We met Laurent while he was working behind the bar of our favorite tennis club. For years he entertained us with amusing tales about life in Isaan, Thailand’s North-Eastern region. His stories would cast such an enticing net that eventually we would be drawn to Siam ourselves. A taste of paradise can slowly turn into a lethal dose of poison. This is the story of a severe case of Thai expat’s disease, as I like to call it.
We did it. After incredible amounts of red tape, 26 documents and a whole lot of patience, Khwantippa and I were married on July 15th. As the ultimate Siam In-between column, let me tell you her and our story. An illustration of how radically different backgrounds can still imply a happy ending, and how stereotypes don’t apply.
Picture by Morty Photography
When we registered our wedding at city hall in part 1, we experienced the first challenges in marrying a foreign national in Belgium. Step 2, applying for a marriage visa, only emphasized that complex nature. This second post continues listing our experiences and contains information that isn’t documented anywhere else. Anyone planning to get married to a Thai national in Belgium will save a lot of time and effort, by carefully reading this post.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.