Author Archives:

thai american boy going home

Well, its been a while, but its good to be back…writing on thai-blogs. My little brother has been going back to Thailand every summer since he was 7, and that was over 20 years ago. Family members and close friends of the family always remarked on how “Thai” he was. He controlled his emotions, and never got mad. It is said that it is un-civilized if you do not have the cognitive powers to control your emotions. No one ever understood that he just had a good heart, except me and my parents.

The kid has loved Thailand more than anyone else I know. Seems like he has always loved going and hanging with my cousins, playing sports and games. At first it was simple things, like playing cards with my cousins, our aunt and her friends. Then tennis during the day, or golf. Which all led to a life in pursuit of enjoying your life. Cliche’, I know. However, looking at my family, its the truth over there.

When my parents were here in the great midwest. There were not many family members in the US of A. However, those that were here, all worked hard and many hours. I know that the same things exists in Thailand as well. However, it was very different from our views here and there. My parents worked at times from 8AM till 2Am, 6 days a week. Sometimes 7 days. Never really getting any vacations. Possibly a golf game on Sundays. Thai function at the local temple. Not really enjoying life, though providing for their growing family. Getting their pleasures when there was time. By the way, they are now back in Thailand.

Now growing up and glimpsing at a diffent life each summer can effect you. Watching your cousins enjoy life…seeing your aunts and uncles come home at reasonable hours…hell, watching family get together more often. Not just one or two cousins either, I mean a family. Several generations…Americans call them second and third cousins…the Thai call family or cousin..if not older brother or sister. Well, its a wonderful life and Jimmy Stewart never saw it.

I guess thats what has attracted many of us to Thailand. A different life, one where you have time to really enjoy it, where it seems that no one takes things tooooo seriosly. Its a good life. Last time I was there, my wife and I were ready to take the plunge after being hooked to our desks, blackberry between meetings, and looking at our respective computers in our virtual office while at home. All the time having our cell phones ring about that next always upcoming meeting.

Now don’t get me wrong. My cousin leaves at 6:00AM or earlier to avoid the traffic that Bangkok has, and doesn’t get home till 7PM cause the same thing. She is usually working at home to boot. However, she has also scuba dived on vacation, has a “summer home” and does fun things that are more exciting than spending a day grabbing coffee at the local Starbucks and looking for a good book at the Barnes and Noble down the street. Its a much more luxurious life.

So my brother has bought a nice home, and is moving to Thailand. God bless him.

New for 2006

My first blog in 2006. Sorry folks, I’ve been away starting a new position at my new job. Hope all is well in the new year to all…I miss Thailand. Funny, isn’t it. I guess not to a blog for the love of Thailand. Though there is a great love to all that has ever touched its wonderful culture and my people.

I have looked at all the Thai restraints that have popped up around Chicago in the past several years. All I have to say is that my mom’s cooking has made everything taste like McDonald’s. Not that my mom’s cooking is phenomenal. Its just that fantastic thing, that people talk about lovingly like their past grandmother’s apple pie in the states. The great thing is that my mother’s family boffs at my mother being a great cook.

My mother’s family was not well off in Tai (Southern Thailand). My mother would ride her rinky dinky bike all over god’s creation, which is the size of a small suburb around here, and eat at others people’s homes. The town knew the family, and it was small enough that everyone knew everyone. It was the old homage that it takes a village to raise a child. In this case it was my mother. She never cooked till she came here, and met my father at a steak house. My parents steak by the way, is the greatest.

My mom can cook. I have eaten her siblings food, and my palate is made for my mothers cooking. Its amazing, how things can change in life. When I was a child, my father brought his first son golfing. To say the least, it was a failure to both my dad and me. I spent the rest of my childhood and adulthood, spending time shopping and watching my mother, family, and friends cooking in the kitchen while the MEN went golfing. It was the greatest gift that my family has given me. Its not the FOODTV that is SOOOO great now. It was full of fishy smells, curry being made from scratch, cuts and bruises, gossip, and things that actually make a meal better. Full of flavor and depth…which is why I grew up to work in the finance field. LOL..all my friends and colleagues play golf and cook with the microwave or order out. I miss Thailand.

My wife learning thai

The thai radio is great. I know this should probably in a forum, but I really wanted to add this to the blog. My wife is an American whom went to Thailand with me this past March. She could not speak a lick of Thai, but learned a lot while she was there. It burned a passion for the language and culture, where she was engulfed. She learned quite a bit in term of language. By the time we left (2 weeks and a half), she was able to understand a lot more in Thailand than twenty thousand parties of thai people for years. I play the radio every week, probably twice. She has learned a lot.

Thank you to Richard, and the other people supporting this website.

She is learning a lot. To be frank, so am I. I can converse in Thai, with a lot of effort. However, my days of the week were like an infant. With the radio, I can play it over and over till I am able to pick it up. I would advise anyone that is really interested in learning thai to pick it up. Or vise versa. I would imagine it would work.

