A new life at 67.Can a woman start all over again?

Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

Should I do Bali?

Here comes the difficult part of being alone again.
Diminished funds.
Forty years of not having to consider very much whether I could afford it or not gets to be a habit.
Of course if I had considered it then,I might not have had to consider it so much today, but that is beside the point now.

A friend of mine asked yesterday, if I would like to join her when she went to Bali in January,her husband would be away and she would enjoy the company.

A lovely idea I thought.It would also combine with my having to make a “visa run” (one of the rusty bits where staying in Thailand for more than a few months is concerned)

But now I can’t just say,yes,which I would have done before.
I now have to consider many things,the main one being,can I really afford this,even if I get the cheapest available flight,and basically I am a 5* girl.
Is Bali really worth it.

I suppose I could fast for a few weeks.
Cut out the gin and tonics,which of course I only take for their medicinal benefits in the tropics.
Not send Christmas cards,which I won’t get back anyway out here.
Not start my art classes again,which are an added luxury and I don’t practice enough.
Forget the hair dressers, even though it does only cost 100 Baht.

Yes,I will really have to think about it.

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Saving Money

You might ask what I am doing in Thailand for the winter months.

Not exactly the place for a single woman to go if she was looking for a western man,much too much competition from young Asian women.

No,I am certainly not looking for another man,I am  here for several other reasons;

I hate the cold

I love South East Asia

Most of my new friends are here too.

But most of all, because I now have to look after myself with not all the money in the world to do it with,and here you can definitely  live  more cheaply than in Europe

This money thing,is of course the  stumbling block.

I am sure there are countless women of my age,who might like to get up and leave, start a new life,and try and find happiness and satisfaction in the days that are still granted them, but they are frightened.

Frightened of loosing their security,frightened of being alone in old age,frightened of not being able to pay the bills.Frightened  full stop.

I was too,still am,but I am confident that things will turn out well for me.

I am confident it could also turn out well for you.

Happy Thanksgiving

The 18.11 from Hua Hin

It is stormy here in Thailand.

In Hua Hin,we don’t notice it much, except everybody seems to know somebody that is stuck at the International Airport in Bangkok.

I went with a friend to the Immigration Buro early this morning to make sure I wouldn’t have trouble leaving or getting back into the country again if I had to.

Afterwards we lashed out on breakfast western style in the beautiful grounds of the Hyatt Hotel,celebrating nothing except that he had managed to withdraw a large sum of money from his Thai bank account and changed it into gold in China Town.

That’s how it is here right now.

The train to Kuala Lumpur and beyond leaves Hua Hin daily at 18.11

Pour yourself another cup of tea, and let’s sit out the storm.

Full Moon Festival

One of the most beautiful festivals celebrated in Thailand is that of Loy Krathong.

It falls on the November full moon night.

Loy means float and Krathong leaf bowl or wreath.

All over Thailand people make these wonderfully decorated floats out of folded banana leaves and artistically arranged jasmine,orchids and chrysanthemum flowers. Candles and sticks of incense are placed in them as well as a few coins as offering to Buddha and they are then lit and placed in the canals and waterways where they float away,perhaps bringing the wished for happiness and appeasement to their makers.

My Thai friend invited me to the festival.She had been helping the children in her daughters school, to make their Krathongs and I had watched and even tried the complicated folding of the leaves myself. Obviously it would have been insulting to refuse her,even when she told me that the three of us would go of course in the national costume. Have you ever seen the national costume!?

I was taken along to a shop where the beautiful heavy silk dresses and ornamental jewelry and tiaras could be hired.They are very expensive so few people have their own. The chosen dresses were then fitted,the bodice so tight we could hardly breath,and the long narrow skirt definately not designed to walk quickly in. We were to return on the afternoon of the festival to be made up,and our dressed in the traditional styling.

It took three and a half hours for them to turn us, into unbelievable looking china dolls,with a flawless make up,not only on our faces but on our arms and shoulders as well. We hardly recognised ourselves afterwards. Our hair was sprayed until it was so stiff that the sea breezes couldn’t harm it, put up and crowned with a gold Tiara and Orchids. Gold Jewelry was fitted around our waists, arms, neck and ears.

At last we were ready. My friend in a dress of burgundy and gold,mine the colour of the moon with gold,and her seven year old daughter in a lovely peach.

