Is it possible to really get to know a Thai girl? I have been dating this girl from the local bar in Jomtien for almost three weeks now and we get along fantastically well. However, the other night she said that she was going to go to Sweden in June as her “Sweden boyfriend” was sending her a ticket and she had her visa to go. She never said anything about this bloke from Sweden before. How can you ever trust them? I am shattered, as I thought we had a good future together. Is it finished or what?
“Is it finished or what?” How old are you, my dear young boy? A very young 20 something? It hasn’t even started! Look at it this way, Petal. If someone offered you a ticket to Brazil would you take it? Or would you say, “No, I’ve met this person in a bar two and a bit weeks ago and we get along fantastically well, so I’ll stay here and enjoy my lady drinks. Wake up! Good future? That will last until next payday.
We have not been here very long and already we have had the water cut off from the house (twice!) and the electricity (once) all because I do not understand when and how the bills come. I am sure we did not receive at least two, but when I tried to explain this at the Water Department I got nowhere - and had to pay an extra 500 baht to get re-connected. What can we do?
Dear Bill (or is that “Bin”?),
There are all kinds of ways to make sure you get your bills, and the first is to know what date the bills come each month. Ask your neighbors. Secondly put a small letter box on your gate, with “For Electric and for Water” - but in Thai writing, not in English! That should make sure you get them and now you can pay them at your closest 7-11. Easy Peasy!
Why do the shops open so late in Pattaya? The main shopping centers officially open at 9, 10 or11, but many of the shops are still setting up at 11.30. I am sure they must lose an awful lot of business with this late opening. Can’t the shopkeepers get out of bed in time?
Dear I’m intrigued,
Be intrigued no longer, Petal. How many shoppers do you see early in the morning - other than yourself reflected in the closed glass doors. What time do the shoppers finish in the evening? In the popular tourist areas you will see them still open at 10 p.m., midnight and even 2 a.m. Let them have some sleep as they need to lock up and have couple of Changs before bed, and then get up to serve you! You obviously haven’t been here very long, have you? Pattaya is a night time city.
As I am thinking about retiring here, I was hoping you could advise me on a couple of points. It has always been one of my ambitions to have my own little pub (I’ve spent a fair deal of time in little pubs and bars after work). There seems to be quite a few very successful bars for sale and they only want about 600,000 baht for most of them. Since I will be getting a nice tidy sum for my retirement, I thought I might invest in one by buying a half share or something. It would be nice to make money at a bar, rather than spending money at a bar, don’t you reckon, Hillary! My only worry is that I have heard that foreigners have been ripped off and I am hoping you can advise me on what to watch for.
With apologies to the Charge of the Light Brigade - “Into the valley of death rode the six hundred” (thousand baht). Gordon, Gordon! For a start, there are very few successful bar owners who learned the trade from propping up the outside of the bar. Even with half shares for sale, have you stopped to think why the owner of such a successful establishment would want to give half of it away? Things to watch for? There is always the scam where third or fourth 50 percent shares that gets sold. Unfortunately, with the economic downturn, tourist cancellations etc etc etc, the bar will pay no dividend this year and the regretful owner will buy your 50 percent share back for 100,000 baht. Yes, there are quick profits to be made in the bar bizz - for the seller, not the purchaser. Mind you, if you can get a half share in Jameson’s for 600,000 baht, count me in too!
I am a newcomer as far as wines are concerned. Is there a fool-proof way to pick a ‘good’ bottle of wine? I have started dating one of your “good” girls and don’t want to look foolish.
Join a wine club. In the meantime, Veuve Clicquot makes a very fine champers. You now owe me one!
I do love your column and it is the first one I read every week when the Mail comes out. What gets me though (I’ve been here for almost 10 years) is the fact that all these newcomers think they’ve got it all sussed out. They meet the only bar girl in this world that is still a virgin, the only bar girl in the world that hasn’t asked for money (even to buy sum tom) and the only bar girl in the world that doesn’t have children staying with granny and whose husband didn’t run away. Saying nothing about the family buffalo, which is in a picture of bovine health. Help me, Hillary, I meet a couple of these deranged people every week. What should I do?
