Staying with Mama? Or with the Gik?
You might think this is a trivial problem, but it isn’t for me. About a year ago I set up home with a Thai girl, who is many years my junior. This does not seem to bother her, though it bothers me at times. Her family comes from the north east and I have been up there and met them, and they seemed nice enough farming folks. They accepted me quite readily, but I always felt a little left out at the family gatherings as they can only speak Thai and my girl had to translate all the time. (They also drink that awful Lao khao stuff!) For this reason, and because I am busy at work, I have not been back up there, though my girl does go up frequently. Is this the usual way families behave in this country? If it is, I will say nothing, but she will often go back for two or three days, the last being for the Songkran holiday. She also often extends the stay from two or three days to up to 10 days on one occasion. Have I anything to worry about?
You may have lots to worry about, or nothing at all. Are you worrying because you think she is not going back to the family rice paddy? I am having to try and read between the lines too much here. It is very usual for daughters to go home and pay respects to their family, and often contribute financially as well. Does your lady have children there that are being looked after by her Mama? Honestly, Petal, it sounds very normal to me. Talk to your friends who have been married to a Thai girl for some time. You’ll find it is the norm in this country. Caring and following the family principles will carry over to you as well, if you allow her to follow her traditions. In the meantime you can always see your doctor for some anti-worrying pills.
There is a good local bar just about half a kilo from my unit. Comfortable and not a rip-off for price of beers either. Probably about 10 or a dozen girls and all very chatty and friendly. Here’s where I went wrong. I bar-fined the same girl twice, and so she now thinks I am her teelack, and the other girls won’t come near me as I am “hers”. She’s a nice enough pooying, but I don’t like my style cramped like this.
No simple way out of this, other than move to another bar. I’m sure you will find one between half a kilometer and one kilometer from your unit. And just think ahead in future. Let this be a lesson for you.
My latest squeeze is pretty good, but being Thai she wants to have cold showers. Me, being English, I cannot stand cold showers, and insist on hot showers. No problems, just turn the heater on or off - but she likes showering together and puts on the pouts if I refuse. Any suggestions?
Yes, I do have a suggestion and it mainly relates to the toilet seat. Do you leave it up and she leaves it down? Just as I thought. You are totally incompatible, so get rid of her today. Forget the showering thing, that’s a distraction. Get her out now! By the way, some people tell me that English people don’t like showering anyway. Surely that’s not true? Or was this whole thing a make-up?
Do you have any cure for a bad back? I know it sounds silly asking an Agony Aunt, but I am in agony, made worse by my Thai GF who likes me to be a bit more enthusiastic in bed, if you get my drift.
There, there, my Petal. Just lie quietly, take your tablets and buy your GF a battery operated rabbit for Songkran. While I remember, get some extra batteries, as they don’t seem to last long these days.
It amuses me when I read some of the letters that men send to you complaining about how the bar girls that move in with them seem to always want more money. You live with a bar girl until you are ready to move on or tired of being an ATM. You guys have it easy. I have been married to a Thai woman for eight years. When I met her she worked in a hospital, I guess you would call her a non-bar girl. Here’s my point; I have spent much more money since being married than I ever did when I had bar girl friends. When you marry a Thai girl, you also marry the entire family. My wife has six sisters, all married with kids. They never ask me for money; however, when I see that one of the them is having a hard paying off the bank loan because the rice crop was flooded out, a nephew or niece needs money for school, a brother-in-law is laid up in the hospital because one of his buffalos kicked him, or another bother-in-law drives around in an old rusted out P/U while I drive a New Nissan and our house is paid for, I help them. Do you think I turn my back on them and “move on”? The eight years I’ve been married to my Thai wife are the best years of my life and I hope for many more. Although I respect and admire the bar girls - theirs is not an easy life, they are just trying to survive - I will never go back to that kind of life.
Dear Uncle Bill,
Why didn’t you wait for me? I am having a hard time paying off a bank loan (tried to buy 50 kg of rice the other day and it was more than my salary, so I approached the bank for a food mortgage), and I have a rusty old bicycle as I can’t afford a pick-up (but I avoid buffalos at all costs). You have also correctly described the Thai families (that you marry into) - they are not (despite claims to the contrary) all standing in line with their hands out. They are ordinary people, who look after each other when needed. You sound like such a nice man, my Petal, I shall cry myself to sleep tonight having missed you. However, I am so happy to hear you are enjoying the “best years of my life”, and yet do understand the plight of the bar girls. Or rather, the trade of the bar girls, as they are not forced into working from around a chrome pole - they choose that existence. “Plight” is how they promote it, looking for (several) kind hearted gentlemen (ATMs) to give them their pin numbers and fantastic plastics. Stay well, Uncle Bill, we need you. Now about my rice loan, I know there’s been a bit of controversy about the rice price recently, but all that hasn’t helped poor widows like me. Unlike the bar girls, I didn’t choose this lifestyle, it was forced upon me!
Can you could help me with accommodation at Songkran? I want to keep enough money so that I can go trekking and I ride an elephant. I only want to spend about five quid a day for a place, is this possible? I know it’s probably a funny question, but I’m serious.
