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Heart to Heart with Hillary

 

Dear Hillary,
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?
James 

Dear James,
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.

 Dear Hillary,
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?
Aussie Gordon

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 beers!

Dear Hillary,
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?
Rodney

Dear Rodney,
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.

Dear Hillary,
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.


Dear Hillary,
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?
Val

Dear Val,
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!

Dear Hillary,
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.
Jilted

Dear Jilted,
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!

Dear Hillary,
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.
Chris

Dear Chris,
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!

Dear Hillary,
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 wealth hazard!
Browned Off

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 Americans?


Dear Hillary,
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.
Charles

Dear Charles,
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)

Dear Hillary,
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

Dear Bill,
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 letter “P”.

Dear Hillary,
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.
Anxious Annabel

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.

Dear Hillary,
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

Dear Mark,
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.


Dear Hillary,
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.

Dear Hillary,
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.

Dear Hillary,
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?
Phone Phil

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.
 

Dear Hillary,
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.
Pete

Dear Pete,
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 continues.


Dear Hillary,

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 (thats the best transcription I can make).

3. Just dont 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 gf.
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.

Dear Hillary,
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.
Geordie

Dear Geordie,
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!