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  Thailand Fever Reviews  
 
  Here's what the critics have to say about Thailand Fever, unedited and uncensored:

Stickman of Stickman's Guide to Bangkok

Stickman, the author of the infamous, unbelievably thorough Stickman's Guide to Bangkok, reviewed Thailand Fever in January 2005:

  http://stickmanbangkok.com/book.html

Thailand Fever by Vitida Vasant and Chris Pirazzi

Written by an American man and a Thai woman, this book describes itself as a unique guide to Thai - Farang relationships, and indeed it is. Given the high numbers of Westerner / Thai couples, it is somewhat surprising that someone hasn't come out with such a title before now.

Thailand Fever has been very thoughtfully designed and the entire book is printed in both English and Thai. English text is found on one page and on the facing page the same thing has been translated into Thai meaning that it has been produced for both of you to read. Throughout the book, it is very clearly noted who wrote each section, be it the him or her.

All of the major problems that plague such relationships are covered, from cultural differences, to family, to money and even to the girl’s background, that is, if she was an employee of the naughty nightlife, or otherwise. I was very impressed with the advice given and it answers many of the age old questions that have frustrated those of us in such relationships.

One of the problems in so many Thai / Western relationships is that the Western guy has a much greater understanding of the woman’s culture and what makes her tick, than she does of ours. A generalisation of course, but the fact that a number of the Thai women involved in relationship with a Westerner come from a modest background, educationally speaking, they are not always aware of what is going on. Guys have the luxury of a zillion websites with info on the subject as well as other books which while somewhat different from this one, have touched on various aspects of Thai culture. With this in mind, I think a lot of the advice in the book will really open her eyes as well as hers. Whether either of you choose to act on the excellent advice in this book or not is obviously up to you, but I'd suggest that those who do will give themselves a much better chance of having a successful relationship.

What I liked: A very easy read and I read it cover to cover in a couple of hours. The writing style is light and frankly, fun. The authors have not tried to take themselves too seriously and the tone is light which I feel works really well in a book that is addressing such an issue. All of the important stuff has been very well covered.

What I didn’t like: It's a little on the short side given that each partner will effectively read half of it. While background is given on the various differences between Westerners and Thais, I thought that perhaps a bit more advice could have been given on how to work through some of the common problems. The problems are highlighted, but in many cases it is left up to the individual couples to resolve them themselves. I can see why they chose to do it like that, but I think in some instances, a few more tangible pieces of advice would not have gone amiss. Still, this is a very minor criticism and where advice is given it is sensible.

Overall: This book really is very highly recommended. If ever there was a book that unlocked a lot of the mystery that each partner feels in a Thai–Farang relationship, then this is it. I would go as far to say that for anyone who has not lived in Thailand but is considering a long term relationship with a Thai woman, then this is a MUST READ. And even for people who are living in, or who have lived in Thailand, this is highly recommended indeed.

 

The Nation and The Phuket Gazette

Renowned author James Eckardt reviewed Thailand Fever in The Nation and The Phuket Gazette.

First here is the Phuket Gazette Review:

  Phuket Gazette Book Reviews, May 14-20, 2005

Solid Advice for New Couples

This is a dandy idea. Why didn't anyone think of it before? "Good Medicine for Thailand Fever," also released under the truncated title "Thailand Fever," (Paiboon Poomsan Publishing, Bangkok, 2004, 258pp), and subtitled "A Road Map for Thai-Western Relationships," is a bilingual marital guide for people who really need it: farang men and Thai women embarking on a romance with all the hellacious cultural misunderstandings that will arise.

The authors are Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant. K. Vitida is certainly highly qualified to give advice. She holds a BA from Chulalongkorn and an MSc in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. She moved to California in 1981 and frequently returns to Thailand.

She married and divorced a farang, is raising a daughter, and is engaged to marry another American. Chris Pirazzi's qualifications are more dubious: he has been travelling in Thailand since 1999. Still, he holds up his end of the conversation reasonably well.

The even-numbered pages are written in English, the odd in Thai. If the male symbol is written before a section, that means Pirazzi is talking; if the female, Vitida; if both, both. Their advice, in the main, is eminently practical.

Which means I agree with them. If I can put my own oar in, I'm married to a Thai. My wife and I used to joke that we were married longer than World War II, but now it's pushing the Thirty Years War.

What do young married couples first fight about?

