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My Thai Girl And I: How I Found a New Life…
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My Thai Girl And I: How I Found a New Life in Thailand

by Andrew Hicks

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Recently added byKrinbouch, expat-bookworm

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My Thai Girl And I is the second memoir I’ve read in as many weeks – a genre I rarely peruse – and the second which reminded me so much of so many of my own experiences. In many cases, Hicks shares my views of the Thai lifestyle, for better or for worse. The humor of his situations had me laughing out loud, comforted that I wasn’t alone – that these experiences are common amongst the Westerners (farang) who settle in Thailand in work or retirement. Through it all, Hicks is careful not to criticize the Thai people while being the quiet observer.

Something that took me some time to get used to was that there was always a crowd of people around whenever my first wife (a woman from Lamphun Province in northwestern Thailand) and I tried to sit down for a meal. I hate to be watched while I eat and tend to prefer to do so alone, or at least with my significant other. I also hated “sharing” so much as invariably I would never get to eat my rarely-splurged-on and expensive American or European foods as a half dozen and more curious mouths would bite off bits and then almost always declare it “bland” and spit it out! I actually started hiding such things as cheese and sliced roast beef so it would still be there when I got home; eventually I stopped buying things altogether that I enjoyed eating so I would have to share.

Of course, Hicks explains this concept of sharing much more humorously than I can:

"It’s almost indecent to eat alone, so you always prepare enough to feed a small army. When you’ve just cooked the last food in the house and somebody passes by in the road, you call out to them, ‘Gin khao!’ (Eat rice!) Come in and eat my food for me, you say and often they will.
"Thais have asked me how to say ‘gin khao’ in English and they look perplexed when I tell them no such thing is ever said. We farang keep ourselves to ourselves.
"Here, if you’ve grown a few vegetables on your patch and someone admires them, you’ll offer them the best and they’ll go away laden. If they wander onto your land and see some mango or papaya on your trees, they’ll help themselves without asking as you have lots and they have none…"

Interwoven with his observations of Thai drunkeness, the craziness of their driving “skills”, the lack of privacy, the contradictions between traditional Thai values and modern society, and the contrasts between Buddhism and strong believes in ghosts, Hicks tells the story of his life with his wife, Cat – a rice farmer’s daughter – and how he adjusted to his new life as a member of her family in a small Isaan village. It details his “adventures” in building his house (and the never-ending constructions that followed), in having the car he wanted, and in making it all work out well for him. True, there are more struggles than successes but he’s come through it all with a great sense of humor.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading My Thai Girl and I – I wished there had been a book like it to laugh through when I started living in Thailand, adjusting to life with my own Thai girl and her seemingly eccentric extended family. I can now look back on those early years in Phuket with humor and through this book finally realize that my experiences weren’t as unique as I’d thought them to be. This should be required reading to any farang prior to and during any serious relationship pursuits here in the “Land of Smiles.” ( )
  expat-bookworm | Mar 5, 2010 |
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