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Heart to Heart with Hillary


Update September 26, 2015

Dear Hillary,
I met a beautiful tall girl in a bar whose family buffalo was very well, her brother doesn’t ride motorbikes and her mother is in A1 health. What should I look out for as the next step?

Dear Amazed,
Check the Adam’s apple.

Dear Hillary,
One of the older women at work seems to have taken a shine to me, stops to chat at my desk and has told me that she is not married and does not have a Thai boyfriend. I see her every day and joking I said we should go out one afternoon for some fun. She always says “next year”, and it has been left at that. Today she asked me what I was doing on Saturday or Sunday and I said I was busy. She then floored me by saying, “OK, next week,” and I think she meant it, not like her “next years”. How do I find out what she meant? Should I go ahead and say a day next week? If she doesn’t really mean it, would I embarrass her? Have I put my foot right in it?

Dear Jerry,
This lady has been giving you all the hints that any mature man should recognize. I read that she is an older woman, and I think you must be a younger man, or at least someone who is not very worldly wise. If you want to go out with her one afternoon for fun (as you put it), then just agree on a day. If she doesn’t really mean it, then she will give you an excuse as to why it is not possible. Lighten up, my Petal. Just enjoy life as it comes, and remember that old wines in old bottles can be better than new wines in new bottles.

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.

Dear Charlie,
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,
My Thai girlfriend is wonderful – except for one thing, she is timeless. She will arrange to meet me at four in the afternoon and rolls up at five saying “Sorry I’m a little late.” I don’t think one hour to be a “little late”, that’s a lot late, surely. She has been even more late than that, but every time it is the same, “Sorry I’m a little late.” Have you any ideas that I could try to get this girl to be punctual?

Dear (Punctual) Pedro,
Have you tried buying her a watch, my poor punctual Petal? I suggest you buy her a digital watch, or else it will be endless descriptions of “When the little hand is at three and the big hand is at twelve...” You could also buy her a mobile phone and ring her up quarter of an hour before the appointment to remind her. Then you could also get her a motorbike, so that she doesn’t have to waste time looking for a songthaew. To keep the motorcycle serviceable, it should be kept under cover, so while you’re shelling out the shekels, you may as well buy her a little house. With that kind of investment you may as well marry the girl, so that next time you write to Hillary you can begin with “My Thai wife is wonderful – except for one thing. She is timeless.” My suggestion is to jump ship now, Pedro, before it all becomes too much. Thais are not noted for their punctuality, and very few of them are ever ‘on time’. The concept is, that as long as nobody is killed because of lateness, there is really no problem. That’s life in the relaxed Thai world, and you may just have to learn to live with it, or keep moving on.

Update September 20, 2015

Dear Hillary,
How did us single farangs get along before you? Though I am told that you are older than Methusala (not sure of the spelling, but you know who I mean). How do you keep up answers for the fellows who get themselves in trouble every week? I’ve no problems, a nice little fan who cuts my nails and never complains, but what about the rest of them?

Dear Jim,
Your concept was right, but your spelling a bit off. The gentleman you were referring to as being as old as Hillary, was Methuselah. That fine old gentleman lived to be 969 years old and died seven days before Noah’s great flood and was actually Noah’s grandfather. As you can see, he hopped off at the right time, as legend has it that he couldn’t swim. There are no worries about floods this year as you can walk across Mabprachan lake!
Now about all the local farangs that you are worried about – stop worrying, my Petal. Most fix their own problems, and it is only a few that have to call on my inestimable (big word for a Friday) advice. I’m glad you are not having any problems with the toe cutter gang (get the movie Mad Max on DVD) and hope that life for you continues without complaints.

Dear Hillary,
You sent some poor chap looking for another girlfriend just because she borrowed some money from him. He gave the money and she’s been a bit slow. Have you asked if she had some difficult problems? No, you just sided with the fellow. Taking only one side in an argument is dangerous, Hillary. You should be more careful.

Dear Sam,
Are you trying to give me a warning, Sam? What do you want me to do with all the people needing my help? Say I’ll deal with the situation as soon as you get your girlfriend to contact me with your side of the story? Be real, Petal. This is a column for the lovelorn, not a marriage guidance clinic.