Money. The Thai wife's attitude toward domestic finance can be summed up in one sentence: "What's your money is my money and what's my money is my money." The corollary to this is: "Just shut up and give her the money."

From time immemorial Thai women have been handling the family finances. When the military ruled in Thailand, their wives ran the economy. A recent survey indicated that Thai women, in terms of education and employment, are the most liberated in the Asia Pacific region.

Thus it bodes well for a farang to tread carefully around the issue of money. The authors address this in an astute discussion of nam jai ("water heart," or generosity) as opposed to its all-too-familiar complement kee nieow ("sticky shit," or stingy).

"The value of generosity is so strong that it outweighs the values of privacy, independence and fairness," writes Pirazzi.

The prospective husband is expected to be generous to his spouse and her family. "You love your husband more than your family" is a Thai curse. On the other hand, the family will stick with you through thick and thin. And your children, unlike hard-hearted farang kids, will never toss you into a nursing home but rather appoint you guardian of the grandchildren. Marrying into a highly interdependent Thai family and raising kids is way different from how farang do it.

"It all comes down to understanding your partner's culture," the authors write. "Never forget that you and your partner grew up in cultures that developed separately over thousands of years. To have a happy relationship, you must understand that your partner does not share some of the basic beliefs and values you have taken for granted your whole life. You must be open-minded in ways you've probably never considered. In this book, we will make you aware of these surprising differences."

In her advice to Thai women, K. Vitida addressed such Western values as independence, privacy, fairness, equality, openness and ways of handling conflict.

"Believe it or not, to the Westerner an argument can be a source of sanuk (fun)," she writes. "Friends and co-workers can be yelling at each other one minute and laughing about it over lunch a minute later, celebrating what a great argument they had! You will need to get used to this if you live in your boyfriend's country. You might even come to enjoy it yourself...Getting to the truth is very important to Westerners—more important than saving face."

My own southern Thai wife has never been a slouch in the argument department, but I suppose K. Vitida is talking about the ideal Bangkok woman.

In sum, if you know a Thai-farang couple about to get married, give them this book. If you're already married, read it yourself.

 

and the very similar review in The Nation:

  The Nation, Sunday April 10th Sunday Style Section

Sage Advice for New Couples

A bilingual marital guide helps Western men and Thai women understand each other This is a dandy idea. Why didn’t anyone think of it before? ["Thailand Fever"], subtitled "A Road Map for Thai-Western Relationships", is a bilingual marital guide for people who really need it: farang men and Thai women embarking on a romance with all the hellacious cultural misunderstandings that will arise between them.

The authors are Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant. Vitida is eminently qualified to give advice. She holds a BA from Chulalongkorn and a MS in cultural anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. She moved to California in 1981 and frequently returns to Thailand. She married and divorced an American, is raising a daughter, and is engaged to marry another American. Chris Pirazzi’s qualifications are more dubious: he has been travelling in Thailand since 1999. So what? Still, he holds up his end of the conversation reasonably well.

The even-numbered pages are written in English, the odd in Thai. If the male symbol is written before a section, that means Pirazzi is talking; if the female, Vitida; if both, both. Their advice, in the main, is eminently practical.

Which means I agree with them. If I can put my own oar in, I’m married to a Thai. My wife and I used to joke that we were married longer than World War II, but now it’s pushing the Thirty Years War.

What do married couples fight about?

Money. The Thai wife’s attitude toward domestic finance can be summed up in one sentence: "What’s your money is my money and what’s my money is my money." The corollary to this is: "Just shut up and give her the money."

From time immemorial Thai women have been handling the family finances. When the military ruled in Thailand, their wives ran the economy. A recent survey indicated that Thai women, in terms of education and employment, are the most liberated in the Asia Pacific region.

Thus it bodes well for a farang to tread carefully about the issue of money. The authors address this in an astute discussion of nam jai ("water heart" or generosity) as opposed to kee niaow ("sticky shit" or stingy).

"The value of generosity is so strong that it outweighs the values of privacy, independence and fairness," writes Pirazzi.

The prospective husband is expected to be generous to his spouse and her family. "You love your husband more than your family" is a Thai curse. On the other hand, the family will stick with you through thick and thin. And your children, unlike hard-hearted farang kids, will never dump you into a nursing home but rather appoint you guardian of the grandchildren. Marrying into a highly interdependent Thai family and raising kids is way different from how farang do it.

