Beyond Sin Sot And Towards Getting Amply Rich, Sleepers Awake
I'm almost 60 years old. I've been coming to Thailand for over 10 years and 4 years ago I retired here. In those 10 years and especially the last 4 years I have made almost all the mistakes that it is possible to make. I say almost because I'm sure that are more for me to make yet. That's one of the things about making mistakes here, you don't see them coming. Your friends and acquaintances do and maybe they tell you but in that situation one cannot hear or recognize that what they are saying can possibly apply to you! Then later with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight it all becomes clear. Wow! How could I have been so stupid?
I even have ways of explaining that away to myself too. It was a set of exceptional circumstances which co-incidentally just happened to mimic the general pattern that I was warned about. Same outcome- broken heart and broken wallet but from very dis-similar causes. She was different! Well now, slowly and painfully I begin to WAKE UP.
Three years ago I built a beautiful house in barn nok for my former squeeze and her children. I learnt how to estimate quantities in Thailand for sand, cement, gravel, tiles, labour. It's a simple formula. Get an accurate quote for quantities and resultant prices from your local supplier and then double it because he almost certainly will and your squeeze is probably on a percentage! Once the house was built she told me to leave on pain of death whilst holding a long handled axe and having already used it to remove all the windows to the front elevation.
So once the house is built or when we are not willing to pay more we are then very vulnerable. She no longer needs you! She can get another with more money and less knowledge of the way things are in Isaan.
Oh, I can hear you protesting and saying that she loves you and only you. That sex with you is so good like nothing ever before. And I also know that in your mind you have genuinely questioned this. You / me are in the full blossoming of early old age – sorry would you prefer late middle age. Women of this age in the West grow fat and pear shaped and men (I'm talking about me too) become an apple on a stick shaped. It said it on the BBC so it must be right! We've looked in the mirror and shaken our heads and then marveled in gratitude at the different perception towards older men in Asia. There's no fool like an old fool.
So two years on and almost a year ago I bar fined this girl. My lost house was behind me. I was now definitely into renting (houses or women) and not buying. Lust them and leave them I say! Move on. Keep moving. Don't let the enemy know where you are. However over the next three months I saw her with increasing frequency and now we live together. She seems to be a simple, honest but poorly educated girl from Isaan. That does it for me, honesty.
So we've been having this conversation about whether to get married or not. Now you will all know that there are 2 kinds of marriage here. Marry in the village with sin sot and barbied pigs and / or also the legally registered job at the Amphur Office. Me, I prefer the latter. She would be my legal widow on my demise and she can get half my occupational pension for the rest of her life. How I was screwed to pay for that pension over the 30 years that I worked. I doubt if the actuaries factored in that I might marry someone half my age! Some small satisfaction!
At first she would rather have the village marriage job with sin sot to Mama and Papa and there was not too much concern about the pension until I told her it would be worth more than 10 million baht over 20 years!
I currently pay her money each month. It's not too much but it's hers and some or all of it, depending on her and the family's circumstances, goes to Mum and Dad who are now getting on a bit and can no longer work on building sites or elsewhere when they are not planting or harvesting their rice. My girl told me that when we get married in the village and pay the sin sot I need no longer pay her cash each month.
So I said to her that I thought she was wrong. I outlined to her the possibility of something similar to a recent event recurring. In late 2005 her parent's rice crop almost completely failed due to a drought. Out of her savings, some of which accrued from my monthly contribution, she purchased rice for them to eat for the forthcoming year and I gave them the same amount to buy seed rice for the next planting. In such or similar future circumstances I know I would be called upon to provide again. Also they have needs for cash from time to time. There is only one other child, my girl's older sister who also earns limited money and provides for her son and contributes to mother and father when she can. So I asked why I should pay sin sot when that would not really be the end of my financial contribution. I also pointed out that she had been married to a Thai man and had also worked in a bar. These discussions went on amicably and in Thai though I am somewhat limited in my vocabulary.
