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Happy New Mia



By Sick Water


“Happy New Mia!” is a tongue-in-the-cheek greeting you get at the New Year party. The Thai guys at work like to poke a bit of fun at our expense. I wonder if they really mean it, though.

First, let’s define ‘Mia’. To me, it simply means ‘wife’. You also hear the term ‘Mia Noy’ being used a lot. I, and most people I know, take it to mean ‘mistress’ or ‘second / third etc wife’. Let me add another term, ‘Mia luang’. This is the ‘original’, ‘first’ or registered wife. The one you actually married in the first place.

Now that we’ve got those definitions out of the way…..

The following situation is more common than you think it is for those of us who have been here a while and speak the language. I flag down a cab and get in. This is how the conversation (typically in Thai) usually goes.

‘(I want to) go to BTS Thonglor’ (Thonglor skytrain station). ‘Okay. Where you go from there?’ ‘Siam Square. You don’t really want to drive there in this traffic anyway, do you?’ The cab driver smiles and says ’Not really’. He’ll take too long anyway. Then…

‘You speak Thai quite well. How long you stay here?’ ‘Many years.’ He’ll smile. ‘Work here?’ ‘Yes, on project.’ More smiles. ‘You have wife, family?’ ‘Yes, wife and children.’ ‘Stay with you?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Ah, good, good. You like Thailand?’ ‘Yes, great place.’ ‘And you like Thai lady?’ ‘Sure, my wife is Thai.’ ‘Ah, she make you happy.’ Then, ‘How many mia noy do you have?’ all in the same breath. ‘Why would I want one? I already have mia luang’ And he gives you that Look… Of course he doesn’t believe that. None of them do. Is that what they’re insinuating at the office party with the ‘Happy New Mia’?

Now this question of the ‘New Mia’ or the ‘Mia Noy’ phenomenon. I know a couple of guys who do, and they’re Thai. Farangs? Well, at least not where I work. Now that my curiosity has been aroused, I think to do a bit of research on the subject. What better place to start than the ‘Stickman Online Research Directory’ with it’s wealth of researchers and experimenters writing papers on things like ‘One hundred and one ways to cure a Sick Buffalo’, ‘The Big Book of Edible Bugs’ that includes a section on where to get them, and the ‘Bangkok guide to ATM Machines after Dark’ that includes a small map in the appendix section. Definitely not mainstream research, but relevant to the purpose.

The ‘mia noy’ phenomenon seems to be more oriented to the locals, as it was (and to a large extent, still is) an accepted practice of the better-off families. I’d equate it to the practice of the not-so-well-off people of bedecking themselves with gold ornaments, only to farm some off to the pawnshop at the end off the month. The ‘Mia Noy’ is more of an accoutrement, and she knows it, and so makes the most of her situation while she can.

There’s Gob. He’s a general worker in the workshop, and does get sent to the provinces for extended periods of time. When he got sent to work South of Bangkok, it was a little too far for him to commute every weekend, so he opted to stay at the lodgings provided by the company. He eventually got involved with a ‘Dek serve’ (waitress) and it only came to light when he stopped sending money back home to his wife. He didn’t get a lot either.

Many of the other workers there also did the same thing; maybe it was the communal living conditions.

Another guy, an engineer, got involved with an accountant when he was on a project in the Northeast. He’d still drive back to his wife and kids in Bangkok every week. The accountant’s parents bought a house for them, they now have a kid. She knows there’s another family somewhere in Bangkok.

A supervisor friend got a posting so he could further his position. He eventually got involved with a teacher there, and started another family, even though he was close to retirement. When his ‘mia luang’ found out, she filed for divorce.

It’s a slightly different story with the farangs. Most of the guys (with reference to the research directory) seem to be smitten with just one, usually after a short period of extreme intimacy (or so they feel). They then proceed to throw everything they’ve got into trying to make a long-distance relationship work.

And unlike here, a mistress in the West is considered a social stigma. As is prostitution.

For those long-term resident farang with local family, an occasional fling in the bars is the most they’d go for. Safer in many ways, too.

For those of you who still want to consider the ‘Mia Noy’ option, here are a few words of advice / caution / warning, gleaned from those in the know.

Your ‘Mia luang’ You need her. She gives you support and stability (though it can get a bit mental at times). You're both expected to be seen at social venues. She too, needs to be seen with you. The kids too. Doesn't really matter if your heart's in it or not, it's expected.

Perhaps you feel the need to set up your ‘Mia Noi’. Fine. Don't do it in the town you stay in. You'll get tempted more and more often to 'visit'. Find a place acceptable to both of you, at least a hundred km or so from where you are, where you can also be accepted by the locals. Set up there.

You will eventually get involved in the social life there. Make no bones about it, she's the mia noy, the locals will find out eventually. Funnily enough, you will be accepted.

Keep the two venues separated.

Do not give your mia noy any contact details, work / home addresses, wive's / kid’s names, nothing. All she should have is your mobile phone number. You wouldn't want to give your wife contact details of your other venue, would you?

Do not open a bank account. Deal only in cash, and make no credit card transactions in that area. Agree on how much support you can afford that will not be obvious to the mia luang. And spread that over four weeks per month (assuming you will want to spend at least one day / night a week with your mia noi). Consider it 'expenses'.

Stagger your trips. Wives have a strange way of sniffing out regular disappearances and equating them with something not too far from the obvious. Hopefully, your company has interests in the provinces that require your presence.

Your mia luang knows your habits / routine by now. Avoid showing any deviant behaviour.

Hopefully, your mia noi has had her tubes cut. You don't need other complications.

The last, and probably the most difficult to think about or even think of agreeing to.

Agree that either of you (you and your mia noi) have the option of terminating the agreement anytime. I'm not trying to be cruel here, but there should be options, and if you were meant for each other, it wouldn't matter anyway. Don't forget, marriage (these days) has that option. You don’t want to end up with two nags, do you.

And I draw the line at drinking her bath water.

Stickman's thoughts:

Written by someone who sounds as if they are in the know!