"It all comes down to understanding your partner’s culture," the authors write.

"Never forget that you and your partner grew up in cultures that developed separately over thousands of years. To have a happy relationship, you must understand that your partner does not share some of the basic beliefs and values you have taken for granted your whole life. You must be open-minded in ways you’ve probably never considered. In this book, we will make you aware of these surprising differences."

In her advice to Thai woman, Vitida addresses such Western values as independence, privacy, fairness, equality, openness and ways of handling conflict.

"Believe it or not, to the Westerner an argument can be a source of sanuk [fun]," she writes. "Friends and co-workers can be yelling at each other one minute and laughing about it over lunch a minute later, celebrating what a great argument they had! You will need to get used to this if you live in your boyfriend’s country. You might even come to enjoy it yourself... Getting to the truth is very important to Westerners—more important than saving face."

My own southern Thai wife has never been a slouch in the argument department, but I suppose Vitida is talking about the ideal Bangkok woman.

Vitida also gives solid advice on a pernicious but unforeseen factor in a cross-cultural marriage: the Thai wife arrives in America and hates it. She’s separated from family and friends. The supermarkets are sterile. The suburbs are lonely.

"Even though the houses may be beautiful and there’s nature around, the Thai newcomer will find herself asking: 'Where have all the people gone?’"

Worst of all, your kids will grow up to become farang.

"If you raise your children in the West, they may look Thai, and you may even teach them to wai their grandparents, but in reality they will think, feel, and behave like Westerners. This is inevitable. You must prepare your heart and adjust your expectations accordingly."

If you know a Thai-farang couple about to get married, give them this book.

If you’re already married, read it yourself.

 

The Bangkok Post

The inimitable Bernard Trink, who wrote the Bangkok Post's nightlife page for more than 40 years and who now lets his uncompromising opinions be known at his Nite Owl site, has graced us with a review of Thailand Fever in The Bangkok Post:

  Bangkok Post Real.Time section, Friday July 10th, 2005

Cupid's Counsel

Thailand Fever by Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant
258 pp, 2004 Paiboon paperback
Available at Asia Books and leading book stores, 495 baht

Farangs—the origin of the definition in dispute—has come to mean Caucasians, whether tourists or residents. Not openly insulting like the Japanese term gaijin (barbarian), it carries the pejorative of foreigner: not one of us, untrustworthy, dangerous, wary of the locals.

Big and small, outside of movies, many have a gut and all smell. They have no manners, raise their voices, everywhere they go they sound like they own the place and look down on its people. They proposition the women, paw the bar girls and think it's funny. Still, they are nice to children (apart from paedophiles but they aren't the only ones who are).

Farangs have money, so much of it, and they throw it around. What does a local lass have to do to get some (all right, a lot) of it thrown her way? Sex? Well, virtue has its price. Love? Love me, love my family. Happiness? As long as he forks over money she will be or pretend to be, but when he's broke, what's the point?

Chris Pirazzi a Yank, and Vitida a Thai living in the States, have co-written Thailand Fever, do's and don'ts to farangs and Thais in the Kingdom bitten by the love bug. They call it a road map, half of it in English and half in Thai. Paraphrasing Kipling, the message is East is East and West is West, but they'll meet if you read this book.

To be sure, there's much to be said for this road map. Its six chapters pretty well cover the conceptions and misconceptions farangs and Thais have about one another. Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned is that he values his independence, she her interdependence. No amount of compromise, give and take is going to change that.

Accompanying him to his homeland may well be depressing. She'll find that the money he flashed in her country was the savings from his; that she's lonely without her family and friends (his family and friends aren't the same thing at all); the snow was fun at first, but it gets awfully cold in winter; communication breaks down when they use the same words with different meanings.

Thailand Fever is for Thai women and farang tourists. Farang residents, particularly Old Thailand Hands who have dwelt here 20 years or more, will dispute the authors' contention that farang husbands are loud while Thai wives are quiet. More than a few Thai wives have motor mouths, complain incessantly and aren't above using expletives.

Pirazzi and Vasant have bought into the bar girl stereotype that they entered the nitery entertainment field to help their mother. Far more are on the game because it pays better than factory or supermarket jobs with little effort. As to how they spend their earnings, gambling (card-play-ing, the underground lottery) comes first, then gold. Poor mum!

