This is a real problem for men such as myself. We come from a lonely life in the UK and come to Thailand - a paradise in comparison. But then reality strikes home. It seems to me and many of my friends that all the women in Thailand on the make. It seems very easy (too easy?) to get a live-in partner. Almost impossible in the UK, but every last one seems to have her hand into your wallet within days of hanging her clothes up in the wardrobe. Of course there never is enough clothes, so I buy some for her. Then it is money to buy groceries, and I thought that was great, thinking about me and looking after me, and it is so much cheaper from the local markets. But then the grocery bill seemed to be going up all the time and the amount of food was going smaller. Then it was some to send to Mama, school fees (in a village school?) for her children being looked after by Mama, it just went on and on. That ended that one. Then the next one was the same, and the one after that. Is there one honest woman in Thailand?
Not an ATM
Dear Not an ATM,
Is there one honest woman in Thailand? Yes, my Petal - me. Just send me your bank account details so I can see if you are a genuine match (woops, almost wrote ‘catch’ there) and really deserve me. Petal, have you ever wondered why the women you have formed a relationship with do this so easily? You are obviously looking for your paragon of virtue in an area selling commercial friendships. Quite frankly, you will not get a non-bar girl to just move in like that. However, when you select a lady who will move in tomorrow, then she will move out the day after that, once your financial support dries up. These are ‘mia chow’ (rented wives), and it is a purely financial relationship. It is time you began to look elsewhere and form a genuine bond with genuine women, and there are many of them. But you won’t find them in a bar.
I will come clean right off and say that I do spend a fair bit of time at night in the bars. I am single, and it’s a good way to meet people. The old bill in the cup routine I think is very good because it shows that the bar trusts you not to lose a couple before you pay at the end of the night. Recently though I have been getting the feeling that my bill is not right, because it seems to be a lot more than I thought it should be. Is it OK to check the amount yourself before the girl takes the cup to the cashier? I don’t want them to think I don’t trust them, when they are trusting me. What is the usual thing?
How old are you, Petunia? Are you really old enough to go to bars? It is your bill, for the drinks you bought and consumed, plus any “lady drinks” that the nice people you meet drank as well. Most bars will total up your drinks bills and write this on the back of the bunch of bills, plus what size bill you paid it with. But you are the consumer, so you are entitled to check the bill(s). You will find most Thai people will very carefully check every docket, so don’t be shy if you think you are being ripped off.
Advice needed urgently, Hillary my Petal! There I was at a new bar and met this vision of loveliness. She speaks very little English but seems like a very genuine person. She comes from Ubon Ratchatani, and that’s about all I managed to find out after about four hours and several “lady drinks”. The biggest problem was only that she doesn’t speak much English, but we got by OK. By the end of the night I was pretty drunk and lent her 5000 baht. What should I do? Should I keep going, or should I give up now before I get in too deep?
Got the telescope up to the blind eye again, have you Admiral? This vision of loveliness who speaks very little English, still managed to find her way into your wallet to make it 5000 baht lighter, while you were still trying to find your way into her knickers. Honestly Nelson, people like you shouldn’t be allowed out without a nanny. When you ask me “should I keep going”, this is in relation to what? Keep drinking, keep handing over money or keep going in the gentle art of seduction? Face facts, Nelson, this is a girl in a bar who doesn’t speak your language (or you hers by the sounds of it), she works there hoping to meet gullible customers with wallets that are too heavy. And she just did - you! Kiss your five G’s goodbye and find another bar.
Every day I go for a walk at the shopping center and most days I see a very pretty young woman drinking coffee in the coffee shop. Sometimes she is talking to a man, but other times she is just sitting on the coffee. I get a smile from her and I say “Hello” while I pass by. Do you think she is a ‘professional’ girl (you know what I mean)? And what should I do next? I really like her and would like to get to know her a bit more.
Imagine you are in your home town of Little Muddling on the Marsh (I think you are from the UK, Petal) and every day there is a pretty young woman drinking coffee in the coffee shop as you stroll by. What do you think her occupation might be? An official coffee taster for Nescafe? An official coffee shop seat tester? A ‘professional’ on the lookout (for suckers)? So, did you pick answer number three? Of course you did. So now you have answered your own question as well. Forget the coffee shop, Petal, unless you are ready to pay for the froth on top as well.
