By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
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By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
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Sammy and Yuvaree come closest to being a poster couple for the business. Sammy proposed to Yuvaree while he was in Thailand, she joined him in Oregon in March, and they were married in May. An elementary-school teacher in Thailand, Yuvaree had taught in the United States before. A snafu with the visa she used on her first trip to the U.S. is now complicating her green-card process, but Sammy hopes to have that problem cleared up by May. That's when he plans to return with his bride to her homeland and start an import/export business, possibly using the silkworms raised by Yuvaree's grandmother. "The marriage part is wonderful," Sammy says. "It's all the crap and the lawyers and stuff to try to get her permanent residency that is hard."
Ben, another Thai romance tourist, is looking forward to the day when his bride, Boom, arrives with her son, joining him and his son to create one big, happy family. Boom has her visa and would be on the East Coast with Ben right now if she weren't still taking culinary classes back home. She'll graduate around Thanksgiving, and Ben hopes to get her here in early December. He's gone back to Thailand to see his love twice since February.
"It's always very pleasant and a wonderful relief when we're together," he says. "Boom and I get along very well. I may have actually found my soulmate, and she feels the same way."
He's already signed up a nanny who specializes in teaching English to foreign toddlers.
Thomas "Scooby" McClenon, a New York construction worker, fell for Kid on the Thailand tour. He can't afford to take time off work to visit her; the next time he goes to Thailand, he wants to make sure his bride is on the plane back home with him. So Scooby's waiting for word from the government that Kid is cleared for takeoff. In the meantime, he's been sending her about $300 a month to help take care of her children, who are going to stay behind in Thailand.
Greg Sefchik got engaged to Aoy on the Thailand trip. He's encountered some difficulties with the immigration process because he'd filled out paperwork for a different woman whom he'd hoped to bring home after his first tour with Thailand Romance. He didn't fall for Aoy until his second tour.
Greg is considering moving to Thailand to create a life for himself, his bride and her son. "From what I see," he says, "she really cares for me and she's anxious to be with me, one place or the other."
Lee would like to retire to Thailand, but that could be a dozen years from now. In the meantime, he spends about two hours a day instant-messaging his wife-to-be, Kung, who now has a computer thanks to Lee. He anticipates that she'll join him in Illinois before the end of the year. "We pray every day that she gets that letter today," Lee says. "We've gotten really, really close. We were real close when we first met, but we really, really have gotten close."
Only one of the six men on that ten-day trip, Bobby, did not find a mate. But he wasn't really looking. At least two Thai women were ready to spend their lives with him, but he says Thai women aren't really his type. "The Thai chicks just don't compare to the Colombians," he explains. "In some ways, the Thai girls are better. Most of them have jobs, good jobs, and their own cars. If I ever went with a Thai girl, I'd go there, make her my sugar mama. I'd like to go back to Thailand, but just to play."
But play isn't the goal of this company. The owners, Richard and Seow Beals, are determined to make a match for each client. Thailand Romance is a ticket to bride.