My uncle came to Thailand last month for a visit. I was excited, as I had not seen him or my aunt for some years. Imagine how I felt when my uncle arrived without my aunt, but he had a girl from Bangkok in tow. He said my aunt did not feel like travelling at her age (they are both in their eighties) but he didn’t want to disappoint me by not coming. He didn’t say anything about the strumpet he was with, and they were in the same room in the hotel (I only have a very small studio so they couldn’t stay with me). Honestly, Hillary, should I tell my aunt or should I tell my uncle he is not welcome here again? I am so confused.
Hillary is certainly glad you’re not her niece! You seem to be so delightfully judgmental, manipulative and interfering. Be thankful that there is life in the old dog yet and he came to visit you. Petal, if you play your cards right and keep your mouth firmly shut and were exceptionally hospitable to both your uncle AND his companion, your uncle might even remember you in his will. And for that matter, how do you know that your aunt wasn’t glad to see the back of the old boy for a while because he snores? Or, heaven forbid in your so morally upright family, that your Aunt may have wanted the opportunity to have it off with the milkman or meet up with a long lost lover. Personal morality is just that - personal, i.e., relating solely to the individual. I suggest you learn to live and let live, practicing mai pen rai and jai yen yen and stop judging people. One day, someone might be just as nastily judgmental about you. I hope they write to me too!
I have a reply for the chap calling himself “Hello Sexy Man” and having a problem with the local “ladies”. This is important so pay attention dear fellow. How are you “carrying yourself and attiring yourself?” Now, if you were me and it was a full sun afternoon you would be wearing a brimmed hat to keep the sun off, long sleeved shirts and pants because in Thai society this attire is expected when you are not directly in the beach areas. At night you can forget the hat. The short version is if you are dressed otherwise you are wearing a badge reading: “Here I am come and take advantage of me.” On the rare occasions that I have women howl anyway despite my “appropriate dress” I have simply “wai-ed them” and greeted them in Thai and they have wai-ed me back (as a group) and remained silent and embarrassed for having made a fuss over a man who is not available (or desiring) to purchase their time, but who respects their traditions of greeting and expects to be treated as the “elder” I am.
Dear “Elderly” Robert,
I did not know there were any proper gentlemen left in Pattaya, but at least I know how to recognize you - by the hat and being the only farang not in cargo pants. I get the feeling, reading your email again, that you are definitely not a “sexy man”, so I think the women howling at you could be considered a definite mistake, my Petal. Forgive them. Question: do you use a stick as well, with the hat and dark glasses? If so, I have seen you at the plaza.
Don t listen at Hillary advice s, she just jelouse (sic) cannot get the money for champagne and chocolate. Now instead, listen to me. 1 million is not a crazy amount, if the lady is good and take good care of you. For example, about 15 years ago, they asked me 2 millions for another good lady (she is university graduate and had not sons, and now work at police). Being a fool, I refused, and until now still regret that choice. Dear Leroy, give, give the million, give even more, you will more accepted and respected. Best wishes and regards.
I am not swayed by your passionate letter. After knowing the woman for three weeks (who already has a child), Leroy was being led up the path by the proverbial carrot. Dowry should not be paid under Leroy’s circumstances. Your circumstances were different, but you were still being asked for far too much 15 years ago. Don’t regret your refusal - you escaped! And, for your information - I do not “buy” my champagne and chocolates, but they are freely given by my vast number of followers (well, two or three at least)!
This is a real problem for men such as myself. We come from a lonely life in the UK and come to Thailand - a paradise in comparison. But then reality strikes home. It seems to me and many of my friends that all the women in Thailand on the make. It seems very easy (too easy?) to get a live-in partner. Almost impossible in the UK, but every last one seems to have her hand into your wallet within days of hanging her clothes up in the wardrobe. Of course there never is enough clothes, so I buy some for her. Then it is money to buy groceries, and I thought that was great, thinking about me and looking after me, and it is so much cheaper from the local markets. But then the grocery bill seemed to be going up all the time and the amount of food was going smaller. Then it was some to send to Mama, school fees (in a village school?) for her children being looked after by Mama, it just went on and on. That ended that one. Then the next one was the same, and the one after that. Is there one honest woman in Thailand?
Not an ATM
Dear Not an ATM,
Is there one honest woman in Thailand? Yes, my Petal - me. Just send me your bank account details so I can see if you are a genuine match (woops, almost wrote ‘catch’ there) and really deserve me. Petal, have you ever wondered why the women you have formed a relationship with do this so easily? You are obviously looking for your paragon of virtue in an area selling commercial friendships. Quite frankly, you will not get a non-bar girl to just move in like that. However, when you select a lady who will move in tomorrow, then she will move out the day after that, once your financial support dries up. These are ‘mia chow’ (rented wives), and it is a purely financial relationship. It is time you began to look elsewhere and form a genuine bond with genuine women, and there are many of them. But you won’t find them in a bar.
