Money, Lies & Love, Fear & Face
This article is based upon my own experience of living with my Thai Girl Friend (TGF) and those experiences of my closest farang friends. It is straight out of our personal experience of happiness and heartbreak. Our ‘wives’ (live in TGFs) are predominantly of the I-san, though not all are. I do not wish to give the impression that all Thai Ladies have some or all the same traits. However, there is a disturbing correlation in the behavioral patterns of our live in TGFs and other supposedly good Thai women that I know socially. Here and now I apologize for my use of their confessions in this treatise and assure them that the purpose of this article is to improve farangs' understanding of his Thai TGF and her family, so that his relationship has a better chance of longevity.
However modest her requests for money are, your Thai TGF is most likely driven by an almost overwhelming need to get as much money from you as possible. Their mind set is akin to that of the Indian (or Philippians) employee in the west that seeks a salary increase every time that he has access to anyone in the company with the power to grant it, or influence the person that has such authority. This mind set is common throughout Asia. It has grown out of the economic realities that prevail in the third world and continues to affect those that are subjects of emerging tiger economies. This means that you can not change the value system, in respect to money, of your girlfriend and her extended family. You, the farang can only learn to manage it. <EXCELLENT ADVICE – Stick>
Pressure (For Money)
When your girlfriend moves in to live with you she comes under constant pressure, from family and friends, to provide money to anyone of a number of people with real or imagined financial difficulties. I know that you will want to believe that this can not
possibly be true because your girlfriend has never said that she is under pressure to provide for others. There are four possible reasons why she has not complained to you. They are; fear, anger, secrecy and ‘sia-nah’ sometimes written ‘see-ah naa’.
Never take your TGF with you when you are making a capital purchase. She will usually press you to take her along. This is especially important in resort towns like Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Phulet, and Ko Samui. If you ignore this advice you do so at your peril. The salesman, insurance broker, realtor (Estate Agent), car salesman or contractor will love it. Rather than you getting a translator the Thai businessman will pay you a few courtesies and then direct the conversation in Thai to your little darling. By the time the deal is done your costs will have escalated. So you say; ‘I’ll get a lawyer’. Good luck, your lawyer will receive a barrage of she said this, she said that, the deal is done, sue me if you like. If you do sue the court will most likely instruct you to honor the deal made by your TGF.
Case history Pattaya 2005
A farang buying a house worked hard to get a 50,000 Baht discount on the sale price. At the initial meeting with the seller his TGF was anxious to show her authority. So she agreed, in ‘Thai’ to pick up all of the seller's costs. When the contract of sale was presented for completion this agreement had been added to the contract over the signatures. Cost to farang 52,800 Baht.
Thai women, especially those from the I-san have deep seated fears. Even the emancipated among them retain fears of the supernatural and of shame (Sia-nah). They also fear commitment, even if they have not been let down by lovers, friends or family, they have witnessed many that have. Your TGF of the I-san will not give her heart easily, if fact many would scoff at the idea of falling in love with their farang, and some actually fear it. This is because the minute that they feel as one with you they know that they will empathize with you, which will limit their ability to exploit you. We will look at love and sia-nah elsewhere in this article.
Back to the supernatural as a source of her fear. Other than family, friends, and your money, your lady of the I-san’s head if full of three things, Buddha, The Thai Royal Family and the spirits that occupy her world. The first two are her defense from the third. Her spirits or ‘Pee’ (ghosts) fall into two broad categories. Spirits that occupy, haunt if you like, physical domains, like buildings, forests, hills and mountains. And those that occupy the world in physical form as people or animals. Her defense against these spirits will be a Buddhist relic or a shrine, as you see in every house or garden and every company’s parking lot. Sometimes it will be just a small offering placed on the pavement outside her home, office or bar. To her these spirits are real but manageable. The spirits or ghosts of human, or animal form are more frightening because they seem so real and so difficult to defend herself against.
