The Malaysian Option
By Harry Metlcalf
It occurred to me that there are many farangs out there in Bangkok searching for a sincere girl, but whether they have a good income or not, the BIG worry is that the Thai girl's motive is primarily money, and what's more (as they can be such great actresses) they will NEVER be TOTALLY SURE whether they are being deceived. I remember one previous reader's submission summed up perfectly that "the ulcer of uncertainty can swell to bursting size". In my view, this kind of nagging doubt can be no foundation for a lasting relationship.
With this in mind I have a suggestion (which comes from personal experience) to those readers of that are looking for a longer term relationship with an Asian girl without all the financial demands due to family commitments etc. —– Where can such a place be I hear you think aloud? You can reach it by road or rail from Thailand, right — Penang!
Penang doesn't have the bargirls and street walkers as in Bangkok, but then lets pretend that for the purpose of this article the bar scene is not an option. In Penang, there is a fascinating blend of girls, from Chinese, Eurasian, Indian and mix-raced backgrounds. [The Malay Muslim girls are described in a “warning” paragraph later].
Most of these young ladies speak fluent English and it is very easy to meet and make friends there. O.K., so maybe these girls don't always flash the big smile right away, and many don't have the soft physical beauty associated with Thai women, but I've always thought that in many cases this is a 'mask' anyway. Just like in Thailand at weekends, the shopping malls, parks, beaches and discos are busy with single Malaysian girls that would like to make the acquaintance of Western men, both rich and (maybe not too) poor. All that is needed is a little confidence, a business card (always a great ice-breaker) and a line of sweet talk to start the ball rolling. The girl may not respond immediately because she is a little shy and maybe being watched by her friends, but there will usually be an email waiting in the inbox the next day. If anybody doubts this, try searching those Internet dating sites and comparing Malaysia to Thailand. There seem to be twice as many Malaysian girls advertising for romance, and they are certainly not looking for Malaysian men!
So to begin, here is an attempt to analyse some differences in the female population. Firstly, the Chinese run the Malaysian economy and comprise about 37% of the population. The visiting “matt-salleh” (Malay term for white man) is likely to make first contact with a Chinese girl at the hotel check-in desk… Usually the girls are friendly and a good starting point for introducing yourself. Most of the Chinese girls have no religious ‘hang-ups’ and tend to be westernised in their outlook. I think their appearance can be likened to the fair skinned Thai girls of Chiang Mai, although that is where the similarity stops as they tend to be quite opinionated in an intelligent sort of way. In stark contrast to Chinese men, they are not so money orientated and usually have a good standard of education. The majority of “matt salleh’s” that have a long standing Malaysian girlfriend is usually of Chinese extraction. For those men looking for a partner that is not just prepared to simply agree with everything they say, (as is often the case in Thailand) maybe an intelligent Chinese girl will provide stimulating company.
For the travellers that prefer the company of dusky maidens, the Indian community of Malaysia is around 10% of the population. Indian girls have a “Western” facial appearance but I think the allure of darker skin coupled with nice big eyes, long black hair and a wide grin serves to speed up the heartbeat. I can understand why Western men become attracted to Indian girls as they tend to have an innocent and sweet playful approach to conversation. The key to forming a lasting relationship with an Indian girl lies in the level of her usually strict family upbringing and religious background. As in Thailand, an Indian family is very close knit, and a western boyfriend will eventually be accepted into that family providing his intentions appear to be honourable. It’s not an easy task to break down this cultural barrier. Particularly so if the girl’s family are Hindu in the strictest sense as it’s the parents responsibility to arrange marriages without courtship! However, it’s my experience that the Indian people of Malaysia are the friendliest of all ethnic groups and they are certainly easy to talk to and reason with. For those wanting to make a good impression to the girl’s father, simply take along a bottle of “black label” and the cultural differences will melt away, or at least for that night.
So now, it’s on to the warning paragraph. The tender trap that so many have befallen. The Malays account for about 45% of the population but for the most part are the poorest. They have a longing desire to use whatever means necessary to improve upon their lifestyle and often this is driven out of jealousy of others. I must admit that a huge amount of Malay girls are absolutely stunning and they are everywhere, AND they are looking out for Western men with more money than sense. The girls have coffee coloured skin, round faces with high cheekbones and a smile to melt the heart. In addition, these girls tend to have a sweet childlike sense of humour that can charm any matt-salleh into a trance in minutes. Upon reading this you will be forgiven for thinking: “So what’s the difference, I get the same approach from Thai girls”… Time to worry, there’s a massive difference, — Islam! There is no courtship, out of the question. One visit to the Malay home, and the old man will want to know what date will be set for the wedding. Furthermore, many life-changing rules come into play. The man MUST convert to Muslim, no option at all. The need to give up alcohol, eating pork, and visits to the Mosque are all enforced. The surgeons knife is also waiting for that very painful operation in the nether region. However, there are Western men who are prepared to endure all that because they are besotted with the new love of their life. How on earth were they ensnared? Here is an interesting side issue. Malay women can be very skilled at tampering with food and drink. There are many cases where handsome and wealthy young men are married to much older and poorer Malay women. How can this be? When I first visited Malaysia I dismissed the notion of spiking food and drink as a myth, “a sort of old wive’s tale”, but now I’ve learned so much more. It seems that coffee is the easiest drink to potion. Reader beware, only drink seven-up in the Malay coffee shop! To add credence to this story, a few years ago I enjoyed a short break to Phuket with my Malaysian wife (of Indian extraction). She had no problem about allowing me to roam the bars of Bangla road alone. She saw the Thai beer bar girls as no threat to our marriage at all, — but, she would have a blind rant and rage if she knew I went alone to the Malay coffee shop! When in Malaysia I am under strict orders to keep well away from Malay girls whether they are already married or not.
As for my own marriage, I can confirm that there were virtually NO family "pre-conditions". Her family were poor at the time of the wedding, but there were certainly no demands or even requests for money. In fact her father gave us about 600 U.S. dollars (which I knew he could ill afford) as a "contribution" towards the wedding costs. From the outset, there was absolutely none of the "dowry" nonsense – no sick buffalo story and no money needed for life-saving operations for sick relatives. What's more, material possessions and wealth throughout the family seem to be very unimportant. I wonder how many Thai families does that ethos apply to? From what I gather in Thailand, the girl’s parents, and immediate family must always be number one priority. The farang husband is apparently rated well down the list?? Tell, me I’m selfish if you like, but when a man slides the ring on his girl’s finger I reckon he should become the number one concern in her life.
A further contrast in all this and perhaps most surprising is the way my wife has adapted very easily to life in Europe and although she misses her family and friends it is not a problem to be away from Malaysia for long periods of time.
To summarise, I’m not sure whether my case is the rule or the exception. I can give out no guarantees. Just maybe, it’s possible that the right girl you have been searching for lives south of the border of Thailand. It may be that you have not made enough effort to find her yet. Perhaps next time that visa stamp is needed it could be worthwhile to extend the Penang stay beyond the usual one night dash —– and don't forget the business cards.
Best of luck with your adventures
As I have discussed numerous times before, many folks who come to Thailand for sex, are actually searching for lover, but perhaps are not even aware of this themselves. I for one no little about Malaysian girls, but have to admit that the few times I have been down there I have been impressed by the country – the friendly people who tend to be a lot more interesting that than the average Thai through, I believe, a combination of a superior education and damned good English skills.