Handbags At Dawn
When I was doing my doctorate, one of the things I was always encouraged to do was to publish my work and research findings so that my fellow peers could have the opportunity to trash my work and knowledge. This was often a painful process but it was
also a healthy one too because it helped you become a better researcher and to look at things in a different way.
So when I decided to publish my stories, comments and views on a public forum such as this one here, it has been as equally refreshing to have received both fan mail and the occasional hate mail too and I have found the whole thing to be great fun. Sometimes, if you are lucky (and I am sure Dana has been very lucky in this respect) it sometimes results in someone publicly attacking something you have written or questioning the basis for your own arguments and views, and this takes things on to a whole new level, because not only are they attempting to slap you across the face with a glove and calling you a ‘cad’ of sorts, it is also similar in many ways to being challenged to a duel at dawn or at best to a good old punch up across the bar because ‘Hey! Did you just call me a liar… you… you… you old scoundrel you’.
Now at that, I could simply let things be and just shrug my shoulders and walk away from the fight (as I would normally do, especially if I was in a bar and my handsome nose was in peril of being disjointed) but because the pen is mightier than the sword (apparently) and because dawn has been and gone over a period of days now and we have yet to have our duel, I decided to respond to the scepticism and the wrath of our senior citizens down in Pattaya by getting out my rocks and throwing some stones back at their glass house instead. Normally I would be respectful of my elders but in this case I felt it was best to dig out the handbags, to fumble in the box for the boxing gloves, or even better, to fetch my Katana because swords and spit are about to be crossed.
So what am I referring to? Well IndyUK’s submission of “A response to sin sot Reflections” that’s what… because after reading how bewildered he was as well as him calling me someone’s mother or that I was some Farang taking the piss, I could not help but to crease my brow and form a coherent response in retaliation.
Surprisingly enough, his public outrage was the only negative feedback that I had received with many others giving me much more positive feedback via my mailbox, seeing it for what it was… i.e. 'realistic' and in some ways financially 'astute' too. Indeed one member actually used my sin sot numbers to overcome his own sin sot discussion and actually succeeded in finalising his own sin sot discussions with a middle class Thai at the same level as I did… and I am chuffed that I at least went some to help a fellow non-Thai mortal from the system.
IndyUK’s attempt to continue the sin sot debate is something that will always continue to rage on with us westerners, and to be honest, sin sot is one of those strange things that has all of us westerners baffled and up in arms. Some of us accept it and some of us don't and like everything in this world, we are always going to have two opinions about everything so why should IndyUK and I be any different?
I will agree on one thing with him though (well I have to raise him up before I kick him back down again), and that is when I first heard about sin sot (some time back in 2003 in England, which was when I met a Thai girl for the first time), I simply could not get my head around it and was in total disagreement to the point of refusing to even discuss it when ever the subject was raised. To try and explain it to me, the same Thai girl pointed me towards Stick's site to try and help me understand it better, which then prompted me to go on and mull the whole thing over as well as to continue to do my homework, researching the whole sin sot thing further, and discussing it with many married men, especially those who refused to pay the sin sot and who then later went on to regret it (for reasons of continued grief from the in-laws), and eventually I at least decided to go ahead with the minimum I could get away with.
I do have to concur with what Stick said in his comments to IndyUK’s submission in that the sin sot I actually paid was indeed at the lower end of the sin sot price bracket, and to even confirm this further, I actually attended a wedding only this last weekend in Khon Kaen on the bequest of a very senior expat here in BKK whose girlfriend's sister was getting married. This family were what you would consider very 'low so Thai' and the wedding was for a Thai couple that owned a rice farm and who worked the fields for a living. Even this poor 'Thai' guy was stiffed for all the wedding costs, engagement ring, wedding rings, 5 baht gold AND 75k sin sot on top and this was very much a 'low so' Thai couple getting married – so even these poor buggers got hit with it… so why should we with our western ‘riches’ get away with it too, especially when it is our choice to pick Thailand and the Thai girls to become our partners.
Anyway, back to the duel that I promised I would have with IndyUK. Personally, and after reading what he wrote, I do have to point out that I don't think his submission and mine were exactly comparing apples with apples, and here are the reasons why I think his submission was not comparing like with like with mine:
– First, I did not pseudo marry a lady from Isaan, and I am bewildered as to why he even thought that I did. All his arguments seemed to be based around a) bar girls and b) predominantly Isaan girls. This does beg the question of what exposure he has actually had with the good girls of Thailand. I would go on to guess (although I will not be as presumptuous as he seemed to be) that based on the slant of his submission and also that he has chosen to live in Pattaya (walking street and all that implies), then I would suggest that it is probably minimal to say the least.
– Second, my pseudo wife is actually a Masters degree educated Thai lady. This also seems to contradict his submission, which for some reason, basically alludes to the point that all Isaan women are dumb and uneducated or that their parents only invest in them when they need some investment opportunities and/or financial kick back from their kids (which let's face it, isn't always going to be true now is it – talk about putting everyone in the same basket) or would he prefer that we go on to continue this discussion about what the world currently thinks of the so called well travelled and educated masses that emanate from the likes of America and the UK and who then go on to display total ignorance for other cultures, languages and the world at large etc…
– Third, he kept mentioning bar girls! I don't even want to discuss the sort of company he must keep or indeed the 'Isaan' lady he is with… oh! hang on a second, we know what this girl is like don't we, let me see, what was it he said in a previous submission, oh yes let me remind you:
"Personally I’m lucky, as a recent retiree I am fit and can enjoy Pattaya and my lady Thai for the time being. Yes I do have problems with her. She is absent-minded to the point of being rude… is constantly broke, even though well- paid, is a regular visitor to pawn brokers, has borrowed sums of money that exceed her ability to repay and gets PMS attacks that turn her into an obnoxious being for a few days each month. She has been with me eight months, not bad going since the average shelf life of a lovely I-san girl is perhaps around six months. There after complacency sets in. That is unless you already got to the one that wants you as her pension plan!"
