Readers' Submissions

My First Year In Thailand

My wife and I had always dreamed of relocating permanently to Asia. Though we both had very good jobs in Canada, we knew if we could find similar positions in Asia, it would help to advance our careers and would also provide a more interesting
and varied lifestyle. We also shared a passion for travel and exotic food having already travelled to many destinations around the world.

Finally, in December 2000, I was offered a high-level position with a start-up company based in Bangkok. The offer included a good salary, housing allowance, car allowance, annual bonus and two fully paid trips home each year. I discussed
the offer with my wife and we both agreed it was a great opportunity so I accepted. Our plan was for me to move to Thailand first. At the time, my wife was working for an international company that happened to have an office in Bangkok. She discussed
with her boss the possibility of transferring to Thailand. She was told it was possible but would take a few months to finalize the details of the transfer. This was fine with us as it would give me a chance to find a place to live in Bangkok
and settle into my new job before she arrived.

On February 1, 2001, I flew into Bangkok, alone. I spoke absolutely no Thai and had little knowledge of the culture. Being in Bangkok alone and with no friends, I lived a quiet lifestyle and rarely ventured out at night, except to eat in
nearby restaurants.

Three months after arriving in Bangkok, I had not yet found a permanent place to live so was staying in a serviced apartment. My new employer was still in the process of securing, what would be, a very lucrative contract with a large corporation
in Thailand. While the contract remained unsigned, my new employer was reluctant to sign a long-term rental agreement for an apartment or house so I continued to stay in the serviced apartment. My wife had also not yet finalized her transfer to
Bangkok. It became apparent it would be at least another 3 months before she could join me.

Finally, one Saturday night, three months after moving to Bangkok, I decided to have a night out, albeit, on my own. I had read in my travel guide about several of the bar areas in Bangkok; namely Patpong, Soi Cowboy and Khao San Rd. Of the
three, Khao San Rd, sounded like the safest option; however, I was curious to see Soi Cowboy so that’s where I went.

I walked the length of Soi Cowboy taking in the sights of the place before I finally plucked up the courage to go into one of the gogo bars. A service girl directed me to a booth and I ordered a beer. Fifteen of the hottest girls I had ever
seen were dancing on stage. One girl, in particular, caught my eye. She had a very angelic face, long slender legs and an almost childlike smile. Her skin was very white compared to the other girls on stage. When she finished dancing she came
over and sat down next to me. Her name was Fon. We spent the next three hours talking and drinking together. To be honest, the conversation we had was at a very basic level, but it didn’t matter – I was infatuated with this girl. When her
bar closed she asked me to meet her at the end of the Soi. I guess this was to avoid paying her bar fine. Though at the time I did not know this being completely naive to the protocol of a gogo bar.

Fon and I went to eat at a nearby restaurant before heading back to my serviced apartment. That night we had the most amazing sex. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be sharing my bed with such a beautiful girl. Though I was cheating
on my wife, this never crossed my mind during my first night with Fon. I really was in heaven. Little did I know that the night’s events would drastically change the course of my life.

The next day, Fon and I spent the whole time in bed, getting up only to eat some food that I had ordered from room service. I took Fon back to her bar in the early evening. I knew I had to pay her, but really had no idea how much. I decided
to give her 1,000 baht, which at the time I thought was overly generous. She smiled at me when I gave her the money and said “Khoop khun kha”. I had work the next day so only stayed in her bar for one drink. I promised Fon I would
go back the next night to see her.

True to my word, I went back to her bar the following night. When I walked into the bar, Fon ran over with a huge smile on her face and wrapped her arms around me. I couldn’t believe she was as happy to see me as I was to see her.

As I was working the next day I didn’t want to stay out late so asked Fon if she wanted to go back to my serviced apartment. She explained the bar fine system to me, which at the time seemed completely bizarre. Though I gladly paid
as all I wanted was to spend more time with her.

For the next 2 weeks, I bar fined Fon every night, though after the first few days I stopped giving her money for sleeping with me. In the fantasy world I was living in, I really thought she genuinely liked me as much as I liked her. It never
crossed my mind that to Fon I was just another customer and while she was with me her opportunity to go with other farangs for money was very limited. So after two weeks of practically living together, Fon asked if I could give her some money
as she had taken out a loan from another girl a few months earlier. The loan required her to make weekly instalments of 5,000 baht for the next 6 months. Wanting to help her out I agreed to give her 5,000 baht per week. To compensate for this
I decided to stop bar fining her every night. I told Fon she could keep working in the bar but had to promise that she would not go with customers anymore. When she finished work, which was typically between 1:00-2:00am, she would go to my serviced
apartment. At this point in time I had no idea that girls would often go for 2 or 3 ‘short-times’ each night before the bar even closed.

This arrangement worked well for the first couple of weeks until one night, after her bar had closed, she didn’t show up at my apartment. I called her mobile but it was turned off. I continued to call her every 10 minutes or so until
5:00am when I finally gave up and went to sleep. Later that day, she called and told me that she had been at a karaoke bar with a friend who had stopped over in Thailand for one night. I didn’t believe her and told her so. She acted like
she didn’t care. For the next 2 days we didn’t talk. Finally I succumbed and called and asked her to come over to my apartment.

