Heart to Heart
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
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?
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
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?
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?
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?
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Sex shows? Really? Here?
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?
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
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.
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
The gentle art of tipping explained
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
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.
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,
Confused in the LOS
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.
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
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?
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
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?
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
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
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?
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!
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?
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.