Dear Hillary,
I have been going out with a wonderful Thai girl, a proper young “lady” not a bar girl, and we have become quite serious and I am now looking into the future. Everything seemed to be going along very well, although we did have some problems, just caused by communication problems (as I can’t speak Thai). The other night she dropped the bombshell. “My mother tell me I must marry Thai man.” Just like that! Hillary, is this a common thing in Thai families? Does her mother have that much power that she can dictate what her daughter does, and even the choice of husband for her? Surely in this 21st century Thai girls are not stuck with arranged marriages, and if they are, what can a farang do in this situation?
Devastated Dave

Dear DD,
Does her mother have that sort of authority? Yes, Dave, in a traditional Thai family she certainly does. It may be the 21st century for you, Dave, but in Thailand it is the 26th century and despite the extra 500 years, the traditional ways are still very strong. Thai people believe in the need for family members to look after each other and her mother is merely looking after her daughter in the traditional way. You are from an alien culture, Petal, and even if your Thai lady is well versed in the ways of the modern international world, the traditional values will still be held by the family. Have you stopped to consider that perhaps a Thai man may have already paid a dowry to the family? In the case of a well educated girl this could go as high as two million baht. What can you do? You can either keep in there and hope, or call it quits now before you get in too deep. She might also be pushing you to state your intentions too.

Dear Hillary,
Why are Thai women so noisy? I always thought they were nice quiet creatures, but they certainly aren’t. They shout at each other, instead of talking. They don’t bother walking next door to talk to their neighbor, they just stand at their doorways and shout across the street. Parties have them screaming at each other, over the top of ear-splitting music. Are they deaf from birth, or just going that way?

Dear Mack,
It is partly a cultural thing. If you hadn’t noticed before, Thai women don’t ever walk anywhere, so to communicate with the neighbors means a good full-bodied yell from the front steps. This also means that we save on mobile phone batteries. The volume from the boom boxes means that we have to shout louder to be heard over the top of them, which means that the little man at the music console winds the noise up even further (I refuse to call it “music”), and so it goes on. You’re not going to change things, my Petal. Just accept it. Have you thought about buying ear defenders. They are quite cheap at the bigger pharmacies.

Update September 12, 2015

Dear Hillary,
It’s Evil Knievel again. (Did I hear a groan?) I was looking at a Harley Davidson motorcycle the other day and thinking if I had 3,000,000 baht to spare would I buy one? Then I laughed to myself, it takes a huge effort for me to put my leg over the saddle to get on my Honda Wave, with a Harley I would need a crane! Okay a change of subject, I was talking to my female students who are all grown up now, they were interested in how young Thai girls could fall for an old foreigner. I explained that it was the same in the two countries I had previously lived in. You would see an old millionaire with a pretty girl on his arm, waiting for him to pop off as the saying goes. No difference here, an old foreigner does not have to be a millionaire but even his age pension is big money to a young Thai girl. No difference Hillary, well that’s my story. I will try and mount my Honda Wave now and pretend it’s a Harley. Love to You All at the Mail.

Dear Evil,
Aren’t you just the sweetest man, describing in such graphic detail how to get your leg over - but getting away from the throbbing motorcycle theme, you are correct in your observation of the old men and young ladies, and it doesn’t matter what country. The problem is that there is nothing for the old ladies and young men!

Dear Hillary,
Are Thai women naturally lazy? I’m fairly new at this live in malarkey but she is already giving me the gripes with her laziness. Laundry basket? Nah, just drop the dirty clothes on the floor, it’s a wall to wall basket. Put anything away? Nah, just drape everything on the clothes rack. I’m used to clothes hanging off every bit of furniture in the old country where it’s wet all the time, but it’s not like that here.

Dear James,
You can’t lump all Thai women into the same (laundry) basket, Petal. There are hard working ones, dedicated family ones, and the odd lazy one or three. You’ve picked a lazy one. So what are you going to do about it? Or, rather, what can you do about it? The choice is yours, James, you can follow behind her like a slave and pick up her dirty clothes, and hang the others in the wardrobe (I do presume you actually have a wardrobe). Or you can employ a full time maid to follow around after her. Or, you can educate her in the way you want. Or you can help her find her clothes and pack them in a suitcase and wave her goodbye. Which will it be, James? Now I’ll make it easy for you. Don’t become her slave, that’s not good for your future together. Employing a full time maid is admitting defeat and you will begin to resent paying an unnecessary salary each month. So can you educate this lazy Thai woman to change her ways? Just remember, James, that you can lead a horse to drink, but you can’t make it water! So the final choice is to get rid of her. There’s plenty more out there. Oh, you might find you will have to pay a re-location fee, but it is just a once only. Lots of luck.

Dear Hillary,
I am sure you’ve heard it all before, but I think I am being ripped off. My girlfriend has recently started to ask me for more money than she normally gets for housekeeping and the monthly wage I give her. It was just a few hundred baht here and there to start with, but now she needs thousands at a time. When I ask her why she needs the extra she gets sulky and when I really push her for an answer the best I get is “for family – you farang no understand.” Hillary, is there something here that I should understand, or what? I am getting very tired of the continual cash hand-outs.