The best example is the ‘Pee-Borb’(?) a truly frightening ghost in human form. Every Moobaan has one of these terrifying spirits. Sometimes an ugly or disfigured man or woman, that is living in the Moobaan will be suspected of being a ‘Pee-Borb’. It seems to me that the jury is out as to whether the ‘Pee-Borb’ is a spirit in human form or whether it is a human that transforms (like a werewolf does at night). Whatever is accurate your TGF believes that the’ Pee-Borb’ given half a chance steals and eats the placenta of childbirth and perhaps newborn babies too.
Jow Maire Sa Mugh (?)
Not all spirits are evil. Long, long ago there lived a beautiful lady. She was the very essence of good. She lived in a small house within the temple walls and spent her life helping people. When this beautiful lady died her body did not decompose. Her soul had finished its journey through many sentient beings and had arrived at enlightenment due to her loving care of people. Her corpse seems to have remained beautiful for three years after her death. Her soul, having reached enlightenment did not reincarnate and so entered the spirit world. Her spirit now roams free helping people to overcome their problems. Grateful women that feel that ‘Jow maire sa mugh’ has helped them sometimes erect a shrine to her. Here is a picture of one such in the Temple grounds on Kao Pratumnak, Pattaya. The shrine is a replica of Jow maire sa mugh’s original little house. This picture shows her shrine here in Pattaya with a bar girl praying. What is she praying for? The majority of Thai women seem pray for her help at one time or another.
A Bar Girl’s Prayer
‘Dear Jow maire sa mugh. I have come to Pattaya; I have no house, no money and no husband. Please help me find a farang who will take care of me and help me to have a better life… and a house’
According to Thai lady believers their prayers are always answered, either positively or negatively. If the answer is negative the spirit of ‘Jow maire sa mugh’ will waft into her home while she sleeps. The spirit will wrap around the sleeping woman to induce a dream, this is the negative answer. If the answer is positive, you will be the first to know it if per chance you approach the subject bar girl to bar fine her. In that moment of realization, that her prayer is answered, her face will explode into a smile of unbridled joy. She will likely jump up and down with tiny little jumps, as she might if she just won first prize at a televised game show. This response is not about you. She doesn’t know you yet. Her joy is born out of her knowledge the ‘Jow maire sa mugh’ is with her in spirit. You’ve just bar fined a girl that knows she has power. At this point in your relationship she will hope that you keep her for a few days. Long enough for you to fall in love with her, and in so doing reinforce the power granted her by ‘Jow maire sa mugh’. This applies whether you met her in a shopping mall, at a function, in your hotel or at a bar.
Thai women will pray at a ‘jow maire sa mugh’ shrine for all manner of reasons. So if you see a girl praying thus do not ‘rush in where angels fear to tread’. She may be praying for a baby or for an improvement in her husband’s behavior, or for that matter for her turn to win the lottery. If she sets off a string of fire crackers when she has finished her prayer it may mean that it is her second prayer for a particular thing. This time she uses the fire crackers to ensure that she has ‘jow maire su mugh’s’ attention. Or it could be that she is thanking ‘jow maire sa mugh’ for a prayer answered.
Your TGF will express her anger in a variety of different ways. The two most important are, silent anger, and explosive temper tantrums involving screaming, punching and tears. Silent anger is the normal angry response for a Thai Lady, and you need to recognize the symptoms. The most important of the symptom is when her face quite literally darkens, yes her facial skin color actually gets blacker. Be careful. Your TGF is exploding inside herself, she is absolutely furious. This girl will not usually have a bad tempered outburst. It’s a good sign, she has control, and she is not going to lose face. Be gentle, talk softly, or not at all. If you react clumsily she may lose her temper and ‘sia nah’ too. She’ll not easily come round or forgive you. If on the other hand you talk quietly and gently you may bring her out of it. Try to say loving and caring things. If you get a positive response, it is safe to put your arm around her and it maybe be over in an hour or so. Do not over concern yourself with the why or what. If you need to be told she will tell you when she has calmed down. <Be careful here because if you give in to her temper, she may see this as a means to manipulate you – Stick>
If, on the other hand she explodes into an uncontrollable rage, you have a real problem. Unless your behavior has been extremely provoking her tantrum is not generally acceptable in Thai culture. You may well ask yourself if this is a girl that you really want to spend time with. If she has hit you with a hard object, get rid of her right away. The farang that this advice comes from had his TGF break a bottle over his head. Others have not lived to tell their tale.
