Introducing Today’s Guest
My first guest on Thai women living abroad, moved from Ubon Ratchathani in the north – east of Thailand to Venice, Italy in 1998. Up until this point she has lived and worked in Venice for the last 17 years.
Introducing Panadda (ปนัดดา) – Nickname: Da (ดา )
Photo credit by blue flower – Khun Panadda (ปนัดดา)
What first took you to Italy?
I came to Italy because the institute where I was studying in Bangkok decided to send me. I was studying ” Hotel and Tourism.” At that time the institute would send those students who had graduated and wanted to work in other countries to the countries that requested them. Mostly it was as a waitress on a cruise ship and I was one of those students.
Where do you live in Italy and How long have you now lived there?
I live in Venice. I was single for quite a while and continued to follow that path until I found love. It was then that I made the decision to stay here in Venice, Italy and I have been here for 17 years now.
It took me quite a while to adapt to my new surroundings. It was just like starting out in life again, starting from scratch, as there was so much to learn.
Italian people are very patriotic and nationalistic and in the beginning I found the laws, rules and regulations in Italy really strict. There are also occasions when they don’t suffer fools or outsiders gladly. It was all so different from Thailand where life was free, easy and without restrictions.
Now though,I would love to say thank you to Italy because Italy turned me into a strong and independent lady and I can take care of myself.
Venice is a City with the most beautiful architecture in the world. It’s a City that is perfect for tourists and short visits, but in my opinion is not really a place to live forever. However, if you are a lover of old and beautiful architecture, then Venice will not disappoint you.
The photo above shows some angles of Venice, this is one of the photographs I took.
Oh yes, correct, as Venice is certainly a romantic City. It’s especially romantic at night with the most beautiful of atmosphere’s. To be honest, if you were to ask me as to which country I like best now out of Thailand and Italy, I’d find it difficult to answer. There are so many differences and of course advantages and disadvantages in both countries.
Oh certainly, I love it.
This photograph is of the massively important Roman Catholic church, the ” Madonna di Salute,” The full name is ” Santa Maria della Salute ” and in English this means; Saint Mary of Health. More often than not it’s just simply known as ” Salute. ”
The second photograph is the canal in Venice. I shot this from the Riato bridge. This is a very important bridge and whoever comes to visit Venice will certainly need to visit this bridge.
This bridge has a story to tell. if lovers stand on this bridge at night when there is a full moon and kiss together at midnight, then they will get to stay together forever. I have not done this yet, but maybe I will, when I find the special one…. laughter. These are all photographs that I took myself.
Can you see the bridge that I was talking about that has people standing on it? Then above that bridge, can you see another bridge with two windows. The window on the right hand side is a Palace. The window on the left hand side is a an underwater jail for detaining prisoners, and they will die in here as well.
This bridge is called “The last dying bridge” because this will be the final time that the prisoner will get to see light before dying. They say that on the night of a full moon, water will drip down from the bridge. I still have never seen this, but this is what they say.
They also say it’s a sacred bridge and if you make a wish about love, then it will come true.
Do you speak Italian? If you speak Italian, how hard was it to learn the language and did it take you long to learn?
Yes, I can speak Italian, but I didn’t go to school to learn. I taught myself from watching the television and learning from people around me on a daily basis.
The first year that I started work, I found that everyday was difficult as I didn’t understand anything at all. It was all strange and a totally new learning process had to begin.
What do you do now for a living in Italy?
It has mainly been trial in error recently with several jobs. I had previously been a waitress throughout, up until the end of last year. Then I reinvented myself by studying a new type of work – Sushi. I found work in the world of Sushi and have to say that the money is good. It’s enough to take care of oneself and the work is not too difficult.
I am thankful that Sushi in Italy sells very well. I would never have thought that Sushi would be so popular here in Italy, but it is.
Are there many other Thai nationals that you know living in the Venice area and have they all settled in to Italian life well?
