My Thai girlfriend is wonderful - except for one thing, she is timeless. She will arrange to meet me at three in the afternoon and rolls up at four saying, “Sorry I’m a little late.” I don’t think one hour to be a “little late”, that’s a lottle late, surely. She has been even more late than that, but every time it is the same, “Sorry I’m a little late.” Have you any ideas that I could try to get this girl to be punctual?
Dear (Punctual) Pete,
Have you tried buying her a watch, my poor punctual Petal? I suggest you buy her a digital watch, or else it will be endless descriptions of “When the little hand is at three and the big hand is at twelve...” You could also buy her a mobile phone and ring her up quarter of an hour before the appointment to remind her. Then you could also get her a motorbike, so that she doesn’t have to waste time looking for a songthaew. To keep the motorcycle serviceable, it should be kept under cover, so while you’re shelling out the shekels, you may as well buy her a little house. With that kind of investment you may as well marry the girl, so that next time you write to Hillary you can begin with “My Thai wife is wonderful - except for one thing. She is timeless.” My suggestion is to jump ship now, Pete, before it all becomes too much. Thais are not noted for their punctuality, and very few of them are ever “on time”. The concept is, that as long as nobody is killed because of lateness, there is really no problem. That’s life in the relaxed Thai world, and you may just have to learn to live with it, or keep moving on.
I know I am lucky to have a maid, as who could afford one in America. I know I am joining the band of women who are complaining about their maids. Everywhere I go to, the subject is always the same, what the maid has done this week! I do not speak very much Thai and my maid speaks even less English, but surely if she wants to be a maid for English speaking people, should I not get someone who can communicate? I did not choose the maid as she was supplied by my husband’s company and this is my first experience with domestic staff.
I could go on for hours about the way she refuses to use hot water for the dishes, will wash everything in the same sink, will use the dish cloth to wipe the floor. I am sure you have heard it all before. She also does weird things like leaving clothes out in the lounge room for a day, rather than putting them away. Why? Is this some special Thai ‘sign’ to tell me something? Routine cleaning and dusting seems to be beyond her and I have to tell her to do these simple tasks every time. She also tries to leave before 6 p.m. and always comes in late in the mornings, after 8 a.m. What can I do, Hillary?
At my wits end
Dear At my wits end,
You know the problem, right from the start when you say that you do not speak Thai and your maid does not speak English, Petal. No communication! Could your husband get what he wants done if his secretary only speaks Hindi and he speaks Swahili? Speak to your husband, if his company has supplied the poor woman. She probably goes home and talks to her friends, all of whom are complaining about their mistresses. However, how much does your maid get paid, my Petal? If you are only paying a low salary, you cannot expect a household whiz who is also multilingual. If she were that good she would be working as your husband’s secretary, not as your 10 hours a day slave. If it all becomes too much, you can always do the work yourself, as you did back home. Finally, as I have to remind many foreigners, this is Thai-land and the inhabitants speak Thai. How many maids in the English speaking world are multi-lingual?
A friend of mine is getting very tired of the ladies he meets in the bars, who only seem to be interested in money. They stay with him for a few weeks, and when he hasn’t coughed up the money for whatever they want, they move on to find another sucker who will. He has asked me where can he go to find a better class of lady in Thailand, or are they all like this. He has heard about introduction agencies. Are they worthwhile? I can’t help him because I’ve never had any experience of them.
Dear Introduction Ian,
What is wrong with you men these days? Your friend claims the girls he meets seem only interested in money - but what is the only thing your friend seems interested in? Why does he have them living with him? To learn how to eat Som Tum? Here’s the first piece of advice, how about meeting the girl of his dreams the same way he would in his own country? Go to places where the so-called ‘nice’ girls go. Join groups where ‘nice’ girls go. Meet eligible ladies at parties, social gatherings, art exhibitions. He will find that these are ladies who appreciate a gentleman, but on his down side will also not race off to bed on the first date and stay for a few weeks. As has been pointed out many times - you get what you pay for, Petal. And are you sure this is for a “friend” and not for you?
I just finish with boyfriend Sweden. He say he take me to Sweden but make big excuse every time. I get visa and everything. Pay myself, not ask him for money. Say take me over now for one year but not take over. I look after he when he come twice a year. Stay in room me. Not ask rent. I think him stingy man. Why farang tell lies all the time? I not look for farang man any more.
Thank you for your letter, and I am sorry you have been disappointed in this relationship. But you must remember that not all Thai girls are like you, and not all farang men are like your boyfriend. In the future, it will be better if you don’t go “looking” for a boyfriend, but just wait till the right man comes along. He is the one who makes your heart jump, and you do the same for him. He will appear, K. Rose, but just let it happen. Don’t go looking everywhere for where ‘your’ farang is hiding.
