Wednesday, 14 May 2014 16:17

Is there an ess in the how?

Dear Hillary,

Why is it that even well educated Thais who speak English cannot put the last “s” sound on words?  My girlfriend has been to English classes for months, but still says “How” instead of House and “Eye” instead of Ice.  Should I change the school she goes to or what?  Your advice, Ma’am!



Dear Horah,

Thai does not have an “ess” consonant at the end of a word, Petal, so Thais do not see one, or say one, even in English.  For the same reason educated Farangs think they can speak Thai, use incorrect tones and continue to make farcical mistakes.  Lighten up and be less critical.  Ignore the pronunciation, relax with a scotch and soda and a little “eye” and keep a happy “how”.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 16:15

Ya Ba

Dear Hillary,

I will soon be back in the beloved Kingdom for some much needed rest and relaxation.  I have discovered in my limited travels in Thailand that I should be polite but plain spoken and to the point in order to get exactly what I want.  I have always had a brilliant time in Thailand.  Bearing that in mind I would put forth this straight forward question.  Some of the boys I consort with smoke a little marijuana. I don’t, but I don’t mind if a few boys split a joint as long as they don’t bring it to my room.  That’s my little rule.  A good Thai friend of mine told me to stay away from the boys who are taking or offering “ya ma”.  He tells me that a farang could end up in the monkey house over this drug.  Please tell me what ya ma really is.  I know most of the others, but ya ma doesn’t ring a bell.  I am not a drug user, but I am curious about this drug and what the legal ramifications might be if a boy brought one to my room unbeknownst to me and got caught somehow.

Paranoid and Anxious


Dear Paranoid and Anxious,

It is not paranoia to want to stay out of the monkey house.  Not a very healthy place to be, in fact suicide would have to be considered as a more viable option to becoming an inmate.  Firstly, farangs have been locked up for possessing small quantities of marihuana.  The lucky ones get deported after paying a lot of money.  Secondly, the drug ya ba (which is what I believe you mean) is amphetamine or speed.  Ya ba literally means “crazy medicine” and you’d be crazy to try it.  It is a Class One narcotic here, and it’s jail if caught.  There is also a ya ma, which is roughly translated as “horse medicine”, and is generally heroin (“horse”, H, “heroin”).

As with other drugs, the seller frequently tips off the police and shares the reward.  Stay well away if you want to have a brilliant holiday.  If you want further encouragement, read, “Twelve Wasted Years” by Warren Fellowes.  This is a horrific story of the time he and his friend spent inside, as a result of heroin trafficking.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 16:12

Beer Bar Blues

Dear Hillary,

I have been offered a 50 percent share in a beer bar, and the price seems very reasonable (about ten thousand pounds sterling).  The bar does good business (especially with me around!) but they do not keep books the way we have to in the U.K., so all I have to go on is the number of patrons - and that seems very good.  How do I protect my investment, as it looks like a wonderful way to retire over here?  Are there any hidden problems I should know about?

Lucky Lenny


Dear Lenny,

Not lucky for long, Lenny, this is a veritable minefield.  Not only a foolhardy retirement plan here, it is also the best way that has ever been designed to lose ten thousand pounds sterling, or more, within six months.  Of course there are no books kept, neither are farang “partners” kept for long.  The “patrons” may have been just invited friends, that is a common practice (renta-crowd).  Don’t even consider it.  If you are still skeptical, leave the Sterling at home and come over here for a six months look-see.  Do your own research and by that I do not mean just sitting drinking in bars.  Find out how many bars there are in Pattaya.  How many of them are well frequented?  How many of them have farang owners or partners who have been here for years?  What makes you think you can run a successful bar and what experience do you have?  (Being a customer just doesn’t rate.)  Do you speak Thai, do you have a trusted Thai friend you can trust with your life and your bank account?  In that six months you may be able to locate a trustworthy Thai lawyer to help you arrange documents but that is really not much safeguard.  As a bar owner you would become an instant target for the powers that be for all sorts of over and under the table payments.  What you are suggesting is akin to taking the pin out of a hand grenade and playing pass the parcel!  Forget it Lenny and stay lucky!

