Thai People Abroad: From Phitsanulok, Thailand to Moscow, Russia
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Author: Trevor Bide
Introduction of Today’s Guest on Thai Women Living Abroad
Thai People Abroad Thailand to Moscow. Today’s guest was born and raised in Phitsanulok, Thailand. After marrying a Russian man, she moved from Thailand to begin a new life in Moscow. From one of the largest cities on the planet, Khun Dee Dee gives us her views from the inside on life in Moscow and Russia in general.
Thai People Abroad. Introducing Khun Dee Dee Vilkov
Thai People Abroad
All Photographs on this post are taken by or courtesy of Khun Dee Dee Vilkov
How did you come to live in Russia, what first took you there?
I moved to Russia with my Russian husband.
Where do you live in Russia and how long have you now lived here?
I live in Moscow and I have lived here now for two years.
Could you tell us a bit about where you were born and raised in Thailand, and what life was like there as a child growing up?
I’m a rural girl, a girl from up country, Phitsanulok. We were of an average status – not too good and not too bad. My mother and father were farmers. After I finished my education of High Vocational Certificate in the subject of accounts, I went to work at the Telephone Organisation of Thailand. After that, I changed my job and went to work at Shell distributor Ltd in Thailand. I worked there for more than 10 years until I resigned and then continued to study for my Bachelor Degree in the subject of accounts.
The overall image of childhood leans in the direction of having been difficult really. The problem was that the farm was the one and only family security and we didn’t have enough land, hence we didn’t earn a large income. As the elder children, we had to assist with the farm duties as well and we did this since childhood. We would help before going to school and help again on returning from school. Our duties included things like carrying large jugs full of water, getting the cows into the enclosure and plowing the fields. Yes, I worked like a farm girl, totally.
What work do you now do in Russia?
At the moment my main job is to look after our son, so I’m not able to go out to work. However, I manage to do some work online by selling products.
Thai People Abroad
What are your passions in life. What are the things that you love to do when you have free time?
Normally, and if I didn’t have children it’s cooking or baking. I like to search for recipes and experiment with them by making gradual changes. Now though I have a small child and my free time is minimal. Time outside of looking after our son is spent on producing income from selling products online.
Can you speak Russian. Is the language and communication a problem? Did / do you find Russian difficult to learn? Do you speak any other languages?
I can speak a bit, but the words that I speak are the easier words. The Russian language is very difficult, but if I can study and train seriously, it’s not beyond one’s capabilities. It’s worth knowing the subject more than this, but we are not able to practice and don’t have the money or time to study either.
Now, my husband and I communicate mainly in English and we mix in small amounts of Thai and Russian as well.
How difficult was it adjusting to life and the culture of Russia after growing up and living in Thailand? What were the most difficult things to adjust to? What were the main differences coming from Thailand and how long before you really became adjusted to life in Moscow?
I think it’s the same for people in all countries. It’s not hard to live here, it all depends on the individual person. It depends on whether you can adapt to eating the local food or integrate with the local people. Luckily, I’m fairly easy going and I find it easy to eat and live anywhere. Our style is not dressing up, shopping excessively, using money extravagantly and then, it’s not difficult. I don’t want to give my husband problems or ruin him.
There are those though that must eat only Thai food, be free to shop as they like, they must have the best and most expensive brand name make-up and cosmetic products and the husband must send alimony payments back home in the Thai way. For this style, the husband must have a good status and then he can do this. But as far as our family goes, we don’t live like them or worry about being envious of other people. We are contented and have happiness from ourselves and that’s enough.
However, I did have concerns with meeting the family on my husband’s side. Personally, the family were not concerned about much so it wasn’t an obstruction. There are some friends that meet the husband’s parents and don’t have very good experiences at all. In fact some can be prejudiced and don’t speak very nice to them. In some instances they must separate from the parents and live by themselves. In my opinion people all over the world are the same; there’s love, greed, anger, and illusion. There are good people and bad people, all mixed in together. It depends on one’s fate.
Is there a big Thai community in Moscow? Are you in contact with many Thai women as friends and do they tend to stick together? Do they all seem to adapt well to life in Moscow / Russia? What in your view are the main problems that they encounter?
There are lots of Thai people that live in Moscow, the majority work in Thai massage shops. From their photos posted on social networking sites, everything looks to be fantastic and they are very happy, but that’s just show as they often tell a different story.
