Love in Translation?

Another intriging article from the pages of The Nation. My way of contributing to the blog when I currently have no original story. Hehe.

22 days till my flight home!


I forgot about my experience in Thailand last year when I posted last night. But it’s relevant to this article so here goes.

When my mom, Brandon, and I were touring Vieng Kum Kamm in Chiang Mai. To go on the guided tram ride, we’d have to rent the whole tram or we’d have to wait until we have 10 people to pay the individual ticket price (also refreshing to know, no farang pricing). At the rate of tourist traffic, well the lack there of, we decided to just rent out the entire tram. As we were pulling out, a farang man and his Thai companion showed up so we treated them to the tram ride for free.

The guided tour was in Thai since the English guide was out to lunch, so I was the honorary translator for Brandon and the Aussie man. He told us that he originally came to Thailand for the beaches of Phuket 2 weeks ago. While there, he met his lady friend who was vacationing there from Chiang Mai. Of course, he doesn’t speak any Thai, and she doesn’t speak much/any English. So far they’ve been communicating with signs. Once a day, she’d call up her friend who speaks English and she’d translate any information they need for them.

Despite the odds, he said the relationship has bloomed and therefore he extended his vacation another week so he could spend time with her in Chiang Mai.

Is it love? Is it convenient relationship? Is she a gold digger? Is he taking advantage of her? We’d never know.

This article is just showing another side of the story. It’s not the most positive story about the kingdom of mangoes and monsoons, but hey…there are more than one side to every story.

SiamJai already posted his view on the subject. Let’s hear yours.

Online cross-culture romance buoys cafes
Published in THE NATION
January 10, 2006

Story by Athittaya Wichitanurak, Poramet Saenubol: UDON THANI

In their quest for love across the globe, some Thai women are willing to pay Bt20,000 a year for a translation service at an Internet cafe in Udon Thani in order to keep in touch with their foreign boyfriends.

Kingkaew Prajantrasen, owner of DK Translation Shop, one of many Net cafes in front of Udon Thani Rajabhat University, said many women were looking for foreign boyfriends but their English skills were poor and they needed translation help.

For non-regular customers, the shop charges Bt30-Bt40 per translation. Regular customers can take out membership for Bt20,000 a year to get help from the shop staff in writing a resume for online match-making services, replying to e-mails in English, getting information about visa applications as well as love problems, Kingkaew said.

“We function as a translator of letters between two people – we are not a match-maker,” she said, adding that most of her customers were women aged over 40 who were poor and had previously been married. “We choose customers who need foreign partners to take care of them, not those wanting to rip off foreigners,” she added.

Besides translations, the shop also assists the women with long-distance phone calls and even sends staff on dates – at Bt200 per time – with a couple when they meet in Udon Thani, Kingkaew said.

The value of the service is passed on by word of mouth after a client successfully finds a foreign boyfriend. The reasons why more Thai women were turning to foreign partners are that Thai men are womanisers, drink too much and are lazy, plus the women were also saddled with debts, while foreign men were looking for women to take care of them, she said.

“There are many whose wishes have been fulfilled and many who have been disappointed and fooled by foreigners,” she said.

A customer calling herself Duan, 41, said she had been talking to an Australian man over the Internet for over a month using the shop’s translation service.

“He’s warm, kind and caring. We’re planning to get to know each other for two years before going further. He said if I cannot stay with him abroad, we can stay in Thailand because he’s interested in doing business in Phang Nga or Phuket,” Duan, a widow, said.

And if the marriage does not go as expected? Duan said she could only pray that she meets a good man because she does not want to deceive anyone for money. “It’s not that I am looking for a foreign boyfriend because of money. I just want a good and simple life with a good companion. We have discussed it and he wants the same thing,” she said.

Somtam vendor Riem, 27, said she moved to Udon Thani over a month ago with her two children after her husband assaulted her.

She met a 50-year-old Australian man and after he went home, she went to the Internet shop to keep in touch via e-mail and long-distance phone calls.

She said she was reluctant to remarry if the man asks her to because of her previous painful experience. “It’s good that I ran away from a bad experience. I met a good person who wants to help me,” she added.

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