It’s only $2,000 till next month


Dear Hillary,

I see letters to you every week and most of them deal with money. Farangs being called ATM’s, loans needed, “salaries” for live-in girlfriends, how much for dowries, and so forth. Where does it end? I’ve just been asked for a loan of $2,000, pay back within six months.

American Joe

Dear American Joe,

Yes it is easy to become bothered and bewildered. How long did you say you have been in this country? You seem to be ignorant of the basic rules of survival that all farangs learn hopefully sooner rather than later. Just for the record I will give you a quick rundown so that life here will run more smoothly for you in future.

Hillary’s Three Commandments For Survival in Thailand

  1. Never advance any money over $5 to anyone and always consider this a donation.
  2. Never buy or lend jewelry, motorcycles, or valuables to any friends or relatives (and if you are living with some girl, all her relatives are your relatives).
  3. Don’t even think about buying anything in another person’s name, never, ever, no matter how close the relationship!

This is not to imply that Thais are dishonest, they are not. They simply have a different way of looking at things, especially the two F’s – fortune and farangs. Many Thais are born with the unfailing conviction that every farang has a money tree and it is their duty in life to shake the branches and harvest the fruit.

When you have committed these three commandments to memory, then rush out and buy a Thai phrase book, and you will discover that “Chart na don by by,” means “Sometime in the next lifetime late in the afternoon”. So you see little Noi is not refusing to repay you (although she probably considers she has already, you are privy to her beautiful body aren’t you?), she is merely keeping her options open. I suggest you kiss goodbye to the $2,000 and start learning Thai.