Readers' Submissions

Marry A Bargirl?

  • Written by Marc Holt
  • November 8th, 2005
  • 10 min read


Marry A Bar Girl?

How many times have you heard horror stories about men who come to Thailand, fall in love with a bar girl and marry them? There may be the odd successful marriage. But I can't honestly say I've heard of one, no matter what some guys claim. This is the story of Wally, who married a prime example of the sisterhood.

Soon after I arrived in Thailand I set up an English school and started recruiting teachers. Wally arrived for an interview with his friend Charley. Although they had no background in teaching, that was no problem. If you spoke English in those days you were capable of teaching it. So I hired them, gave them some training in teaching techniques and set them up with their first student groups.

My wife and I had rented a large log cabin house in Soi Lertsin, off Ploenchit Road, to set up the school. We also lived there. We had a couple of spare rooms downstairs so we offered them to Wally and Charley. They had just been traveling around and had nowhere to live, so they moved in.

Wally was 6 foot 2 tall, and very shy about it. There was something sad about him. He walked hunched over, trying to hide his height. And his forlorn eyes looked out on the world in a mixture of surprise and sadness. But after teaching for a few weeks he started to open up and enjoy his job, and his life.

About 3 months later my wife and I hosted a party for all our students and teachers. She invited a lot of her girl friends from the government office where she worked, and that's when Wally met Noi. It wasn't hard to see why he fell so hard. She was a stunner, with long hair framing a beautiful face. Her body was pretty good too.

Being a very polite young lady, she talked pleasantly with Wally at the party, and you could see him falling with a bang. After that she started calling around to see my wife more often than she used to. Hmmm, thought I. Could it be?

Looking on from the sidelines, it soon became clear that Noi was just interested in a friendship with Wally. But Wally began screwing up the courage to ask her out anyway. It took him 3 months, but he finally got around to it one evening after class.

To everyone's surprise she agreed. They set a time and place, and then Noi told him where to pick her and her friend up. In those days (and maybe even today), nice Thai girls never went out alone with a man, particularly a farung, on the first date.

Well, off they went. Wally had a great time and came home euphoric. He thought Noi was wonderful. He told us how charming and how much fun she was. I'd never seen him so animated. And so it went for a few more months.

Meanwhile, Wally and Charley left our school and went to work at AUA. They moved into an apartment building together, so I didn't see that much of them. But they seemed to be doing well for themselves.

It was at another party we held later that year that things started to go wrong for Wally. We invited all our friends, teachers and even ex-teachers. Wally and Charley were there, and Noi and her friends too.

Wally had been working up to asking her to marry him for a few months. He grabbed his chance during the party. Noi was very sympathetic and soothing, but the end result was that she said No.

At first, this didn't seem to have much effect on Wally. He just thought she was being coy. So he asked her again a few days later. She still said No. Finally, it sank in that she wasn't in love with him and had no intention of ever marrying him. Wally was devastated.

One evening not long after the party I received a call from him asking me to attend his wedding the next day. This was a big surprise. Noi had spoken to my wife and I about Wally and we both knew that she wasn't in love with him. So I asked Wally what had changed Noi's mind.

Oh, I'm not marrying Noi. I'm marrying Daeng, a girl I met in the 3 Roses Bar.

Now, in those days the 3 Roses bar was in Sukhumvit Soi 16. It was famous as one of the sleaziest, run-down bars in town. The women working there were not famed for their beauty either.

I asked Wally how he had met Daeng, and he blithely replied that he went there with Charlie a few nights earlier, sat down for a drink and Daeng sat down on his lap and started making him happy. Well, we can all imagine what that meant.

Daeng was at least 5 years older than Wally, had a kid upcountry somewhere, and had been on the game for at least 10 years. She was a hard-bitten whore with gold gleaming in her eyes.

Of course, that's not how Wally described her to me on the phone, and I only found out more about her after the wedding. But in the event, I declined to go and I advised Wally not to get married. He was badly over-reacting to Noi's rejection. But Wally went ahead, got married, and took his bride off to live with him at his apartment.

