Heart to Heart: How much for a young wife?


How much for a young wife?
Dear Hillary,
I’m getting close to getting married to my little girl, but I’m just a wee bit confused about the amount of money I’m supposed to give the outlaws. I’ve asked around my mates and I get all sorts of answers, none of which make much sense. The amounts range between 100,000 (which I can afford) and one million (which I can’t afford). What is reasonable, Ms Hillary?

Dear Con(fused),
You have not given me enough details Con, my Petal. If your “little girl” has no children and never been married before, and comes from a well-off family, the amount of the dowry is quite different from an older lady with two children and two previous husbands from Isaan.

Village families will expect a dowry, but usually this is returned to the couple (less a few baht for Lao Khao, roasted chickens, a couple of pigs on the spit and several bottles of JW Red). City families are generally not so traditional. So you are probably none the wiser. I suggest you ask your intended bride. You should be able to discuss everything with her before you get married, including your marital history and what you have in the bank! If you are getting “close to getting married” as you say, clear all these points up first, before you make a very big mistake.

A bargain in the bar
Dear Hillary,
As I am thinking about retiring here, I was hoping you could advise me on a couple of points. It has always been one of my ambitions to have my own little pub (I’ve spent a fair deal of time in little pubs and bars after work). There seems to be a few very successful bars for sale and they only want about 600,000 baht for most of them. Since I will be getting a nice tidy sum for my retirement, I thought I might invest in one by buying a half share or something. It would be nice to make money at a bar, rather than spending money at a bar, don’t you reckon, Hillary! My only worry is that I have heard that foreigners have been ripped off and I am hoping you can advise me on what to watch for.

Dear Jeffrey,
With apologies to the Charge of the Light Brigade – “Into the valley of death rode the six hundred” (thousand baht). Jeffrey! Jeffrey! For a start, there are very few successful bar owners who learned the trade from propping up the outside of the bar. Even with half shares for sale, have you stopped to think why the owner of such a successful establishment would want to give half of it away? Things to watch for? There is always the third or fourth 50 percent share that gets sold. Unfortunately, with the economic downturn, tourist cancellations, etc., etc., etc., the bar will pay no dividend this year and the regretful owner will buy your 50 percent share back for 100,000 baht. Yes, there are quick profits to be made in the bar bizz – for the seller, not the purchaser.

Mother knows best?
Dear Hillary,
Can you help me? I have been dating a wonderful young Thai girl, a proper young “lady” not a bar girl, and we have become quite serious as to looking into the future. Everything seemed to be going along very well, although we did have some hiccups in the early part, just caused through not fully understanding each other. The other evening over a very nice dinner in our favorite restaurant, she dropped the bombshell. “My mother tell me I must marry Thai man.” Just like that! I was too flabbergasted to follow that line further. Hillary, is this a common thing in Thai families? Does her mother have that much power that she can dictate what her daughter does, and even the choice of husband for her? Surely in this 21st century Thai girls are not stuck with arranged marriages, and if they are, what can a farang do in this situation?
Devastated Dave

Dear DD,
Does her mother have that sort of authority? In a traditional Thai family she certainly does. It may be the 21st century for you, Don, but in Thailand it is the 26th century and despite the extra 500 years, the traditional ways are still very strong. Thai people believe in the need for family members to look after each other and her mother is merely looking after her daughter in the traditional way. You are from an alien culture, Don, and even if your young Thai lady is well versed in the ways of the modern international world, the traditional values will still be held in the family sphere. Have you stopped to consider that the Thai man may have already paid a dowry to the family? In the case of a well-educated girl this could go as high as two million baht. What can you do? You can either keep in there and hope, or call it quits now before you get in too deep. However, you should sit down with your girl and discuss it first.