Heart to Heart
Is it usual for Thai women to go out in packs to karaoke bars? My
girlfriend (Thai) goes out about one time a week with a bunch of her
girlfriends (anything up to 20 of them), take endless photos of each other
and roll back home in the early hours of the morning definitely the worse
for wear. Is this their idea of a good time?
It obviously is a “good time” if they are doing it once a week. That should
be obvious, my Petal. We go out in large groups as it is safer that way,
and we don’t have to worry about being hit on by young lads like yourself.
If you are having a problem with this, the person you should be talking to
is your girlfriend, not me. If she’s driving home there could be a bit of a
worry there. Again, talk to her and discuss all your fears and worries with
her, not me, that’s a good chap.
People are telling me that the way you can tell if a bar girl is lying is if
her lips are moving. Tell me it isn’t like that. I come over to Thailand
three times a year, and as I am only there for a couple of weeks at a time,
there can be no long-term relationship, and I have always found that the bar
girls are great companions, and none of them has ever given me a problem or
ripped me off or anything like that. To my mind they are very honest. How
did they get such a bad rep?
Dear Aussie Gordon,
I believe that 90 percent of the bar girls do a good job, honestly and
cheerfully. But many foreigners want to forget that the girls are actually
doing a job, as well as performing a service (like the pun)? They will tell
you what you want to hear, “I lub you too mut, darleeng,” and believe that
if you like. I don’t consider that is “lying”, no more than the washing
machine salesman who tells you that Brand X washes whiter than the others.
His lips are moving too. Really, the bar girl scene is performing a service
for unattached males on holiday. The problems only arise when the
unattached male places too much on the standard phrases of the trade, and
then when let down, bad mouths the entire scene. Continue with your holiday
romances, Petal, just be careful, guard your credit card information, watch
your spending and don’t buy her any Sydney Harbor Bridges after fourteen
I’ve ignored all your good advice and now realize I have been well and truly
suckered in. OK, so I’ve lost a cheap house up in the jungle (I didn’t want
to stay there anyhow) and a car in her name down here, but is there any way
I can get the money (or at least some of it) back? We’re not looking at big
money, probably a million all up, but I’d rather it be in my bank account,
rather than hers. Any suggestions?
The first suggestion is to listen to my advice next time and not ignore it.
You know the dangers now, don’t you, Petal. And there will be a ‘next
time’, there always is. As you say, everything is in her name, not yours,
so you would have to rely on her generosity if she wants to give you
anything, and that’s probably not likely. No, chalk it up to experience,
and look at ways of safeguarding your investments over here. Talk to
reliable real estate people. Amazingly, there are some, who can show you
how to protect any real estate property. The same goes for big ticket items
like cars. Don’t rush in, Rodney, where angels fear to tread.
I love reading your column, but I don’t come with promises of champagne or
chocolates and I am sorry for that. I do have a question for you though.
Do all girls here flirt with all tourists or am I just a walking sign board
that says “Here I am come take advantage of me”? Well I don’t really know
who is taking advantage of who but at times I feel that there really is a
spark, a kind of connection. Am I dreaming this or is this not possible?
The Day Dreamer
Dear Day Dreamer,
I do thank you for your kind words, though wrapped around a bottle of bubbly
makes them even better. Try a little harder next time. Now to your
specific questions - do all girls here flirt? No, all girls do not. A
percentage do, and that percentage increases exponentially as you approach
the bar areas, until by the time that you have passed through the “Welcome!
Sit down please,” threshold, the percentage is nigh on 100 percent. Is
there a spark, a kind of connection? Of course there is! That connection
is called “money”. As the T shirt says, No money, No Honey! Wake up and
stop day dreaming.
Valentine’s over and done with for another 12 months, so parents don’t need
to worry about little Johnny till next year. The government doesn’t need to
have policemen patrolling the streets to make sure all the under-age kids
are tucked up in their (own) beds by 10 p.m. How stupid is all that?
I have seen that governments of any color have the natural ability to make
idiotic decisions. St. Valentine’s Day, to give it its correct title, is a
wonderful fun event for young people (and the not so young). In many
countries, the St. Valentine’s Day card or flowers or chocolates have to be
sent anonymously, leaving the recipient guessing as to who the secret
admirer really is. That would relieve the government’s fears of wholesale
lechery on February 14. I agree with you, Petal. Total nonsense. And that
reminds me - not one of you sent me a card, chocolates or French champagne
this year. I’m devastated!
I found the ideal girl. I learned to speak Thai, as you suggested. I met
the parents. I met the grandparents. I met the girlfriends. I gave her
5,000 baht a month for her to spend on anything she wanted. Everything
looked good until I suggested it was time to get hitched and then it all
came out. She was married already to an American and was waiting for a visa
to go there. Not a breath about anything before. No wonder this place gets
a bad rep.
