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Heart to Heart with Hillary


Side saddled
Dear Hillary,
I love the way the Thai girls sit sideways on the rear of motorcycle and wonder where did this custom come from? China adopted bicycles, but Thailand seems to have adopted the motorcycle. Do you know why this is so, and also when did the Thai girls start to ride pillion in this strange way? I must say I have never seen one fall off, but I suppose they must. Any answers are appreciated.
Peter Pillion

Dear Pillion Pete,
China, I believe, adopted pedal power because of financial reasons, but the Thais have always been better off and adopted the gasoline engine for boats, cars, trucks and personal transport (motorcycles) very early. The art of riding sideways came long before the nasty two strokes from Japan hit our shores as Thai women have always been very fashion conscious. Figure hugging sarongs and skirts are not new. They were wearing them over 100 years ago, and try slinging your leg over a buffalo in a tight skirt, my Petal. No, you can’t, so they sat side-saddle on the buffaloes. Sitting side-saddle on a motorcycle was a very natural progression, otherwise the skirt would have to be hoisted around the waist to get on. Something you men wouldn’t mind, but something us naturally shy Thai woman would not countenance. Take a look at the clothing the girls are wearing. Tight skirts means side-saddle, while jeans means sitting astride the nasty, malodorous device. “Do they fall off?” the simple answer is yes they do, but not because they lost their balance. They only fall off when the rider (or the person nominally in control of the machine) loses balance, and down the four of them go, including the two girls sitting opposite each other, but still side-saddle.

Genuine love in the bars?
Dear Hillary,
You keep on saying that we chaps should get out and find women that don’t work in the bars because that’s no good. How come I know at least half a dozen couples where she came from the bar and here they are donkey’s later still together and doing fine? Shoots you down in flames, I reckon, old girl.

Dear Jason,
Far from shooting me down, Jason my Petal, there’s far more than six people write in to me with the tales of disasters, demons and dead buffaloes. What you young chaps forget is that the ladies from the bars are actors. They get paid to give a good performance, and they do it night after night, often with a different audience as well. That’s why they are so popular. On the other side of the coin there is precious little genuine emotion in the love for sale outlets, and that’s why the relationships can be so disappointing.

What’s the next step?
Dear Hillary,
I’ve met this woman in one of the big centers, where she works in a shop. She always waves to me and if I stop she’ll chat. There’s about four women working there, but I never see any customers, so I don’t know how the place stays open, but it does. At least a couple of times a week she’s not there and the other girls tell me she’s gone home for a few days. I’d like to get it on with this woman, but there’s so much I don’t know, it holds me back. What’s the next step, Hillary?

Dear Pete,
You’re not wrong when you say there’s so much you don’t know. You sound completely wet behind the ears, my Petal. You shouldn’t be allowed out without a nanny. Just stop to think for a moment. How does she survive being away from the job for so many days a week? Time to open the eyes and have a bit of a reality check. Forget her. Find one with a real 9-5 job for six days a week.

Another unhappy shopper?
Dear Hillary,
I see a lot of girls in my local shopping center, and many are quite nice. I see them resting on the seats. I know you say we older farangs should stay away from the bars, but will I find Miss Right in the shopping center? Or do I have to lie about my age (I’m a pensioner) and go back to university? What should I do? I’m getting tired of being lonely.
Lonely Lionel

Dear Lonely Lionel,
What shower did you come down in, my lonely Petal? Must have been the last one. Will you find Miss Right waiting on the bench for you at the supermarket? No Lionel, you will only find Miss Take there. Mistake if you talk to her and Miss Take all your money by the time you reach the checkout counter. These are freelance girls who can disappear very easily and you will never find where she went or came from (other than Aisle B next to the hot dog counter). They are more dangerous than the girls from the bars. At least Hello Sexy Man bar will still be there tomorrow, and the mamasan knows the ID of her girls.

Position vacant for a private dancer
Dear Hillary,
Every week I read your column faithfully to see what we have to watch out for, to make sure we don’t get ripped off by the young fillies, but the situations never seem to happen to me. Am I doing something wrong? Should I go to a different bar? No girl has ever asked me for money for anything. I keep on thinking I am missing out on some of life’s great experiences, but don’t know what to do about it. Any suggestions? Where’s my Private Dancer?