Read Thailand Fever by all means. You won't lose face.

 

Chiang Mai City Life

A popular monthly Chiang Mai expat magazine reviewed Thailand Fever in their June 2005 issue:

  http://www.chiangmainews.com/ecmn/2005/june05/Ofbooks_46.php

Thailand Fever: A Road Map for Thai-Western Relationships
By Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant, reviewed by Col. Tom Parker

Paiboon Poomsan Publishing
251 Pages
Suriwong Book Center

They say never judge a book by its cover but one look at this garish publication had me moaning deep inside at the gloomy prospect of reading yet another story of how a hapless middle-aged Englishman fell prey to a cute Surin farm girl and her sick buffalo stories. However, once inside Thailand Fever's misleading cover, I fell prey to a uniquely revealing voyage into a world of mixed-race relationships and their accompanying hazards.

Authors Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant have extensively researched the common pitfalls of a Thai/Western relationship and they introduce the cultural differences that can lead to these pitfalls. In a clear, easily digestible format authors Pirazzi and Vasant describe Thai and Western values, problems regarding sex, visiting the parents and the misunderstandings surrounding money and support. They also deftly introduce the misconceptions many people have about living in Thailand or in the West. The book is written in both English and Thai, with the Thai appearing on the adjacent page.

I must confess to approaching the book in a slightly arrogant way, having been in a mixed relationship for some time, but it did demonstrate some interesting points of contention between my partner and I and in particular helped her to understand some of the values inherent in my personality that motivates my 'strange' and 'unusual' behaviour. Thailand Fever is, however, disappointingly short, especially when considering its subject matter. Despite this its attempt to cover a vast and multifarious phenomenon is admirable and fills a gap in an area of society that deserves more serious and protracted research. (see Citylife's cover article on Mixed Marriage in the March 2005 edition for more details)

 

All About Thailand

This review comes from the "All About Thailand" board at Paknam Web (thailandguidebook.com):

  Link to original review and forum discussion
Posted by group member named SiamJai.

Thailand Fever: A Road Map for Thai-Western Relationships

I just read the book today. It only takes about an hour to read the whole thing, cover to cover, mainly because half of it is Thai, and it says the same thing. It also helps if you are familiar with most of the topics already.

When I first saw the picture of the Thai girl on the cover, along with the title Thai Fever, I immediately thought "Oh no, yet another fic book on the beaten theme of 'gullible-Farang-jerk-meets-innocent-bargirl'. But, as the saying goes "don't judge the book by its cover," so I read further, and boy, I'm glad I did!

Essentially, the purpose of the book is to bridge the huge gap between Western and Thai ways of life - but only in the scope of Farang man-Thai woman relationships. The authors quickly acknowledge this limitation, with the appropriate disclaimer that readers who expect a treatise on general Thai culture, or a guide to Farang-Thai interaction at the workplace, should look elsewhere. One point for honesty!

Before they dwell into the topics, the authors also define what they mean by "Western" and "Thai". They came up with an oversimplified definition (they lump all whites, African Americans men and women etc. together, based on social norms. However, Italian family values greatly differ from American ones, for instance), but again, they acknowledge the limitation and give good reasons. (Read the book to find out what those are.) Rather than striving for political correctness, they came up with something practical that works for the intended purpose. One point for practicality.

Another plus about the book is its down-to-earth, informal tone. The authors maintain the feeling as if they were sitting with you in the living room, chatting. This makes any awkward topic much more manageable, not to mention that it is actually fun to read! More about this later.

So far, nothing new under the sun. I've read books that deal with the hardships of Thai-Farang relationships and they went more or less the same route. What make this book stand out from the crowd are its unique innovations that are not just there for the sake of being different, but really do help. In fact, I wonder why previous authors did not think of them sooner.

Previously I mentioned the conversational tone of the book. This is further enhanced when the two authors make a clear distinction about whom they are addressing the moment - just like a real conversation. Chris, the Farang expat living in Thailand, talks to us, the Farang men. He explains why Thais think and behave as they do, and gives advices how to manage possible problems. Meanwhile Vitida, the Thai woman, a university graduate and successful businessperson in the US, pulls Thai female readers over, and talks with them in a "sister-to-sister" manner. She tells them why their Western hubby occasionally behaves strangely, what irritates him about Thai ways, and what she can do to help him fit in more. And then there are occasions when both authors talk to the couple. They use the international signs for male and female at the beginning of each paragraph to let readers know who's talking to whom.