There are many Thai people living in Venice. In fact at my place of work alone there are four Thai people. I don’t really associate with the Thai people who live here very much, because I’m not overly fond of a lot of them. They like to boast and show off their wealth all the time and this can become tedious. I prefer to keep myself to my myself and do my own thing.
Living in Italy and Italian culture was a big adjustment and quite a long process for me as it’s so different to living in Thailand. However though, I had to make the adjustment if I wanted to stay here. I found getting used to daily greetings and the food customs probably the hardest parts.
For example, when Thai adults meet together they will greet in the normal way with a Wai and say Sawat dee kha (female) or khrap (male.) This is the Thai greeting method. In Italy when you meet face to face you greet each other by saying Ciao and this is the Italian greeting. In Italy though, if you see that same person again you must also say Ciao again. In fact, if you were to see that same person 10 or 20 times during the day, you must always say Ciao. For me it becomes too much as one greeting is enough….. laughter.
The Thai Greeting: ” Sawat dee ” – สวัสดี is said when meeting a person for the first time and is accompanied by a ” Wai ” – ไหว้. The Wai is carried out by placing the hands together at about chin height. It’s a mark of respect.
Another subject is food. In Thailand you can eat all day if you want to but in Italy they are very strict about their eating routine. They eat breakfast (7am), lunch (midday) and dinner / supper as their evening meal at 7 pm. Between meals they eat nothing. So, if you’ve had breakfast then you cannot eat anything else until lunch time.
Regarding the food style: Italians will have an appetizer first, then a main course and finally a dessert. Another thing is that they don’t mix meat and fish. So, if the main course is meat, then it will be all meat. If the main course is fish, then it will be all fish etc.
Italian people are not so fond of eating out, mostly they like to make food together in the home. It’s either that they are invited to somebody’s house or that they invite friends to their house. This happens far more as opposed to going out.
In Italy, Sunday’s are totally regarded as a family day. Children that have left home and left home with families of their own will return to eat at Mother and Father’s house on Sunday’s.
I worked all week and only had one day off which is Sunday. On my day off I wanted to wake up late, take it easy and have some private time. However, I still had to wake up early and go to church and afterwards have food at Mother and Father’s house. It’s good in some way’s though as it teaches us order and regulation. You must understand though that Thai people prefer tranquillity and an easy-going life as opposed to being rushed around in a world of rules and regulations. I must admit that sometimes living in Italy can make me edgy.
Although this is a massive generalisation: What are Italian people like? Could you give me an opinion on family life, Italian men, women and children through the eye’s of a Thai national?
Italian men really are the worlds greatest romantics and the majority have very sweet mouths or(ปากหวาน – paak waan ) – as we say in Thailand. The Italian men love women that are sexy, have long hair, smaller bodies and tanned – darker skin. A lot of Italian men are playboys or (เจ้าชู้ – jao chuu) and can have several hearts.
Italian women love to dress up and look good. They like men with darker skin and if have a good muscular physique, then even better. For sure though, Italian women are very beautiful and as they say in today’s world – Hot.
On Family Life
Firstly, I would say that Italy and Thailand are very much alike in the concept of family. Both countries put family right at the top of the list and that’s a good thing. In my opinion though after that there are quite a lot of differences.
Italian people look after their families very well, but sometimes I think they give love in the wrong way to the children. They love and do so much for their children that in the end the children cannot do anything for themselves. Mother and Father will continue to help them always and it doesn’t matter whether the subject will be work related or other. Some are 30 – 40 years old and still stay with their parents. Nowadays, as it is with this day and age in the world, a lot of young Italians don’t want to do much. They will work for a very short period of time and then leave to return home to live with their parents. After that, Mother and Father will look after them.
Italian children are very close and very dependent on their Mothers. It doesn’t matter whether they are boy’s or girls or even of a mature age they will still rely on their parents. They don’t hardly do anything themselves and will get their Mothers to do it all. For instance there’s the washing of clothes, the ironing of clothes, the preparing of food and the list goes on. It doesn’t matter what it is. Mother does it all for them.
