Looking For Love In Thailand
Looking For Love In Bangkok
By Retired Expat Teacher
This is my story: This is an actual (non-fiction) account of my looking-for-true-love experiences in Bangkok during August – October 2001. It involves one non-BG, and one BG (bar girl).
BACKGROUND: My "exposure" to Thailand is probably quite similar to many other farangs who come here to live upon retirement. In my case, I'd been working in Japan, so I had visited as a tourist at least 7 or 8 times during 1993-2000. Then in April this year, I came here to settle down in retirement. I've read a lot of books on Thailand and on the experiences of expats who've been here long enough to get the "lay of the land" (no pun intended). Also, shortly after arrival, I ran across Stickman's "Guide to Bangkok" web site. I spent hours reading those pages. That was 6 months ago.
During my first 4 months, I "experienced" a generous portion of Pattaya & Bangkok nightlife. I think I've now progressed through some of the stages that Stickman writes about. Having had more than my reasonable share of BGs (even though, luckily, most of them were sweet, loveable & "descent" young ladies), I recently decided to find a nice non-BG as a long-term partner.
GIRL #1: I did the Internet thing and met Tik (not her real name) who works for a large electronics firm. Tik looks about 26 or 27, but she's only 23 (I checked her company ID card). She is tall, rather slim, very sweet and friendly, reasonably attractive, and her English is okay. On our first date I took her to dinner. We got along quite well. On our
second date, at HER suggestion, I took her to my apartment. She was predictably very shy at first and was rather hesitant about getting naked with me in bed. But once she got warmed up, it was another story altogether. She became VERY passionate. Actually, she was much more passionate that most of the BGs I had "met." She seemed to be sex-starved. This is certainly not the worst fate that could befall a love-starved old fart, but it did make me seriously wonder about what makes her tick. Over the next 2 weeks she stayed overnight 3 more times. Of course, she never even hinted about money. (She was even reluctant for me to pay for her taxi.) However, by that time a few untenable problems had already emerged.
Although she was very passionate in bed, which is not such a terrible thing, her body was definitely "over the hill." More like 40+ than 23. Saggy in all the wrong places and in certain areas her skin was dark and leathery, not silky smooth as most Thai girls are. (In this case, her being so shy and not wanting to disrobe until under the covers meant that it took a while to discover her physical flaws.) Worse than that, she quickly became very possessive. While I'm still trying to decide if this is a viable option for me, she's pressing me to move in with me. Being under pressure to make a decision, I decided not to gamble and I'm confident that I did the right thing – I broke it off at once. This was my first such experience with a non-BG. Fortunately, the situation didn't get nearly as nasty as it could have, had I waited too long. (Thanks partly to Stickman's good advice.)
GIRL #2: As I mentioned above, I had intended to find a non-BG as a long-term mate. But then about a month ago I met Kwan (not her real name), a VERY attractive 20 year old from Khon Kaen. Before I ever talked with her, I learned from a farang regular in the bar that she came to work there in August, that she never went out with farangs at first, and that lately she did on occasion, but was very selective. Well, there's just something about her that grabs me (like a huge invisible fish hook, maybe). And once I talked with her, she really got my attention, and things just seemed to percolate between us. There are lots of really beautiful girls in Bangkok, and some even work in bars, but to find one that is smart AND with a nice friendly personality AND someone who you can actually talk to – that's much more rare.
When Kwan learned that I'm a full-time Ajarn (teacher) in a university, she looked me up & down and said, "Yes, when I see you, I think you are not tourist." (I usually dress as when teaching classes, except no tie). Kwan told me that she's a high school graduate and wants to pursue an English major in university. However, with an older brother studying for an MBA, her parents simply can't afford it. She told me she worked in a Japanese restaurant for two years, but came to work in the bar because she needed a better income to help her parents and support her brother's MBA studies.
On my second visit to the bar we made a dinner date for the next evening. She likes all kinds of food so we went to an Indian restaurant. We had a fun time and got along quite well. Her English is somewhat limited, but enough to suffice. Based on our conversations on various subjects, including current events, she seems to be very smart. She can count to 20 in Japanese and knows quite a few everyday phrases (I'm a Japanese linguist). She expressed a strong interest in learning English and seemed to be eager for me to be her teacher.
During the first 3 weeks, we went out to dinner 3 times, went shopping twice, I ate at her restaurant 5 or 6 times, plus numerous phone conversations and e-mails. I told her honestly that I'm looking for a nice, good-hearted (Jai dee) Thai girlfriend long-term. Then a week ago, we talked about where I live… the swimming pool… how she loves swimming, and… well, how could I NOT invite her to my apartment? She didn't seem at all aghast. So I told her, "Look, Kwan, I'm 60 years old (which she already knew) and I think sex is great, but it's not the most important thing right now. It's more important we get to know each other and understand each other." (God, does that sound like a line of BS or what?)
This week Kwan has been to my apartment 3 times, the first 2 nights we slept together without "technically" having sex. It wasn't that she showed any resistance – she didn't – but because I did not initiate it. I thought this would convince her that I'm serious about a long-term relationship, and not just out for a quick bang. You cannot imagine how much will-power this took on my part because this girl is physically absolutely gorgeous – all the topographical features that most appeal to me, and super silky smooth… heavenly to say the least!