This system has many advantages. First of all, it breaks down part of the communication barrier that is inherent when communication is done through books. It also generates trust in the readers. Many men would be uncomfortable accepting advice to their private lives from a Thai woman, and conversely, Thai women would take the advice of a Farang man with a huge grain of salt. Furthermore, both authors are in the position of understanding the values of the other culture, while at the same time know how to convey those ideas to their own folks effectively.

Another advantage of the book is its bilingual structure. Unlike other bilingual books, the translation is not after each chapter, but page-by-page. The left page is written in English; the right page is written in Thai. While the authors could easily set it up in a way that Khun Vitida advises the female readers in Thai, and Chris advises the male readers in English, the current way is much better. Both authors' words are translated to both languages. This creates an atmosphere of trust and honesty, and allows a unique insight into the other side's point of view. In a sense, it serves as a mirror of yourself - through the filter of another culture. While this may have been an unintended side effect, I found this aspect of the book the most useful.

The actual content of the book holds few surprises. In the first few chapters the authors establish the basics of each culture. They stress important Western ideas that may seem strange in Thai context, and emphasize Thai values that are essential to maintain the fabric of Thai society, yet seem strange from the Western mindset. They address independence, privacy, fairness, equality, openness and what they mean to the Western man. They explain nam jai, samnuk bun kun, kwamm gatdanyuu, and deu-gniap and why these values are integral to Thai life.

In the later chapters, they take these explanations and apply them to different aspects of Thai-Western romantic relationships such as courting, dating, meeting the parents, engagement, marriage, sex, living with the family etc. They expose potential pitfalls and offer practical ways of dealing with them.

Overall, I found the book useful and entertaining - perhaps the best in its category. It is a practical, honest approach to the problems of intercultural relationships, with a set of unique and innovative ideas that set a new standard in the genre.

Who is the intended audience? The book mostly benefits Thai-Western couples (Thai female and western male to be specific). However, learners of Thai culture may also find it as a useful reference source. Even if you are a Westerner who doesn't have the intention of getting romantically involved with Thais (rare breed, welcome! ^_^ ), this book may serve as a handbook for interpreting the behavior of Thais towards you, and their expectations about you. The advices found therein may help you to get along with Thais better. Last, but not least, if you ever played with the idea of a cross-cultural marriage, this book serves as a good reality check. "This is what awaits you, this is what you need to give - are you ready for it?" (I'm not.)

Nothing is perfect. This book has its faults too. Well, from my point of view, anyway. It makes me feel uneasy how they address some of Thailand's problems - rather insensitively, IMO. They openly admit that the book was, at least partly, designed to help bargirls and their lousy clientele, as well as the losers who just come here to find a wife. Rather than denouncing this vice of Thailand, they seem to actively promote it. There are specific sections on how to get it on with bargirls, and, if it gets serious, how to get around the problem of introducing them to the family. Here is what the authors say about the intended Western audience:

Is one of these you?

  • You came to Thailand to travel or work, but to your surprise you’ve found love—you’re feeling wonderful, but a bit confused and overwhelmed, as the Thai world swirls around you. Everything seems almost too good to be true.

  • You’ve had trouble finding lasting relationships at home. Maybe you are shy, or divorced, or older, or you think you are fat—doesn’t matter. For whatever reason, it seems like Thailand is a great place to find your soul mate. Perhaps you’ve heard that "the Thai women over there know how to treat a man," or that "looks don’t count there like they do back home."

  • You came to Thailand to hang out with bar girls for a few weeks, but suddenly you find that you are both considering a longer-term connection.

I find it repulsive that the authors cater to those in the last two categories. Their message seems to be "Come here, you can do it - there may be problems, but we show you how you can get around them and have a good time". This is the last thing Thailand needs more of - social inept losers and sex-tourist jerks. The authors do a big disservice to Thailand and to the normal Farang expats by promoting such activities over here. We have enough problems putting up with our bad reputation as it is already. But I understand the motives. Increasing the target audience will undoubtedly increase the profit.

At the end, despite its flaw, it is still a great book. If you think about marriage, get this book. If you want to understand the Thai paradigm better, get it. If you are married already, and want to understand your spouse better, get it. If you are a sex-tourist or an antisocial freak, get lost.

