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Feature: Older Expats and Their Thai Girlfriends

March 1st, 2007

Keywords: expat, chiang mai

Caucasian ex-patriots relocating to Thailand often marry or have domestic partnerships with Thai citizens. This work is with a group of predominantly Canadian men 55+ years of age and their substantially younger Thai girlfriends and wives. I spent the most time with Eric and Ted. Please note I neither condone nor dismiss this lifestyle nor is this the only kind of expat lifestyle I encountered. It is but one story of many.

Eric is a mid-fifties Canadian expatriate divorcee from Vancouver who lives with and his mid-thirties Thai girlfriend Noi in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Eric came to Thailand to escape depression and post traumatic stress from multiple accidents as a commercial truck driver. He found he can live well in the relatively inexpensive Thailand, not work, support Noi, and has bought land with the intention of building a home for himself and her family if they wish to move from their farm in Chiang Rai.

Eric is quick to state he was never a sex tourist and while he met Noi at the bar she manages, it was a more innocent and drawn out affair more closely aligned with western dating practices than those of the Thai sex trade. Eric states that he is open with Noi about his finances and that he respects her wish to continue managing the bar and maintain her financial independence.

As for Noi, she says she has never considered sex work, even though she could easily make twice her monthly salary of 6000 Baht (approx. $187). She has a low tolerance for flakiness in the ‘bar girls’ she manages and chooses to work the day shift so she can avoid being hit on by the many caucasian tourists looking for a ‘date.’

Ted turned 62 in January 2007. He too is an ex-commercial truck driver from Vancouver, Canada, and has taken up permanent residence in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Ted’s introduction to Thailand was through visiting popular sex tourist towns.

Today Ted is married to the mid-thirties Lam who he met through bowling. He has built a house for the two of them and a separate one for her family. Ted is not open about his finances with Lam and expressed that he does not have a idyllic, youthful love for his wife but that they care and have an understanding for each other. Lam often expresses jealous behavior if he is out too late which may, or may not, be deserved for at his recent birthday celebration his friends had to keep him from kissing or groping too many bar girls at his favorite establishment.

Ted says the quality of life many expats of modest means like himself can afford in Thailand is essentially that of a millionaire. For the women they partner with, he says, it’s like they’ve won the lottery. Ted also goes on to disparage the average Thai husband, stating that there is a lot of domestic violence, lack of employment, and philandering.

The following quotes are from another Canadian, Dan Severson, of British Columbia with whom I had a recorded interview while celebrating Ted’s birthday. This is the transcription:

“I met my wife in church. My wife looks after me like I have never been looked after in my life. I do not have to ask for sex, I do not even have to look like I want sex, it’s there.

“My wife in Canada, who is a Canadian woman, never ever gave me anything like my Thai wife gave me. I feel so…I had a nightmare one night. I woke up and thought I was still with my wife, my original wife, and then I looked over and saw this angel beside me in bed, my Thai wife, and I thanked God, I actually thanked God, that I wasn’t with my wife in Canada anymore. Because my wife in Canada from the time I was married to the time I was divorced her made me beg for sex.

“I am 65 years old and my Thai wife has never made me beg for sex. In fact, I can’t keep up with her. I cannot. In fact, she wants it more than I do. And I save up for her, I do.

“She treats me like I’m human. She treats me like she loves me. She treats me like I’m important to her. My Canadian wife didn’t treat me like I was important to her. She treated me like I was an appendage. She told me she hated me on several occasions. My girl in Thailand would never ever say that to me because she’d be afraid I’d leave her.

“Now, she does everything I need. I wake up in the morning and my breakfast is ready, my coffee is ready, my pills are laid out, my clothes are ironed and washed. When I get up from the table I grab my golf clubs. I play golf every morning at seven o’clock in the morning. She is up at 5.30 preparing for me and she tells me she enjoys doing it.

“It’s not something that I’ve asked her, that she must do. I told her once, look, I will come home and have breakfast when I come home at nine o’clock in the morning. And she said “no, you’re my husband and I want you to have breakfast before you go and I will get up before you.”

“She’s a Proverbs 31 woman. If you read Proverbs 31 in the Bible you will understand what a Thai wife is all about…

“…I am so glad I discovered Thailand and the women here. Now, I wish I had discovered it 40 years earlier. I really do because I would be much much happier. Mind you, I’ve got two wonderful sons that I love, I’ve got five grandchildren, and I credit my wife for bearing those children and dah dat dah dah but my wife made my life absolutely miserable for 40 out of the 42 years I was with her.

“(My Thai wife) is probably the thing that North American men dream of and never get.

(Dan also looks after his wife’s 82yr old mother and 10 yr old son)

“The old gal, she dotes on me, she prays for me. The reason why is I make her life tolerable. She has no income, I support her one hundred percent, but it’s so cheap over here to do that.”

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