Hi everyone. I'm a 54 year old male living in the USA. I was stationed at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base from early 1973 (arrived from DaNang after we closed that up) to the Spring of 1975 (my 2nd base closure, then went on to close Udorn Thani as well (only a couple of months there). I then went on to the Philippines and spent two tours there 75-78 and 86-89. I have about 10 total years of living in Asia and have been back to Thailand perhaps 10 times but only once since 1989 and that was a recent trip (Spring of 2004) to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and most nicely Phuket for the brunt of our month long holiday. I had never been to Chiang Mai before but had visited Phuket in 1974 (yep, it ain't the same place anymore!!).
I was married to a Thai from Nakhon Phanom for 23 years. She wasn't a bargirl but was intimately associated with bar life and GIs as her Mother owned 4 bars in NKP. She was not allowed to associate with GIs in any matter socially. How we got together is a long story and I won't go into it for the moment. We separated/divorced about 6 years ago. Although I am now 54 I do believe it's in the realm of possibilities that I could find and marry some nice, plain, chubby Issan girl who would love me forever and never steal from me – I also believe that given my knowledge of Asia, not being a fat slob, and having a pension and some amount of money, that I could find and marry a Bangkok highbrow – and every kind of Thai woman in between those two extremes. It's something I would never do now knowing what I know. But, given that, I am never unhappy to hear of some Falang hooking up with a Thai. It can work out I'm sure but it will never work out for me. I have no fetish concerning Asian women and prefer Western women. I married a Thai back then thinking we would be stationed there forever and I was making money in spite of a GI's low pay (paid $5 a month rent back then but over time moved into a palace at $75). I never paid for food as my Thai relatives always cooked more than enough (they had money). I would buy 2 six packs of USA beer every day before I left the base and share them with my ex's Uncle and he would share his Mekhong with me (not that I ever drank it much, gives me a wicked hangover). I had it made till the coup of '75 when we were kicked out. The marriage wasn't too bad then given that we stayed in Asia for a good bit before going to the USA. I retired from the Air Force in 1989 and that was just about the final nail in the coffin for our marriage although we did stay together for another 6 years for the sake of our children. In 1989 I lost my "status" and was now just a regular person. For those of you who don't know (yeah, I know that most of you do know this), status for Thais is very important. Because I was good at my Air Force job I was posted to one of our embassies and from that posting (or assignment as we like to say) my ex was able to meet the Prince, the Queen, the President (I can't think of which one at the moment, he was fairly popular (time frame would be about 1985), then Vice President Bush and his wife Barbara, Sec of Def Casper Weinberger and several other dignitaries and, most importantly it seemed: Miss Thailand. The girl from Issan was moving in rarified circles.
My ex now lives in Florida as do my 3 children (they are all grown and do not live with their Mother). From my children, I have learned that my ex has been involved with several men since we broke up. On average, they are about 15 years older than her (elderly that is) and loaded with money. It's likely that someday she will get her dream to be fabulously wealthy. I could care less. It may be easy for a Thai in Thailand to snare a guy with money but it's even easier for them in the USA.
After not seeing Bangkok for about 15 years I can report that in spite of the skytrain, etc., it's pretty much the same place as it used to be. The girls are still just as pretty, the price is more but still right, and there's still no place on earth like it for food, fun, and people watching. My Falang girlfriend was with me and she had a blast but but she's not your everyday Falang, she learned rudimentary Thai before we left and practiced it 24 hours a day while we were there. She had more fun than I did!!! We did have two untoward experiences while there and they involved taxi drivers taking us to seafood restaurants (now, my Thai isn't perfect but I do know how to get around in the taxis so I suspect they are a bit more aggressive about this kind of thing than they used to be – in the '70s they would ask you and respect your wishes, now, at least two of them, pay you no mind and just take you to the rip-off places). Both of them suffered loss of face but it was their own doing. I would never intentionally suffer a Thai to loss of face, they might just get even with you.
Fighting. Well, back in the old days if you got into a fight with a Thai you would likely get your butt whipped, perhaps killed. If you got into it with another GI it might be an even match but if you had Thai friends, they would step up and help you. Bottom line is the same now – Thais will help other Thais before they would help a Falang but they will help a Falang friend as well as long as the adversary is not another Thai. Best advice, when troubles brewing, be a coward and just get the hell out. But in the end, if the Thais like you, you should never have a problem. Some Falangs are awful hard to like.
Sex. We spent one evening at Soi Cowboy and had a great time. If a Falang woman is willing to chat with the bargirls and have a few laughs, she will be as welcomed, if not more so, than the male punters. One rather attractive go-go girl made it clear that she was more than willing to join us for a night of fun. Although my girlfriend is bi-sexual we politely declined the offer as we had a ton of stuff to do the next day, including getting the train to Chiang Mai. While in Chiang Mai we did hit the bars in the evenings but will admit it wasn't all that much fun. A lot of the bars there cater to the gay men's crowd, more so than it seems in Bangkok. We still had fun but Soi Cowboy was much better. We did do a lot of walking and sightseeing in Chiang Mai – I think one trip is enough though if you spend 4-5 days there. We then flew to Phuket and found the bar scene there to be terrific (not a lot of customers though due to the storm). We did pick up one girl one night and paid 400 baht barfine and 1000 baht for a rather long "short time". We may have paid too much for the barfine but decidedly got our money's worth from the girl, laughing here, guess you could say we paid 500 baht each. She was pretty sweet all in all and aside from the sex, did a good job of folding clothes and cleaning up!!! I never had that happen in my younger days. Sex and Housecleaning!!! For the next two weeks we relaxed, got some sun, hit the bars every night (never did get another girl though), and had a great time during Songkran. We both truly hated to leave and come back to the usual mundane everyday life here.
Recommendations. Be happy while in Thailand, you know how life is back home. Don't give the guys who spend their life savings on some hooker a hard time. They give the Thai bar girls the one thing that they really need, which is hope. Without that hope you will eventually have the same sort of prostitution there as you see in the West. Without that hope they would just become regular prostitutes and you'd get your sex for 10 mins at XXX dollars!!! We need those guys! Don't be so cheap, I'm speaking to the tourist type rather than the expat – hell – you are on vacation!! Splurge a little, give the girls a drink or gift, they will make sure you have a great time. Don't go there broke, nothing worse than being poor in a poor country. Sure, we got somewhat ripped off by those 2 taxi guys but we also had terrific interactions with all the other Thais we met. When you get frustrated, have a beer and forget it.
Disappointment: weed used to be everywhere and dirt cheap!!!