Heart to Heart – June 19, 2019


In defence of pla ra

Dear Hillary,

I write to soothe the pride of all those Isaan people who’ve read the letter about phra ra, commonly pronounced “palah”. With respect, it is much more than something they eat in Isaan, much, much more. Yes, it’s on the nose (and there are as many different phra ra brews as there are people making it), but as a flavor enhancer it’s great. Whether in any of the thousands of little eateries or a private home, in Isaan you eat the national dish, and that’s som tum, and there’s no such thing as real som tum without phra ra. Those pussies down south who eat pawpaw salad (or tum daeng or tum tua) without it are missing a treat!


Dear Adrian,

Have you consulted an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor for this ailment of yours? Or does your local phra ra cook lace it with some addictive herbs? Or have you been diagnosed with an extreme form of masochism? You need help, Petal. You need help! If you’re already on treatment, I suggest you double the dose.


Is money really the reason?

Dear Hillary,

I am tired of hearing that the Thai ladies are only interested in money. You could say that about any woman in any country. Women depend on the man, that’s normal. If you meet a woman who makes a big salary, they don’t need a man, but in Thailand there are very few rich ladies, so they need to hook up with a man who can look after them financially. Nothing wrong with that. Thinking ahead.


Dear Lance,

I agree with you, Petal. The relationship will always be one-sided and that is normal. The most successful relationships are where financial decisions are a joint agreement. The woman feels she is an important part of the relationship, not just a cook and bottle washer and bed warmer. The men who complain about Thai women are generally the ones who put their partner down, instead of making her feel important.


Sending money to Thailand

Dear Hillary,

Have you any experience with transferring money from the UK to Thailand? I want to send a few pounds over to a little lady who looked after me so well over Xmas. She has given me her account number, but trying to transfer never seems to work. What about the exchange companies, are they any better? We’re not talking about big money, around about 10,000 baht.


Dear Graham,

The best way involves some setting up, but basically you get her a bank account here with a debit card. You transfer money via the bank in the UK into that account and she can draw on it. The money exchanges can be a bit expensive, especially if you are only transferring a relatively small amount – but any time you want to transfer a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, I’ll be here to catch it. (Or even Prosecco!)


No complaints from Tom

Dear Hillary,

Why do people complain about their lives here in Thailand? The weather is warm all year, the people are so friendly and the cost of living is much less. Perhaps it isn’t the best place to be in the world, but I haven’t found a better one yet.


Dear Tom,

I am so glad to get letters like yours. People who can see the good side of life in my country and not complaining and comparing life here with the life they left before. If Thailand is so bad, the complainers would be better off going back to their old countries. Certainly, no place is ever perfect for all people, but tell those complaining to lighten up, brighten up and enjoy the life here.


Chauvinism’s not dead yet

Dear Hillary,

I need a little help here. I was raised that a woman’s place is in the home. She is the homemaker, cleans, cooks, washes and all that sort of thing. Is it different in Thailand, or what? My Thai GF is a good buddy, but she believes that housework is done by the maid, not by her. That’s OK while we’ve got a maid, but the last one has left and if I don’t throw things in the washing machine, then we’ll have no clothes by next Wednesday. Likewise the cooking. If I don’t do it we would starve. Is this what happens in Thailand, on the other hand, is she dead set lazy? I’m getting tired of working all day and then come home to dirty dishes.


Dear Derick,

Things are not the same as where you came from. Thai women who have been brought up to a higher standard expect housemaids/cooks/laundry. They would never dream of doing it themselves. Dish-pan hands are not a good look! I suggest you look for a laundry in your area – there will be one handy as they are everywhere, eat out at the cheaper roadside eateries and if needs be, get a contract cleaner a couple of times a week. Male chauvinism died out many years ago, my Petal. It’s a different ball game here.