Today’s guest on Thai women living abroad was born in the province of Kalasin in the northeast of Thailand. From helping with the family farming business in Thailand as a child to these days, helping people find love online. From her new home in the south of France, Khun Siriya gives us her insights and experiences about life in France.
Introducing Khun Siriya
How did you come to live in France, what first took you there, where do you live in France and how long have you lived there?
It all started in November 2013 when I first started communicating with a French man on an online dating website in Thailand. We continued contacting together throughout by email. video call and other means, until April 2014 when he persuaded me to visit him in Montpellier, in the south of France. Montpellier is the capital of the province called Herault in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon. Montpellier is situated approximately 750 kilometres away from the capital city of Paris. I returned to France to visit him again in December 2014. In March 2016, I flew for the third time, but this time in order to get married. I decided to move to Montpellier, France with my husband in June 2016 and this is where I am now.
Could you tell us about where you were born and raised in Thailand, and what life was like there as a child growing up?
I am from the district of Kuchinara in the province of Kalasin. My parents were farmers who worked a rice farm, ran an orchard and kept animals. I have a younger sister, but our family was very big. Our position in life was down the middle, not so good and not so bad. We all lived together, grandfather, grandmother and auntie, it was a warm and friendly family. All relatives: brothers and sisters, uncles, aunties from both sides built a house so that we could all live in the same neighbourhood together. Life as a child was spent mainly helping on the farm when out of school hours. I would help on the rice farm, feed and look after the cows and water buffalo’s. My weekends were the same as children in general in the area. I completed senior high school at 18 years of age and then took an entrance exam at a nursing college in the province of Ratchaburi. I then moved to Ratchaburi for a period of 4 years until I completed my studies and after that I worked in a government hospital in Bangkok.
What work do you do in France?
For people who move to a new land like me, the subject of work is not easy. For instance, before we are able to work anywhere, we must be able to speak French. This is the first problem as I cannot speak French yet. When speaking with my French husband, we normally chat in English. However, since coming here, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to run a website for people looking for love Thai dating website. My husband is the owner of the website and it was because of this site that we met together online. My responsibilities are to take care of the site and to screen the applicants that come in. We are very thorough and precise about keeping scammers off the website. My other responsibilities include advising members how to use the website, a consultant for the lady members and promotion of the website.
The website work is part-time as I do this approximately 3 – 4 hours per day. Outside of this I am a housewife that looks after the house and takes care of my husband.
For anybody that’s interested to visit the website or wants some advice on living abroad then you are welcome to come and chat with me at
Can you speak French? Is the language and communication a problem? Do you find French difficult to learn? Do you speak any other languages?
Before I decided to move to France, I studied the French language a bit. I can speak some words like (Bonjour) hello and Merci thank you. When I moved here, the French government send you to study the language free for 200 hours. In my opinion, I think the French language is very difficult. I think this is because I don’t have a special talent regarding the subject of languages at all. The French language is very beautiful, therefore has extremely complicated sentences and pronunciation. I am a Thai national and I speak Thai and this is very different from the French language. Now, after studying the French language for a period of 4 months I understand a lot more. I speak only a little bit though, to the extent of short, easy sentences. I still need some time and I must try to study continuously. We come to stay in a foreign country so to speak the language is both necessary and important.
Regarding other languages, then aside from Thai, I speak English to a satisfactory level. My English is good enough and therefore has been the main method of communication between myself and my husband, since I arrived here, until now.
Did you find it difficult adapting to life in France? What did you find were the most difficult things to adapt to.?
Regarding the subject of adapting to life in France, then I think all topics appear difficult. For instance, there’s the food, the weather conditions, the culture, the people and the language. When I first moved to France, I chose the summer to arrive so that I could gradually adjust to the weather conditions. I wanted it to be as similar to the climate in Thailand as possible at the start. The temperature here in the summer months is between 25 – 28 degrees Celsius on average. This was fine for me as I don’t like the cold weather.
The atmosphere and people here, if compared with Thailand then it’s very different. People here look vacant at times, serious, they don’t really have a smile, and don’t really like to associate with anyone. Take the neighbour for instance, they live in the next house, yet they still don’t really know each other. It’s very quiet where I live now, you don’t see anybody wandering around. In the beginning it made me feel lonely and sad, but I must adjust and accept that it’s normal with a transition like this. There’s also the subject that there’s no 24 hour convenience store like in Thailand. The shops open and shut all the time and it’s something that Thai people are not really accustomed with.
Thai food and the eating of Thai food is a difficult subject, because I’m addicted to Isaan food. When I am craving Thai food or more importantly Isaan food, I must ask my husband to drive me to the Asian ingredients shop. The problem is that the shop is quite far away and the ingredients are expensive.
