The Move and Driving in Thailand

Urban traffic, Thailand by Roger Lemoyne

The move to Thailand was traumatic for me. I’m the kind of person who really doesn’t like change in my life. But here I was moving away from family and friends to place I held in my daydreams. I tried to tell myself that I was doing it for my wife. I wanted her to have a chance to go back ‘home’. The truth is: she was only interested in my health and happiness and she loved it in the States. Leaving our kids- who were grown and not living close to us at the time- was hard on her. Leaving all the things we had accumulated over the years was almost as difficult.

We sold, gave away and donated piles of things and in the end it really was good to get rid of them—At least for me. I was having panic attacks and thought the end was near. It wasn’t living in Thailand that worried me it was the getting there. Through it all my wife took charge and made things happen.

We had a small townhouse on the outskirts of Bangkok that Julee had built years before. We used it when we visited Thailand. I had sent boxes of things and a lot of books ahead and they were waiting on us when we arrived for our new life.

After we arrived we bought a pickup truck- I love pickups- and a motorcycle for me. We settled in and began our tour of Thailand for the first few months.

I had to learn how to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and only made a few hundred mistakes. Luckily Thai driving habit are pretty much anything goes—so I fit right in. I found the main rule in driving is: the biggest vehicle wins! I took to the aggressive style of driving like a NASCAR rooky. If you don’t get in there and push you’ll find yourself on the side of the road crying and wondering how people could be so… mean.

There is a driving etiquette in Thailand and it is aggressive. Road rage is something you just don’t see. You cut someone off or you are cutoff and you just forget about it and move on to the next battle of wits and machine. You also don’t see many wrecks—which totally surprised me at first. I’ll do a separate post about the police of Thailand.

One thing you have to keep in mind while driving in Thailand is if you- the foreigner- are involved in an accident, guess whose fault it is? No matter what, in most cases, you’re the one who pays.

We went to some of the beautiful places and we had a blast. Thailand has islands, resorts, waterfalls, mountains and friendly people all over the country. Some of the most beautiful women in the world glide along and I must admit I do enjoy looking. Not with lust—really—but with admiration.

In my straight-line, male thinking I have discovered why they glide. It’s the flip-flops- sliders- they wear. Now how smart am I! I’m full of wisdom, as you will find out if you follow.

We did the tour for several months but we were in Thailand to live, not be tourist. We returned to our little place with rice fields and heat all around and started settling in. I enrolled in a Thai language school in downtown Bangkok. Three days a week I made the one and half hours trip into the maze of the giant city. I loved walking the streets and trying out my Thai with just about anyone I met. I’m from the south and saying hello is ingrained into me. The Thai’s don’t do that, but being a dumb foreigner, they would smile at me and return the greeting. I had a routine I worked out so that I would ask a question—I knew the answer to—and I could respond to the answer they gave me. Some days I felt like I was on top of the world, but most I wondered if I would ever be able to speak to anyone and understand them.

Going to school I had to park in a large lot and take Sky-Train to the city center. Parking and driving in that lot added years of experience to my Thai driving skills. You have to retract your outside mirrors to avoid hitting other cars. Parking slots are always filled so you park in front of the properly parked cars, leave your car in neutral with the front wheels straight, and then lock your car. When you get back to your car after your business is completed you get to move 10 or so cars just enough to allow your car to get out of where you parked. It’s not as bad as it sounds and when it’s a new experience it’s kind of fun. No anger– just patience.

 I hope you enjoy my post. I promise they’ll get better as I go. Let me know what you think and introduce yourself. I want to get to know you too!

A Writer in Thailand- the beginning

My first trip to Thailand became the journey that set me to return again and again. I was working and living in the Marshall Islands—two thousand miles west of Hawaii far from any other land.

I had been in a war in Viet Nam and I fell in love with Asia. Even in the middle of a conflict I found the people exotic and interesting.

I arrived in Thailand with friends and like most young men I was there to relax and enjoy the beautiful women. We were on holiday between contracts. I walked into a clothing shop where handmade tailored apparel was quickly produced. My first sight as I stepped through the door was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. All my dreams of an Asian beauty were culminated in her. She looked up from her work and our eyes locked. Being a stumbled-tongued young man I could only stare as my brain shouted, “Talk to her!”

Her English was poor but better than my Thai—since I spoke none. Her first words were, “Do you need a tour guide?” “Yes,” leaped from my lips and we arranged to meet that night. I had no idea what to expect but I knew I would agree to anything she had in mind. She admitted later she had never done anything like that before- but could see my heart was good.

We spent a month touring all of the beautiful places in and around Bangkok and the nearby sea. My friends were off to the nightclubs for fun while I visited temples, street markets, and places of Thai history. She began to teach me Thai and I was determined to learn so I could express myself to this beauty.

Later I often wondered how we got along so well. Neither of us could do more than speak in broken language, using our hands and smiles.

She took me to the sleepy little village of Pattaya—which is now a major resort area. At the time there were a few hotels and one nightclub that I remember. We spent our days walking and exploring and even hired a fishing boat to take us to the outlying islands. It was magical and I was completely in love with the country and this exotic beauty.

Thailand then and even now is a bit like going back in time to a slower pace of life. The heat requires one to slow down as it seeps into one’s bones and relaxes.

I had to return to the Marshalls and all I could think was how much I would miss Thailand and this rare flower that had captured my heart. I spoke the words I had never said to anyone before. Fear of those words was somehow ingrained in me not to say aloud. I told her I loved her and tears came to her and I thought I would be lost in her eyes. She spoke in Thai and then in English, words I never thought I would hear. She loved me! We made pledges and exchanged addresses—no email in those days—and I prepared to leave.

I returned to the beautiful Pacific but my heart stayed in Thailand to be nurtured and held close. We wrote often and I had never put so much energy into writing words of love in a language that was so foreign to me. I had an English-Thai dictionary and two book on learning the Thai language. She had similar but also had a number of letters translated to English. Later we would laugh at my attempts but it was the effort she loved.

Julee, my exotic beauty, became my wife and I brought her to my world with hope that we would one day return. We visited a few times and she went with our young children several other times while I had to stay home and work. Our children endeared me to her family.

We have been married thirty-five years and have lived in Thailand for the past seven. My writer’s life would have not been possible if not for my exotic beauty!

My books:

Search of a Soul
– A Sea Adventure

Hill’s Decision
– A Young Adult Adventure in the
Appalachian Mountains

World Prairie,
A Fantasy adventure coming later this year.
For a look at this upcoming book go to my website.

Many post to follow.

What you see now is me working out the kinks in my site. I still have much to learn and many things to say. I hope you will enjoy.

I never, ever thought I would be blogging. Not because of lack of things to say– I’m full of stuff, lol– but living so far away from people I know and care for… Well, I didn’t think there would be an interest. I’ve had great response on Twitter and FB about the article I wrote for Lee Libro and the interview I did with Lorna Suzuki. They inspire me.

I’m a novelist and learning to do short subjects isn’t easy for a long-winded guy like me, but I am learning. I hope you will comment often just so I’ll get to meet you!

Get ready for A Writer in Thailand!!! I be back soon with articles I hope you will enjoy!