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Vol. XIII No. 12
Friday March 25 - March 31, 2005

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Fun City By The Sea

Updated every Friday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern

 

Local Personalities

Mayuree (Yuree) Kaewdoungta

by Dr. Iain Corness

“Yuree” Kaewdoungta is the manager of the very busy Tequila Reef bar and restaurant on Soi 7. A very vivacious young Thai lady, she has a 47 year old head on her 27 year old shoulders, and is outstanding in her independence and positive attitude. She has never looked upon life’s misfortunes as a reason to feel sorry for herself. “It’s just the next step,” said Yuree.

She was born in Bangkok, but when she was only one month old, her father died. This was to have a very far-reaching effect on her life, and many times during the interview she would say, “I have no Dad, so I have to decide by myself.”

Her mother married again when Yuree was nine years old, but she was unable to just accept a new father figure in the household, and when they moved to Udon Thani, now being in strange surroundings, I got the feeling that the chasm widened even more, even if not in reality, at least in a young girl’s mind.

The independent nine year old went to the government school in Udon Thani, and I asked how did she do in school. Not backwards in coming forward, the reply was, “Yes, I’m good! Always number 1.” Unfortunately, as happens in many Thai households, there was not enough money to be able to let the girl who was top of her class continue through high school and to university. Yuree had dreams of becoming an air hostess, “I was tall enough and personality OK, but you had to go to university. I always wanted to fly,” she said rather wistfully.

By the time she was 15 years old she had made up her mind she was leaving Udon Thani and came to Pattaya where she had a cousin and her older brother. “I wanted to work and to finish my high school,” said Yuree, and she took a position as a cashier in a hotel. “It was a bit too much to start with,” she said, but with her spirit, she persevered.

When she was 18 years old she had met a young Thai and they got married, and when she was just 19 she was a mother. “This will be good,” she thought at the time, but it was not. By the time her daughter was two and a half years old she had made her own decisions again. “My husband didn’t really care, so I thought to myself, why stay? So I left and took care of my daughter by myself.”

I suggested that she showed a very independent streak and she agreed. “I’m very confident in myself. Because I have no Dad, this is how I am. I decide for myself, and told my Mum later!” She agreed that this was not usual, but emphasized that her mother (now also deceased) was very good to her and never asked her for money, though Yuree was proud of the fact that she did take care of her mother, as well as her daughter.

She was then working at Pattaya Park as the cashier at the front desk, until she was offered a job as the cashier at the Tequila Reef bar and restaurant. After one year she was offered the position as manager. I queried the fact that she was very young to take on such responsibility, and did she find it difficult? “No, it’s fun,” said Yuree flashing another of her wide smiles. “The bosses always helped with what to do.”

With the job came more responsibilities and longer hours too, but Yuree does not mind, as long as she has time to look after her daughter. When she has time off, she and her daughter go shopping, or to the movies. “Anything interesting, or action movies, but not ghost stories. I have my daughter with me!”

Having now lived in Pattaya for almost 13 years, all of it working in the hospitality industry, she has met many foreigners. “I work and I see how the farang men are (behaving) here. Some give you BS, some you can’t trust. Sometimes they think all the girls in Pattaya are the same, but they are not. (Many) farangs look bad to (the eyes of) the Thais, and the Thai girls look bad to the farangs. Foreigners look down on the Thai girls, but we (Thai girls) can choose the way we want to be. Some girls don’t care the way people look at them, only thinking about money, but I am not like them. I am very different. I won’t be the same. I have to be careful, because I have a daughter.”

Typical of this young woman is the fact that she did not learn English at school, but “I learn by myself. I read the books by myself because I have to speak English for my job.” However, she did take advantage of some after-work lessons that were available at the hotel when she worked there.

The young lady coming on 28 also gave another insight into the Thai community. “After 25, a Thai woman has to decide by herself. She is grown up.” As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, this young woman was “grown up” by the time she was nine!

A girl like Yuree is the exact opposite of those who are the subject of countless letters to our Agony Aunt Hillary, but before you catch the baht bus to Soi 7, Yuree is another lady who is definitely not in the marriage market. Another milestone in her life was two years ago when she met one of the patrons who frequented Tequila Reef. He was a Lt. Col. in the American Army, and his visits to Pattaya became more frequent as the two got closer. She has now married her Lt. Col. and both Yuree and her daughter are looking forward to settling in America.

There will be much weeping at the Tequila Reef when their favorite manager leaves!



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