Heart to Heart: What a decision


What a decision
Dear Hillary,
Is the situation in Thailand as bad as I hear it to be? I have been writing to a couple of ladies through a dating service and was going to come out over Christmas to see them and make a choice. Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, but reading about all the problems with these ladies I wonder if it is such a good idea. I’m 55 and divorced, so I’ve had experience with ladies, it’s not as if I’m 21 and wet behind the ears, yet I read of other blokes the same age as me, and all they get is being ripped off. You seem to have a handle on what’s going on. What do you think?

Dear George,
You are probably the ideal candidate to get ripped off, my Petal. 55, unlucky in love, probably comfortably well off and working through a dating agency. What are the women like that you’ve met in dating agencies in your own country? All of them carting years of psychological baggage I imagine. There is a common bond here – you are desperate and so are they. That is not necessarily the best foundation for a life-long bond, is it? Having said all that, I am sure there are some absolute gems in the dating agency files, but do not, repeat do not, come over here at Xmas to “choose” which one of these lovely ladies you will take as your blushing bride. See if you like either of them, see if they really can speak English as good as the emails would suggest, and make a promise to come back at Easter. And keep your wallet locked, don’t write your PIN number on the back of your credit card, and stay away from the bars. Probably not what you wanted to hear, but that’s my opinion. I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.

Let’s go to a show
Dear Hillary,
The wife of one of my husband’s friends will be coming to visit Thailand next month, along with a couple of her girl friends. They would all be in their 50’s, and shocked me when they wrote and said they wanted to see a “sex show” while they are here. Do you think it’s proper for me to take them to some of the more outrageous places, or what? I’m really blown away by this. What do you recommend, Hillary?
Blown Away

Dear Blown Away,
There is nothing to worry about, my dear. Everybody knows we don’t have sex shows in Thailand. The nice policeman told me so. If you’re really worried, get your husband to take them, he’ll know where to go.

Service charge and VAT
Dear Hillary,
We are often in Thailand and the one thing that completely confuses me is the subject of tipping – when and how much? If the establishment charges a “service” fee, should you tip as well? What do you do as someone living there, for example? I believe that the wages are not high for some of the people in bars and restaurants and they need the tips, but I do not want to throw money away either? What’s your tip about tipping?
Terrie Tipper

Dear Terrie Tipper,
There are three situations here – Service Charge or no Service Charge and VAT on top. If the establishment adds on 10 percent (the usual amount), then as far as I am concerned – that’s the tip. There are some places that no doubt pocket the Service Charge, but that’s not anything of our doing, nor can we change it. That is something between the employees and the owners to work out. However, if I feel that the waiter or service provider has gone well beyond that which could be expected, then I reward with a little extra something for that person, irrespective. You know the sort of things I like – a little fawning, groveling and lots of compliments. In an establishment that has no standard add on Service Charge, then it really is up to you. Small change left over or up to 10 percent is quite normal. The Thai people are grateful for anything you leave them. It all adds up by the end of the day. VAT is a charge between the establishment and the government, so that is fixed.

Glyn and bare it?
Dear Hillary,
I read in your column about visitors being ripped off by the ladies of the night. Does that happen? Or is it an excuse to cover drunken spending? What is the best way to avoid problems? I’m not judging the ladies, but is the problem as real as they say? I also hear about padded bar bills which worries me as I do intend to spend quite a few nights at the bar. Real or rumor, Hillary?

Dear Glyn,
I suppose you’ve been told many time to Glyn and bare it, so I’ll avoid the cheap joke. For newbies and those who don’t sign the back of the bills, there is the opportunity to be ripped off, but now that you have been made aware of the reality of life, you should be quite safe in the jungle. And avoid wabbling home at 4 in the morning several sheets to the wind.