They say that the work schedule is excessive and they must massage for 8 hours non stop every day. Massage work is very hard work indeed. They will massage one customer for 1.5 – 3 hours continuously until the time is up. Then afterwards, they will continue to massage customers non stop. There are some Thai people that get issued with a 1 year working visa, but when they experience how hard they must work they quickly flea back home to Thailand. This happens a lot. Sometimes, people that work together annoy each other, they are jealous of each other and it can resemble the Thai soap operas.
Often, the conditions are crowded and congested with as many as 10 people all living together in an apartment. They all put their money together to buy food and by doing this they create one big meal. It’s cheaper to do it this way and they get a lot more food for their money. They will of course modify the style of the food to Thai and make a menu like Papaya salad with cucumber. Then the price is not expensive, they can make a lot of food.and it becomes economical. It’s far more economical to do it this way than each person buying food separately.
Personally, I only associate with just 2-3 Thai people. We live in different worlds really. We are housewives that take care of children and stay in the home. The others must work and they don’t really have time free to come and meet up with us. For instance, the majority of Thai people that get married and come to live here in Moscow, are scattered all over the place. You can say that we all live in Moscow together, but it’s such a big place that we are all still far away from each other. This country is huge and it’s so difficult to just go from A to B, especially on one’s own.
This is a massive generalisation, but what are Russian people like? What do they enjoy doing and what’s the personality of Moscow people?
What are Russian people like? From my observations so far, I can say that they are the same as people everywhere. They like people that are honest and sincere and they are quick to lend a hand or give help in some way without ever thinking about a financial reward. For instance, a friend from my husband comes to help repair and maintain our house, just to lend a hand, and doesn’t think about money at all. Not even one baht. Nothing is about show. For example; food, they don’t make a big fuss about producing extravagant food like they do in Thailand. After people finish work at the end of the day they just grill a bit of food, have a little bit to drink and chill out together. This point I totally respect.
Regarding other people that you meet outside of the house, if they don’t know each other then they won’t greet each other. This is just their way and a part of their customs.This is of course not the same as in Thailand, where we consequently smile and greet with everyone that we meet. If you don’t know each other in Russia and you smile continuously and aimlessly all the time then it communicates as being fake and insincere. However though, if you have a problem, the Russian people are there to help you instantly and this is a major positive.
Russian men are regarded as the leaders of the family and they are very good. In their opinion, they must take responsibility for the family themselves. Responsibility to find money, work hard and take care of the family is their main priority.
Russian women will mostly stay at home and look after the small children and the house. As soon as the children grow up and enter school they are then able to go and help contribute towards earning an income for the family.
The majority of families live together before marriage, but when they get married, often they will separate from the parents and live by themselves. Cultural habit depends very much on each individual family as to what will happen. Some Thai women cannot stay with the parents of her husband due to racial discrimination. Some don’t like Thai people because the image of Thai women is not really very good at all. Fortunately, only a small minority of people you meet are like this. The majority of Russian families are very good and they respect their children’s decisions. Whoever their child loves, they will love as well. However, it’s lucky that we get to meet a people that are generally good and friends that are willing to help all the time.
It’s quite often that I will meet people from outside the home that will ask me, ” are you from Thailand? ” When I reply that yes, I am Thai, they become very excited. They cry out…. I’d really love to visit Thailand. The weather is fantastic in Thailand and there are so many beaches. I’ve still yet to meet anybody unpleasant at all.
What is the cost of living like in Russia? Which in your opinion are the expensive things and which are the things of good value?
The expensive things are 1) Fresh food, 2) Fuel, 3) Everyday consumables.
The more appropriately priced stuff are 1) Consumables that are on sale – the period when the price drops. 2) Food that’s produced in this country and 3) Some things that you use.
At the moment, the exchange rate is lower than Thailand. This means that we are able to buy at cheaper prices. In any case though we have limited income, but the list of expenses increases every day. The only thing that we can do is totally control our spending and not exceed our prepared budget. All you can do is go by the rule of anything that’s not necessary to buy, then consequently don’t buy. Further more, anything that can be put off from buying or deferred, then it must be done.
Could you give me three things that in your opinion are great about living in Russia? Could you then give me three things that are not so good about living in Russia?
The Positives – For people that have families here
1) You get to live altogether with family – father, mother and children.
2) You are left alone to get on with your life. You live in your home, you take care of your own work and you eat your food. Nobody bothers you and you don’t bother others either.
3) You don’t need to continuously take care of everybody, because people here when they have their own families, they will live by themselves as a family.
1) We are foreigners. It’s similar to being alone, because if we have a problem we don’t have the support.
2) Hard to find genuine, true friends. Thai people associating together is often difficult, you can’t trust anybody.
3) The cost of living is very high, a lot higher than Thailand.
