Stickman's guide to Bangkok

Reader's Submissions

Bar Girls & Thai Wives

By 50s Kiwi



I want to share my experience of my recent Thai marriage to a bar girl who initially was demure, did and said all the right things.

This experience is related on the basis to warn Westerners as you have done.  YOU ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE IF YOU MARRY OR HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH A BAR GIRL. BE CAREFUL!

I am a regular visitor to Thailand and enjoy the bar scene from time to time and also enjoyed the other aspects of Thai culture from friends etc.

I met this attractive girl in Jan 2002 as a go go dancer and we formed a relationship and after a few regular visits back to Thailand, I decided in May 2002 to bring her back to NZ. After a hard fought battle with NZ Immigration I managed to get her back  for 6 months under the now very difficult visa requirements. I had known her for 4 months previous and rung her every second day  and she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. We both went to her village to meet the parents and they gave us their blessing to go to NZ together. On my return to bring her back to NZ I discovered that she had  some medical problems during the time I was there and I thought it was an infection on her part. We did have unprotected sex  and when i got back to NZ with her I started having problems in that area, so Day 2 of our relationship was spent at my doctor's offices which resulted in a trip down to the STD Clinic for further tests. The results were that I had contracted from her a bad case of gonorrhoea.  When I confronted her she admitted her having slept with a couple of customers before my arrival. After a local injection and antibiotics I was declared fit in that department. She developed complications and needed hospital treatment and subsequent surgery. And that was only our first week on arrival in NZ together. The STD clinic in Auckland were superb and professional in their approach.

Auckland STD clinic run a Thai clinic and she received the best treatment with interpreters (although I can speak some Thai). She continued to be an outpatient of the clinic and received advice on sexual health including a pap smear (which was positive and required more tests.  The end result was that I was cured and she (S) needed an operation. This was all performed along with all medical checks at my expense and thanks to the health service of the NZ Govt.  I threatened to send S back on the plane to Thailand and should have.  We had a pretty successful and happy relationship after that and she was supplied anything she wanted except money. I had her trained and bought equipment for her to be trained as a nail technician. A friend of mine took her time and gave her free lessons.  S was not particularly interested in pursuing this career and made the comment "keekeeat" (not like). S was good around the house, beds made, washing done and she was a pleasure to come home to. She had a habit of collecting all my change (not notes) and storing it in a jar. I thought that this was rather amusing and thought she wanted some money for new clothes etc, but what she really wanted was to send the money home. We had various arguments about money to the parents considering the recent expenses I had in getting her to NZ and I wanted her to be aware that farang are not endless ATM machines or a welfare department. I had a saying "Doo farang ow ngern" (see westernerm want money). S wanted some money to send home to her parents in the Northeast. I had been to her parents place in the village who were poor simple folk, but the mother seemed to have the eye on the money and I was disappointed with the "expectations" of what a farang should provide.

She went back to Thailand Last November 2002 because her visa ran out and she could not get a work permit unless we were in a genuine stable relationship or got married. Pressure was put on S by her parents that she must marry or she could not go with me. There was also a bride dowry to consider.

I went back to Thailand Xmas 2002 and I went to her parents in the village where S was staying. During that time I was in the village we decided for her parents sake and that of immigration, to tie the knot.

I went further north to teach English in a regular school for a few days (free). Interestingly enough I meet an American and we discussed marriage and dowries. His comment to me when I explained my situation was that her parents got along fine before without money why do you need to contribute? He didn't and his wife is still with him in Udon Thani.  I listened and considered those words and pointed out to S that if we married that I married her and not her family. I also said that further down the track I would like to buy / build a house to stay in the village, but not yet. After visitations by the local priest on matters of suitable time and compatibility for marriage S and I finally married in the village, in early Jan 2003. This was both a great and enjoyable experience. After negotiation and summing up the culture impact I reluctantly agreed to pay a dowry of 80,000 baht over 8 MONTHS and the first 10,000 baht was given at the wedding. I also made the mistake of hiring a car during the time and ended up being a taxi driver for the whole extended family over the next three weeks. Being a do it yourself kiwi I spent the next 2 weeks being the driver to weddings, funerals, to visit soothsayers and other Isaan rituals, chief handyman paying for, fixing up and installing water filters, electrics, hot water shower and various other sundries, including paying for half of the new room downstairs for us, (S paid the other half) and paying for groceries as well. I had no regrets in doing that and I enjoyed helping out around the house as doing nothing would have driven me crazy. Some of the neighbours had trouble with their water connections so I ended up being chief plumber for a number of the villagers in changing washers and taps, but I enjoyed the contact and the experience. There was then the question of a new house for the land and through S was asked when I would like to build or contribute. I had to go back to NZ then and obtain another spouse's visa for S.

S wanted me to buy the family a car. I asked why because no one can drive and it would deteriorate if only used when we visited. It had slipped my mind that one of the Thai traits was to show you had some means and the car was to be left somewhere conspicuous to show off to the other villagers, visitors and relations. I had left some money with S while she was in the village to get on with and found that she had given most of it to her family and complained to me that she had no money and that her and her family thought I was "keeneow" (Thai for stingy and very insulting). I did not contact her for a week on that basis and she rung me back upset as to why I was not ringing her every second day. I went back to Thailand in Feb 2003 and brought her back to NZ with me. Before we left, her parents decided to give us a gift, S got a patong (Thai national dress) and I got the male equivalent. The joke was that her mother wanted 1500 baht from me to accept the "gift". One rule for the daughter and another for "rich farang" S wanted a baby desperately and after a period, through not lack of trying, that did not happen. One day in April, she told me that the payment to her parents were too slow and that I can afford to pay the dowry completely. She also said that she would stay on with me if I paid her some 30,000 baht per month. I told her that she might as well go home and she suggested baht 15000.00 as a sum for staying.