Just a quickie. I want to send a girl I met last time I was up on holidays some money for her birthday which she tells me is just before Songkran later this year, but I’ve been told by some mates that it’s not too safe sending money by post to Thailand. As I won’t be back in Thailand till around Xmas this year, it is a bit late to bring it over myself. What’s your suggestion? The safer the better. I do want to make sure she gets it.
That is very nice and kind of you, but your little lady friend will soon tell you the best way, if you haven’t worked it out before Santa comes down the chimney. You don’t post it, you transfer it to her bank account, and she will have one, believe me! Posting is a no-no! She will know everything as far as money transfers are concerned, and even the daily currency conversion rates as well!
Nothing could have been further from my intent than to cause you offence. Hillary, I beg you to look again, and you may see that the offending paragraph, the one that you omitted from my letter, with the exception of the reference to Champagne, contained only in fact the words of Charles Dickens, lifted from the pages of ‘A Christmas Carol’. I committed this plagiarism in the hope of adding a seasonal touch more than anything else, and never for a moment thought that you would be offended.
I would also like to point out to you, that I have never had a relationship with a Thai woman, I said merely that I had had experience of a so called professional Thai: I helped her out of a tight spot that she had gotten into in the U.K. My opinions are simply those of an observer: someone who has watched over several years, the exploits of my friends, and their countless failed and disastrous attempts to find love here; and I can only conclude that if you are looking for a ‘Gem’ then perhaps a coal mine is not the best place to start.
Dear Johnny Foreigner,
OK, maybe I was having a bad hair day when I got your last missile (sorry, missive), so I am willing to call the truce, even without the champagne. You speak of “countless failed and disastrous attempts to find love here” and this is so for those who go looking in the wrong places. I do feel, however, my protesting Petal, that you should be wary of forming conclusions from a sample population of one, and “observers” can be thought of as “voyeurs”. Never mind, I do agree with your gems and coal mines, or as I have said many times, if you are looking for some cheese, don’t go looking in a hardware shop.
Love your column for all it’s informative, witty solutions to farang issues. My question is more of a self-help nature: why don’t farangs do just a little bit of research before settling here? I opted for early retirement last year (at a rather juvenile 50 years young) as I thought the lady of my dreams was too good to be true and that she might actually enjoy living with me! So, I did some homework: Thai language classes ... which are still ongoing; understanding the differences between Thailand and Pattaya; calculating a realistic budget that would cover our overheads; and shopping around, doing networking, joining expats club and generally immersing myself with those (both Thai and farang) people that promoted the positive aspects of living in our tropical paradise. I quickly disassociated myself from cynical pessimists and found myself gravitating away from the losers to the winners circle. Thais love sanook (fun and games), smiling and living for the moment and frankly, as an Irishman I could not resist their charming, engaging ways! Treating them with respect and making them laugh... and you have cracked the formula! Yes, three and a half years later, we are still ecstatically happy and pinch each other every morning to remind ourselves just how good it is. We have completely removed certain “concepts” from our mind sets. We have a zero tolerance to lies, secrets, jealousy, hidden agendas and BS! In return for my appalling Irish jokes, she has brought me all around Thailand, north to south, east to west. I’ve met her parents (in the town of Phonphisai,1 hour outside Nong Khai, on the Mekong River) ... they have never pleaded poverty ... even though they have so little ... and don’t suffer from sick tractor/buffalo syndrome! My property in London is my pension and I’m by no means wealthy or affluent ... but once you set out the goalposts, it’s decision time for all concerned. Money doesn’t talk here, it SCREAMS... but there are, thankfully, some good hearted (jai dee) people here who see life beyond ATM’d sunglasses and these happen to be my wonderful friends! So, avoid the cynical “stew in their juices” broken wallets/hearts... and learn from the upbeat, zestful Thais who are all around us. The fact that my transgendered lady gives us both so much happiness is testimony to the above. To sum up: don’t judge a book by its cover; exercise common sense; be prepared to stretch your learning curve every day; make sure you can communicate... and keep smiling!
