My Amazing Thai Wife ...

Fourteen years together and she can still amaze me.  After being reluctant to drive for years she recently stepped up, realizing she would need to drive while I was in Hawaii for a couple of weeks.  Before that there had never been a pressing reason for her to drive so it kind of sat on the back burner.  Now she chauffeurs me about more often than not.

She had never shown any interest in my Ninja 650 and then one day she suggested we ride it to Phu Sang Waterfall, a 142 km trip.  The day after we drove even further, most of the way to Mae Sai.  The plan had been to do the Doi Mae Salong route but we got a late start and had to change plans.
Taking pics

I had no experience riding 2-up but it didn’t take long to adjust.  It felt really good to have her along for the ride.  Then again everything is better when we do it together.  Worried about her reaction I took it easy on the outward leg only to have her ask why I hadn’t passed this one car we followed for a while heading toward Thoeng.  From then on I drove and passed as I usually do.  We didn’t go exceptionally fast, but except for the wind trying to take her helmet off, she said she didn’t mind the speed and really felt safe with me maneuvering the roads in my usual fashion.  That was a relief since I had been concerned about her reaction, sitting helpless on the back of a speeding Ninja.

Being Thai my wife has a few fear issues with things both real and imagined, but every once in a while she just says enough is enough and faces her fears head on.  That is more or less how we ended up going skydiving in Hawaii after her saying she would never do so.  She is still reluctant to do much hiking or any camping in Thailand as she doesn’t feel it is safe here.  It is her own country after all, so who am I to argue with the way she feels about her own countrymen.  Her rationale actually makes a lot of sense.

In the States, however, some of our longer and more difficult hikes were undertaken at her request.  She had seen young women on the trail and marveled at their self-confidence and athletic prowess.  They hiked alone or with a dog on the trails around Bolder Colorado in skimpy outfits that would be frowned upon in Thailand and seemed to have not a care in the world.  We also found people quite friendly and approachable on the trail, wherever we went in the National Parks.

San Francisco

Mount Rainier

Somewhere in California

Lake Tahoe

Grand Canyon

Crater Lake
Bryce Canyon

Fiery Furnace, Arches 
Multnomah Falls

Sadly my wife was born into an environment where children are controlled by fear, superstition and are held back, instead of being encouraged.  I guess it makes it easier for the parents but it does little to prepare a village child for the bigger world that lurks beyond the boundaries of their village.  Cultural changes do not come easily or quickly, however, no matter where you are from.  Oddly there is no shortage of visitors to this country who are eager to voice their quick fixes for all that they feel ails Thailand.

Most visitors tend to ignore the inherent dangers in attempting to tinker with another’s culture.  I constantly weigh the plusses and minuses of the tinkering I have done with my own wife’s world view.  She obviously pays a price in her own culture for having been modified by me to fit better into my own world.  On balance I think she has gained more than she has lost but I suppose only time will truly tell.  At least I am here everyday to provide support and encouragement when she struggles in her attempt to straddle the divide between her culture and the life we have carved out for ourselves.  In many ways she is probably better suited for life in my country than she is here, but here is where we live.

So life goes on, just as my love and admiration for my wife grows with the years.  From a child of 23 to a woman of 37 she has never ceased to amaze me.