Love and the Thai Family
Many people in Thailand assume that my girlfriend, Luna, is a sex worker—because she has money to build a house and buy a car, and because of her falang boyfriend. When I stayed in her home, women ranging in age from their late teens to their forties sometimes came for advice on how to find a falang husband, on whether it was better to work in a go-go bar or massage parlor or just freelance, or just hoping she could hook them un with a good sex-related job in Bangkok or Pattaya. Luna usually told them she didn’t know anything about it, and that they should just go to Bangkok or Pattaya to find out for themselves.
One time, however, during a period when Luna and I were not getting along very well, she started telling a girl who wanted a falang husband that it was a bad idea. The communication barrier with falang was just too large, and even when you did understand each other you would only learn that your desires and expectations are too different. There were problems about everything: what to eat, how to spend money, how to clean the house, what kind of decorations, how to treat people, treat family, even how to go to the bathroom. When one person is trying to be polite, the other will think he is lying. When the other person is trying to be honest, the other will think she is being cruel. Even when you do agree with each other, you sometimes don’t understand because of the language barrier and get angry anyways. Luna told the girl she would be better off with a Thai man. He would be easier to understand, with much fewer problems. If she needed the money, she could just work in a bar and sleep with falang. It would be much less difficult in the long run.
But the girl persisted, saying how she saw all the big houses and nice cars that falangs had bought for their wives in the country. Whatever their problems, the falangs still took care of their wives. She could learn to understand her husband, and to make him love her.
Finally Luna told her, “Even if he loves you, he will love only you. He won’t care about your family. He won’t want to help them. He’ll get angry when you want to give money to them and buy things for them.”
“What do you mean?” asked the girl.
“It’s true,” Luna went on. “All falang are the same. They love their children, but don’t care about their parents and brothers and sisters. They care about yours even less. They only treat family like friends. They get angry when you say that you have to take care of them. If your family asks you for something or you want to buy something for them, the falang always yell, ‘Why do you have to give them so much?! They can take care of themselves. It’s not your job to take care of them. They’ll just want more, more all the time. You just want them to be lazy.'”
The girl’s eyes went wide open. I was sitting nearby, and she looked me up and down with a snarl in her lips. “You can’t be serious?” she asked.
“Yes,” said Luna, “They don’t care about family in Europe. They only care about themselves and their own happiness.”
“But . . . how can somebody like that get married? How can he have a wife if he doesn’t care about family?”
“You have to believe what I’m saying,” said Luna. “It’s not easy to marry a falang. They don’t care about anything.”
I don’t know if the girl was persuaded. But she stopped asking questions, scowled at me again and walked off.
Luna reported the conversation to me. I thought it was true and hilarious. We both laughed. It was the best moment we’d had together in several days.