Dear Trekker Thomas,
Don’t worry, my little impecunious Petal, I have had sillier questions than yours. Not often, but I have had some. When I first read your letter, I thought you were asking to come and stay with me, and I was about to suggest that if you brought enough bottles of bubbly, I might just be able to help you. Then I read the “five quid” line. By “five quid” I presume you are from the UK and this is about 250 baht in Thai money, so you would not have much left over for champers, I fear. By the way, Hillary is not a travel agency, or an elephant mahout. Yes, you can get accommodation for that amount. Very basic, clean, but no air-conditioning, which you will probably need, coming from the UK, not known for its blistering temperatures in April.
My problem is different as I am complaining about what farangs are doing in this town, making very abusive remarks about me and my son when we are out shopping together.
We are a very normal family, with my Thai wife and I still very happy after 15 years. Our son is 14 and a normal teenager. But when we go shopping together, that is my son and myself, we hear all types of remarks which a 14 year old boy should not have to hear. I know there are farangs with young boys, but the people should not believe that everyone is like that. This is my son!
What should I do? Go up and fight with them, or ignore them, which is very difficult as I am a normal Dad and want to protect my growing son. I get angry just writing about this abuse.
Dear Normal Dad,
I agree that it must be very annoying, but fighting with people never fixes anything. I suggest you get a couple of T shirts made with “He’s my Dad” on one and “He’s my son” on the other. It should be enough to stop the background innuendo. (And that’s uncomplimentary remarks, not an Italian suppository!)
My girlfriend speaks quite good English, but I can find it difficult to understand what she is trying to say some days and we end up having an argument. The other day she seemed worried and when I asked her what was wrong, she wouldn’t tell me but said, “I want stay by myself” so I thought she wanted to leave. I asked her why, as everything seemed to be OK the day before, but she just started to get mad at me for continuing to ask her what was wrong. The next day, when she hadn’t left I worked out that what she wanted to say was she was trying to work out a personal problem, so she wanted to be “alone” for a while to work it out. If I had known that was what she wanted I wouldn’t have pressed the point. I try to understand, but it is a problem. Have you any advice for this communication problem?
Dear Bewildered Bill,
Be bewildered no further, my Petal. I have the answer for you. In any relationship, clear and open communication is most important. When the two people come from different cultures and have different native languages, then it becomes even more likely that confusion will occur. Your girlfriend is trying her best to communicate with you in a foreign language, but I note you do not communicate with her in Thai, her language. If there are times of confusion, you should just say “Kaw toad, mai kow jai” (sorry, I don’t understand) and ask her to put it another way. And try not to find the literal meaning of every word - try and get the overall meaning or emotion. And get some Thai lessons yourself as well!
How much salary should you give a girlfriend? My girlfriend did work in a bar before she met me. My mate says about 30,000 baht should be enough, but I am getting grumbles that I don’t pay her enough. My argument is that she doesn’t have to buy household items with that 30,000, it is clear profit for her. I pay for the housekeeping and the maid. I bought her a motorcycle and pay for the petrol. What is your suggestion on the right amount of money to pay a girlfriend?
Would I surprise you if I suggested that the answer to the “right amount of money to pay a girlfriend” is “Nothing!” You use words like “pay” and “salary”, but why? Is this a regular job? Advertised in the Classified section of this newspaper, “Wanted, live in girlfriend. Good living conditions. Free motorcycle. Salary 30,000 baht to the correct applicant.” The base salary in Thailand is 9,000 baht, not 30,000, Petal!
Every Thai woman I meet seems to be just the same - after a couple of weeks it is pleas for money for rent for the room she shares with others, or money for the upkeep of two kids being looked after by her mother while the husband has fled the scene. Best was one who was still seeing the boyfriend (the father of the two children) and who was also seeing number 1 and number 2 Mia Noi. You say to stay away from the bar girls, whose job it is to empty your (my) wallet, but your so-called “good” girls are just the same. Hand out for school fees, university fees, dental work, rent, and all the rest. The request comes a few seconds before the due date and leaves you with no time to find alternatives. I have asked the same question to other foreigners married to Thai women (or even not married, just living together) and they all say that Thai women are always on the lookout for a sucker. I have a ‘steady’ at present, but want to make sure I don’t end up taken to the cleaners. Your advice please, Hillary.
Lordy Lordy it’s Gordy,
My Petal, you are in a turmoil aren’t you. Do you want me to give you foolproof plans that will show you whether this girl will fleece you or otherwise? Gordy, those foolproof plans do not exist. You can leave money on the bedside table for years, but one day she might just need some and it will be gone. If the amount is large enough, she will be gone too. My advice is always the same. Fix on a monthly sum of money that you are happy to do without and tell her that is her allowance. How she spends it is up to her - you don’t want (or need) to know. If she wants more, or needs more, then she can save up as everyone does. Make that a fixed rule and you will never be taken to your cleaners, but be aware that she may look for someone offering a bigger monthly allowance! Up to you, Petal.