A very reliable source has told me that the Pattaya City Expats Club says Hillary works in the Accounts Dept of the Bangkok Pattaya Hospital. Hillary categorically denies this. The only corporation Hillary works for is the Pattaya Mail.
I enjoyed the festival New Year’s Eve. I went to Pattaya beach 6.30 pm walked among the sellers and bought some food, and left at 9 pm. When I arrived home I couldn’t get in. I have short shorts and a pocket on my knee with a Velcro flap. I only put a purse in there with a key and security card. There are 2 short narrow patches along the sellers, where you have to push your way through, the authorities should make sure there are none or put signs up going forward and back. Beware of pickpockets. I’m 77. Thai kamoy have no respect for age. I remember Thai girl push forward in front of me then turn around and push back.
What did you do when you arrived home and couldn’t get in? Break a window or what? You lost your key and security card. What about your money? Unfortunately, thieves are only looking to steal your belongings, and they aren’t interested in your birth certificate. Not much I can advise you, other than be very wary in crowds, and perhaps wear trousers with zipped pockets and not Velcro. Sorry.
I have just said farewell to the last of the in-laws and their cousins’ cousins who came to see in the New Year. All in all, there would have been around 20, but they were so mobile it was difficult to count them all at one time! They slept on the floor of our two bedroom condo unit, got up before me, prepared their own meals, brought their own rice and vegetables and tidied up and swept up after themselves. I know that many readers don’t like this sort of thing, an Englishman’s home is his castle and all that, but we aren’t living in jolly old England, we are living in Thailand, a country with its own customs and culture and if you want to stay in Thailand (and stay sane in Thailand), you have to say goodbye to your own customs. As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Make that “When in Thailand, do as the Thais do.”
How delighted I am to read something from an ex-pat who is not complaining at Thai customs and culture. You are so correct, my Petal. This country is Thailand, not the 53rd state of America. Keep enjoying yourself in your new country.
There is a very nice young lady in the office of my condo building. Efficient, good English and I have been very close to asking her out, but didn’t do it because I didn’t want to embarrass her (or myself). Last night I dropped into a go-go bar I hadn’t been into before and to my surprise, there was the girl from the condo office. She was happy enough to sit and chat (while I was buying lady drinks) and was quite happy at being there, while I was embarrassed. I have two questions for you, Hillary. This girl you would call a “good” girl in the daytime, but at nights she becomes a bar girl. Which one is she? Second, I would still like to invite her out, should I invite the office girl or pay the bar fine and take out the bar girl?
You are a little unsure of yourself, aren’t you Jim. However, your situation reminds me of that wonderful quote from Jerry Hall (Mick Jagger’s ex), which goes, “My mother said it was simple to keep a man, you must be a maid in the living room, a cook in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom.” Jerry went on to say, “I said I’d hire the other two and take care of the bedroom bit.” I think there’s your answer, Petal. Are you looking for a maid or a whore? The ball’s in your court, Jim.
You may think this request is too simple to publish, but I am sure my problem is common in this country. I am from the UK, here for a couple of years, and am enjoying just being with such nice girls. Here’s the problem, I have met a right stunner. She is super and works in an office in the same building. I have done the homework and she’s not married or attached, but here’s the problem. She doesn’t speak English. She really turns me on, but I haven’t got enough Thai to be able to chat her up or anything. What’s the next step, Hillary?
Dear Pasa Angkrit,
What a wonderful pseudonym you have chosen, Pasa Angkrit indeed (‘English language’ for those who cannot speak Thai). But what a dilemma! Here you are, hormones raging at the thought of this nice young woman who really turns you on, even though you have never spoken to her! And you don’t know how to pop the question. Or any question, for that matter. You have just discovered a simple and inescapable fact, my Petal. The country you are in for the next two years and the country the woman lives in, is called Thailand. That’s not tongue tie-land. Forget about her (until you learn Pasa Thai)!
I have been dating a nice Thai girl for the past three months and we are starting to get serious. Well, I thought we were serious, but now she tells me she is going back to her home village because her mother wants her there. She just dropped this on me the other night. Is this usual? How do I get her to change her mind?
Forget about getting her to change her mind - her mind has been made up by her mother. “Family” counts for everything in Thai culture, with “Mother” at the top of the tree (just thinking of Xmas trees) and farang BF is way down the bottom of the list, I’m afraid, somewhere after the neighbor’s cat and the soi dog that comes for food every afternoon. Sam, my Petal, you are an alien in a foreign land. Don’t forget that. And don’t try and change it, please!
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!)