Dear ATM Archie,
“Family” is important to a Thai and is one of the strongest bonds for the individual. Family keeps them together, family gets them over problems of all types, financial and otherwise. Your girlfriend may be returning money borrowed from before – in that time in her life B.A. - before Archie. She may also be helping her brother/mother/father/cousin (delete that which is not applicable) out of a jam. And on the other hand, she may be gambling with it, another very common Thai pastime. You really have to start communicating better with your girlfriend, Petal, if you want to know where the money goes ask her. If it ends up in sulkiness or accusations, then it is time to review the entire relationship. I also worry about relationships where the “girlfriend/wife” is paid a “wage” each month. For what, Andy? For staying with you, putting up with you, or what. We call that having a “mia chow” (rented wife), and a master and servant relationship will always fail, in my experience.

Update September 4, 2015

Dear Hillary,
Getting hot and heavy with a Thai lady on this trip. She seems to be OK, but does drink a bit too much red vino for my liking. The problem is her circle of friends who all look a bit brainless to me, all married to some poor saps overseas, and all living the high life on their monthly ‘salary’ which comes in from the husband. I am wondering what do you think I should do? Get in deeper or leave alone?

Dear Max,
I am sure you have heard “Birds of a feather, flock together.” I think you should be looking very carefully at her friends. Should you get in deeper, Petal? I think dump ‘er, not deeper, is the advice you don’t want to hear. Sounds to me like she’s probably between men, or looking for a sucker so that she will get an easy salary like her close circle, who are not “brainless”. They are working the system very well.

Dear Hillary,
I know this isn’t strictly your area, but my wife and I are coming to Pattaya before Xmas and wondered if you could recommend a hotel for us for the three weeks (we go back to London before the Xmas Day holiday). We don’t want to spend too much money – about 3,000 baht a night will be ok, but want the place to be secure and on public transport and close to the beach. Any hints?
George and Mildred

Dear George and Mildred,
Straight from shooting another of the TV series, are we Petals? Look, there are plenty of hotels that would fit your requirements, but as you said, I’m not the one to suggest hotels for you. What I suggest is contact a travel agent here and work through them. I’m sure they advertise in the paper, and I do know Massic Travel is very helpful. (I do use them myself when I’m going anywhere and you can contact them at [email protected])

Dear Hillary,
My Thai GF is now in the condo with me. It’s not a big one, just a one bedroom unit, marble floor tiles and such, so shouldn’t need much looking after. What salary should I give her each month? All she has to do is sweep and tidy and make a breakfast and an evening meal, probably four or five times a week. I’ll buy all the food and groceries and cleaning materials, and I pay the electric and water bills so the salary is just for her. Asking around, I get told anything from fifteen thousand to forty thousand, which sounds a bit heavy to me.

Dear Jimmy,
What is the job description for your Thai GF, come maid, cook, bottle washer and I presume bed warmer, since you only have one bedroom. Or should I call her your “slave”? The minimum wage for an employed person in Thailand is B. 300 a day, so there’s your starting point – nine thousand a month. You could try offering that sum and I’m sure she’ll be gone after the first month, taking the silver with her as well as her clothes. Have you told her what you want? Then have you asked her how much she expects? You might be in for a shock, Petal.

Dear Hillary,
After getting to know one of the bar girls quite well in my local beer bar, she asked me for some money to send to her mother as her daughter was sick and stays with her mother like most Thai bar girls do with their children. It wasn’t much, only 5,000 baht and I really didn’t care if she repaid me or not. The only problem is she didn’t repay me that first time and she’s come back to me twice more since then and it’s starting to add up. It’s now 25,000 baht and that’s getting up a bit, even if she doesn’t charge me anything any more for short-times and stuff. How do I tactfully tell her that there’s no more loans and I’d like her to start paying back the money I gave her? And please no sermons, my buddies are good at doing that, but they’ve got no answers for me.

Dear Sam (the sucker),
The whole situation revolves around the phrase “the money I gave her”. She looks upon it as a gift, which you did originally, but now you want to change it into a “loan”. It’s a little late for that, my Petal. No matter how many short-times, as you quaintly put it, you are never going to see the 25,000 baht again, as you would have to spend it on Vitamin V tabs (the blue ones, Petal). How do you tell her tactfully that the well has run dry? Quite easily, next time she asks, just say no. She won’t fall apart, she’ll just move on to the next customer. That is the occupation that these girls have chosen. They live by their wits and the guilty consciences of the suckers they fleece. Kiss it good bye, literally and metaphorically.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Update September 26, 2015

Update September 20, 2015

Update September 12, 2015

Update September 4, 2015