The above are the two extremes of visible anger. Normally, when your TGF is angry she will be quiet, indolent even. She will be non-responsive to your immediate needs and may well go to bed and sleep it off.
Last, but not the least, is the hooded eye-lids look. She has a staring into space look in her eyes, which will also look dull and lifeless. This is not real anger. It is closer to exasperation and may well last for hours. You can do very little about this mood. It will have resulted from her realization that something she hoped for is out of her reach. She knows that she will not achieve or obtain whatever it was. It may be about you, but more likely it’ll be about something outside of your relationship.
Thai ladies love their secrets. They use secrets to try and control everyone in their life. So take comfort in the knowledge that her secrecy is not her special reserve for you. Do not worry about her secrets; many of her secrets will be insignificant to a farang. She will share these little secrets selectively with some of her friends and family members, but she will never share them with all of the people in her life. It is through this selective sharing of secrets that she inures a sense of power for herself. Some ladies are very good at the web of secrecy. In group situations you can pick these masters of the power of secrets out. You will see one lady after another taking her quietly aside for a long and whispered conversation. Each lady will discover a secret and move away happily and perhaps a little smugly. Later these ladies will use their new found secret in their own power game. Sometimes two or three ladies that got their new secrets from the same source will be discussing them with each other, only to find that they each have acquired a different secret from the same person. In the west we might be irritated that our new found secrets do not correlate and thus not stimulate an in depth conversation about the same subject. But to a lady Thai this is great fun, they will giggle, put their hands over their mouths in disbelief, and laugh and circulate with the new found food for titillation. Meanwhile the originator of these new secrets has gained a little more power, for all three of the ladies that she fed the secrets to, will feed at her trough of free secrets again.
Sia-nah (Loss of Face)
Sia-nah literally means ‘face falls off!’ or as we would say ‘loss of face’. We, the farang, should not underestimate the significance of ‘face’ in the behavior of our Thai women folk. I am so worried that few farang understand the importance of ‘face’ and the effect that it has on their lives when living with Thai people, that I’m going to dwell upon it. Please don’t get bored or stop reading, this is very important.
The literal meaning of ‘sia-nah’, ‘face falls off’ is how Thai people feel it when it happens to them. In English we have the expression, ‘to be sent to Coventry’ which means to be ignored by all that are affronted by our behavior or digression. This is the closest we can get to what it means to a Thai whose ‘face has fallen off’. However, it is much easier to have your ‘face fall off’ in Thailand than it is to get ‘sent to Coventry’ in the West. When a Thai has lost face, especially a female she feels deeply humiliated, unbelievably shy and embarrassed at the same time. This feeling of shame can be devastating to her. For many it may mean that they can never visit the place, where they experienced those feelings, again. If a Thai person were to suffer sia-nah within their own family it may result in them leaving home forever. Worse still it may lead to them being excluded from the home by the rest of the family. The consequences can, at the extreme, result in the suicide of the person suffering sia-nah.
If your behavior causes your TGF to suffer ‘sia-nah’ publicly she will never forgive you and may well leave you at her first opportunity.
In Thailand telling lies is not sociably acceptable. Huh! I almost hear you say. But it is true. Your live in TGF doesn’t lie and she doesn’t steal. To do either could lead her to ‘sia-nah’. She will do anything to avoid her ‘face falling off. However, in Thai culture the evasion of the truth by supplanting fact with fiction to avoid ‘sia-nah’ is not a lie. Confused? The fact is that in close knit society and family situations ‘sia-nah’ is permanent. You can not put your face back on. So serious are the consequences of ‘sia-nah’, that Thai society does not regard a falsehood as a lie if it is said to avoid ‘sia-nah’. If denial is difficult because what she has done is pretty obvious she will simply not offer an explanation at all. She will just say ‘Chan mai pood’ (I not speak). If you want to stay with her leave it at that; for she cannot speak. You can conclude what you like, she is saying nothing. DO NOT PUSH IT. It is just possible that the truth you seek will cause you both to lose face.