You thought you were doing everything by the book, didn’t you Petal. But
you forgot to meet the family buffalo, which is higher up the social ladder
than someone who is just another ATM, and not a very well filled ATM
either. At the wonderful sum of B. 5,000 a month, you won’t even get a maid
for that. You were played as a sucker (which you were). You are much
better off without her, well at least B. 5,000 better off each month without
her! Your ability in speaking Thai will always help you understand what is
going on, but you will have to be wary in the future. Don’t rush in where
buffalos fear to tread!
My wife (Thai) and me are looking at buying a little house in the country,
for us to use when we go to visit her parents. Their house is wooden and
very primitive, and I just can’t live there. My wife has been told she
can’t own a house in her own name because she is married to a farang, and
her last name is now also farang. I’m not allowed to buy it in my name, so
what do we do? All sounds damn stupid to me.
The situation you describe with your wife’s ability to own house/land was
once the case, but that was changed many years ago. She can own real estate
in her own name. You are a different pail of potatoes, Petal. You can buy
the house (under certain circumstances, investment companies, leases, etc.),
but you cannot own the land it stands on. This is quite understandable, as
otherwise China will have bought up all the land in Thailand, just like they
are trying to do in New Zealand. Talk to a reliable real estate agent
and/or a good lawyer. I know, I know, just keep looking!
I remain utterly flabbergasted that every week, or it seems that way, you
will get another letter from a broken hearted male who has lost another
house and several ounces of gold to another young Thai hussy. That is after
the buffalo has had its expensive injections to get it on its feet again.
Does nobody warn these people that this is the most likely outcome? Perhaps
you should have a notice inserted in the Mail that Thai women are a
Dear Browned Off,
You do not say where you came from, but all the western so-called developed
countries have their own financial hazards in the men and women stakes.
Called divorce settlements and alimony, these are resulting in many men who
have lost several houses, cars and been made poor by the women in their own
country. In America they are even drawing up “pre-nuptial” agreements as a
form of “damage control” to try and quantify and contain the loss on
splitting up. Since more than 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce
in the western world, that’s a lot of houses out there in the matrimonial
maelstrom. I remain absolutely flabbergasted that people such as you
protest so loudly your amazement that this happens here, as if it didn’t in
your own countries. If you don’t believe me go your local Chicken Pluckers
Arms in the UK and take a straw poll of how many men have lost everything
but their shirts to some English women. You get off lightly over here. I
do also take you to task, branding all Thai/Farang marriage failure females
as being hussies. Would you say the same about British women? Or
My hairdresser lady said the other day that coming to Pattaya and finding a
farang husband is like winning the lottery for a Thai woman. This amazed
me, as there appears to be so much strife with the farang-Thai households,
one would hardly consider it to be a lucky lottery ticket. What is your
take on this, Hillary? You are the one who gets all the moans and groans.
You are thinking only from the foreign male’s viewpoint, Petal, and if you
are basing your letter on the moans and groans on these pages, then you are
ignoring all the other lucky lottery ticket holders, who have no need to
write to me. For a young Thai woman (or any age, for that matter) to come
to Pattaya and form a relationship with a local farang means they have
opened the door to an opportunity otherwise impossible. Luxury condo living
is certainly better than sharing one concrete walled room with three or four
other refugees from the North-East. Do you wonder why amongst ourselves we
can describe the relationship as being like winning the lottery? So the
relationship can go sour, but that is the risk that all couples have to
take. Fifty percent of first marriages fail in the UK and the US I am told
(and not all of them are married to Thai ladies)
One of my American friends was telling me in an email that buying a bar in
Pattaya is dangerous, as well as being overpriced. They seemed quite
reasonable to me, compared to prices over here, and I read that a 50 percent
share is also possible. What are the problems and what should I be looking
out for before purchase?
Bill the Barman
It seems obvious to me that you have no idea about doing business in
Thailand, and have a pile of money burning a hole in your pocket. You are
the ideal patsy, Bill. Sorry to say it, but have you ever heard of the
phrase “due diligence”? That’s the research you should do before buying any
businesses anywhere, and especially in Thailand. How old are you, Petal?
