Pattaya bar girls set up mini business to ride out crisis

The girls proudly tend to their BBQ stand. The profits are small, but the pride it instils is priceless.

We read so many stories about the plight of the working people who have been hit so very hard by the coronavirus economic collapse. I think we have eventually stopped comparing professions as to who is suffering more than the other.

It doesn’t really matter what job you held or how much salary you made before the coronavirus forced your workplace to temporarily shut down or close indefinitely. The end result is, you’re out of a job and you have no money to feed yourself or your family.

The coronavirus doesn’t distinguish the rich from the poor, the upper echelons of society nor the common labourer. It’s almost like the luck of the draw. And if you don’t want to lose, then you shouldn’t gamble.

To stop people gambling with their lives, the government declared the emergency decree and put this country under lockdown.

As disastrous as it is for the economy and the livelihood of every person in this country, the decision had to be made.

By doing so, the economy went into a tail spin. Overnight the whole country came to a standstill. Only people who had enough money stashed away could hold out for a few months or even years. But for the common man it was like smashing into a brick wall at top speed.

It is a time when many despaired, but it is also a time when many sought opportunities in the crisis.

There are many stories of human heroism, those who refuse to be clobbered into the ground by brutal hardships.

Some unemployed girls remain in Pattaya hoping for the situation to become better so they can work again.

During this period of economic turmoil, Pattaya Mail decided to meet with some of the working people who have been so rudely uprooted from the comforts of their daily lives and destroyed whatever they had of their livelihoods.

We spoke to a girl by the name of Nuanchan, a native of Korat who came to Pattaya to seek her fortune or just to make a living, whichever came first.

Nuanchan worked in a bar on Thappraya/Jomtien Beach Road. The life of a bar maid and the income were not something she had dreamed of, but it was just enough for her to live on and possibly send a little back home to her mother.

Nuanchan told us that she had lost her job 3 months ago, when the COVID-19 was just beginning to rear its ugly head in Thailand. “I didn’t think that this problem would last and that I could hold on until things came back to normal and I could work again.

“But as time passed, things looked dimmer than ever. I was running out of the little savings I had and I could not borrow any money from the other girls because they were suffering too.

“Then I heard that I could apply for the 5000 baht help package from the government. So, I tried. Some of my friends got the money, but I still haven’t and honestly, I don’t think I will,” she said dejectedly.

“What was she going to do next?” she thought. She tried working as a freelancer, but there were no customers around, so there was no income.

“I even stood in long lines waiting to get handouts of free food given out by various business people and associations. I felt a little ashamed as I never dreamed that I would ever have to get food handouts like this.

“In the end, our inner pride kicked in and my friends and I decided that we would go into business for ourselves. Nothing big, just earn enough money for food and a few necessities. We decided to setup a simple barbeque in front of the bar where we worked.

“The mamasan of the bar looks after us as if we were her children. Even though the bar is closed for business, she lets us stay with her. She is really very kind to us.

“We sell BBQ pork sticks and somtum with sticky rice. The girls take turns attending to the shop. Running a business is so much fun.

“The profits are negligible, but we are proud of what we are doing and it keeps us busy.

“We thank our parents back home for having taught us the basic skills of cooking and with that talent, we are confident that we will never go hungry.

“My friends and I are fighters,” Nuanchan said with conviction. “We come from different parts of Thailand, but we are tough Thai girls and we will never give up. We have the will and we will always find the way.”