Thursday, 08 May 2014 10:54

German Fraus or Thai bar girl?

Dear Hillary,

In response to Gunther, the German chap with money missing, you are right Hillary.  Spot on, “save your money.”  This German fellow did not meet his lady at a language school now did he?  Yes, things can and do get lost in the post, but basic teaching is to fold a sheet of paper around the currency.  In the west we even do it with a check.  Just coming from offshore the envelope is going to arouse suspicion.

“I called to my girl at the bar and she said there was no letter from me.”  Was that the only one in the series that had money in it?  Was it mailed TO THE BAR?

I am hoping that he has sent her bits of money before and this was a one time thing.  Obviously he has a kind heart but does he have good sense?  But even so he has to “call a bar” to reach her?  A BAR?  Gunther, choose where you want to be, the Fraus in Germany await you too.  Are you number five or number ten on the “sending her money” parade?  Please do a total of the money spent versus the “certainty received” and ask your dad, your uncle, or any older guy you will respect what your chances are “fishing on the Danube” with this one.

I am personally acquainted with the next door neighbor of a friend of mine who has three men keeping her.  The only thing the woman has to fear is that the three of them will come in the same week.



Dear Robert

Thank you for backing me up, but I wouldn’t be too hard on our German friend.  So he has a relationship with a girl from the bar, it would be hard for him to have any other GF in Thailand other than one of the lovely ladies of the night, who are skilled at making sure the Gunthers of this world come back for second helpings.  And third and fourths…  However, having said all that, he should find a way of transferring money that is more secure.  If he is worried, I have the ideal answer.  He transfers the money to me, and I will go round all of the bars and find which one his vision of loveliness works in.  I will make sure I spend it in the right bar.

Thursday, 08 May 2014 10:52

Pensioner problems

Dear Hillary,

Ron with the vanishing British pension a couple of weeks ago really does need some help, and more than you gave him, Hillary.

Ron, hope you don’t mind dark humor, but you will get the last laugh.  All you have to do is die old fellow and the money fully stops!  That will teach her!  Tough break on the UK fixed pension if you are not living in UK which makes you subject to inflation and currency exchange changes.  Of course, you are not in UK spending money in the local economy either which is why they froze it.  (If you were there it would be you that was freezing!)

Perhaps having the brothers in law “in residence” will encourage you to take a lot of walks buddy.  Perhaps they will join you and you can point out all the “help wanted” signs in Thai to them.  Yours is an excellent case to comment on and something anyone coming to Thailand from UK or any Western country should consider.  “Should I marry?”  “Should I own a condo in Farang name or rent?”  “Should I live in Thailand full time or half year?”  “How much should I have saved up in investment money before I retire?”  “What is the greatest and lowest exchange rate for my pound in the previous 10 years?”  If you plan for the lowest rate to be the best you ever get anything over is a bonus.

Your situation kind of makes a 15K baht a month housekeeper companion sound like a bargain.  But, I presume you love your wife and she loves you and except on this score she works hard and treats you well old friend.  Very best to you.  I hope you rent only and when you stop so does all the money.



Dear Rob,

You certainly have a streak of dark humor don’t you, my Petal?  And just a dash of sarcasm too!  However, the questions you raise are all very legitimate and should be addressed by all those thinking of coming over here with their pension pounds in their pockets, which as has been pointed out, gets smaller every year.  Unfortunately, marrying and home purchase can be decisions that can make or break relationships in this country.  Ron’s situation is somewhat different, in the fact that he has already married, house with a mortgage and lazy brother-in-laws who do not help.  When you boil it all down, Ron has only two choices - put up or shut up and go back home.  Neither is much fun, but he might do better in the next life if he just soldiers on in this one.  I think you will agree with me, Rob.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 16:38

Cha Cha Mister taxi man

Dear Hillary,

I have started to use the street corner motorcycle taxis recently and have two questions.  Is it safe to use them?  How much should I pay for shortish trips?  I have found them very handy and they will drop me exactly where I want (especially off the baht bus routes), but I am a little concerned about the correct fare.



