Since most “farangs” meet girls from northeastern Thailand, a region known as Isaan, I thought it would be fun to share my experiences being married to a woman from the south. Now, every woman is different, so don’t take my words literally. Also, age plays a role, and the younger generation is more westernized, like my 30-year-old wife who speaks decent English and has a more liberal attitude.
Happy wife on vacation a couple of years ago.
I’m sure you have heard stories about Thai women being with foreigners just for the money. You may have heard or read swindler stories such as the “sick buffalo,” or the girl with multiple boyfriends sending her money. While this might be true in some cases, it’s nothing I personally recognize. My stories are, fortunately, more of the sweet kind. One I can give you real quick is when my mother-in-law put a 500 baht bill in my pocket when no one was watching as she probably felt I paid to much when we went out eating. While I perhaps shouldn’t accept the money, I did, because it felt good for me after hearing all those stories.
My wife is coming from a family living in a countryside village in the province of Krabi where pretty much every family makes a living of rubber tapping and palm oil. These farmers, including my wife’s family, are living a decent or good life with better conditions than the people from the northern parts of the country. Both my wife and her younger brother studied at the university in Phuket living a similar life as many other youths in southern Thailand. Many of them have a car (read Honda), and if they don’t have a car, they for sure have a 100-125cc scooter. A vehicle is a must because public transport in Thailand is not as good as back home (except Bangkok having Skytrain and Metro).
A drone shot of my parents-in-laws’ house surrounded by oil palms in Lam Thap, Krabi.
My wife is very calm and the exact opposite of a party girl, meaning she is perfect for me as she can hold me back when needed. She would never in the world put a tattoo on her body — not because she doesn’t want to (she does), but because her mom, being quite traditional and conservative would freak out. My wife also grew up hearing that ‘good girls’ don’t smoke. I don’t think I’ve seen one single girl in my wife’s hometown smoking — or drinking. However, when we go out with my wife’s friends In Phuket, Krabi Town or Bangkok, they do like to drink, so I guess it’s a countryside thing being conservative.
Southern people are proud and sometimes described as direct and rough when talking, while women from northern regions are more soft and sweet tongue — but not always genuine. I find my wife to be honest, warm and kind. And she is fantastic taking care of me. But if I don’t help out at home, well, she will make me help out.
My wife is a Buddhist (a third of the population in southern Thailand are Malay Muslims), and have a lot of respect for her religion, but she does not practice Buddhism more than visiting temples on special occasions. And seeing her friends doing the same, I would not call young Buddhist women from the south very religious. My wife’s mom, born 1970, however, feel much more into her religion.
My wife lighting temple candles in Phuket.
Men married to a woman from Isaan know they love their sticky rice and papaya salad. Coming from the south, my wife loves her jasmine rice with out-of-this-world spicy curries. Some curries are eatable, or even pretty good, while some I’m not even touching. It’s not just spicy, it has, for me, a strange taste and smell. But fortunately, there are other delicious foods, and southern Thai people also love to eat Isaan food and ‘classic’ Thai food found at your local Thai restaurant. And I absolutely love the parties when they barbeque salt-crusted fish stuffed with garlic and lemongrass, enjoyed with a cold Leo beer between the breaks in the karaoke singing.
It’s often party in my wife’s village, and it always looks the same with men sitting in one corner drinking, eating, and smoking while the women sit in another corner chatting, cooking, and serving food to the men. This feels quite old-fashioned, but the women look very happy, and it seems to me like they enjoy seeing their husbands having a good time. One thing that is the same as back home though: the men take care of the barbeque.
When it comes to the cooking at our home in Norway, my wife cooks 9 out of 10 times simply because she does not like western food as much as I like Thai food. When I cook, she likes to eat different pasta dishes, Norwegian salmon and seafood, Swedish Falu sausage such in Korv Stroganoff (she loves cream) and pan-fried (with a half liter of ketchup). But by the end of the day, she just needs that spicy burn. It’s like nicotine to a smoker.
While I can’t keep up with my wife on the spiciness, she can’t keep up with me on the sourness. In Scandinavia, we love our less-sweet berries and apples, our sour candy, and we like to squeeze lots of lemon on the fish. In Thailand, the fruits are sweeter, and when my wife’s eating a sour Scandinavian apple, her face expression reminds me of when one takes a bite into a lemon wedge. Hilarious! (As it is for my wife when I’m gasping for air after eating her curries).
One of our pre-wedding shots in Krabi.
When marrying a Thai girl, it’s a tradition to pay a Sin Sod (a dowry), and the price depends on several things such as the age, education, children, status of the family, etc. My wife’s family recently paid 700,000 baht to the family of the girl my brother-in-law is marrying in a few months. Now, that’s just crazy, and I told my wife I couldn’t pay these ridiculous amounts of money, and thankfully, they accepted my 200,000 baht offer (50,000 kronor). However, all the money was spent on the wedding party, so it didn’t matter — I would have to pay the same amount arranging a wedding back home.
In the area where my wife’s from, it’s rare to see a farang, and when we hit the town or visit a market, people look curiously at me like I were a celebrity. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard I look like Paul Walker. I don’t, but since he was a pretty handsome fella, I’m not complaining. The reason so many Thai people know about Paul Walker is that the Fast & Furious movies are hugely popular (my wife have seen them all) and one of the hottest Thai stars, ‘Tony Jaa,’ made his English-language movie debut with Fast & Furious 7.
My wife with an umbrella to protect herself from the strong sun in Ayutthaya.
A common claim is that southern girls have darker skin, and even though it’s true about my wife and very young girls, it’s definitely not always the case — most of my wife’s friends have pale skin as they use skin-whitening products and avoids the sun at all cost. Because just like anywhere else in Thailand, it’s considered non-attractive being dark because dark skin represents farmers being in the sun all days while “successful” people can work in an air-conditioned office. Status is very important in Thailand. Sadly so.
Although my wife did work in an air-conditioned office (Siam Commercial Bank) and avoided the sun, she has a dark skin tone, and because of this, she had pretty lousy self-esteem when she first met me thinking her friends were more beautiful. Silly, right? I keep telling her she is beautiful, and now, she is much better at enjoying the sun and liking her skin tone.
My parents-in-law with a stunning backdrop of a southern Thai beach.
The family is extremely important in Thai culture, and it was out of the question that my wife would be moving to Norway at the beginning of our relationship. Her mom wouldn’t even let her study in Bangkok as it was too far, which is why she studied in Phuket so her family could visit her on the weekends or vice versa. But here we are, my wife now lives in Norway and speaks with her mom on the phone several times per day.
When we are in Thailand, and it’s time to say goodbye at the airport, her mom always cries, and it breaks my heart. My wife, however, manages to stay controlled because that’s who she is — a calm southern Thai girl.