So based on his own writing, although it appears she is a lovely Isaan girl, should we conclude that she is not educated and pretty dumb because, let's face it, that's what he alluded to in his submission. Also and from what he said, he actually seems to be having it considerably worse than I do in that my pseudo wife never has any of the problems of what he had written about with his ‘lovely Isaan girl’… and yet he considers himself lucky… bloody hell I would personally drop that bit of luck if she was in my life and go searching for some four leaf clovers and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow instead, yet somehow and despite living with those problems, he seemed to feel that it was his right to exert some sort of public condemnation, sympathy and indeed a sceptical eye on someone having a very good Thai partner and for doing things the right way… talk about being two faced.
I do also have to question the basis for his arguments and if it is on such a narrow and very limited part of Thai life and culture (meaning Isaan and bar girls) then he simply needs to get out more. Personally I don't do the bar girl thing, tried it once for a brief interlude in my first week in Thailand and hated the whole thing, saw it for what it was and have never been near it since. I actually have no idea where Soi Cowboy or Nana or any of the other seedy joints actually are and to be honest I have no inclination of wanting to know either. Each to their own of course, but how much money over time has he sent down (and continues to send down) the bar girl trash can in his continued feeble existence in Thailand? I would rather spend a small amount investing in a wedding with my good Thai wife than pissing it up some wall down in Pattaya on Walking Street.
– Forth, The sin sot gold I paid for was actually two necklaces and two bracelets… the rings were three good quality 'platinum' rings = 2 wedding rings and 1 engagement ring – I do wish people would read things correctly before they go off on one and try and trash other submissions without getting their facts right first… in addition to that, this gold remains in our home together, ok I spent the money but I can just as easily run off with it too!
– Fifth, The gate envelopes that I paid actually all came back towards the wedding. Ok I concede I never got that money directly in the end but who cares in the big scheme of things, it was just a small amount of money – Mai pen rai.
– Sixth, I am not here on a pension or a shoe string budget (unlike some we could mention) and although he alludes to the point that he is considered a safe bet by the Thai authorities (self justification of his own meagre existence here perhaps) I personally would not like to (nor would I ever allow myself) to end up in that position – how sad! <I think you're WAY off base here. The guy is happy and frankly, I don't think he cares what you think. The lifestyle he lives is one he enjoys. I take my hat off to any guy who enjoys their life. Remember, there are a lot of unhappy people on this planet – Stick>
– Seventh, I have the full gamut of a university education behind me and contrary to popular belief about graduates, I have a bloody good head on my shoulders as well as being very thrifty and sensible with my wonger (ask my pseudo wife she will confirm this) and I intend to keep it very much that way. I can assure you, I have read all the horror stories here in Thailand and as such intend to keep my money several thousand miles outside the reach of any Thai woman (in fact ANY woman for that matter) and in addition to this I am covered by wills, prenuptial agreements and all sorts of layers of protection. Was IndyUK protected in a previous relationship? Is he now? Hell I bet he wasn’t and isn’t!
As for myself, I continue to keep my Thai lady as my pseudo wife still because I don’t generally trust the female species when it comes to money and planning decisions. I am very risk adverse by my nature and when you start reading books called Mars and Venus and understand that NASA have totally got it wrong (in that they spend billions searching the universe looking for aliens when we have a planet full of them already – i.e. woman) then you know it is best to treat it like any other partnership, with respect and professionalism and to just make sure you protect your own corner first.
So there we have it… has a pint of Tetley’s best bitter been spilt in this fight, has blood been drawn or is simply IndyUK a beer swilling, womanising bigot… I will leave you all to decide, but one thing I can confirm is that I am neither taking the piss (although this is a trait I sometimes will endeavour to do at every opportunity I can get) nor am I anyone's mother either – interesting to know that he thought I was however!
You can all call me what you will, say I was stitched up if you like, call me arrogant if you want, call me a sucker if you also want to… sticks and stones… I don't particularly care, but one thing is for sure, I don't need any sympathy for making what turned out to be a very sound and sensible decision and I have a girl who has nowhere the sort of problems IndyUK told us his lady seems to have… but then again, I guess his choices are far more limited than mine.
At the end of the day, there are many out there still grappling with their own sin sot discussions and my submission was there to bring sense and clarity to those who have chosen the path of paying at least something and to try and keep them from spending too much. At the end of the day, if both our submissions and continued debate on sin sot help bring prices down and to knock some sense into the guys who pay 1 million sin sot then we have achieved our goal have we not? My sin sot was actually peanuts, it really was, and the sympathy should really be going out either the poor sods that do get skinned for 500k and upwards or to those of you out there who are scratching an existence each day in Thailand and who feel that frequenting bars for their extra curricular activity is a worthwhile existence, justifying it in some form or other about how they are living their life and how they feel happy to have bar girls running over to them every time they go into a bar… funny enough, I had a dog once that also did the same thing when I used to come home!
Of course all of this is tongue in cheek, but just what is it with those lazy beach bum Pattayonians who seem to want to slag us hard working Bangkokians off anyway.
Let's try and keep the sin sot debate about sin sot and not get personal.