‘Sia-nah’ and you the farang
Your girlfriend will go to great lengths in trying to stop you from losing face. She will expect you to avoid the truth if what you have to say will cause you to lose face with her or any of her family or friends. If your girlfriend confronts you with a suspected indiscretion of your own she expects, wants even, for you to deny it, or to say nothing! You must make your denial as gently and convincingly as possible.
You have had a blazing row with your girlfriend. You have already lost face with her. Avoid, at all costs, making the row public because you will both lose face if you shout at her in the street (or in your home if others may hear).
Throwing her out
You are at your whit’s end and you want to throw her out. Do not eject her publicly. Do not put her luggage outside. Do not complain to your neighbors. If you do and want her back she will not come, even if she wants to. To her moving back in full view of your neighbors would be unbearable. The neighbors have seen and heard everything; they have discussed it on your soi for two boozy evenings. If you can speak Thai and have experienced your girlfriend leaving, walk up and down your Soi at eight or nine o'clock at night and try and catch what is being said by the neighbors. I promise you that you’ll be horrified at how much they know about you and the venom with which they speak of you and your TGF.
Where’s the Money
You have recently paid your girlfriend for the month. She admits that she is broke. You want to know what happened to so much money in such a short time. KEEP YOUR COOL. Be gentle, she is beginning to lose face just by admitting that she is broke already. There are many reasons why she can be broke, even within twenty four hours a you giving her grad. You always wanted to pay her weekly. After a time she persuaded you to pay her monthly on the first day of the month. Why?
It is because she has obligations. Sometimes she has many obligations. Sometimes she has real debts too, her obligations and debts will usually have to be satisfied at the beginning of the month. Here are some of them.
• She will be sending money to those that care for her children. She’ll may also be sending money to her mother. If she sends the money late she will be in trouble, and loose face.
• Pariahs descend on her, like aunty Pung, who is a free-lance insurance agent. She may have sold your girlfriend a twelve thousand baht insurance policy, now she comes on the second of every month to collect her one thousand Baht installments. Your TGF will not tell you of this.
• She is paying off a loan at horrific interest rates, few farang bar fined her in the rainy season, she almost starved, so she borrowed money.
• Her ex-husband (or husband) fell off his bike and broke his leg, and she is still paying off the hospital bill every month.
• Aunty Porn came round with a picture of the King in a nice frame, your girlfriend is still embarrassed because she paid Aunty Porn three thousand Baht for it.
• Her friend in a bar is sick and can not get bar fined, the friend helped your TGF last rainy season, so your girlfriend gives her two-thousand for the food and rent.
• Then there are those phone calls. They freak you out because you think they are all from farang, one or two maybe but many will come from the other pariahs in your girlfriends life, all wanting a share of the grad that she gets from you.
• Thais are not like farang, they will take your TGF every last penny, every month if they can. They will not feel ashamed or sorry for her. They simply assume that her farang will replace it!
Until you and your girlfriend are well in to your second year together many of these irritations and demands from pariah will likely continue. Your girlfriend will regret the day that she announced to all her friends and family ‘heb farang!’ Sometimes TGFs spend their grad as fast as they can. Many of them have difficulty in saying no to the hangers on, especially if they are relatives.
During the first year your TGF will very likely barine herself occasionally and may well go AWOL for a day or two or even up to two or three weeks. If you love her and want to keep her you have to ‘roll with the punches’
If you are an absent farang your TGF will almost certainly bar fine herself from time to time. In fact the majority will continually bar fine in your absence in the hope of having a second farang fall in love with her. She will even go to great lengths to try and get a farang that is on a different R&R schedule to you. <I don't really understand what you mean in these two paragraphs. You mean you have a live in girlfriend and she still works the bar? She ain't your girlfriend if that is the case. She is a girl you pay money to for services – period! – Stick>
Figures of speech (of the I-san)
It is helpful if we recognize that Thai women from the I-san speak and behave at a tangent to what is actually going on. Think of it as the Thai equivalent to the London ‘cockney’ or the ‘street talk’ on the Bronx, or perhaps the banter of the ‘Jackeroo’ in the Outback.