 

ThailandConnect Magazine

This review comes from the June 2005 issue of ThailandConnect magazine:

  Ed note [from ThailandConnect editors]: We’ve been hearing a growing number of positive comments regarding the unfortutunately titled book "Thailand Fever." Authors Chris Pirazzi and Khun Vitida Vasant seem to have produced a noteworthy volume of cross-cultural differences and possible solutions to bridge the gap. Covering the staples of Sex, Money, Family, Face and more, from BOTH perspectives. The best part of all is the DUAL language presentation (English on the left page, repeated in Thai on the right page) which allows for ease of communication between both readers at the same time. So, if you or your partner are having misunderstandings regarding money, love, culture or general relationship issues, this may be a must read for you both. Expat "EasyB" swears this book has greatly enhanced his cross cultural relationship and kindly provided us with the following review:

Thailand Fever Review—courtesy of EasyB

Somewhere between the thrill and tragedy of the Farang–Thai relationship lies the improbable middle ground of reality; the mundane, hard work of surviving for the long haul. That’s where Thailand Fever by Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant comes in. The ill chosen title might lead one to suspect another exploitation of the dark underbelly of Thailand’s dating scene but nothing could be further from the truth. Thailand Fever is actually a down to earth practical guide to Farang–Thai relationships that seeks to enlighten the couple through a shared understanding their respective cultures.

Marshall McLuhan said "We don’t know who discovered water but we know it wasn’t a fish." And so it is with our basic values such as the Western drive for independence and individualism as contrasted to the Thai desire for interdependence and social structure. Or the Farang man striving through critical argument for the singular truth of any matter where as his Thai girlfriend hopes if they can both save face by letting the matter be.

Thailand Fever didn’t make me more Thai or my girlfriend more Western. The magic of our cross-cultural relationship is still very much alive but now there’s a shared map for this uncharted land. While a book such as this must by necessity speak in generalizations Thailand Fever manages to do so without being condescending or overly simplistic. Laid-out with English and Thai on opposing pages it encourages a shared experience. Step by step you walk through the bigger cultural values and ultimately to the nitty-gritty of money, marriage and in-laws. As my girlfriend said, "now I know that we are different; you are Farang and I am Thai, I understand you better." It seems so obvious now.

Thailand Fever isn’t a panacea but it’s a very helpful, informative and well-written primer for the Farang–Thai relationship and I can’t imagine one that wouldn’t benefit from a shared reading.

 

Josh Sager's Learning Thai Blog

This June 2009 review comes from Josh Sager's Learning Thai blog:

  When I first starting dating my wife, Su, I was obviously very interested in learning more about her culture. I purchased a few books on Thailand, Thai culture, and, of course, the Thai language. I came across Thailand Fever on Amazon.com, and quite frankly my first thought was that this book was a how-to guide for Western guys to pick up prostitutes and bar girls. It wasn’t until two friends—both married to Thai women—strongly recommended this book to me that I decided to give it a shot. I’m very happy to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong about this book; Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant have written the definitive book on Western-Thai relationships.

Thailand Fever is written from two perspectives—the Western male and the Thai female. Each section of the book is written from both of these perspectives, giving very unique and complete insight into how each culture views a variety of subjects on relationships, family, and sociological points. It is highly recommended by the authors (and I recommend it as well) that you read both sections regardless of which perspective you are coming from. The authors also acknowledge that there are cases where the relationship involves a Western female and Thai male, but since the opposite is usually the norm and they had to pick one, they chose Western male and Thai female.

The book is written in both Engilsh and Thai, following a left-page English/right-page Thai format. This makes it very easy for both parties to read, and, quite frankly, pretty much removes any excuses either one of you might have for why you don’t want to read it.

The content of the book goes way beyond just the personal interactions between partners, although that certainly is a large and important part of the book. The book delves heavily into the differences of Western (particuarly American) and Thai culture, and does a very good job of accurately explaining how each culture thinks and why they do things that seem so completely unnatural and bizzarre to the other person. I can tell you from the American/Western prespective, everything they said is absolutely, 100% true. After reading the book—which I should also add is very easy and fun to read—I told Su how much I loved the book and that I would really like for her to read it. She did, and afterwards said that everything written from the Thai perspective was also absolutely, 100% true. (Kudos to Chris and kun Vitida for doing such an excellent job in this area.)

