It’s been a while. I know. Ever since my lovely wife Khwantippa arrived in Belgium, I’ve haven’t had a lot of time to write my blog. Both because of living on cloud 9, and administrative duties. I apologise … koh tood khrab, dear reader. But with the dust settling, space for writing is opening up, albeit on-the-go. Let me tell you about the new world I have been living in, which I like to call #ThailandInBelgium. Even without any ties to Thailand, it can be an amazing and colorful place for you to visit from time to time. Allow me to tell you all about, along with future adventures we will be embarking upon.
The administrative part of Khwantippa’s arrival was and is tiresome. The first step was visiting City Hall to report her residence. We waited in the queue, only to hear that such a report can only be submitted after making an appointment. Returning one week later, we were greeted by the exact same person who took our appointment, and spent less time there than on our first visit. The same goes for the registration for integration and language courses. After an elaborate introduction, the integration agency officer told us to return in two weeks.
All things considered, every is going really well administratively. Khwantippa will immediately receive a Residency Permit for 5 years (F-Card) and she was offered a scholarship to follow an advanced and intense Dutch language course at Leuven university. It. All. Just. Takes. A. Long. Time. (Yes, I am looking at you City of Vilvoorde).
Socially, everything is smooth sailing. As far as I can tell (so far),the Thai community in Flanders (our region of Belgium) loosely revolves around three Buddhist temples and a long list of Thai events.
These three temples are Wat Thai Dhammaram in Waterloo, Wat Dhammapateep in Mechelen and Wat Buddharama in Sint-Niklaas. Even for non-Buddhists (like myself) these are worth the visit, especially around festivities like Thai New Year (Songkran). On these occasions, everyone is highly welcome to join in a colorful day of music and delicious food. No-one will bother you about religion, I promise. Wat Thai Dhammaram in Waterloo even hosts a market on the first and third Sunday of each month, which is like a giant Thai food court in a lucious garden. Highly recommended as a family trip. More about the market in a future post.
Apart from the temples, there is a long list of Thai events in Flanders. I’d be surprised if there is a summer weekend without one. In addition to the food, these events also feature live music, Thai dancing and plenty of Chang/Singha beer. Always loads of fun.
Thai dancing brings us to Khwantippa’s favorite pass time and passion. Ever since she was 6 years old, she has been into traditional Thai dance and she is very happy to continue her hobby in Belgium. It allowed her to quickly build up social contacts, stay in touch with Thai culture and meet friends with a mutual interest and background.
As far as I know, Belgium has three main traditional Thai dance groups: Thaivlac, Lanna Thai and the group associated with the temple in Mechelen (don’t know the name yet, sorry). Initially, Khwantippa was glad to perform for all three. As one of them started to take offence to this, and make an inappropriate claim to exclusivity and made accusations that were out-of-line, Khwantippa now mainly dances with her friends at Lanna Thai.
My wife’s dancing activity also had an unexpected side-effect. While hanging around backstage, I’ve rediscovered my old passion of photography. Thai dance provides an excellent backdrop to get my skills back up-to-snuff and has even led to a collaboration with fellow photographer Mario Dours. Much more about that, very soon.
Anyway, now you are all updated about our exploits in #ThailandInBelgium, I can keep you posted.
Speak to you soon.