Living in Remote Thailand
I have been living in remote Thailand for nearly twelve years. It is a long time, but other Westerners have lived here two or three times longer. I spent a year in Pattaya and then eleven years in my girlfriend’s village. We got married by rural and secular methods in my third year.
My wife’s family live in the prosperous region in the north once called Lanna or ‘The Land of a Million Rice Fields’. Nothing has changed in that regard in the intervening two thousand years. Uttaradit is considered so much off the tourist track, that in my copy of The Lonely Planet from 2004, the entire province of Uttaradit does not get a mention, despite it being the rice belt of the country.
I have described our locality, because I think that it has a bearing on the people who both live and settle here. Provincial Uttaraditians (I just made that up), don’t see a foreigner that they don’t know from one six-month period to the next. It could be longer.
They are very friendly too, and I have been given a fantastic ten years plus by people who could barely understand a word I said.
Then there are the foreigners. In a five-mile radius from our house, I don’t think I ever met more than seven or eight at one time. The average total in that circle at any one time was about five and the number you could meet at one time was two or three.
This is in stark contrast to the tourist cities where you can meet hundreds of foreigners to talk to.
I think that it takes a strange type of tourist to live in these remote places. People who see themselves as frontiers men. I know that sounds weird, but I am convinced that it is true. They, we, want to feel that we are up here alone, forging new contacts.
Yes, you may laugh.
It is a strange feeling when the nearest foreigner is five kilometres away and your circle of Thai friends does not overlap. It is strange when the only person who speaks your language is your spouse. It is strange if you try to learn Thai, pick up the village accent fairly well, and are not understood fifteen miles away.
Really strange… believe me 🙂
However, try as we might, most of us only learn words and phrases, but we develop a private language with the people we know and that language does not travel at all. For example, my wife can’t remember the word ‘underpants’, so we call them ‘insides’.
Who is likely to guess the real meaning of our word?
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All the best,
Podcast: Living In Remote Thailand