I live in a village outside of the town and getting around is not too convenient. Whenever I want to go anywhere, then I must get my husband to take me. This is also not very convenient as my husband has work to do and can’t really chauffeur me around all the time. Therefore, in the near future, I must learn to drive and pass my test. I think this will be quite difficult for me.
The most difficult part to adapt to though is the French language. Studying new languages as a middle-aged person is not easy at all. It’s something that takes significant time and effort, but is very important. If we can’t speak French then we will not be able to do a lot of other things in daily life either, these include things like learn to drive and pass a driving exam.
Is there a big Thai community in the Montpellier area? 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 France.
In Montpellier there’s a lot of Thai people. In the beginning I had two Thai friends here, because before I came here I researched Thai people in Montpellier on facebook. I introduced myself to them and got to know them before I came here. When I arrived here, I then got to know the friends of the friends I had made and their friends and on it continued. It’s good to have friends to chat and consult with when abroad and the fact that they are Thai friends pleases me greatly. As for lifestyle from my Thai friends, well, each person is different. If they live in the heart of the city, then they can come and go conveniently by electric tram. They are also close to the Asian ingredients shops and work in the kitchens of the Asian restaurants. There’s no need to use the French language much there and all things considered, they are all happy enough. They all adapt, we decided to move here so we must adapt and make ourselves have happiness.
This is a massive generalisation, but what are the French people like? What do they enjoy doing and what’s the personality of the French?
In my experience and from getting to know French people, I see that they like to have a lot of fun. Whether they are on the train, in the department store or wherever….seriously. French people also like smoking cigarettes , both women and men smoke a lot In public places. I don’t smoke so when I’m out I have to try to avoid the smoke.
French men are constantly romantic, they give great attention to feelings and are cautious when spending money.
French women have self-confidence and they love equality.
In my opinion, and as a whole, French people have a great culture. Greeting one another alone is a culture of its own. It doesn’t matter whether it’s entering a shop, getting into a car / on a bus, or various other places, you will always hear hello or goodbye. The French are people who have freedom in both thought and speech. They are people who speak frankly, not indirectly and sometimes it may cause people to feel a bit disheartened. French people have order in life and greatly respect the law. Characteristics from the French, they perhaps look quiet, a little arrogant and self – centred, especially if you speak English to them. If you speak English to them, they will not be interested and not respond, because they are very proud of their own language.
Concerning French families, I don’t really know too much about that as I only live with my husband. However, from what I see regarding family life from friends, the French people give much importance to family life. They love and help each other a lot. At the weekends they take the children, grandchildren to visit the houses of their parents.
What is the cost of living like in Montpellier or France in general? Which in your opinion are the expensive things and which are the things of good value? Could you give me three things of each, please?
The three things in France that I think are expensive are….
1) Products from Asia: Every kind. I understand that these are imported products and therefore are more expensive, but they are 2 – 3 times more expensive than in Thailand.
2) Some types of fruit: The fruits grow in Europe, but are still expensive. They are not suitably priced, these include fruits like apples and cantaloupe.
3) Women’s make up: I feel that buying brand names from Thailand is still cheaper than buying from here.
Three things that are reasonably priced are….
For things that are suitably priced: Generally medication that’s sold in chemists is reasonably priced. The other two would be daily appliances / utensils and clothes. These two things are not that much different from the prices you would pay in Thailand.
Could you give me three things that in your opinion are great about living in Montpellier or France in general? Could you then give me three things that are not so good about living in Montpellier / France?
The things that are good about living in France are the study of new and other cultures, the increased experiences in life and finally to know how to adapt to surroundings, society and cultures that were not familiar with until we find happiness.
Aside from moving and living in a different land, the worst part is that you are isolated from your family. You are isolated from your father and your mother in Thailand. It causes loneliness and I miss them so much. Sometimes, I get a bit disheartened in several subjects, like the language, the cold weather conditions and eating the food that I enjoy to eat. It’s difficult to find the right food here, it’s not really delicious.
What would you say were the main problems in a Thai woman / French man romantic relationship? Are there any similar problems or misunderstandings that relationships have? I’m talking more to do with cultural differences really.
French men are at the top of the romantic scale. The normal greeting from French people is to kiss each other on the cheek of the face when they meet. If man to man then they merely offer cheek to cheek together, two or three times. It varies from area to area. French men take care of you very well, they pay great attention to their feelings and emotions. They will often give presents or gifts like flowers on different important days. French people give great importance to people in the family.
There are only a small amount of problems in a romantic sense. When we go back to Thailand to visit my parents and relatives then kissing, holding hands or showing any affection for each other is just not done. Of course, in normal circumstances at home in France we would show affection, but now not. This seems confusing for foreigners and very inconsistent. I must then explain that this is Thai customs and traditions and that we don’t express the physical side of our feelings in front of our elders. They either understand or it can be a subject that the men will speak quite bluntly about and cause us to feel disheartened. They usually say what’s on their minds, they don’t mean anything by it, it’s just their way. When the Thai speaks, they will speak in a way that maintains the good feeling, but now I’m accustomed to the direct speaking of French men.