It would be too easy to give them a ticket back home, and also expensive. The best you can do is to give them a copy of Stephen Leather’s book Private Dancer and make them read it aloud, with you standing there. On second thoughts, with you sitting there with several beers will be better, as I am sure these people will have difficulties with words which have more than four letters.
What should I do about the maid coming on to me? If we pass in the corridor, she gives me a big smile and touches my arm, and holds my hand just a little too long for it to be a coincidence. When I am lying down in the bedroom some afternoons she will come in and insist that she brings me a coffee or cold water and stays too long talking to me. She is married to our driver, so they came as a package, so I haven’t said anything to my husband as he could fly off the handle and sack them both on the spot, and I don’t want that. How do I gently get the message across that I am not interested in her, and get her to just go about her maid duties without coming on to me?
You have to be a little careful here, or you may precipitate a major incident, which would also reflect badly on your husband and his work, as well as the driver. You do not say what your command of the Thai language is like, but unless it is very good, you really need a native Thai speaker to help you. Get your Thai friend to gently tell her that you are a very busy woman and you don’t have time to chat while she is working. Thank her and say she does a wonderful job of keeping the house clean, and your husband also says what a good job she has done. After that just be a little cool in your relationship with her and the problem will go away. Best of luck, Petal.
I never realized I was smart until I came to Thailand one year ago. I always used my common senses back home and here in Thailand and I never had any problems but too many foreigners just can’t help themselves. Thailand receives the world’s biggest jackasses and fools and every week I see or hear about some guys who gets into problems with bar girls and complain and cry about everything and everybody here. I’m tired of these fools bad mouthing Thais and Thailand. If they don’t like it go home. Why do we get so many foolish, ignorant farangs who makes us all look bad in front of Thai people?
Dear Happy Here,
You don’t sound all that happy to me, Petal, your letter is full of grumps and grouches. I agree that there are many foreigners who don’t seem to use much common sense (why is it called ‘common’ when there’s so little of it around?), but I think you are overstepping the mark when you start painting your foreigners as foolish and jackasses. I agree that there is nothing to be gained by foreigners when they start bad mouthing Thais and Thailand, and you do have to wonder why they left their own countries in the first place. There can be many reasons I believe, and not all of them are lawful! Of course it is not too difficult to see why some of these people become cannon fodder for the sharp-shooters in the bars. It must be difficult to survive the “Buy me cola, darling” when all they are used to in their home countries are women who want to put them down all the time. “What are you looking at,” being a standard western woman’s response to a bright appreciative smile I am reliably informed. Perhaps you should be producing a lapel button which says “Don’t complain to me - I like it here!” Finally, don’t let the idiots spoil it for you. You don’t have to drink in bar beers, and if you take the effort to learn the language, then you don’t have to talk to the foreigners either, as there are 60 million Thai people out there who would like to know about you and your country of origin.
You see all these older chaps strolling along with their trophy wife in tow, don’t they know there is nothing genuine about the relationship? She’s out for the money, not for a healthy walk. Why do these older men never learn? Is it something in the air?
I think you are being a bit hard on some of our older men. The relationship is one that works for both parties. She gets a source of steady income, and he gets a companion. I would call it a win-win situation. However, it does remind me of an old joke: 70 year old chap arm in arm with his 17 year old sweetie and his friends asked him how he could attract such a young and gorgeous girl. He replied by telling them that he lied about his age - he told her he was 90!
I am starting a relationship with a very nice young woman and I would like to take her somewhere good for dinner. I have not been here very long, so can you suggest a couple of restaurants I should investigate?
I am not the one to ask, as I can’t afford the som tum stall at the end of my street, but the person who can help you is Miss Terry Diner, our food and wine critic, who has a page every week. Her review covers all kinds of restaurants, right from the top venues like the Royal Cliff, right the way through to roadside budget eateries. You can use the website to go back through the places to go and choose one you think will be suitable. I’ll just make do with the champagne and chocolates!