men around. Lots and lots of Farang men with Thai wives; some alone, probably shopping. More than one-third of these guys were fat, like notably fat, and most of them were dressed in t-shirts and shorts with some kind of sandals. Oddly, they had good hair almost to a man. Most of the guys didn't look so smart, please forgive my condescending tone but I know of which I speak. There were exceptions, a few, more or less well dressed guys with more or less age-appropriate Thai women and maybe a child or two. Sadly, of the smarter looking guys, most of them don’t look very nice. They often walk imperiously a few steps in front of the Thai wife. Some of the stupid guys looked like they were happy, and really trying to be good husbands.
You could tell that there were children in all situations: children of the union; prior children who came as part of the deal. A couple of guys were very good with their children, and the children obviously loved them. Some ignored the children and only spoke curtly to the wife. Some of these guys will gratefully stick it out but some will go back to England or wherever someday and soon thereafter the money will stop. It’s a bad situation.
One very young guy, European I think, I couldn’t really hear him but he didn’t look American, had a pretty wife with a (prior) eight or so year old daughter. He was very sweet with both of them. She had a couple of tattoos, very stylish clothes and colored hair, and she spoke good English without any further evidence of a good education. (This is all a red flag to those in the know.) At first, I thought they were about the same age, late twenties, but after closer inspection I realized that the wife was probably close to forty. I could tell from her eyes, her hands and feet, and, most tellingly, from the tattoos. I’ll bet she’s lying to him about her age, that would be easy in a country where lots of women retain their blush of youth for a long, long time.
Want a nice Thai wife? I’ll fill you in on your travel needs and hook you up with the hotel. Start with the lottery ladies, many of them were very pretty and looked like nice, smart women. Avoid Karaoke bars as though they were plague infected blankets. Room and board for fifteen bucks a day, a month for four-fifty. You’ll be married by then.