The third time was last night. We stopped at Asia Books, bought an English conversation book, went to my place and did English lesson for about an hour. After that, all I can say is that it was a fabulous night. Most fortuitously, we were taking a break when her brother (the MBA student) called her on her mobile phone about 11:30. As Kwan chatted with him, I was very much struck by the expression on her face and her tone of voice… clearly indicating her respect and admiration for her older brother. I was rather surprised when I realized that the subject of their conversation had turned to me. (After 6 months in country, my Thai is only about 15 – 20 percent at best.)
Then I started thinking, "What if she decides to hand the phone to me?" Sure enough, that's exactly what she did. I was still thinking about, "God, what would have happened if he had called 30 minutes sooner?" I didn't even have time to think about what I'm going to say to her esteemed older brother who I've never met, and don't even know his name. Well, his English was quite good, we had a nice, friendly chat, and I handed the phone back to Kwan.
She told me that neither her parents nor her brother knew that she works in a bar (No surprise!). They think she's still a waitress and they know the restaurant has farang customers. Then this morning, her mother called. Afterward, I said, "It sounded like you were talking about me." She said, "Yes, my mother say if you are jai-dee man, it's
okay." (In this case, what does "jai-dee" really mean?)
Keeping in mind what Stickman says about the 6 week limit for a young girl to be ruined by the bar scene, I begin talking with her about quitting the bar and staying with me. Not in terms of a straight out proposition like, "Hey, quit the bar and move in with me," but more like discussing the "what ifs." Knowing full well that agreeing to "take care of her" would certainly mean taking care of her family as well, I thought I'd better investigate the budgetary ramifications first. So, harking back on my days in used car sales, I bring to bear all my most subtle bargaining expertise and ask, "If, I repeat, IF you quit the bar and come stay with me, how much you need every month for you and your family?" I'm thinking that she probably AVERAGES no more than 15,000 baht per month. Furthermore, I point out that she said she would prefer not to work in a bar and, since she is young and smart, I could send her to school which would surely make her parents and her brother happy. Furthermore, if she is my girlfriend she doesn't have to worry about a fluctuating income. Working in the bar, some months she sends her parents 10,000 baht, but sometimes she can send only 2,000.
Well, at first she was very hesitant to "name a figure" and even discussing it was rather difficult for her. She wanted me to come up with a figure. My initial offer of 15,000 baht total did get an enthusiastic response. Then finally, after much discussion, it came down to 10,000 for her parents, 10,000 for her brother, and 20,000 for her. Now I'm no friggen rocket scientist, but that's roughly US$900 per month! It's also more than my university pays me for full-time teaching. I've read all these comments about how these BGs are uneducated, lower-caste country girls from the boondocks, but I came to realize a few key points from this encounter.
POINT 1. THIS GIRL IS ANYTHING BUT STUPID. Although she didn't actually come out and say it, in fact, she didn't even hint it, but it became VERY clear to me that the whole discussion, from her viewpoint, wasn't a matter of how much she makes now, nor how much her parents need to live. No, not at all! It was simply a matter of her very shrewd and astute estimate of HOW MUCH I WOULD BE WILLING AND ABLE TO PAY. Which brings us to the next point.
POINT 2. When a bar girl uses the word jai-dee, I think it has a special meaning. I think it really means the farang's ability and willingness to be generous with his money.
POINT 3. I must say in all honesty, if I really thought I could afford it, I WOULD BE VERY TEMPTED TO TAKE HER UP ON THIS OFFER. Even though it totally goes against my best judgement and my common sense, I would be sorely tempted. So I should be thankful that I cannot reasonably afford it. It would mean a long-term commitment to giving her 30 percent of my total net income. However, what if my income was twice what it is, so that I would be committing only 15 percent of it to supporting her. Would I do it? You bet I would! I could afford it. On the other hand, what if I were a lot younger and a lot more prone to making decisions based on lust than on reason. Would I do it? I very likely would. How lucky I am that I'm a poor old fart with a little better judgement.
Conclusion: In the end, I think this is the story of a mature expat looking for love in all the wrong places. Which really means I should know better.
Good luck to all of you. But whatever you do, make sure you read all of Stickman's advice first.
This wonderful piece reminds me of my first "real" job in Thailand when the boss and I went out at the end of my first day on the job, him dragging me into G Spot in Nana Plaza. The conversation came around to expats and Thai girls. His thoughts on the matter back then were that it is actually fairly hard for a foreigner to meet an "appropriate" girl as a girlfriend. Bar girls, unless caught early, can be troublesome. Girls from the upper echelons of society are seldom interested in farangs, which leaves us with middle class girls. While many of these girls ARE interested in meeting farangs, a good percentage of them still follow the traditional Thai values and when it comes to relationships, that can mean that they will drag a friend along in the initial stages of courtship, and that physical contact, let alone anything of a sexual nature may be a long time coming – though in this case, it was a little different. These things can make the farang, who is used to a somewhat "briefer courtship period" becoming frustrated, and turning to a girl from the bar as a long term companion. These girls, as mentioned earlier, can be troublesome. The road to sex in Thailand is easy, but the road to love, that is true love, is full of obstacles.