First of all Chris and I have decided that nothing we see here in Thailand is “weird” but simply “different” compared with what we are familiar with. I will be honest, I am so grateful for these “different” experiences, they are truly opening my eyes to the world and I know I will forever be changed by this experience abroad. I am going to paint you a picture of this very “different” experience that is the Thai/Chinese Wedding.
After working in his new role for about a month, Chris was invited to a co-workers wedding reception. The actual wedding took place in Phuket, Thailand and was for very close friends and family. The reception location is considered to be outside the city so we decide to take the BTS to the end of the line, all the way to the Chatuchak Market, from there we figured we could get a taxi to our destination. Boy, were we wrong… picture two white people in their best wedding attire in the 100 degree heat begging for a taxi, mind you there are probably 20 taxis just sitting there waiting for their next fare. We continue to ask for a ride and everyone is turning us down or acts as if they do not understand us. We finally have one man say “ok 250 baht” and we say “no thanks.” Around the 20 minute mark I tell Chris that if we can’t get a ride in the next 10 minutes I am going home. We decide to walk away from the tourist trap in search for a taxi that will take us and turn on the meter. Finally, we see one of the men that turned us down just sitting on his taxi waiting for his next victim. He asked to see our map again with the location of the reception and Chris asks “how much will it take to get us here” right now we are ready to pay whatever they ask just to get out of the heat. The man says “200 baht.” SOLD!
We get in the taxi and start the journey to the reception. The driver takes both hands of the wheel to show us his enrollment papers into a school that will teach him English, inside I’m screaming put your hands on the freaking wheel maniac!!!! He then asks Chris if I am his girlfriend, I interject and say “no I’m his wife”, “ooooo so young! You have baby?” Yes. “ooooo so young!” Thanks? I guess he figured Chris was robbing the cradle with such a young girl as his wife. As we drive down the interstate, he reaches into his glove box to show us photos, I assume of his children since he was asking about ours but instead pulls out pictures of himself with the band Poison, Michael Jackson, and an Asian celebrity. Chris and I are both a little confused but at the same time impressed. He tells us that he used to be a bodyguard, by his current more fluffy appearance I imagine that was some time ago. He says, “I even shook George W. Bush hand!” We finally reach our destination and I will have to admit that he was by far the coolest cab driver we have ever had, even though he did refuse to turn on the meter. You just never know who you will meet or what their story will be!
There are many differences between an American wedding and a Thai wedding, but to make it even more “different” we are going to through in the Chinese culture as well. Wow, were we in for a “treat.” As we arrive, we are greeted and escorted to our seats. The waiter arrives with either Pepsi or orange soda. Once most of the guests have arrived the lights are dimmed and a couple of spotlights are turned on to light up the stage at the front of the room. A man and a woman with microphones come up and start talking (all in Thai) and Chris and I look at each other with a look of confusion and I say “I think we have an MC for the evening.” Sure enough, that was their role; it was like watching two talk show hosts on TV, even with the canned laughter at the others cute jokes. After they talk for a while in Thai, the woman says in English something to the effect that the food will be served.
For my fellow Americans that have never actually had authentic Chinese food let me just tell you that it is not like American Chinese food in the least bit. This reception had a Chinese Banquet so they bring out plates of food for the table to share. The first round has spring rolls (which I can handle), some dumpling looking things, and something with fish in it. Let’s just say I enjoyed the spring rolls. The next course was soup, shark fin soup. I was a little upset by this, some of you may know that shark fin soup is a delicacy in the Chinese culture; it is only served on very special occasions and is very expensive. There are several movements to stop the sale of shark fin soup because of how it is damaging the shark population. As I examine the soup (apparently, I am making a face of disgust) Chris smacks me with the chopsticks and tells me to stop and just take one bite. “I don’t want to! I feel like I am betraying my favorite week of the whole year and Discovery Channel!” Chris says, “well since it is already here and you haven’t created any demand for the soup you can take one bite.” I continue to examine the soup and find the smallest piece of fin that I could and took the bite, I’m not going to lie I felt like I lost a part of my soul that night! (Forgive me Discovery Channel and Shark Week!) As I write this, I still have guilt and my stomach turns at the thought of it! BLAH! For those of you who are wondering what it tastes like, it didn’t even taste good! It was a rubbery piece of meat that reminded me of a bad piece of chicken!
As they continue to bring out courses, I am becoming increasingly more hungry. We then have some mushrooms, “chicken” soup, duck (which was again very tough meat and I am sorry Donald Duck), fried shrimp covered in mayonnaise (Paula Dean would have loved it), noodles, and finally some chilled soup. By the end of the meal, I had taken one bite of each dish; my stomach was churning and I was starving! I thought to myself CAKE! That’s safe and it’s a wedding there has to be cake. I ask Chris “Where’s the cake!?” I had noticed when we walked into the reception that there were some cupcakes; I would say about 10, in a cute display. (This is how the groom proposed, on a cupcake.) I told Chris “I’m starving and I want a cupcake!” I see some people eating the cupcakes and I make a B-line to the display to find a cupcake. Since there were 10 cupcakes for around 300 people, you can imagine my surprise when I reached the display and there were none left. (Insert sarcasm) There was one cupcake left on a plate as the center piece that was next to the picture of the cupcake where the groom had proposed and had it not been for Chris pulling me back I would have eaten that cupcake and it would have delish!
Some other differences between the two cultures for a wedding reception are as follows: no alcohol, no dancing, no garter toss and the hardest for me was NO CAKE! Despite the differences, it was a beautiful wedding reception, with huge ornate flower arrangements, a beautiful bride and groom, lots of family and friends and a room full of love! Really, what more does a wedding need besides LOVE? Well the bride and groom would be essential and a piece of cake would have been nice….