The months went by and I heard the occasional rumor from Wally's friends about his life, but Wally never called me. They told me tales that at that time I found hard to believe. How Daeng was driving Wally to work long hours so that she could build and furnish a house in her village. How she wouldn't let him out of her sight unless it was to send him off to work, sometimes 18 hours a day. How she took all his money as soon as he walked in the door. And so on. It's a sad but familiar story to us old timers these days.

The next time I heard from Wally was when he called up to say he'd just become the father of a daughter. I congratulated him and asked how life was. He said everything was fine, so I wished him luck.

Not long after that Wally called again to ask me to go to his apartment and help him unlock his apartment door. As he had moved to an apartment just around the corner from my place I walked over. It turned out that he hadn't locked himself out, as I had thought. Daeng had locked him in with a huge padlock on the outside of the door. There was no way I could get that off, so I called the landlord and he cut it off. We walked into a bare room, with Wally standing there in his underwear.

What's going on? I asked him. Where's Daeng and the baby?

It turned out that Daeng, had got everything she wanted out of Wally, including a house, furniture, and a substantial amount of money in her bank account. She'd also got a kid, but this didn't seem to bother her much. She had sent it off to her village soon after it was born to join the first one. She had gone back to work part time at the 3 Roses bar while Wally was out working.

When she realized that Wally had worked himself into near exhaustion and that he wasn't going be much more use to her she took everything from the room, leaving him in his underwear. She took all his clothes as well as everything else she could carry off and then just disappeared. We found out later on that she had returned to her village to live on the fruits of her marriage to Wally.

The landlord decided to call the police because Wally owed him 3 months rent. At that stage Wally assured me that he would sort it out. So I left. One thing I'd learned by then was to avoid contact with the police as much as possible, particularly if the affair had nothing to do with me.

It turned out that as well as owing rent, Wally had overstayed his visa by 3 months and he would have to pay a 100 Baht a day fine or go to immigration jail. Wally didn't have enough money, so the police arranged for him to pay part of the rent he owed, and then they carted him off to immigration jail.

Now, if you've never seen the immigration jail out the back of the immigration office in Soi Suan Phlu, you cannot possibly imagine how bad it is. It's a single long room without any partitions or even a toilet. You have to squat over an Asian toilet in full view of everyone in the room. The room itself is crowded with all sorts of people, including some who have been there for years. No one has helped them get out because they are either crazy and no one knows what to do with them, or they don't know anyone to help them. Each inmate lays claim to a small space for his sleeping mat and few possessions. There is hardly room to move. The heat, flies and stench are terrible.

I didn't realize Wally had been carted off to jail. It wasn't until I got a call from him a month later that I found out. He asked me to go and help him get out.

When I arrived I couldn't believe how bad Wally looked. He was gaunt, hollow eyed and obviously losing it. But he was still lucid and able to tell me his tale. He needed enough money to get out of jail, about 30,000 Baht, so that he could go to his wife's village and persuade her to come back to Bangkok with him and the baby.

Looking at Wally, it was hard to imagine how he would live if he did accomplish his goal. It was also obvious that his mental state was very fragile. I suggested paying his fine, buying him an air ticket and putting him on a plane to Australia instead. He refused, and even after an hour of explaining that this would be the best way for him to get himself together he still insisted on getting out to try retrieve his wife and daughter.

I told him to think about my offer and left him there, thinking he'd ring me up in a day or 2 to accept. It took him another 4 weeks before he changed his mind, and then he called Charley up. Charley finally persuaded him to get on a plane for Sydney.

When Wally arrived home, he went to stay with his sister. She took him in and the next morning went off to work. When she came home that night, she found Wally squatting naked in the shower, staring blankly at the wall. He didn't even recognize his sister. So, she called the medics and Wally finished up spending a few years in a mental institution.

So much for marrying a bar girl.

How is Wally today? I don't know for sure, but I heard he had got religion and become a born again Christian. I've never seen him up here again and I hope I never do. Some people just aren't built to survive in the Bangkok jungle.

Stickman's thoughts:

GREAT story and the last line is a classic and oh so true!