It became clear that she had never previously thought any of it through. That her parents as they grow older would need increasing financial support and that it would have to come from me had never impinged on her thinking. There followed some pretty long silences over the next couple of weeks and I was pretty sure that she was thinking over the marriage issue in detail. I was sure that the detail now included what I had said to her as well as whether or not to dump me. Then she said that she was missing Mum and wanted to go home for 2 or 3 days, which she did. I knew full well why the return home. She needed to talk about the marriage and sin sot issue and clarify her parents' view.
Mum and Dad always seem to me to be very fine people. They are truly poor farmers who could not afford to put shoes on their children when young and often could not feed them much. When there was food the children got it first and parents went without when there was not enough. What they always had and do have is their pride and their good manners which they have instilled in their children. When I once jokingly suggested that I was my father in law's older brother because I was older than him by a year, he was far from amused. It was settled amicably with the admonishment that he is the father of the family (and me) and I must always treat him as such. I have in fact no problem with this. Both her mother and father are thoroughly good people. I wai first!
My girlfriend, on her return from home, seemed content enough but continued to be subdued. I remarked a couple of times that maybe Mum and Dad or she perhaps wanted her to look for a new farang with more money. She responded quietly on each occasion that she wanted to stay with me and that parents had said that it was her decision.
A week or two later she was more willing to talk. The outcome is that it is now up to me. I can get married to her or not. It can be either in the village or in the Amphur. I can give sin sot or not and any amount is up to me. She says she will stay with me no matter what! AND SHE SEEMS TO MEAN IT! It seems to have been decided and agreed by her and her family that it really is up to me! And as a result it seems that she can talk more freely. What she had to say is I think very significant and relevant for farangs in Thailand.
She has subsequently told me of so many girls in her village that are on their second, third and even fourth farang husbands. When the current husband has given either all that he can or all that he's willing to give the marriage is over and they go and get another farang and milk him. This is not just the exception, it's the commonplace, the new norm, CUSTOM AND PRACTICE. She has said how on the recent trip home to discuss this stuff with her parents she was under constant pressure. Not from her parents but from most in the village. “It's about time he (me!) married you and don't take anything less than Bt 500,000 and 4 baht of gold! What do you mean he's not rich – get rid of him and get another richer idiot (buffalo) fellang”! Her parents are under the same pressure. I said to her, where does love and truth come in to the relationships these village girls are having and what they are doing? She simply says that the girls think that love, trust and honesty have no place in the business of separating a farang from his money and perhaps his heart. They can and will of course talk to their husbands of love till the cows (or buffaloes) come home or the money runs out. It appears also that there's no such thing as enough husbands or enough money. So you've got 2 houses 2 pickups and a car – get another one!
So poor village girls are prepared to lie and cheat and defraud Mr gullible Farang with complete impunity and such conduct is not only condoned but supported by those in the village with not the slightest criticism amongst their peers if their wealth becomes excessive and/or is the cause of much hurt to others. Where do they get these ideas from? This is FRAUD. Pure and simple!
Where else in Thailand would such an example of flagrant fraud be tolerated? Where else in this country would one find an example of such manipulation of others for massive and unlimited financial gain.
As a viable rural poverty eradication method it is beginning to work. These girls truly are becoming AMPLY rich.
My former girlfriend and her children now have a house and she told me to leave on pain of death. I searched in vain for an explanation until now. Custom and practice – Isaan style. It's now beyond sin sot. If your girl insists on sin sot – or a house – or anything else other than your financial support to a non working wife then DROP HER. She is an insider trader on the make.
There's no fool like an old fool or me and perhaps I'm not the only one.
Never mind sin sot – beware new and current custom and practice.
Now wake up its tomorrow and doctor wants you to take these nice pills. They're amply good!
No argument at all, the business of separating a farang from his money under false pretenses is clearly wrong.