I soon got used to the nudges and stares, smiles and thumbs up. We were the absolute center of attraction.Everyone wanted to take my photo and the flashing cameras of the hundreds of Thai who weren’t in a costume made me feel like a Hollywood star on Oscar night. It certainly isn’t usual for them to see a blond “Farang” in the costume of old Siam.

Carrying our Krathongs we finally arrived at the canal and lowered them into the water.Slowly they floated away,the candles flickering in the moonlight.Our wishes going with them.

Will they come true? I hope so.

Christmas in Thailand

A lot of water has flown down the Chao Phraya since I last wrote a post.It doesn’t mean that I didn’t think about writing but I was experiencing so many different things,meeting interesting people and feeling a little like a Thai. No news is good news.

With the help of new friends I was lucky enough to get to know Thailand a little,from the side that the average tourist doesn’t see, and learn to love it for all it’s faults.

We Westerners mustn’t come to Thailand and try and teach them our ways,we must accept how the East is, and not try and change it, with time they will teach themselves. In so many things they are light years ahead of us and we could learn from them.

Today I saw my first Christmas tree outside the next shopping Mall.

Tall,and plastic and blue.

The Thai of course don’t celebrate Christmas.

It was for us.

Khob Kuhn Ka

There But For Fortune

“There but for fortune” Is one of my favourite Joan Baez songs.

When I see under privileged human beings her words are always there. Here in Thailand she sings for me every day.

For the women,smothered in clothes,working in the scorching sun as labourers on the building sites.

For the emaciated people trying to make a living by selling a handful of household items and drinks in their tumbledown shacks.

For the Fishermen and their families living amidst the unbelievable stench down at the creek.Their wives cleaning fish and sea food all day,the small children playing with the stray and diseased dogs.

They all manage to smile and say “Sawadee” in their lilting Thai as I pass.

Other foreigners don’t seem to venture this way.

When the sun slips down in the West, the hills in the distance, and the nearby temples seem to have something mystical about them.The golden Buddha statues compete against the last light of it’s rays, and Buddha wins.

With nightfall I walk slowly back to my little apartment in a luxury 16 floor condominnium,complete with reception and security guards.

From there I can look down on another Thailand while Joans voice sings in my head.

Tea Drinking Hens

Living and working in Switzerland,wasn’t so easy in the beginning.The cultural differences between the swinging city of London in the late sixties, and a farming village in Switzerland,even though only twenty miles from Zürich were enormous.

It was my Mother-in-Law, probably taking pity on me, who told me I wasn’t the only English speaking woman there,and she gave me her address. That was how I first came to meet the. witty Scots girl,with a light Glaswegian accent, and was introduced to the “Hens”.

More than thirty years of water has passed under the village bridge since then.The village is now a small town,my friend hasn’t lost her Scots accent,and I still go every two weeks to a meeting of the “Hens”

Thirty years ago it was where lost souls met.Someplace where homesick, or otherwise, ex pat women of English mother tongue living in and around Zürich could rant on without their husbands hearing about their opinion of life in Switzerland,their Mothers-in-Law,their children and if need be even their husbands.

It was a little piece of our Homeland,served with a strong cup of tea and a slice of cake.

The club meetings saved many a visit to the psychologist,and many a marriage.

We were never more than fifteen,because we took turns in meeting at each others’ houses. More members would not only have posed seating problems at some places,it would also have been too damned noisy. Thus the name.

Three members left and went back to America, Canada,and Australia. One was terminally ill and went home to England. Two rowed with us about something long forgotten and left the pen.

There have been three divorces,and three re marriages.

The rest of us,apart from have been meeting every second Wednesday in the month for over thirty years. We have had three new members.

We have all grown old together.

Conversation has taken a different turn. We don’t rant anymore.

Husbands? We have learned to live with them, and even invite them to a get together twice a year. I can almost say the men are freinds among themselves now too.

Everyone seems to be suffering from some medical disorder which is always a good topic,the children are fully fledged,the in-laws few in number.

In our hearts we might like to go “Home”,but none of us would take the step now. Our countries have changed too.

Last week a hairdresser member brought along a lot wigs for us to try, just to see if we wanted to accept our roots so to speak, or at least see ourselves in another colour.

If laughter is medicine we certainly took an overdose on Wednesday.

I’ll miss them all in Thailand.

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