Dear Marje,

Prices of the motorcy trips have gone up recently, just like everything these days, Petal.  Do bargain with them, but when you get somewhere close to 50 baht you are doing well.  Always ask for a helmet, and hang on tight!  If you feel your driver is going too fast, say “Cha cha” (slowly slowly) and insist he does slow, while beating him on the shoulder with your handbag.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 16:37

Grass is greener in the other field

Dear Hillary,

We live in Jomtien and often go to the beach there as it seems to be very popular with the Thais, as we see them swimming there a lot.  Why do the Thai people wear clothes when they go into the sea?  Sometimes it looks like shipwreck survivors from the Titanic.  Some Thais wear bikinis, but they are in the minority.  I even see them going in wearing jeans!  Why, Hillary please tell us.

Swimsuit Sue


Dear Sue,

The urban myth is that the Thai women think that if a girl has brown skin it means she is a farmer’s daughter, out in the sun all day planting rice, so down the bottom of the society pecking order.  Nothing as naïve as that in reality, my Petal.  Thai women want to be like European females and buy skin whitening cream by the bucket load, get their noses elevated by the cosmeticians, dye their hair blonde, have it made curly and call themselves “super models”.  So the answer is found in the inbuilt vanity or fear of not looking young and beautiful.  That is why Thai women are doing ‘selfies’ every minute of every day!  Incidentally, Western women want brown skin (that’s why there is so much of it on display) and dye their hair black and have it straightened.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 16:36

Not open yet?

Dear Hillary,

Why do the shops open so late in Pattaya?  The main shopping centers officially open at 11, 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?  I’m intrigued.


Dear Intrigued,

The shops open late because the sales girl slept in after singing in a karaoke bar till 5 in the morning and having to leave her motorcycle there because she was still too drunk to drive.  It’s a hard life for shop openers!  No, to be honest, there are two reasons why the shops open late.  The first is that for Thai people a watch is a fashion accessory, not something to tell the time, and secondly.  Pattaya is a night time city, and even the customers don’t get up till late.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 16:36

Where now, brown cow?

Dear Hillary,

When I walk down to the end of the street, many of my neighbors say to me “Buy nai” (or that’s what it sounds like).  Since I don’t speak much Thai I get embarrassed and just nod and keep walking.  I thought “Sawasdee” was “Good Morning”, so what are they saying?  Am I being rude by just nodding? I don’t want to look like a snobby foreigner.


Dear Snobby Foreigner,

Your neighbors are just being their usual friendly (and inquisitive) selves.  “Bai nai” (usual spelling) is really just “Where are you going?”  You do not have to say where you are going, you just reply “Going somewhere for fun” which is “Bai Tee-ow”.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 16:30

Another bottle of Grecian 2000 please

Dear Hillary,

I see a lot of girls in my local shopping center, and many are quite nice.  I see them resting on the seats.  I know you say we older farangs should stay away from the bars, but will I find Miss Right in the shopping center?  Or do I have to lie about my age (I’m a pensioner)?  What should I do?  I’m getting tired of being lonely.  Should I get my hair dyed?

Lonely Lenny


Dear Lonely Lenny,

What shower did you come down in, my lonely Petal?  Must have been the last one.  Will you find Miss Right waiting on the bench for you at the supermarket?  No Larry, you will only find Miss Take there.  Mistake if you talk to her and Miss Take all your money by the time you reach the checkout counter.  These are freelance girls who can disappear very easily and you will never find where she went or came from (other than Aisle B next to the hot dog counter).  They are more dangerous than the girls from the bars.  At least Hello Sexy Man bar will still be there tomorrow, and the mamasan knows the ID of her girls.  As far as getting your hair dyed - forget about it, my Petal.  It goes that charming color of ginger after two weeks.

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