How Did They Do It?
Having spent years on the side lines of the ‘bar girl’ debate and now, after nearly 5 years of interaction with said girls, I am finally putting ‘fingers to laptop’ to file my first submission. Over the preceding years I’ve
had numerous opportunities to observe at very close quarters the ‘scene’ and its pitfalls but I want to open with a success story and a possible template that others may follow or learn from. From the start I want to say this isn’t
foolproof, it’s the story of a couple who did make it and how in their opinion and mine it happened. It doesn’t involve myself therefore but my oldest and closest friend, and given that there’s very little that we haven’t
shared, information wise, over the last 15 years this comes, as they say, straight from the horses mouth.
My mate was working in Taiwan and had a fairly good job, nothing spectacular, but he certainly wasn’t living hand to mouth. He’d dated with the locals but found something missing and knowing my location and full of stories of excess and debauchery he finally made the trip over to Bangers to see me. This trip inevitably was a bit of an eye-opener and he took to his duties with gusto…to say the least. Eventually I simply would send him into the night on his own; there was no way I could keep up, either physically or financially.
To cut a long story short over the next 2 years he spent all his vacation time in the LOS filling the coffers of massage parlors, go gos and beer bars. Given that he was 33 at the time and still had a bag load of energy to devote to the cause this was not surprising but also not surprising was the fact that after numerous rounds of Nana, Cowboy and Pattaya things had begun to lose their initial sparkle and he’d slowed down a little, to the point where he would come and spend his month with a Sukumvit freelancer called N and aside from the odd afternoon in the soapies he was pretty much in the boyfriend / girlfriend groove.
I of course had been well aware of this and had watched, at a suitable distance, the relationship develop. It’s all quite understandable. In my first year here I bed hopped like it was going out of style but, slowly but surely it all got long in the tooth and nowadays if I’m in the bars twice a month, window shopping not buying I might add, then that would be normal for me…frankly it just got boring. It’s a marathon not the 100 yard dash especially as I’ve just turned 40. I digress.
What set the alarm bells going was my mate’s announcement that he was preparing to take a step up the relationship ladder and take his little buddy home with him to Taiwan.
Being the good pal that I am I immediately sat him down and gave him the full range of disaster scenarios that could befall him and probed him to find out what had bought this on. Here was someone who has read Stickman and had built up a fairly impressive experience resume in this environment; naiveté would not be an excuse. Anyhow I was unable to talk him out of it so having tried my utmost, I satisfied myself that if it all went to s**t I would be able to look at myself with a clear conscience, the guys like family after all.
Off they went to Taiwan and 3 years later they are married with a daughter and, having again, observed them up close, as happy as any couple I’ve seen.
The question here is how they managed it. Why didn’t my friend end up emotionally scared and lighter by thousands of dollars as is so often, dare I say in 90% of cases?
This girl was until a few years ago a dyed in the wool prostitute (sorry but there is no delicate way of putting it), freelancing on Sukumvit. I’d seen her around from time to time on this or that falang's arm, she was a regular. She hadn’t just got off the bus. I know she’d been working for over 2 years and didn’t qualify for the 90 day ‘spoiled goods’ rule, by any stretch of the imagination. On the face of it this was a disaster in the making.
A number of things stand out that might explain her sudden conversion and the subsequent success.
Primarily it was a choice of her own making. Very revealingly she said that she was tired of the work and she felt at the tender age of 25 there were too many younger girls coming into the scene, i.e. the competition was too much. She could see a time when the punters had flocked and the money river was in full flow but over the years there had been an increase in product availability and a decrease in cash. Also hanging around in a bar loses its magic….as for the guys as for the girls, it gets plain boring.
She also wanted to do something else, i.e. not look back on a life that was a blur of brief encounters. She didn’t know what she wanted to do but hanging around Nana day after day after day until she got no trade at all, which is truly a bitter ending, was not it.
In summary she DID want to leave…this wasn’t a fait a complis engineered by her boyfriend, it came from her. A key point.
Secondly they took it slowly. They had been together for over a year before he decided to take the plunge. Now he hadn’t been here all that time and in the initial phase she was still working. My mates no fool. He knew he liked her but he wasn’t going to trade his right arm to get her and he let her know the score. It all developed by increments.
She left the nightlife and went to work in a company. It should be noted her English wasn’t bad and she had completed high school, 2 pre-requisites for any kind of job (you can substitute the language part for some other skill i.e. computers). She did this without a great deal of pressure from him.
Another big question concerned money. The deal was this. When she was at the company he made up her salary every month to 10,000 baht and he paid her portion of the rent, about 2.5k. So if she earned 4 he would contribute 6 plus rent. When she came to stay abroad he would take care of all the travel expenses and give her some pocket money to spend. He knew that if she was in it for the money 6k and a bit would never cut it. He demonstrated that he would take care of her to an acceptable standard but he wasn’t an ATM which could simply be dipped into at will. She learned that falangs aren’t money trees and that a lot of guys put in hard labour to earn what might seem a lot in Thai eyes but doesn’t stretch so far abroad.
Luckily there weren’t too many greedy relatives to provide for, she sent 2-3k to them every month and that was it. If brother Somchai wanted a motor bike well good luck to him. This is probably one of the biggest sticking points in these relationships and one that simply can’t be avoided. Family is super important here. You are probably going to have to provide something, how much depends on circumstances. There are simply too many variables to explore about this issue and this is not what this submission is about. Point here is that she provided what she felt was fair and no more. Again she took the lead.
From his point of view he did 2 absolutely key things, he retained his self respect throughout and he came through on his promises. He demonstrated from the get go that he wasn’t some stupid, desperate, falang sap who could be lied to, abused and squeezed for cash. There was an occasion when we went drinking and had a boys night, no girlfriends and no partners, bit of go go and home by one. I hadn’t seen him for a while and this was a big catch up session. She kicked off and sulked. He went anyway. Bottom line was the next day, having returned at 1am as promised, admittedly a bit worst for ware but without any lipstick on his collar, he told her that if she behaved in that petulant and childish manner again then she’d better pack her bags! To her credit she did have a pause for thought and needless to say sanity prevailed.
Conversely he has stayed faithful to her and provided for her. He has proven himself to be trustworthy and committed….and when all is said and done that’s all she ever wanted.
One point of this piece is that the basic parameters are the same in all successful relationships. It's not rocket science its relationship 101 stuff.
Some will look at this piece and say that’s what I did and it still went to s**t. Again this isn’t a guide but a demonstration of how perhaps they managed to pull it together. It’s a case study not a guide, and in all case studies there are lessons to be learned, discarded, adapted and applied.
To those of you about to enter the arena we salute you!