Of particular interest to me were the sections on “face” and family. If I may get a bit personal here (it’s my blog, after all) I have been dealing with anger issues for most of my adult life. After reading that Thai culture views outward expressions of anger as a sign of weakness, I have started to make an effort to change that aspect of my personality. I certainly want to be a good husband to my wife, and I found it interesting that a book I originally bought to try and understand my wife’s culture better has helped me to understand myself better. Go figure…

This book is so good, in fact, that Su and I thought my mom should read it. She did, and also really enjoyed it and said it helped her to better understand a lot about Su’s culture. Su and I are considering getting a copy to give to her parents, as we think they could definitely benefit in learning more about their son-in-law’s wacky American ways.

I would like to address the prostitute/bar girl angle that orginally turned me off to reading the book. I will say that yes, there is a fair amount of information about relationships between Western men and Thai girls that earn a living as prostitutes and/or as bar girls. Perhaps it’s most important to say that this book is NOT a how-to guide on what you need to do to “get laid” in Thailand. If you’re looking for that information, thankfully you will not find it here. What Thailand Fever does do is offer insight into what to do when you are already in those relationships. I’m talking about how to broach the subject with each other’s families, some of the possible reasons why the Thai female may have gotten into those professions, etc.

In closing, if you are serious about getting true insight into the differences between Western and Thai cultures, and you have a serious desire to make your relationship work, this should be the first book you read. Kudos to Chris and kun Vitida for writing a truly special book. You can purchase this book from Amazon.com and Paiboon Publishing’s website.

 

Orient Expat

This 2011 review comes from orientexpat.com:

  I never do book reviews. I tell you this to give you an idea of how unusual it is for me to recommend a book on this website... i.e. never, that is until now...

Even though I'd already been in Thailand for many years, I didn't pick up a copy of Thailand Fever until 2008. Reading this book will give you invaluable insight and tools for the demanding cross cultural divide of a Thai-Farang marriage or relationship.

It is also completely translated into Thai, and both languages are on all pages, making it very easy for you and your Thai partner to read together. The Thai language part is written and worded entirely from the Thai person's perspective, giving them superb, succinct and solid gold insight into the western mindset (never forget that cross cultural understanding must always be a two way street). This page is not intended to be an in depth review, moreover, an enthusiastic and glowing recommendation...

Key sections include:

The Westerner's need for privacy and independence vs Thai family life
Living with the parents
Trust
Attitudes towards money
The dowry, or 'Sin Sodt'
Face
... and of course, Thai and Western attitudes towards sex and intimacy
Thailand Fever is NOT and instruction manual for your marriage... but it is an essential tool for husband and wife to understand their respective cultures and needs. It is also useful for other family members to read, so that they can also better understand and act on the cultural differences...

Not only does it tell you what is different, it explains in detail, just WHY things are different, and in a style of language everyone can understand... it is written to be fun, easy going, easy to read, and is non-judgemental. It provided me and my Thai wife with vital information for our marriage, and proved to be worth every Baht we spent on it.

Thailand Fever is also available in German and Dutch? As the authors themselves state, this book will save you pain and money. Read it... Even though I think it gets a few things wrong, this book is a top Orient Expat recommendation... and like I said, I never recommend books.

 

Penfold's South East Asian Odyssey

This July 2010 review comes from the blog Penfold's South East Asian Odyssey:

  When I first picked up this book with it's unusual title and garish yellow cover, I must admit that I was intrigued and as soon as I'd read the first few pages, I was hooked.

A lot of books which deal wth the topic of Thai-Western relationships, are written by Westerners, for Westerners and tend to be full of hubris and pathos, focusing on how gullible farangs lose their hearts and life savings to devious bar girls.

"Good Medicine for Thailand Fever" is a refreshing change from this staid format and far from being a skewed, one-dimensional and one-sided portrait of Thai-Western relationships, the book is bilingual guide, dealing with all aspects of cross-cultural relationships and offering advice and help to both parties.

Written by an Amercian man, Chris Pirazzi and a Thai lady Vitida Vasant, the book describes itself as "a road map for Thai-Western relationships". It is thoughtfully designed and laid out, being printed both in English and Thai, with the English sections found on the even-numbered pages and the Thai sections found directly opposite, on the odd-numbered pages. It is also made abundantly clear who is narrating the chapters, whether it's Chris, Vitida or the both of them.