Are you really that wet behind the ears? For a foreigner to work over here
you will need a work permit, and you only get one of those if you can do a
job that no Thai person can do. Anyone of any nationality can prop up a
bar. However, you can get a work permit by some underhand maneuvering, but
then you set yourself up to be asked for money by the nice friendly
policeman to look the other way. If your bar is successful, those monthly
payments go up as well. Leave running a bar to those who know how to, and
the pitfalls. Stay on the customer’s side of the bar and forget about
buying in with a 50 percent share. It just might be the third 50 percent
share that is being offered. It has happened before, and will happen
again. Especially when there are punters with money thinking Pattaya is
Paradise. The only similarity between the two is they both start with the
I am a little worried that my husband has been playing up recently. He has
been going to bars with his workmates after the office closes and seems to
be staying out longer and longer. I have told him he has to let me know
when he is coming home, as I have often got jobs for him to do around our
condo, and he has to have time to prepare the dinner for all of us (we have
a pet poodle). When I went through his pockets the other evening I found a
business card for a bar in one of the more seedy areas in town. Have I got
a real worry here or not, Hillary. Please let me know.
Dear Anxious Annabel,
You sure do have a problem, Annabel my Petal, you surely do. If my partner
were to be telling me to come home and cook the dinner after I spent all day
in the office, then I’d even go to bars myself, just as retaliation. Time
you learned to cook and fend for yourself, just remember to let the can of
dog food come to room temperature. I hope you and the poodle have some
lovely romantic candlelight dinners together. Just watch out that its coat
doesn’t singe. Wake up, Annabel. Time for you to be looking at what you
are doing, not what he is doing.
I am a 61 year old expat who has been visiting Thailand regularly. I am
currently having a house built in Pattaya. I have taken up with a 21 year
old bargirl. I think she is into leather and bondage because when she saw
my wallet she wanted to get tied to it. What do you think are the chances
of a long term relationship?
Mark. D. Sade
How long? Depends on how long you keep your wallet filled, Petal. You
could also try keeping your money in a sock, rather than a leather wallet if
you think leather’s the attraction.
I have a problem with my new Thai GF. She doesn’t want to get out of bed in
the mornings, but I have to start work at 8 a.m. and I expect her to cook me
breakfast, but nothing but snores for me in the mornings. Night time is a
different matter, she’s all raring to go, and 2 or 3 in the morning is
nothing for her, while I am starting to flag. Out of the nightclub and
let’s find a noodle stall. I really can’t put up with this time difference
much more. What should I do?
Will the Worker
Dear Will the Worker,
That’s quite a problem you have, my Petal, but not impossible to be gotten
over. It is my understanding that you are the person with a job - she does
not. You are the one keeping your little sleeping beauty in clothes and
noodles. She can’t even cook you breakfast to keep you going night and
day. You are being used, Will the Worker. Any good and lasting partnership
has two sides, yours is one-sided. Time for you to be strong and tell her
she gets up with you and goes to bed with you, and looks after you as wives
are supposed to do (just as husbands look after wives). After all,
McDonalds make breakfasts and you don’t have to buy the cashier a new dress.
How many of the Thai wife - foreigner husband marriages really work? Just
about one in two of my friends have seen their wife go off with a Thai
boyfriend, taking with them anything that isn’t nailed down. This is after
some years of marriage too, not the quick village marriage, grab the dowry
and run marriages.
Am I Next?
Dear Am I Next,
Here’s the bad news. One in two (that’s 50 percent for the mathematically
challenged) is par for the course all over the world. Yes, for all of you
with stars in the eyes, hanging on to the best girl in the world, half of
you are going to be disappointed. And that is true for the UK, America,
Europe and Thailand. And is still true with Thai marrying a Thai, let alone
marrying a foreigner with all the culture shock problems on top.
You may not have noticed, but when a Thai person rings my number and finds
it is a farang on the other end, they just drop the phone. Click, no
“Sorry” or anything like that. I find this very rude, and wonder if other
readers of your column (keep it up, it is so much fun) find the same?
Dear Phone Phil,
There is a very simple answer to all this. The person ringing does not want
to disappoint you by being unable to speak English, so rather than embarrass
everyone, they just put the phone down. “Click” as you say. The answer
here is to always answer the phone with a long “Ha-lloww”. This tricks the
caller into thinking they have another Thai on the end of the phone and they
will launch into rapid-fire Thai language that you can’t understand either.
The other response is a series of “Ha-lloww”, “Ha-lloww”, “Ha-lloww”,
“Ha-lloww” until eventually they break out in Thai, as per the first
response. I think you should consider yourself lucky, and stop handing out
business cards with you phone number on it.
Happy New Year and all that and I’m wondering if all the poor souls from
2011 will ever find their true girlfriends, and will 2012 bring on another
steady stream of broken hearts asking what to do and where to go. You would
imagine by this time at least some of them would see the light. Anyway,
Hills, old bean, all the best and keep smiling.