I will come clean right off and say that I do spend a fair bit of time at night in the bars. I am single, and it’s a good way to meet people. The old bill in the cup routine I think is very good because it shows that the bar trusts you not to lose a couple before you pay at the end of the night. Recently though I have been getting the feeling that my bill is not right, because it seems to be a lot more than I thought it should be. Is it OK to check the amount yourself before the girl takes the cup to the cashier? I don’t want them to think I don’t trust them, when they are trusting me. What is the usual thing?
How old are you, Petunia? Are you really old enough to go to bars? It is your bill, for the drinks you bought and consumed, plus any “lady drinks” that the nice people you meet drank as well. Most bars will total up your drinks bills and write this on the back of the bunch of bills, plus what size bill you paid it with. But you are the consumer, so you are entitled to check the bill(s). You will find most Thai people will very carefully check every docket, so don’t be shy if you think you are being ripped off.
Advice needed urgently, Hillary my Petal! There I was at a new bar and met this vision of loveliness. She speaks very little English but seems like a very genuine person. She comes from Ubon Ratchatani, and that’s about all I managed to find out after about four hours and several “lady drinks”. The biggest problem was only that she doesn’t speak much English, but we got by OK. By the end of the night I was pretty drunk and lent her 5000 baht. What should I do? Should I keep going, or should I give up now before I get in too deep?
Got the telescope up to the blind eye again, have you Admiral? This vision of loveliness who speaks very little English, still managed to find her way into your wallet to make it 5000 baht lighter, while you were still trying to find your way into her knickers. Honestly Nelson, people like you shouldn’t be allowed out without a nanny. When you ask me “should I keep going”, this is in relation to what? Keep drinking, keep handing over money or keep going in the gentle art of seduction? Face facts, Nelson, this is a girl in a bar who doesn’t speak your language (or you hers by the sounds of it), she works there hoping to meet gullible customers with wallets that are too heavy. And she just did - you! Kiss your five G’s goodbye and find another bar.
Every day I go for a walk at the shopping center and most days I see a very pretty young woman drinking coffee in the coffee shop. Sometimes she is talking to a man, but other times she is just sitting on the coffee. I get a smile from her and I say “Hello” while I pass by. Do you think she is a ‘professional’ girl (you know what I mean)? And what should I do next? I really like her and would like to get to know her a bit more.
Imagine you are in your home town of Little Muddling on the Marsh (I think you are from the UK, Petal) and every day there is a pretty young woman drinking coffee in the coffee shop as you stroll by. What do you think her occupation might be? An official coffee taster for Nescafe? An official coffee shop seat tester? A ‘professional’ on the lookout (for suckers)? So, did you pick answer number three? Of course you did. So now you have answered your own question as well. Forget the coffee shop, Petal, unless you are ready to pay for the froth on top as well.
Just a quickie. I want to send a girl I met last time I was up on holidays some money for her birthday which she tells me is just before Songkran later this year, but I’ve been told by some mates that it’s not too safe sending money by post to Thailand. As I won’t be back in Thailand till around Xmas this year, it is a bit late to bring it over myself. What’s your suggestion? The safer the better. I do want to make sure she gets it.
That is very nice and kind of you, but your little lady friend will soon tell you the best way, if you haven’t worked it out before Santa comes down the chimney. You don’t post it, you transfer it to her bank account, and she will have one, believe me! Posting is a no-no! She will know everything as far as money transfers are concerned, and even the daily currency conversion rates as well!
Nothing could have been further from my intent than to cause you offence. Hillary, I beg you to look again, and you may see that the offending paragraph, the one that you omitted from my letter, with the exception of the reference to Champagne, contained only in fact the words of Charles Dickens, lifted from the pages of ‘A Christmas Carol’. I committed this plagiarism in the hope of adding a seasonal touch more than anything else, and never for a moment thought that you would be offended.
I would also like to point out to you, that I have never had a relationship with a Thai woman, I said merely that I had had experience of a so called professional Thai: I helped her out of a tight spot that she had gotten into in the U.K. My opinions are simply those of an observer: someone who has watched over several years, the exploits of my friends, and their countless failed and disastrous attempts to find love here; and I can only conclude that if you are looking for a ‘Gem’ then perhaps a coal mine is not the best place to start.
Dear Johnny Foreigner,
OK, maybe I was having a bad hair day when I got your last missile (sorry, missive), so I am willing to call the truce, even without the champagne. You speak of “countless failed and disastrous attempts to find love here” and this is so for those who go looking in the wrong places. I do feel, however, my protesting Petal, that you should be wary of forming conclusions from a sample population of one, and “observers” can be thought of as “voyeurs”. Never mind, I do agree with your gems and coal mines, or as I have said many times, if you are looking for some cheese, don’t go looking in a hardware shop.
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.