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Siam in-between: Livin’ la vida local

Over the last few weeks the frequency of the updates on this blog has diminished, I am well aware. Getting a visa that allows my (Thai) fiancée and I to get married in Belgium has proven to be a daunting task. So much so, that I decided to fly to Thailand a few weeks ago to help get things sorted, locally. One Blue Monday, we found ourselves standing on the side walk outside of the Belgian Embassy, administrative challenges handled, red tape cut … and both of us with two weeks of holiday ahead, wide-open. Why not take the opportunity to experience vintage country-side living before this options disappears?

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Taking care of business in Bangkok

On Friday, I hopped on the red-eye to Bangkok, as some of you have noticed on social media. A little while ago, I started writing about the process of getting married to my Thai fiancée in Belgium. After battling through the red tape at my local city hall and the Belgian Ministry of Foreign affairs, the very last part of the administrative journey takes place at the Belgian embassy in Bangkok. As we want to manage the process ourselves and in person, I decided to fly over. As a bonus, I’ll have more adventures and discoveries to tell you about. Updates coming soon. Sawasdee khrab.

Sunset at Ploenchit Skytrain station
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How to get married to a Thai national in Belgium – Part 1

Getting married to a Thai national (or any foreign national, for that matter) in Belgium isn’t a straight-forward process. Official sources contradict each other in tiny (but crucial) details, different cities (or even contacts) interpret requirements differently and some government officials can’t be bothered to assist properly. My goal is to write our experiences down, to help others maneuver these murky waters. Part 1 will teach you how to successfully jump the first hurdle: the wedding registration at City Hall in Belgium.

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Siam in-between: Merit across religions

A bell chimed. I just realized that it must have been struck on several occasions while I was on temple grounds, but the sound fit in so well it never actively caught my attention before. We were about to pour the content of a small shiny cup on a tree of my choice and conclude a series of acts to commemorate my Grandmom who recently passed away. Our way to say goodbye in-between Buddhist, Animist, Catholic and Atheist philosophies.

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Siam in-between: Road trip past cultural differences and big mountains

Last week Khwantippa and myself were invited to join her friends Nong Shompoo and Pee Add to visit Khao Yai National Park, one of the local sites we had not yet been to. The trip is the perfect opportunity to tell you about the slightly lesser-known nature preserve and a suitable vehicle to point out cultural differences, similarities and habits of the Thai middle class. A story in-between, on many different levels.

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Siam in-between: Phimai entered the Eighties

Our hometown in Thailand is a village called Phimai, about a 40 minute drive from the city of Korat. Because of its strategic location, Korat is called the Gateway to Isan. Highways and railways to the North-Eastern region pass through the city. With Phimai just outside of the big city it has always felt to me like the border between urban and rural life. I’ve repeatedly described the standard of living as the sixties with internet and smartphones, which I mean as a compliment. In a way it is how I think society should be. But a recent development just might catapult Phimai to the Eighties. Somewhere in-between the start of mass consumerism and the potential backlash thereof.

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Siam in-between: Isaan barbecue in pitch-black

After having cleaned the house today, the aircon-unit started making beeping noises. Next, the lights started stuttering and wifi went out for a few minutes. By the time night fell, there was a huge black-out in our neighborhood. One hasn’t experienced darkness until one experiences it on the Thai countryside. What followed was an unexpectedly lovely evening. Not really remarkable, nor ordinary, but somewhere in-between.

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Siam in-between: Thai motorcycle diaries

Today I went on an epic motorcycle journey. When I say epic, that is just for dramatic effect. When I say motorcycle, I mean a scooter. The 30 odd kilometers between Chumpuang and Rangka Yai do not qualify as a journey either. But anyway, I still brought you a few pointers about riding a motorized two-wheeler in Thailand. Using a scooter in heavy traffic isn’t anything to be scared of, nor is it to be taken too lightly. I guess it’s somewhere in-between.

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picture taken from the car (prior), as I’m fairly attached to my teeth (still, luckily)

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Siam in-between: Different culture, different priorities, different sense of urgency

While we were straightening out an issue with our internet connection tonight, suddenly we heard banging on the bedroom window. Upon opening the front door my girlfriend’s aunt and uncle appeared out of the darkness, on their small white scooter. Their mode of transportation immediately struck me as odd, seen as they have a fairly-new double-cab Toyota Hilux pick-up truck.

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Siam in-between: How (not) to dress and shop in Thailand

Amongst how to articles about Thailand, straight-forward and practical guidelines for everyday men’s wear (and shopping) seem under-represented. Nevertheless, walking around reveals that there is a very clear and present need for guidelines. While I might be naturally inclined to hit a sarcastic note, the pointers remain valid. The perfect compromise lies between respect for local culture and being yourself, somewhere in-between.

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