I hope that Christmas and New Year were good for you. You deserve some happiness, as you brightened up so many lives during 2014. Sorry I can’t be with you to share the bubbles, but think of me anyway.
Dear Jack W,
What a nice man you are. With a bow around the bottle as well. I hope you have a good year ahead too. (Next time, remember the chocolates as well, my Petal!)
You may think this is a silly question, but I would like to ride side saddle like the Thai girls do. They seem to do it so easily and gracefully, but I never see foreigner ladies riding that way. Is it against the culture of Thailand or what? I do appreciate your thoughts and advice on this.
If you carefully look at the Thai girls motorcycle riding habits you will see that not all of them are riding side saddle, only about 50 percent sit astride the motorcycle. The difference? Those in jeans/trousers sit astride, while those in skirts sit sideways. Why? Well if you are going to sit astride the oily machines in a skirt, it will be around your waist by the time you get to the end of your soi. It is much more polite to sit sideways with your knees together and your handbag in your lap. Just as the Thai girls did 100 years ago, when riding buffaloes or elephants. For foreigners, I generally advise them to wear jeans, sit astride the motorcycle, hang onto the rider and shout “Cha-cha” (“slow down”) in his ear. And oh yes, wear a helmet.
About every week there’s a report in your paper about another foreigner falling off tall buildings in Pattaya. Do the Thais fall off as well? What is it that makes these sad events happen? I think we all would like to know, so that we can make sure we’re not next!
There is never any one reason that would cause people to fall off tall buildings, but there are a few common factors. Copious quantities of alcohol is one. About 1.5 meters tall with dark brown eyes and long black hair is another one. Running out of money on the holiday of a lifetime is in there as well. If you know someone who is threatening to harm themselves, in any way, get them to a doctor quickly.
I only get to see my Thai girlfriend about two times, four weeks every year. We set up a condo together (it’s in my name) and she seems happy enough there, though I am a little worried by the amount she tells me she spends every month. She has a good job and should be able to live on what she earns, but every month she needs about another 40-50,000 baht to keep going. The money she tells me is for maintenance of the condo, then her mother who looks after her two kids up jungle needs money, then the phone bills seem astronomical, and on and on and on. I enjoy my times over there, but I am starting to think that maybe I’m getting ripped off somewhere down the line. Do you think I am?
Simple answer is “yes!” 50,000 baht on top of her wages in a rent-free condo does seem rather excessive. Have you considered saying “No” to the requests? What would she do then? You are only prepared to be there for her for two months a year, and that is all. The condo is not in her name, and actually you could kick her out at any time. Agreed? She has no security, from a guy she sees twice a year, and who sends money. Where does that put the relationship? There seems to be a misguided impression over there that by throwing some money in a Thai girl’s lap this means you have some gorgeous girl now yours, and faithful for ever. Thai girls are just as emotionally needy and looking for a committed partner as girls in your home country, but smile more readily. Two months in 12 is not a relationship, Petal.
I hope you all have had a safe and enjoyable New Year (none of this “Happy Holidays” nonsense), and here are some of the letters that made 2014 enjoyable.
First off I would like to say I love reading your column, which I do from over here in the US. 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!
I have been married to my Thai wife for 10 years. We get by on a pension from the UK, which buys less and less every year. She runs a little Mom and Pop convenience store downstairs, but that isn’t doing too well recently, lucky to cover the rent. Her two younger brothers have moved to Pattaya from Udon and they are staying with us as well and neither one has a job, but all they do all day is lie about the place watching telly. I really don’t like this situation and I told my wife that as things are tough, they should pay rent. She came back saying “I am not a foreigner. They are my blood.” I know the Thai’s keep the family as number one, but surely these two lumps should be looking for a job, instead of eating us out of house and home. How do I handle this, Hillary?
You really do have a problem here, my Petal. The “family” does come first - they learn this from an early age, and the girls are taught that they are there to look after the brothers. You are not going to re-educate your wife, so unhappily, I think you are stuck with this situation. You are married to a Thai woman with a Thai family and living in Thailand. You can try discussing this with her, but you are outnumbered. Learn to live with it, Ron.
I am a regular shopper at Central World Mall. In the last few weeks I have noticed that a new mannequin in one of the stores looks just like my deceased neighbor. I have passed this mannequin from many directions and the resemblance is uncanny. In every way - noose (sic), cheekbones, hair, etc. I can look at it from any angle. It looks like the neighbor I was friendly with. Even the clothes that the mannequin was wearing is the kind of lightweight windbreaker jacket my neighbor would wear. It is unbelievable that this mannequin looks so much like my neighbor. Is it possible to contact the Central World Mall management to propose to buy this mannequin (after its use) so I may present it to my neighbor’s family? They would think this would be a very sentimental gesture. I think his co-workers would also like to have him remembered, so having him there would be good, therapeutic behavior for all. I was told to write to your column Heart to Heart with Hillary since you have such good reputation, after I inquired about buying this mannequin from the sales lady who was very helpful with my socks purchase. I got one pair in wool with small cute reindeers. Please Hillary, advise?
Are you asking my advice about the woolly socks and reindeers? Personally, I would imagine woolly socks to be a bit hot in this country, though the reindeers are a cooling influence I should imagine. Have you tried polyester and cotton mix? Much more suited to our tropical climate. The other mannequin problem. I believe I know what is happening here. The mannequin that looks exactly like your neighbor, is your neighbor, but he has been embalmed so that there is no decay. He is on loan to Central World (although they will deny it of course). You will find that after the sock promotion is over, the mannequin will be sent back to your neighbors.
I am not sure if I have found some strange cultural problem. Do all Thai people ask you the most personal questions? Things like “How much money you make? You married yet? Why not? You got girlfriend? Apart from the fact that this is considered a very rude way of starting a relationship in the UK, I also find it very embarrassing when I am over here. How do I get these people to stop doing this? You seem to have the answers for everyone else, so I hope you have some for me too.
Direct questions come from a bar girl somewhere. They are not in the habit of issuing a gilt edged invitation to dinner, hand inscribed in Ye Olde English. Be thankful that ‘these people’ as you call them are interested enough in you to even ask questions. Lighten up!
I have a great little gal who has been staying with me for about six months. When I’m away off shore she uses the car to go back to her village and stays there until I’m due to come back, but lately I kind of get the idea that maybe she’s not really back with Mom in the village, if you know what I mean. Got any ideas how I can check her out, but discreetly. I don’t want to get a PI as I can’t trust any tired old gumshoe to be totally invisible.
Thom from TX
Dear Thom from TX,
This is a common problem Thom my Petal, and really shows that perhaps you have been too trusting, especially with such a short relationship. You know the girl for six months, and here you are, “Have the car, darling, I won’t need it for the next six weeks.” Would you do that with any woman you met only six months ago in the US? I don’t think so. You men really go out of your way to make problems for yourselves, don’t you! However, there is a way you can check on where she is with your car without resorting to getting her followed, as these days you can find cheap tracking devices you hide in the car which will give you the location very easily. You can also get applications (I hate this word “apps”) which will show the location of her phone. That should be easy, because I am sure you bought her a phone as well. Perhaps you could look into that. I hope you are not disappointed.