Chan mai pood (I not speak)
= She did something outrageous
Chan mai gohock (I don’t tell lies)
= She just told you a biggie
Heb farang! (ATM working again!)
= I told you all that I’d pay you all back.
Chan heb buat huah (I have a headache)
= You talk too much
Kapot aharn jeb (stomach hurts)
= I’ve eaten so much spicy food I feel ill
Chan pai Noi, Ooooeee, nung, song saam……mmm…mong
= Call Noi if you want, she won’t tell you where I really am.
Nom nahk / jeb (My tits hurt)
= I think my menstruation is coming.
Chan yume (next months grad)
= She is leaving you (if asked within a few days of paying current month)
Chan tong gahn dek farang jak khun (I want to have your baby)
= I quite like you and want to stay a long time
Chan nuay maak (I’m very tired)
= She is bored, wants to know what are you going to do about it?
Khun jai dee maak maa (You are very good hearted)
= You give me more money than I need.
Khun kee nee aow (You’re a skinflint)
= My friend’s farang pays better than you.
Khun kidt maak (you think too much)
= Shit! This farang smarter than the last one
She is taking care of you, now you take care of her
If your TGF is from the I-san and over thirty she will very likely have children, have had a difficult life and may be the main bread winner for her whole family. She needs you and she needs whatever she can get from you or anyone else in her internet address book.
If your TGF has a child she will need to send at least two thousand baht a month to whoever is looking after it. If she has more than one child she should be sending an extra one thousand baht per month for each additional child. If the child children are teenagers you can double these numbers. If her parents are not caring for her children, and are unemployed or elderly your TGF will need to send them two or three thousand Baht a month too.
Although I and others have cautioned readers about overpaying grad it is important for you to know that if you are paying less than ten thousand baht a month you will loose her during the three months of high season. On this I refer you to my next sub ’Heartbreak in Pattaya’
Does your TGF Love you?
In the early months that you are with her it is unlikely that she is in love with you. Thai women need to be romanced and nurtured. Above all they need to feel that you have power and are loyal, financially secure and loving over time. If your relationship has developed quickly you need to be careful, especially if you spend a lot of time away from Thailand.
In the early days you will find that your Thai Girl Friend (TGF) is a little brash. Her words are spoken quite loudly and her body language variable. You may be great in bed together but that has nothing to do with love in her book. The fact is she is working for your grad. If you are sincere and loving over time this may gradually change as you advance from client, to friend and finally to her loved one. .
Cutting to the chase on love
• The music of softly spoken I-sanian Thai.
o If your TGF is in love with you she will be romantic when you are alone together. During loving moments she will speak to you in Thai softly with an almost musical quality in her voice. Thai spoken like this is irresistibly charming and romantic, and is usually reserved for the person she loves, and her children.
• Does she share her life with you
o If you TGF is in love with you she will take you home to mum, to visit her friends, turn her phone off at night and help you at every opportunity. She will want you to come with her when she goes out. Yet she will allow you your own space and freedoms too.
o She will not get drunk or take drugs and she will put you before everything except her children.
• If you can laugh and joke together
o Slap stick is best. Romping around, tickling, pulling faces and laughing. The simpler and sillier the activity the closer she will feel. Avoid vulgarity, it may be tolerated but it will not lead to love.
• If you can be playful together without having sex.
o Tease her and don’t be too serious, keep a light heart. Play children’s games. Buy sweets and small inexpensive novelties and hide them for her to find.
• To your Thai TGF love and sex are not necessarily synonymous.
o Remember that a great sex life is good for both of you, but don’t let sex dominate your relationship. Sex is not love. To her, in the recent past and perhaps the present too, sex is a job. Sex in itself does not lead to love. Love is a life and a partnership. If that is what you want you have to work for it.
There's some good advice here in the first half of the submission. The second half I am not so sure about…. But I do have to say that this submission while relevant to bargirls is not relevant to most women who have never worked in the bar. There are a few things I don't quite go along with.
One thing I would say is that when one has problems with a Thai woman, you have to look at the real problem, and not just deal with the symptoms. An example of this would be in the case of a woman you are supporting who spends her monthly allowance within 24 hours. Giving her more money won't help.