I now had doubts about her faithfulness towards me so I started going to her bar every night to check up on her. I would always end up buying all of her friends drinks and, of course, I always paid the bill. This started to become expensive
and my wife back home noticed that I was withdrawing a lot of money from our account. I gave my wife all sorts of excuses to explain this. None were true. Not only was I destroying my 8-year marriage but the nightly drinking in Fon’s bar
was starting to affect my performance at work. Most days I would go to work having had little sleep the night before and with a terrible hangover. I am sure my colleagues noticed but they never said anything. Until one day my farang boss called
me into his office. Apparently, an important customer had seen me walking out of Soi Cowboy with a girl on my arm who was clearly a prostitute. This did not go down well with my boss. Though fortunately my boss also enjoys the nightlife so was
a little understanding. I was still given a stern warning and told to be more discrete in future with my night time activities.

I asked Fon if she would stop working in the bar. She told me that I would need to pay a release fee to the bar of 10,000 baht. Stupidly, I agreed to do this. I was also still paying Fon 5,000 baht per week. Once again, my wife questioned
me on why I was withdrawing so much money from our account. I told my wife that I would try to cut down on my spending. Of course this meant reducing the amount of money I gave to Fon each week. I started only giving her money for food and other
essentials on an as needed basis. This equated to about 2,000 baht per week. Fon was not happy about this and within a month of me paying the 10,000 baht release fee she was back working at the same bar again.

I had now not seen my wife in Canada for 3 months. The last time was when she had come to Thailand for a week during my second month here (before I met Fon). I decided to take a week’s leave and go back to Canada to see her. Fon knew
that I was going to visit my wife and saw me off from Bangkok airport. I gave her 7,000 baht and the key to my apartment.

Back in Canada, I called Fon several times a day. Often when I called she would not answer. When I called at night and she didn’t answer she would always claim to have been dancing in her bar. When I called during the daytime and she
didn’t answer she would say she had been sleeping. I now had many suspicions about Fon and I know my wife in Canada had many suspicions about me.

Back in Thailand, Fon and I lived together for the next 4 months. She would often put pressure on me to give her money even though she was still working in the bar. When she didn’t get her way she would either walk out and I wouldn’t
see her for a day or two, or she would get violent. On one occasion she trashed my apartment as she had seen me flirting with another girl in Soi Cowboy. Fortunately, no major damage was done. Another time, during an argument, she tried to stab
me with the broken end of a beer bottle. In hindsight, I should have just walked away – but I couldn’t do that. Despite the crazy things she did and knowing full well she was a prostitute, I really loved her and was convinced I could make
the relationship work.

One Saturday morning, I decided to go out for a haircut. I left Fon alone in my apartment. Shortly after I left, my wife called on the apartment landline. Fon picked up the phone, even though I had told her many times not to do so. She told
my wife everything. I received a call from my wife who was yelling and screaming at me and saying she wanted a divorce. There was nothing I could say to her to justify what I had done. I felt terrible and didn’t know what to do. Within
a week my wife had filed for divorce. I didn’t object as I knew the marriage could not be salvaged. In the end my wife did very well financially out of the divorce, which I hope in some way helped to compensate for the great deal of hurt
I caused her.

As a side note, I have since read that the divorce rate for farang-farang couples living in Thailand is around 70%. I don’t know if this statistic is accurate but I would guess it is not far off. For most farang men (married and unmarried),
living in Thailand really is like being a kid in a candy store for the first time.

I wasn’t angry with Fon for what she had done as I knew it was my own fault for starting the relationship with her in the beginning and for not having the sense to realise it would never work. In some ways it was a relief to have everything
out in the open. I knew I had to get Fon out of my life and start afresh. I asked her to move out. To my surprise she didn’t complain and moved out a few days later. I spoke to her a couple of times on the phone after that but never saw
her again. I know now that she was seeing several other guys while she was with me, which is no doubt the reason why she left so easily.

Fast forward 4 years to 2007: I am still living in Thailand. A few months after my break up with Fon I met another Thai girl, but this time, one with a proper job and education. We have now been together for 4 years.

In the last 4 years, I have been back to Soi Cowboy on only two occasions and hated it. The naughty nightlife in Bangkok just doesn’t fascinate me anymore.

The moral of my story: think very carefully before entering into a serious relationship with a bargirl, especially if you are already married. Relationships with bargirls very rarely work and generally take a huge amount of commitment, patience
and money to endure long-term. If you are going to try it, at least have the sense (unlike me) to take her out of, and well away from, the bar environment. Again, be very careful.

Stickman's thoughts:

A predictable end to the relationship. What I wondered about was the ease with which you barfined Fon in the first place. I thought you mind might have still been back with your wife – or perhaps your marriage was already in trouble before that happened?