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? Which are your favourite places to visit in Thailand?
Yes, I have my father, my mother and younger sister back in Thailand and they live in Kalasin in the northeast of Thailand. Since moving to France , I have missed my family so much. I have never ever been far away from my family at all, although previously I did work in Bangkok, but I returned home to visit every 1 – 2 months. Were a big family with all relatives living nearby. We don’t live together, but we are always visiting and helping each other, it’s never lonely.
Living here is different though, I live only with my husband. It’s just the two of us. My husband doesn’t have any brothers or sisters at all. There’s also that the village is so quiet, you don’t get anyone wandering past at all, and it can cause you to feel extremely lonely at times. I miss my family in Thailand, every day, but I must tolerate that, because I am far away from them. I do plan to return and visit my family in Thailand once every year.
In Thailand I like the coastal areas of the south of Thailand. I like to visit Phuket Islands with my husband, and also take my father, mother and younger sister with me as well. My first date with my husband was in Phuket. I like it there, because whichever way you look it’s totally beautiful. There’s white sand, sky blue sea, and clear skies. Yes, I love the sea with all my heart.
Have you ever felt unsafe in Montpellier or France in general at all?
People here respect the laws and they don’t really have robbery, rape and things like that although this is just the village. It looks quiet, deserted and the sky gets dark quickly which can look frightening. My husband said, that they don’t have a reason to steal and abduct women to rape here. My husband said that the only thing to be fearful of is having the car stolen, this happens often. It depends on the area and the crime rate. I always try to avoid large crowds as sometimes there is crime in the bigger cities, especially at times of celebrations and festivals. Not only crime, but there has been great tragedy also. These situations can leave you feeling unsafe.
What are your other favourite places to visit in France?
Each region in France has different scenery and landscape. Each region is beautiful, including the charming buildings and very romantic atmosphere. The place that I like to visit is called Lake Annecy in the southeast of France.
It has the biggest lake, sky blue clear water, and beautiful mountainous surroundings. It’s totally beautiful, the same as a drawn picture. I’ve had the opportunity to visit there on two occasions. I’ve visited in both the summer and the winter which were in different conditions. Although very different, both seasons were beautiful. It’s a town that I like very much and am greatly impressed with.
What are your passions in life. What are the things that you love to do when you have free time?
Due to living here, I don’t get to work outside of the house. This means that I enjoy the times when I can visit the supermarket to buy food and bring home to cook. I especially enjoy buying products from the Asian shop, I can wander around selecting things to buy for an hour… easily. Normally in Thailand, I would never cook food just for myself at all, but when I arrived here, if I wanted something to eat then I must make it myself. During my free periods, I like to look on the internet for menus to follow and cook myself. I’m spending a large part of my life in the kitchen until I become a person who loves cooking, especially cooking Thai food or more specifically Isaan food.
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 Europe? What would you advise them to beware of? Could you give me 3 things for them to think about before moving overseas?
From experience of looking after the Thai dating website and facebook page for the site, about 90% of Thai women want advice on finding a foreign boyfriend or husband. After the relationship with their Thai husband is finished, they still have children to look after. They would like to have a foreign husband in order of having a better life and assistance in looking after the children. I always offer this advice for the ladies that have the idea of wanting a husband for a better life. Foreigners have the same situations, some are poor, some have a moderate living and some are rich. Furthermore, moving with the husband abroad, to his homeland is not easy at all. There are differences with the language, culture and the climate. Then there are the other subjects, such as, the marriage documents, the visa and the various troublesome official paper work.
The reality in everyday life here is that you have to work. They work and struggle to find enough money to make a living as we do in Thailand. We think that they live exactly the same as when they are in Thailand. They come and appear to live the high life by spending money lavishly and not working. This is only for a short period though. This is their holiday and rest period after working hard the whole year. However, when they arrive back home, then life returns to normal. Some people don’t have a house, they must rent a room and work for in the country on the minimum wage.
My advice for Thai women that would like to have a foreign husband in order for a better life would be to change your thought process slightly. If this is the main objective, what happens if you arrive in the real world and it’s not as you imagined or wanted? There have been many couples that have separated. I decided to associate with my now French husband because I genuinely loved him. I fell in love with his character and his attentiveness. With regards to his status, I already knew that he was of an average status and not rich. I knew that he had to work in order to make a living the same as people in general. Even though, before I decided to move abroad, I thought long and hard about it. I didn’t want to be so far away from my father, mother and rest of the family, and I didn’t want to leave my secure government service career. When you fall in love though, you cannot retreat, you must take that path. You must tolerate some of the sacrifices in order to be together, as we are now also family together. I think the most important things in the subject of choosing a husband are love, understanding and tolerance. That’s where you’ll find happiness and It doesn’t matter at all about his financial status.