Dear Chai Noi,
It is indeed great to receive an upbeat letter from an ex-pat who might have gone the other way if he had listened to the down-beats! And that is both Thai and foreigners! You have approached your relocation from Ireland in a very commendable way, and you hit the nail fair and square on the head when you put much emphasis on communication. I just hope your partner is just as industrious as you in learning English (or is that Irish)?
However, you must remember that the people who write to Hillary for advice, are not like yourself riding the crest of the wave. The ones who write have been hit by a wave that feels like a tsunami to them. Please continue to enjoy the life that Thailand offers you.
First off I would like to say I love reading your column, which I do from over here in the US. That means I won’t give you promises of Champagne or chocolates and I am sorry for that, but delivery would be a bit of a problem. I do have a question for you though. Do all the girls in Pattaya flirt with all the tourists or am I just a walking sign board that says, “Here I am come take advantage of me”? Well I don’t really know who is taking advantage of who but at times I feel that there really is a spark, a kind of connection between some of the girls and me. Especially the ones who remember you from a previous visit. Am I dreaming this or is it possible?
Hello Sexy Man
Dear Hello Sexy Man,
First off, I would like to thank you for your kind words, though wrapped around a cold bottle of bubbles makes them even better. You don’t have to worry about the delivery side of things, as I am sure DHL will know how to do it. Now to your specific questions - do all the girls in Pattaya flirt? No, all girls do not. A percentage do, and that percentage increases exponentially as you approach the bar areas, until after you have passed through the “Welcome! Sit down please,” threshold, the percentage is nigh on 100 percent. Is there a spark, a kind of connection? Of course there is! That connection is called “your money”. The girls are there to free you from the shackles of your wallet! After all, you don’t want to be dragging that heavy thing around all day, stuffed full of greenbacks!
It has been reported that the police have been destroying copy watches and T-shirts, CD’s and the like. Pictures of them being burnt in the street and all. They also had a front end loader driving over a Ferrari. Why is this? Everyone knows that you go to Asia to buy real bargains, even if they’re not the real thing. I always bring back a stack of watches and all the latest movies on DVD and some footy shirts for the blokes. What’s wrong with this? If I can’t get the stuff in Thailand any more, do you know where I can get them? I like Thailand, but I have to look at what I can take back to sell, to pay for the trip. What about the Philippines?
This is what they call a vexed question, Petal. How would you feel if you made some type of special sporting goods and your money came from selling them throughout the world and then you found that cheap copies were being marketed at half the price you sell them for, and you don’t get anything from that sale? That goes for boots, shoes, clothes and DVDs. Mind you, I think that many of these ‘designer’ goods are highly over-priced too. The whole question of copyright is well beyond me, I’m afraid. I’m just worried about getting landed with ‘copy’ champagne. As to where you can go to get the things you want - the markets here still have them I believe, but don’t tell the powers that be. Unless the powers that be are running the market! And the Philippines? I have no idea. And it is the Customs Department that destroys fake goods, or items where the duty has not been paid - like the sports car.
With all this rubbish being written to you about all the girls in Thailand being on the game, it really is time to get the record straight. Even in Pattaya, the so-called sin city, the number of girls who work in the Royal Garden Plaza, Tesco, Big C, Carrefour, the hospitals, the eye clinics, the dental clinics, the gas stations, banks, tour companies, the list can go on forever. You don’t need to be me to see that while there are the easy ladies in the bars, the great majority are normal girls from normal families doing normal work and following normal moral values. Please, no more of the rubbish which insults all the normal women and girls in Thailand.
I am so glad to see you are still alive and well, and now apparently living here in Thailand. You will do much good for our society. I do agree with you, Petal. There is much shortsightedness that comes across in my letter writers from time to time. Certainly the ladies of the night have a place in the society (mainly sitting on a stool outside bar beers saying “Hello sexy man, come inside please”) but they are not the majority. However, for those who look at life through beer glasses are the most easily spotted. There is one other important fact that you have overlooked yourself, Khun Einstein, and that is the people who write in do have personal genuine concerns and questions, and even though you personally do not share those worries, it is my job as their counselor to answer those questions and allay their fears.