Have you ever felt unsafe in Moscow / Russia at all or do you have to just be careful about where you go?
Normally, I feel totally safe here. The image that people get of this country is that it’s not good and not safe. This is the image, but when you actually come here for real, it’s actually no different from Thailand. In fact, I think some issues are better than Thailand. For instance, Russian people like to help out other people that they know. When Russian people help, they help with all their heart, they will not hesitate or be scared the same as us.
Do you still have family living in Thailand and do you miss them? Do you manage to get back to Thailand for a visit now and again?
I have my mother, father, brothers and sisters all living in Thailand. Yes, I miss them and worry about all of them very much. I especially worry about my elder relatives like my grandmother and grandfather, but my mother and father are getting older now as well. I do miss Thailand also. If we live in Thailand then we are comfortably able to find work and find money ourselves. We have the chance to increase our income and the money flows somewhat easier. We can then be a bit more flexible with our spending.
Regarding places in Thailand to visit that I miss, then it’s definitely the temple. I really miss the temple, I like to go and make merit during the special Buddha days. Making merit cleanses the mind and we will get to encounter only good things. I don’t really miss any other places to visit in Thailand, because our family doesn’t have a big income, we must be frugal with every baht, every satang. The head of the house hold goes out and earns the money alone, the only thing that we can do to help is to make sure we use the money frugally, the same as I previously referred to.
Some Thai women think that moving to Europe means a better life instantly. What advice would you give Thai women that were thinking of living in Russia? What would you advise them to beware of? Could you give me 3 things for them to think about before moving overseas?
When we stay in Thailand we tend to look at people living abroad as having only happiness and ease with everything. They have money, have gold and spend comfortably, because there’s no need to work as the husband looks after them. Yes, there are those types. They of course are the lucky one’s who live comfortably and have money, but not everyone is that lucky. certainly not.
The first thing to point out is that there are two types
1) The worker: People are certainly envious of others who work abroad, earn high incomes and have money to spend, but people only see what they want to see , they don’t get a view from all angles.
The working day here is normally start 8.00 am rest midday and return home 17.00 and all very punctually at that. People that work here, they work hard.
Take the massage business for instance, lots of Thai people work in this industry and it can be tough though. If the customer wants a massage for 3 consecutive hours, then the masseuse must massage for 3 hours regardless of whether it’s time to go home. If that day the masseuse has customers booked all day then they must massage all day, non stop, one right after the other.
2) The second type are women that come to live with their families. Each family will of course have a different standard of living . If she gets a really wealthy husband then she is considered to have good fortune due to perhaps having carried out past good deeds.
Some ladies arrive here and find her position is that of a minor wife , mistress or they are the victims of false promises and other deception. For the most part, people with an average standard of living (not too bad and not too good), will help each other earn a living. You must work here the same as you must work when living in Thailand, it’s just merely a change of country and only that.
Some people don’t have a high education and then they end up on clean up duty. They must go to work be employed as a cleaner or road sweeper. Some people are employed to collect fruit and vegetables to farm the land. It’s difficult but they must tolerate it.
Mostly, the Thai people that they view who return from overseas look to be doing very well. They spend money extravagantly and they go touring and visiting various places in Thailand. This leads to Thai people thinking that everybody who lives overseas is wealthy, but it’s not like that at all. The Thai people overseas must work hard in exchange for money in order to return to their homeland and meet up with their family for a limited amount of time only. It’s a short time, but it recharges your battery for a while.
In some instances, it’s possible that your husband’s family might not welcome foreigners, they may not be too keen on outsiders. If you encounter this sort of situation then it’s hard to feel happiness at all.
This is all in my opinion and things you get to hear whilst talking with friends and acquaintances, but it’s the truth. It’s the background, the internal complications, the inside story as it were, but of course, each person will be different from the other. Mostly though, people will show the good side of things only, they will let people see only the good. Don’t set excessively high expectations of life with a foreign husband and don’t be fake. Don’t be in it just for money and then when you get your hands on his money, just leave him. Please try to wear his shoes and understand his situation, he has to work for the money just the same as we do.
Thai People Abroad Things to be careful of
1) Thai Society: There are common instances where the Thai community overseas are not really honest to one another. They often deceive each other, compete with each other and are all about show.
2) The husband’s family: It’s possible that you might come across the type I referred to previously in this interview, you might not be accepted.
3) You have to beware and stay alert all the time when out and about. You never know other people’s intentions, so stay alert to scams, deception and to people that may cause you harm.
Thank you Khun Dee Dee for giving us your valuable time and terrific insights on life in Russia. I’m very grateful and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thai People Abroad