Readers' Submissions

Girls And Money

  • Written by CM Teach
  • April 29th, 2005
  • 5 min read

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I am afraid that this is yet another submission about 2 rather common things – Thai (girls) and money.

I have been with my girlfriend living here in Chiang Mai for a year now, we knew each other for 6 months before that, and in the earlier months I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself: I had got myself a good girl. Lovely, demure, cheerful,
fluent in English, always pays her half of the bill, middle class family etc. Not for me the tales of woe of the sick family buffalo, I thought.

Now I understood that she would have to support her parents as they get older, and I understand that here the family is No 1, way ahead of boyfriend or husband. I also understood that if we were going to be serious and marry that her parents
would want to know that I could provide her with financial security. Not a problem, I naively thought – I have a Masters degree and decent teaching qualification, I am Academic Director of a large English department at a decent school,
my wages have risen 40% in a year, and could easily go well over the B60,000 a month mark in the next couple of years. Good money in CM by Thai standards I thought. And back home in England I was usually earning around 30,000 pounds a year –
not rich, but not poor either.

The real problem here I think is her sister – older, less educated, but works as a trolley dolly for THAI airways, and so earns a lot – B80 0r 90,000 a month, I think. <Of course this could be right, but this seems AWFULLY highStick> And is incredibly materialistic – money is the only thing of any importance to her, and boy, is it important. And I had completely underestimated just how much pressure my girlfriend is under from her family
– it almost seems as if all the money they spent bringing her up and putting her through Uni is perceived as some sort of a loan – a loan she will never be able to repay unless she, too, gets an airline job, which is nearly impossible.

It now turns out that ‘providing financial security’ doesn’t mean having a decent job and decent job prospects – it means having 2 or 3 million baht (or more) in the bank. Dowries are still mumbled over. Shit,
thinks I – hmmm. I think it over, and actually, it isn’t a bad idea – I know that I need to do something about my own future security anyway, and my plan on that front was to get enough experience here that I could get a top-paying
job in Japan or China or Saudi or somewhere where it is possible to save a lot of money, and do just that – save enough to buy a business or property that will provide me with income when I want to retire. So I say OK, I’ll do it.

But this still doesn’t seem to be enough. To her sister (who has never met me) I am simply not good (=rich) enough. Her parents are old school, and really don’t know what to make of the farang phenomenon anyway; I can speak
some Thai, but they never even try to talk to me, I think they are too scared and don’t really see me as the same species as them, so see communication as an impossibility from the start. The girlfriend says I have to go round to the house,
pick her up for a date, drop her off after a date, stop by for an hour, all that sort of stuff, basically behave like a courting teenager – but my job is very demanding, I really don’t have the time for that stuff, and I am 38 for
chrissakes!

It seems as if the way it works is that effectively I have to buy into the family. Which isn’t such a bad idea if I get a reasonable return on my investment. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information on shareholder’s
rights knocking around, and not a whole load of prospectuses, and I don’t really relish the prospect of her sister as majority shareholder and CEO. Plus as a sappy romantic/non-materialist Farang, I am just getting mighty pissed off with
being in a country where my bank balance is more important than me being an honest, affectionate, hard-working, loving, decent boyfriend/husband (who actually by the way earns nearly 10 times what most Thais earn!!) (OK, I have my bad points too!)
I guess that seeing emotions as more important than money is a luxury derived from coming from a Western country with a highly developed welfare state, free healthcare and education (at point of provision at least – Jeez knows we pay for
it in our taxes!) I am sorely tempted to give up the idea of trying to find a long-term partner here, go back to having the occasional bar-girl fling, which can be fantastic fun and everyone knows where they stand (or should, anyway!), and hope
that it goes better in wherever I end up teaching next (I guess that counts Saudi out then…)

So come on please Mr Stick et al – we hear a lot on this site about the pitfalls and errors of bargirl relationships – what about the good girls? Did you have to ‘buy in’ to the family? How much? Should I expect
to have to pay a dowry (I know they are still common in poorer parts of the community)? How much? I suddenly feel as if I might be about to be ripped off just as much as from a scamming bar-girl.

Stickman's thoughts:

This is a classic example of a relationship that will be very hard to work due to the huge cultural differences on each side. I personally think that in 90%+ of Thai / farang relationships at least one, if not both, parties are not really that happy. Sorry to say it mate, but you're really going to be pushing shit up a hill….forever!