Dear Bill,
I presume you are referring to Stephen Leather’s excellent book called “Private Dancer” which should be made compulsory reading before getting off the plane at Suvarnabhumi airport. There would be far less tears, far less rip-offs and probably far less people writing in for my advice. However, you, Bill my Petal, are the other way about, aren’t you? You want to be used and abused. A bit of the old masochism coming out, eh? But no worries, Bill, here’s what you’ve got to do. Get a bit tanked up one evening and then go to one of the raunchier sois and go into the first bar that has a girl outside who calls out to you “Hello sexy man.” You’re now starting on the great adventure. After a good night on the turps, it is your turn to look after her, and you start with buying the motorcycle she needs, followed by footing the vet bills for the family buffalo (they don’t do well living in the Bangkok traffic) and then the money for the back rent of her apartment. If you’re really lucky, you will also find out that your sexy six footer with pneumatic knockers used to play for the boy’s U17 football team, so you’ll have something in common right away.
Bill, I think (and hope) you’re pulling my black silk stockinged leg, but it is important to always remember the definition of a sadist. It’s someone who’s nice to a masochist! You’ll thank me for that one day.

Election worries
Dear Hillary,
With the latest elections in Thailand, how do you think the change in government will affect those of us who work off-shore, but have our wives and children in Thailand? Should we move our money off-shore, or should we just pull up stumps and try Malaysia or the Philippines or somewhere else? I believe the real estate market is depressed too. It’s all a bit worrying. I’ve worked 20 years off-shore to get what I’ve got now. I don’t want to see it just go down the gurgler.
Worried Joe

Dear Worried Joe,
I’m the last one to ask about whether you should keep your money here or move it overseas. I keep mine in an old sock under the bed. That’s one sock, too, my Petal.
Will things change in Thailand? I really don’t think so. Look back at all the governments we’ve had in the past 10 years, different colors, different ideas, different names, and life just carries on for us little people. How tall are you Joe? If you’re over two meters, better hope they don’t tax you by the centimeter!
The real estate market may be a bit slow for a while, but it always comes good over time. I don’t think you’ve got to pack your bags and do a bolter. But what’s this “gurgler” thing?

30 years of happiness
Dear Hillary,
Hooray for printing the letter showing that there are just as many good westerner-Thai marriages as the other way, but we aren’t so noisy about it. You’re probably right when you say that because we’re not having problems, we don’t think about writing in. My Thai wife and I have been married for almost 30 years and we spent half that time in the States and the other half of the time we’ve lived here, where we are at present. Sure we’ve had fights and arguments, but doesn’t everybody? The next day it’s OK again. She’s been my best buddy as well as my wife, and provided you don’t dash off to the village with the first Thai girl you meet, you have every good chance of having a great rewarding life like Lek and myself have had.

Dear Eugene,
Thank you, my Petal, for your happy and uplifting letter. It will make all the other successful western-Thai marriage partners feel good. With divorce statistics in the west being around 50 percent of first marriages, you probably have a better chance of long term success in Thailand, than in the US anyway.

Sex shows? Really? Here?
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?

Dear Shocked,
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.

What to do with the outlaws
Dear Hillary,
My husband’s mother and father are coming out for a holiday next month. This will be their first trip to Thailand and I am wondering where we should take them. They are both in their 60’s, so we must be careful of the venue.

Dear Maria,
What have you to be careful of? Will Pa-in-law become an aggressive drunk and molest the waitress, or Ma-in-law snap the bra straps and shoulder the girls out of the way at the chrome pole paradise? Honestly, what is the world coming to? Stop worrying! Thailand has more amazing things to do and places to go to than just about anywhere in the world. You should put the following on the agenda: one of the lavish on stage transvestite shows, a visit to some of the restaurants, take them to the tourist entertainment outlets like zoos and other similar venues, enjoy relaxed BBQ’s for example, a bit of fun, food and dancing and even take them to a go-go bar. After all, they are here and someone will ask them on their return what they were like. Relax and enjoy their being here. They’re old enough to tell you what they want anyway!

