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.
After writing to a Thai girl for almost one year, I met her at Xmas and she was everything I could have ever hoped for. Loving and caring in a way no woman from home has ever been. I spent three wonderful weeks with her, met the family and her son (aged 5), all nice people. I will be coming back in March and we will get engaged officially and look at marriage later in the year when I am due more vacation. My girl has mentioned that something called “sinsot” must be paid to her parents, which I think is like a dowry. She is saying a million baht which is more than 30,000 dollars, and that is quite a lot of money for me to put my hands on at one time, after paying for air fares and accommodation. Is this usual, Hillary? If so, it is turning me off marrying this girl.
After three weeks, you are so sure of this relationship that you will be returning to get engaged and married later in the year. And then you are lining up to pay a dowry as well. My Petal, please go and look in the mirror and see if you have the letters ATM tattooed on your forehead. Your “loving and caring” girl has a son already and is not a virgin, so there is no need to pay a dowry, unless of course it was a virgin birth, but I’ll let you work that one out. My Petal, you haven’t got a relationship with enough depth to even start to contemplate marriage, and you are being led up the proverbial garden path by the carrot. My advice is simple - RUN.
One of your guys wrote to you complaining that he couldn’t get his live-in GF to go. You suggested to him that he might have to pay a little money as a sweetener. I agree with you Hillary. And the more you will give, the sooner she will go. Important is you stay there when she will move, and check. Next time, think before taking one of them home.
Is that you River Phoenix? Amazing what you can do on the internet these days! But wise words indeed, Petal. Especially being there on leaving day, just to make sure the silverware doesn’t accidentally get packed with the jeans!
Have you ever been embarrassed because everywhere you go, your partner makes you late? What do you do about hopeless time keepers? (Or are you one of them too?) My Thai girlfriend is wonderful in every way, other than the fact she can never be on time for anything! And I mean anything. I bought her a watch, I’ve put a clock on the bedroom wall, but that does not get her into better time habits either. I know Thai people are supposed to have this free and easy attitude to time, but my friends expect me to be on time for appointments, lunches and the like, and if I bring Noi we will always be late and I get hassled and irritated, which can spoil the day. What suggestions do you have, Hillary?
Dear Tick Tock,
It is “time” (sorry about that) for you to sit down with your girlfriend and explain why you have a need to be “on time” everywhere. “Secondly” (sorry about that again, but some days I can’t help myself) you should also make “time” (there I go again) to sit down and make sure that you are not needlessly making life more difficult for yourself than it need be. Is it always imperative that you be exactly on time? There is always a middle way, Petal, especially in Thailand. Telling your friends that you will be at the venue between 7-7.30 gives you 30 minutes of wriggle room, and you can always fib and tell your girlfriend you are expected to be there at 6.30. (But I’ll deny I ever said that!)
The wife of one of my husband’s friends will be coming to visit Thailand next month, along with a couple of her girl friends. They would all be in their 50’s, and have been very active in Parent-Teacher associations and the like. Well respected people. However she shocked me when she wrote and said they wanted to see a “sex show” while they are here. Do you think it’s proper for me to take them to some of the more outrageous places, or what? I have to admit I haven’t ever been to one myself. I’m really blown away by this. What do you recommend, Hillary?
Dear Blown Away,
There is nothing to worry about, my dear. You say that you haven’t been to any of the “outrageous places” but it is obvious that you know where they are if nothing else. Sure you didn’t sneak out one night, Petal? However, everybody knows we don’t have sex shows in Thailand. The nice policeman told me so. If you’re really worried, get your husband to take them.
Need your help with the family buffalo. I have been getting along fine with a Thai girl I met last October. I met her when I was over on holidays and we have been emailing each week. I also send her some money, not much, but 30,000 THB should be enough to keep her happy. This month I was given a new request regarding money for the family buffalo up-country. I have read that this is a scam, but I don’t want to disbelieve her. Should I ask for a copy of the bill from the vet? I don’t want to upset her, but am not sure.
Here you are sending 30,000 baht a month to someone you met eight weeks ago. You must have “sucker” tattooed on your forehead. Come on, Jack, be real. Of course this is a scam. If the buffalo is that sick, let her pay the vet’s bills from the “salary” you send her each month.
So I miss spelt a couple of names: you can call it quits if you want: actually you can do whatever you like, it’s your column. You can do whatever you like that is, except to convince me that your figure of 85 percent (reply to James) of all Thai foreigner marriages, are between foreigners and processional (sic) Thai’s, is anything but an overindulgence of the Yuletide spirit. Unless of course there is relatively little difference between Professional Thai women and the sex workers that frequent the bars. I have only ever had experience of one Thai woman, who without doubt came from the ‘professional classes,’ and she exhibited all the same characteristics of the ‘bar girl’: an obsession with money and what it was spent on, jealousy, a stubborn refusal to improve her English (despite being widowed by a young Englishman, and having lived in England for several years), an aversion to all cuisine except Thai and an inclination to laziness; the main differences were that she didn’t have tattoos, didn’t smoke or drink. Isn’t it the case Hillary, that all Thai women are fundamentally alike, and the individual characteristics are just fashioned by circumstance?
Happy New Year,
Dear Johnny Foreigner,
With as much respect as I can muster, please try reading James letter again. He is a man happy with his marriage to a Thai woman, but voiced the opinion that 85 percent of marriages to Thai women were by sex tourists. I replied, “Where did you get that figure of 85 percent of Thai-foreigner marriages are between bar girls and what you call ‘sex tourists’? Let me assure you that “sex tourists” do not come to Thailand to get married.”
You then go on to say that all Thai women are just the same as the bar girls, and your opinion comes from your “experience of one Thai woman.” Come on Johnny! You met one Thai woman, made up your mind, and so all Thai women are the same. Please re-think that statement, and be a little more polite in your letters in future, which is why I cut out some of your more colorful language. And, a Happy New Year to you too, Johnny.