Now this blog is not the normal blog one would write about cultures, activities, differences, similarities. Though its something a couple can do. My wife is American. Farang. She is someone whom never had pad thai till I met her. We are from Chicago, and she has never had a Gyros till she met me. (Gyros is a meat that is a combination of lamb and beef with a bunch of spices) Its fast food. Its almost the sal-a-bow of Thailand. (Sal-a bow; bar que pork bun) Any way, she does not venture out much in food. Most of her upbringing was as Americana as you can get. She is great. She is very intelligent. An amazing woman that has embraced Thai culture, and now its language.

So thank you.

Wishes that come true

There is a Buddha on the corner of an intersection in Bangkok, next to a posh hotel. The hotel made the shrine to appease bad Karma. I do not, unfortunately, remember the whole story on how this shrine came to be.

This place has become famous for wishing. An urban legend. If you go and pray at this shrine, and ask for a wish. Your wish will shall come true. An offering for this wish is made at this time. If your wish does come true. On your next visit to Thailand, you must go to the shrine to give your thanks and the offering promised.

I have gone to this shrine and prayed. I wished to Marry the girl I was dating at the time. I got my wish. The next time I went to Thailand, I went with my wife and my offering.

If you do not go back and pay your respects and fulfill the bargain. The promise shall go back on you ten fold.

I am not sure if I believe in all the urban legends, or scary stories that adult tell us. Though what does it hurt to believe in some.

Farang Kee Nok

I am Thai American. Born in Chicago, Illinois. I learned to speak thai, before I was able to speak English. It was the seventies, when there wasn’t much of a population of Thais around. Thai food wasn’t even a novelty, but so extremely exotic that there was maybe 1 or 2 restaurant that was only frequented by people missing their homeland’s cooking. There was no “Ethnic” section in grocery stores, definately not a jar of peanut sauce sitting next to the chili oil that we have now a days. This is “the when” I grew up in.

The majority of my family was/is in Thailand. I was surrounded by Americans with “Proud to be American” flags swaying butterfly collars, and “Liberty” bell bottoms. I was fully immersed in American Culture with my first bouts of school. Till then, I was in the loving arms of my small family and our greater “Thai family”, which were my parents friends. There is a social phenomenon when there are not many of a certain group in a foreign land. You can see it everywhere, “little Germany”, Chinatown…Khao San Road. This is what I knew.

Any way, when I was old enough I went to school. Not just any school, but the dreaded Catholic school. Duhn, da, duhn. Just kidding. Though this is where I learned where I was not like everyone else. I was taught that my years at temple and beliefs in Buddha were essentially the opposite of everything they were trying to instill. When everyone was seeing each other on Sunday school, I was in the temple learning…ghaw Gai, Kow Kai. These were not the only thing that added to a growing isolation…though thats not the right word. Let’s move on.

I grew up in Chicago. A place already known for its CHICK-Ka-go accent. Add that to learning how to speak English from people with a Thai accent. I had the ultimate accent. Where, when you move to the suburbs, they will fix it. I spent 7 years in speech therapy at my public school, where I would learned to speak with a “perfect” accent. One in which both CHICK-KA-go, a place I was born, and my Thai accent, a part of my history stemming past myself, was each year being changed.

After some time in Chicago, we went on a family trip to visit my Boo. Now I want to stop here. Boo is not that cute saying urban hip hop slang, people call their girlfriend, or boyfriend. Its my grand-dad. I got to see a family that is so huge, that it was like its own country all by itself. Thats how thai families are. There is no second, third cousin. There is no in laws. There is family. Plain, and not so simple. There was a wonderful connection that I never felt before going to Thailand.

However my demeanor was not thai. I have always been known by my bad temper, and for a thai that is not polite. For it is a sign of weakness, for one should be in control of their emotions. My fluency in thai was not as good as it used to be. I would always talk about America proudly, and my American friends, while they all stated the greatness of Meng Thai. It was not a competition. It wasn’t a debate. It was family members getting to know each other. We were of the same blood. We had the same ancestors that would protect us from evil. We had many of the same skeletons in the closet. Though we were different. We were from different cultures…kind of. We were from different upbringings…kind of.

My uncle called me “Farang Kee Nok” as a loving nick name with a little kick. 15 years later, when I had not seen him, he calls me this with a smile before I am able to wai. I know my uncle loves me. I know that he does not have any malice in his word or intentions. I have learned that thai family members have no problem stating things, that Americans would think insulting. We have different cultures. That is the way the world turns. My uncle’s nick name: Farang=American/Englishman Kee=poop Nok=bird. Translation American Bird Poop. I have spent a many nights in the heat of Thailand’s chirping cicadas and grasshoppers, Chicago’s lights, and above krung Tep’s exhaust fumes thinking about “Farang Kee Nok.” White all around is the poop. Brown is the very core. Then there is a sick mess in between that is the combination or the two. Is that what I am? Culturally speaking. Finally, is it such a bad thing?

This is my first blog. Thank you for reading it.