This was a big part of the problem with my married life. I had problems because the Mother was so close to him and so clingy and he believed everything that she ever said. They are so close to their Mothers and believe every word she say’s. Whether buying clothes or simply just getting dressed to go out, whatever the occasion, they must get the opinion of Mother as well. It was something that I found terribly hard to accept as I am very independent and self-reliant.
What is the cost of living like in Italy? What are the expensive things and what are the things of good value?
I make a living in Italy, but the cost of living does lean towards being expensive. It’s not as expensive as Switzerland or England though…… laughter. One of the worst things here is tax. I have to pay 30% tax on all of my earnings. On top of this, fuel and gas are also expensive.
Buying a house will be a bare minimum of 150,000 euros about £107,000 (GBP), and renting a property monthly will be between 700 – 900 euros about £495-00 – 635-00 (GBP).
Cars are not too expensive, especially the second – hand car market. I would say that even new cars prices are acceptable, but it depends of course on the type of car that you want to buy.
The best value things in Italy in my opinion are pure natural olive oil for cooking and because of the great weather, quality fruits and vegetables. The number one best value though would be the Museums, Palaces and the other historical and architectural things. Italy is full of beautiful art and history.
Italy is more expensive to live than Thailand, but Thailand is becoming more expensive than it used to be, certainly.
Could you give me three things that in your opinion are great about living in Italy? Could you then give me three things that are not so good about living in Italy?
1) It can get lonely on your own without anyone to turn to for advice or to discuss things with.
2) There’s a lot of double-dealing , and of course politicians all talk a good story, but they never do anything. (The same with most countries.)
3) The tax here is expensive.
Do you have family still living in Thailand? If so do you miss family a lot and do you miss Thailand? How often do you manage to get back to Thailand for a visit.
I have family in Thailand, in fact all of my family live in Thailand. It’s only me that lives in Italy. Yes, I miss my family and miss Thailand a lot, but that’s life. We must accept that sometimes life is not always what we had hoped for. I do my best to return to visit my family in Thailand once every year.
What do Italian people think about Thais and Thailand.?
Most Italian people talk about the beauty of Thailand and speak about Thailand in good terms. They talk about the natural beauty in the country and how much they love the culture of the country. There are a minority of course who only look for the not so good in everything, but this is normal around the world and not just in Italy. My advice is always the same; go to Thailand and experience the country before you judge. Don’t judge Thailand only from what you hear.
What would you say were the main problems in a Thai / Italian relationship, a relationship of the romantic kind for instance.
For me, it was two main problems. Firstly, it was about dress code. I like to dress in casual easy-going clothes like T-shirt and jeans, but my husband wanted me to dress up all the time. I must wear a proper shirt and trousers or a skirt with nice shoes. I had to look meticulous when seen out together all the time. In Thailand I was never subjected to a constant dress code and this caused a problem between us.
Secondly, it was about food. Thai people love to pick and eat in an easy-going way throughout the day, but the Italian way is strictly to time and by that set meal time. Young Italian men are very close to their Mother’s and believe every word they say. These subjects were the main problems in our relationship.
Other Italian Travel
Where are your other favourite places to visit in Italy?
My favourite places to visit in Italy are Florence and Pisa.
Trevor: I have scattered a few photos from the photo shoots that you did on these places throughout this post
Please visit below to see more of the photographs and work of …….
Thank you Khun Panatda from Thai Women Living Abroad
I thank Da for sharing her story about life in Venice, Italy and it was most enjoyable. I have been to Italy before, but only once and never to Venice. Da is a fighter, a strong-willed independent lady with a will to succeed. It never matters how many curve balls are thrown at her in her life, she always gets right back on with it all again. A lady who makes things happen as opposed to waiting for things to happen. One thing with Da and in typical Thai fashion is she will always have that wonderful smile on her face. I loved the photographs of Venice – great photography skills.