She complained that she cannot work in NZ and she did not want to wait and she wanted to go home to work or to study. I said work where and study what. Reply, no answer.

I then informed her that I was suspending the time payments to her parents (I had only paid her parents baht 30,000 so far). I also said that her return could mean the end of our marriage and should that happen I would proceed to ask her parents for the return of her dowry. The result was catastrophic and she was going to return to Thailand within the next few weeks.

It must be remembered that I had paid for all her air fares, medical bills, food and clothes and she was also given a small allowance and the offer to work. She did not want that.

I told her that if she went back to Thailand, that she would be deserting her husband, but she wanted to work to send money to her family.

I told her that her family here (meaning me) had priority over her family in Thailand.

I told her I did not want her to go, that I loved her, and it was totally her choice.

She went back to Thailand, and now she is back working in the bar, a working girl again.

When she went back to Thailand  I had discovered on my cell phone that she made a call to an ex customer in Australia, who had been regularly paying baht 10,000 a month to her bank account in Thailand. I rang the guy and left a message on his answerphone, who I was, and that there are no hassles on my part, and to inform him of his girl who was now married and that he could speak to me if he wished. He is a married man, as I understand, and I would hope that he may reassess his situation on reading this article. I will use the Thai phrase "darm jai" (up to him).

She was not particularly phased when I told her about him.

The interesting thing is that she seems to suggest that it is my choice whether she goes or stays provided that I agree to paying her the money.

I do not say that I was perfect. I am an older fit man, with a good job and a very good house in a beautiful part of NZ by the sea.

May be she was bored, or I was just a long term customer who did not quite come up with all the goods for her.

She can now speak and write English very well and I taught her to drive and she now has a drivers license. I had purchased a car in NZ for her to use as well.

I have spoken to her now she is back in Thailand.

She is unhappy in the scene and I have left the door partly ajar but I think the future for us is not good.

I never smoked or drank or knocked her around and she could have had a bright rosy future in NZ and eventually have a new house for the parents .

What did she chose? Back to the bar scene.

It may have been the age gap, 23 to 50, who knows.  I went into this with eyes open and I am not unfamiliar with the tricks of the trade. The mistake I made was getting involved with a girl on the bar scene.

You have also pointed out the strong role of the family in the girl's life and that we as farangs will come off second best in the choice.

That has also probably happened here.

The point I would like to make is that I have a lot of respect for people and the Thais who want to look after their parents but the trouble is, some parents in my view, abuse that position and see it as a ticket to their own retirement and not to matter what happens to the girl.

I am a multi cultural person and enjoy a partner from a different culture, but it cuts both ways. She should also understand the ways and expectation of westerners.

I also do not subscribe to the almighty power of the parents. Yes there should be respect, a little help and maybe some money in times of trouble, but certainly not initially when you have gone to the expense of bringing her back and starting up in your home country.

Obviously gifting money and dealing with parents of the girl is personal to each person. But the danger of expectation of money and the fact that you may end up financially worse than them would be essential points to consider in any relationship on careful grounds.

So, Mr Stickman, the purpose of my longwinded letter to you is to confirm your warnings again and again to your readers to avoid relationships with these ladies that can just end in disaster.

It is not easy, and sometimes there is just one that shows some intelligence and caring, that tugs your heart strings and just might need the helping hand to better her future.

In my view now, on what S has done, the career choice is hers, what makes it more disappointing is that the parents seem to know what she is doing but would rather have the money. How is that for caring?

Maybe some will argue that I am not Thai, not subject to the same problems and constraints that the poor Thai family have and therefore I do not understand.

What I understand is honesty and sincerity and not what wealth a person can demonstrate but what is in their hearts and minds.

I will certainly be concentrating on the good Thai ladies for a future relationship that can probably go somewhere.

The sad aspect is S had so much future going for her and blew it.

She may yet decide to change direction but the damage has already been done.

On the positive side I have helped another Thai lady in NZ and she is married to a Kiwi and both are very happy. She worked a short time in the bar but is older and wiser.

I have another good friend who has been married to a good lady from Isaan for 13 years and has 3 children and both are happy and enjoy the positive aspects of both cultures.

There are some bar girls that can change (some say 1 in 10) but your life would be more productive and happier if you concentrated on the good girls.

I know these stories are all too familiar to you but it may help some poor bloke in reassessing the next step in his life if he is bitten by a bar girl and seeks to continue a relationship from abroad or otherwise

As a footnote, I am not moaning or groaning about this and I entered this relationship with open eyes and mind so I am not totally heartbroken.

I am philosophical about these events and sometimes while all things appear rosy it is not until you're down the track a bit that a few problems rise to the surface. And it is then that you start thinking what it's all about.
 

Stickman says:

It would seem that this girl's intentions were primarily motivated by money.  When the demands for more money were not met, she turned her back on you.  It is difficult to test for this sort of thing early on and apart from being explicit at the start about the extent to which she will be looked after, I do not have any hints.
 
 

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