Scams, Lies And Thailand
A lot of readers get very upset and worked up about the way Thais will lie, cheat, and scam foreigners. A lot of misunderstanding comes from the statement I just made. It leads a lot of people to catch onto a broad general statement.
First, the general assumption when someone reads a statement like "Thais scam farangs" would be that it is farangs that are the target. To be more correct, it is all foreigners, and not only farangs. Stories of the scamming involve Japanese, Indians, Chinese, and all manner of farang nationalities. So to state what may be obvious to many old hands or expats, it is all non-Thai foreigners that are the victim of scams, lies, etc. That includes all non-Thais, including Singaporean and Western Thais, as opposed to the Thai-Chinese who are Thai nationals, and may well be a bargirl scamming some love-lorn Chinese guy from Hong Kong, Australia, or Singapore.
Second, is it really all Thais who do the scamming? Is it even "most Thais" who do the scamming? This is an interesting question and my personal belief is perhaps a bit contradictory. I do believe most Thais come from a culture that is so involved with "pecking order" as the primary motivator that, in general, most Thais are easily able to lie to gain money or that thing most important to them, FACE.
However, I do not believe the majority of Thais are actually in the business of scamming, lying, or cheating foreigners. Perhaps they don't have the opportunity to cheat. Perhaps they don't care to cheat or never thought about it. In any eventuality, most don't cheat or the majority will never cheat you "outright". An example would be this – a bargirl may overprice for her "services" but I've seen but one case of bargirls stealing, and that occurred when a friend met some human beings that were "questionable" more as people than as Thais or bargirls.
Third, I am in the business of dealing with a lot of people from the lower income strata in my Western homeland. They tend to have limited incomes, limited education, much like the average bargirl from Isaan. The rest of them tend to make ok or even good money but have poor money management skills, much like the bulk and remainder of bargirls and those they associate with them. All of these people cannot be trusted to owe you any money. You have to check their credit, get payment up front, and generally watch your back with them. Trusting them inevitably leads to their manipulation of the facts, cheating, and even storytelling where they manage to make you the "bad guy". They completely forget all the times you let them fall behind on their debt payments but remember in an instant when they "think" you owed them something or treated them poorly. These people are referred to as rednecks and various other ethnic slang terms. The problem is never their race. It is that they are poor, uneducated, and usually of question integrity as human beings.
We find such people in the West and certainly will find our share in Thailand. Such people are quite common in places like Nana, Patpong, Soi Cowboy, Pattaya, Phuket, etc. Just look for the type that makes a lot and never has any money, they person that is rude / crude / impolite by their own cultural standards, and they type that seems to leach off their "friends". Is it a surprise that bargirls and their family, friends, loved one would fall into this group of people of dubious character?
And is it a surprise that such people would screw over the "farang" who gives them his trust, time, money, and even emotional attachment?
It could be that it isn't the Thais that scam, but that such people of bad character always scam, and that foreigners just seem to end up getting involved with their kind.
Stop, look at the Thais in your life, and ask if they were farangs or whatever the people in your homeland are, would you still be around them? Do you hang out with losers and crude people at home? If not, why? Is it because such people are going to likely hurt you? Then why are you letting the Thai equivalent of such people into your life?
That's point three.
My last thought is this. A lot of foreigners still play around with bargirls and their associates because it is fun, not just because of the "services" but because of the partying, instant though undependable social contacts, etc. Certainly, this is both understandable and fun. Just remember to not expect too much from them in terms of respect, paying you back emotional / financially / etc. These type of people, Thai or not, are what you should see as fair weather friends. They are the type you must pay to be around. Enjoy but don't be better and call the whole nation liars because of these questionable people.
No, if you want to call Thailand of questionable character, you should look at their culture and value system instead. If you have a problem with that, then that is another matter.
However, you cannot just say Thailand is dishonest because of it's fair share of lower grade scammers, for such people exist in America and the UK and elsewhere just as well.
The point you make is a fair one – the people employed in the bar area are from troubled and / or poor backgrounds.