The topics that are covered are varied and include many common issues faced by Thai-Western couples such as sex, money, meeting the parents, the dowry, independence and saving face.

The book attempts to break down the cultural and social boundaries that exisit and to challenge the pre-conceptions and misconceptions among both foreigners and Thais. It is written in a very light-hearted and informal style which is particularly helpful when broaching sensitive topics. Although, with such a familiar writting style, I don't think it will win the Nobel Prize for Literature any time soon.

One criticism that has been levelled at the book, is that it fails to offer much practical problem solving advice. However, I would like to offer a rebuttal, by saying that the book is merely a guide, highlighting the potential stumbling blocks and encouraging you to develop a better understanding of each others values and culture. It is up to you to find your own solutions to your own relationship problems, as although most Thai-Farang couples will face similar difficulties, every relationship is different and there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution.

Overall, I think that "Good Medicine for Thailand Fever" is an excellent read and an invaluable tool for anyone who is considering a relationship with, or, already in a relationship with a Thai person. The book has even been translated into German and Dutch.

 

Thailand, Land of Smiles

This May 2009 review comes from Talen's Thailand, Land of Smiles blog:

  Many men go to Thailand every year, meet a Thai lady and fall in love and get Thailand Fever. Sounds easy enough because love conquers all right? Well, there can be a lot more to it when you are talking about cross cultural relationships. Different religions, values and priorities can be major stumbling blocks when it come to such a relationship and Thailand Fever does a pretty good job of helping you to start understanding where your Thai girl is coming from and vice versa.

Thailand fever was written by two authors, Vitida Vasant and Chris Pirazzi, a Thai woman and an American man who know all too well the hurdles and obstacles a cross cultural relationship presents.

Each page of Thailand Fever is written in both English and Thai so you can read one side and the opposite is translated into Thai for your lady to read.

Thailand Fever covers all the major problems such a relationship will face from cultural differences and family to money and marriage. A lot of foreign men think they know a lot about the Thai culture and in some cases they do but they overlook the intricacies and how they relate to them and their new Thai love. As well many Thai women don’t understand the culture that these men are coming from and often misinterpret what he says or means. Not only do the authors tackle frustrating subjects in the book but they also add in their invaluable advice to give you a leg up.

It all comes down to understanding your partner’s culture,” say the authors. “Never forget that you and your partner grew up in cultures that developed separately over thousands of years. To have a happy relationship, you must understand that your partner does not share some of the basic beliefs and values you have taken for granted your whole life. You must be open-minded in ways you’ve probably never considered. In this book, we will make you aware of these surprising differences.
Although the book is a little light all the important areas get covered enough that your lady will understand better where you are coming from and you will understand better what makes her tick and how to handle the family. While advice is offered for certain situations by the authors there are many instances where you and your lady will have to go it alone and work your way through the problem but the book can help immensely.

Overall you won’t find a better book than Thailand Fever to help you both start to understand and explore your cultures together.If you’d like to try it before you buy it you can read the first 35 pages online at Thailand Fever Preview.

And if you are looking for some good Thai fiction you might want to check out Private Dancer as well.

 

Travel at Thailand

This March, 2010 review comes from the Travel at Thailand blog:

  So—right up front—this book is NOT a sleazy man’s guide to picking up hot Thai chicks. (Who the heck approved that title and cover design?!?) Despite the cheesy first impression, this is actually an intelligent and well-thought-out book, written for anyone interacting extensively across the Thai-farang cultural divide (farang being the Thai word for white-skinned Westerners, FYI.)

The interesting thing is, the book is ostensibly about *romantic* relationships across the cultural divide, but it worked really well a resource to understand Thai culture overall. (I’m not in any romantic relationship, and I felt it was well worth the money!) This book was strongly recommended to me by another Westerner, and I’m so grateful for the good tip that I’m passing it along here (I don’t usually review books at all!)

I had interacted with the (lovely) people of Thailand fairly extensively before reading this book. And I can say two things: First, the authors earned a lot of credibility with me up front—everything they said about what Thai people on the whole are like, matched up with my experience. Secondly, (and this is the real payoff) this book points out many subtle little ways in which I had been slightly off the mark in how I interacted with Thai people.

I feel like someone finally told me the rules by which I can *really* express politeness and gratitude toward the Thai people that have been always been so gracious and welcoming to me! Strongly recommend this book to anyone before setting foot in Thailand.

 

 

 
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