The gentle art of tipping explained
Dear Hillary,
We enjoy coming to Thailand every year but the one thing that completely confuses me and leaves me embarrassed is the subject of tipping - when and how much? For example, if the restaurant charges a “service” fee, should you tip as well? I am told that the wages are not high for some of the up-country people in bars and restaurants and they need the tips, but I do not want to throw money away on our holiday trips either. I mean, the reason we come is because things are so much cheaper than at home. If the prices go up here, then it isn’t worth the traveling costs. What do you do as someone living there, for example. What’s your tip about tipping?
George and Steph

Dear George and Steph,
What you have to look at with the bill is whether or not there is a service charge. If the establishment adds on 10 percent for service (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, and believe me that does happen. On the other hand, if I feel that the waiter or service staff has gone well beyond that which could be expected, then I reward them 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 again is quite normal. The service staff is grateful for anything you leave them. It all adds up by the end of the day.

Jock and the chocs
Dear Hillary,
How’s the chocks and champers going? Haven’t heard too much recently. I’d bring some over to you, but where I am, champers is not allowed anywhere and it’s too hot for chockies. But thanks for the funnies.

Dear Jock,
What is to stop you buying them duty free when you come in to Thailand, Petal? I understand the difficulties you might have in the sand-box, but I think the biggest difficulty is in your name - “Jock”. You wouldn’t be Scottish, would you? Still with the first baw-bee you ever made, tucked away in your wee sporran. I know all about you lads with your kilts and the sporran thingy to keep yours warm in winter. You’ll have to try harder, Jock.

Confused in the LOS
Dear Hillary,
There’s a girl at work that I’m a bit keen on, and every day she gives me a wai and a big smile, so I wai back. She’s in another department from me, so I can’t just kinda bowl in and talk to her. I do think she is giving me the come-on, but with everyone in Thailand smiling at everyone else, I am confused. Is this just the Thai smile, or is it the ‘come and get me’ smile? I really want to get my head around this before I make an ass of myself. I’ve only been in Thailand for six months, so I’m pretty new here.

Dear Confused,
You make it a little difficult for me, Confused, so much so that I’m getting confused myself. What you are trying to work out is whether she is making the Thai polite smile, or the ‘pleased to see you’ smile. That shouldn’t be too difficult. How long have you been in Thailand? Six months! You should have been able to work it out by now, but if she goes over the top and gives you a beaming smile as she wais, then I’d take it as the old fashioned come-on. Really, I don’t know what’s wrong with you young bloods these days. Surely you could find an excuse to visit her department, or is she working as a rocket scientist and you haven’t got the clearance to go there? In that case, get someone from her department to ask her to go to lunch with you. Even rocket scientists have to eat! I get the feeling, Petal, that not only have you only been here for six months, but you’re probably a wet-behind-the-ears teenager as well. But don’t fret. Everyone grows up sooner or later.

Live to ride
Dear Hillary,
Time to come and ride with us. We are a bunch of good guys with big bikes. We’re not Hell’s Angels but just ordinary guys that like to have fun and have a good time. We’ve been reading your column and think you’re just not having fun any more, with all your pleading for chocolates and champagne. We go for beer, but after a ride around the mountains you’ll be dying for a beer as well. B Well, are you willing to rise to our challenge and come for a ride with the Rancheros?
Ranchero 1

Dear Ranchero 1,
Do you honestly think I am going to get on the back of a motorcycle with a bunch of guys I’ve never met before, and who think the greatest fun in life is drinking beer? Give me a break, boys. It’s horses for courses. You stick to your beers and riding round mountains, while I stick to the finer things in life (chocolates and champagne, as you correctly pointed out). As I see you call yourself Ranchero 1, I presume there is at least two of you, and that’s another good reason for turning down your unforgettable offer. Thanks, but no thanks.

Happy gay days
Dear Hillary
My work colleagues have all decided that I am gay because I don’t live with anyone, while they all are living with a succession of local women, and I mean a succession. Every week it’s another tale of woe and how they have been cleaned out. Every week I thank my lucky stars that this is them not me. But what beats me is they just go straight back into another relationship, which ends up just like the previous ones - a disaster. They seem to think that I have something against women, while I don’t, but they keep on saying over and over, “Got a feller yet?” I haven’t got anything against gays either, it’s just that I’m not one. How do I get them to understand at work?