What’s with the “Hills, old bean”, Pete my Petal? Just refer to me as
Hillary, thank you, “old bean” indeed! Now as far as the army of the broken
hearts is concerned, of course there will be a new wave coming. It happens
every year and is something to do with 2012 being the lemming leap year.
Your “poor souls” as you call them, leave their cold and wintry countries
and come here to waving palm trees, warmth and even warmer ladies. No
wonder they all do the lemming leap off the cliff together when they find
that the lovely Lek from Legs Bar Beer was just doing her job, and they have
been replaced by the second wave of Scandinavians, to be followed by the
third wave of Belgians. With the dearth of female company for the older
(and younger, I am led to believe) males from the UK, Scandinavia, Belgium
and all points West in their own countries, the happy little bunny who will
sit on their knees and say, “I lub you too mut, buy me drink,” is beyond
their wildest dreams. No wonder they fall for some of the oldest bargirl
lines in the world. But they do, and they break their hearts and the cycle
I have found a few
solutions to the "getting ripped off" by Thai girl friend issue.
1. Learn to speak
Thai and better still Laos Issan.
I can speak both
languages and when I (rarely) talk to Thai girls in their own language they
are not interested in me anymore. Strangely enough just prior to me
speaking the girl said I was "very good looking" (in her "farang" language,
which I interpret is supposedly some sort of English).
2. Do not make eye
contact with Thai girls.
I have experienced
sitting in bars or go-go's totally alone when all the other tables
containing foreign men have many girls around them. (Their tables also seem
to have lots of glasses of strange, funny coloured watery drinks which are
relatively very expensive too).
I find this happens
when I make no eye contact whatsoever, they just don't approach me, Lovely!
They think I am Na Du (that’s the best
transcription I can make).
3. Just don’t
talk to them, look at them or have anything to do with them.
I do all these
things. I very rarely deviate from this rule. However, if a Thai girl
shows me respect and tries to speak to me politely in her own language I may
make an exception. But a Thai person showing a foreigner respect and speaking
Thai doesn’t happen that often.
I now live happily
alone, my only take-aways are rice suppers. I wake up in the morning fresh,
happy, no problems. It's great Hillary. I am so happy I don’t have a Thai
I just don’t bother
Dear I just don’t bother,
You have certainly got the ways for avoiding being ripped off by a Thai lady
(or any lady for that matter); however, I wonder why you go to the bars or
go-go’s at all? It is not for the sparkling repartee (in any language of
your choosing), and wouldn’t be for the new dance steps you might learn (the
chrome pole shuffle). You’re not going there for company, or to recruit
company either. You certainly won’t get ripped off by a Thai GF in your
scenarios, because you haven’t got a Thai GF, have you. “Just don’t talk to
them, look at them or have anything to do with them,” is your advice, so why
go there at all, Petal? Do you have a split personality perhaps, and enjoy
talking and being with your other self. Actually you don’t have the
solutions, you are just running away. It’s like saying I will never die in
a plane wreck - because I don’t travel by air.
I’ve been going backwards and forwards on holidays between here and the UK
for four years. I am close to the age pension and I am thinking about
retiring here, so I was hoping you could advise me on a couple of points,
because you know the lie of the land. It has always been one of my
ambitions to have my own little pub (I’ve spent a fair deal of time in
little pubs and bars after work). There seems to be a few very successful
bars for sale and they only want about 600,000 baht for most of them. Since
I will be getting a nice tidy sum for my retirement (I have a private plan
as well as the government one), I thought I might invest in my own little
pub by buying a half share or something. It would be nice to make money at
a bar, rather than spending money at a bar, don’t you reckon, Hillary! My
only worry is that I have heard that foreigners have been ripped off and I
am hoping you can advise me on what to watch for. While the pension looks
good I don’t want to lose it either.
With apologies to the Charge of the Light Brigade - “Into the valley of
death rode the six hundred” (thousand baht). Geordie, Geordie! For a
start, there are very few successful bar owners who learned the trade from
propping up the outside of the bar. You need to have experience in running
a bar or pub before investing in one. Even with half shares for sale, have
you stopped to think why the owner of such a successful establishment would
want to give half of it away? Things to watch for? Two sets of books for
one. The set you get to see and the real books. There’s probably another
set for the tax man. Then there is always the third or fourth 50 percent
share that gets sold. You also need a work permit, and that isn’t easy for
working in a bar. You might get a bonus? Unfortunately, with the economic
downturn, tourist cancellations etc., etc., etc., the bar will pay no
dividend this year and the regretful owner will buy your 50 percent share
back for 100,000 baht. Yes, there are quick profits to be made in the bar
bizz - for the seller, not the purchaser. Mind you, if you can get a half
share in Jameson’s for 600,000 baht, count me in too!