Dear Straight,
Jai yen yen! Maintain a cool heart, Petal! They are only keeping this up because you continue to rise to the bait. When they get no reaction from you, they will eventually stop. It may seem hard, but just a “Suit yourself,” response and nothing else will produce the desired result. By the way, don’t comment on their relationships and they will give up commenting on your (lack of) relationships too. You reap what you sow in this world.

How to stay married to a Thai woman

Hi Hillary,

Keep up the good work, Hills Old Girl. For those of us not lucky enough to be in Thailand all the time we certainly appreciate the Thai sunshine you bring to us.
Being married to a Thai and working off-shore, there’s a lot of trust involved in the relationship, so I hope you won’t mind a Farang / Thai marriage success story. For the doubters out there - yes, there are very many others who share in the wonderful experience of being married to a Thai woman. My advice is the same as for any other prospective long term union irrespective of nationality - “remember to engage the brain before slapping the gear stick into top and then pressing the turbo button.” Yes, there are many differences in culture to overcome and the rules are not quite the same, “face” was certainly a new concept for me to understand! But a good Thai woman with some education and a sensible and flexible farang man who can listen and try to understand can match just perfectly. Even though we say that only a fool and his money are soon parted, but parting with a little bit here there occasionally to help the family is expected and is not so bad, is it? And it keeps the union going.

Dear James Old Boy,
I do try to give both sides of relationships, but those hundreds of happy couples don’t need to write in for my valued advice, do they. I agree that it does take some give and take on the part of the foreigner, but the Thai woman must also understand that there may be two ways of looking at things. I have found this has worked for me - there are always two sides to any argument, mine and the wrong one! By the way, a little less of the “Old girl.” Thank you, Petal!

An embarrassing situation
Dear Hillary,
I am in my 50’s and spend around six months of the year here in Thailand, where I have my wife and an 11 year old boy, our son. I find it very distressing when my son and I go somewhere to hear cat-calls from the yobs in the bars, suggesting in not a nice way, that I am some sort of a pedophile, and my son is selling sex. This makes it that we do not want to go out to public places any more.
Have you or your readers any suggestions?
Troubled Dad

Dear Troubled Dad,
Unfortunately prejudice is always with us, and is certainly more prevalent in the bar areas. There is not much you can do, other than stay away from those neighborhoods. When your son is a bit older you won’t get so many ‘smart’ comments, as these people are cowards when they come face to face with the people they are jeering at. Don’t take it personally, but rise above their gutter level.

Somebody give him a push, please!
Dear Hillary,
I have been having a sort of long distance relationship with a very sweet girl for the past five years. I was on holidays here and met her as she was a travel agent and helped me with changing some flight plans. We got along well and had dinner together a couple of times before I returned to the UK. We stayed in touch by email and she asked me to correct her emails as she wanted to improve her English.
The next time I came over, she helped me again and we began seeing each other every day, and she even came with me on a trip up-country, but stayed in her own room, as she comes from a very strict family.
We did this for a couple of years, getting closer all the time, but never had relations. She did suggest, half joking I thought, that maybe we should get married, but I said that couldn’t happen as she was 32 years old and I was 60, and she never mentioned it again.
So now I have a permanent guide that I am very attached to, and really would like to pop the question. Should I do it, Hillary, or just put up with the situation as it is?
Hesitant Horace

Dear Hesitant Horace,
I am sure you are a lovely man, but it looks to me as if you have been hurt at some stage and you’re now afraid of letting this relationship develop further. Goodness me, my Petal, this woman has been giving you the green light for years, and you haven’t seen it. You are blind as well as hesitant, it seems. She is getting older, so she is no young thing out to empty your wallet, and the age difference is obviously something she had already taken in her stride some time ago.
I don’t think you should read my reply to your letter and then immediately rush out and buy the ring, but just let the relationship continue to build, as it was doing until you put the brakes on! Once you relax, it will all roll along quite nicely, until the right moment to pop the question will be normal. All the best, Horace.