A Letter To A Friend…
I recently returned from another trip to Thailand where I met two great Irish guys in Bangkok. I am 45 years old. The email below was sent by me in response to an email received from one of them following their first-time discovery of Thailand and sums up my feelings about Thailand and Thai girls.
Great to hear from you and thanks so much for the email, cheers. You have upped my withdrawals yet again! Just kidding, but it's true you have.
I envy you guys in a way. The first time experience of Thailand, the smells, the food, the culture, the sights and of course the wicked nightlife with those wonderful, unforgettable Thai girls leaves a long lasting impression that gets buried deep under your skin. It seems so out of this world and becomes impossible to shake off. This place is definitely like a drug to the system and courses through your veins daily, feeding constant urges to plan your next visit and it turns your life upside down to do anything to obtain your next fix. I understand how a drug addict might feel, I admit and I don't care, I am addicted.
I get a real sense of your feelings and emotions from your email. That you're feeling emptiness and struggling to come to terms with simply not being there anymore, the come down from the massive high and feel of the place is hard to forget and those initial withdrawals when arriving home are tough to take, but time will settle them but they will never completely leave you. But you're doing the same as I have always done, planning your next trip by the time you reach check-in on your way home.
Please don't feel bad about my failed marriage to a Thai lady, to be honest towards the end, for various reasons, I was massively relieved to finish it and have her back in her home country and out of my house. But those initial years with her, travelling the length and breadth of the country over several months together, including Laos, will stay with me all of my life.
Due to your mention of having a Thai girl with you in the UK I thought I'd give a brief history on my marriage to highlight certain potential issues. There is some relief in writing this down, so don't feel that you leant on me in any way to divulge, I am happy to do so. This is just so you can see what's possibly expected if you 'fall' for one of those beautiful Asian girls.
Her name was Gai and she was 12 years younger than me. She was not from a gogo bar but she worked in a shop where Nana Square shopping mall now stands. From the second we met in June 1998 we were almost inseparable, despite me being on what ultimately became a 16 month tour of the world, I spent about 10 months of it in Thailand, when the plan was only for one!
Things started out very well in the UK to begin with, once we finally got her a visa from the British Embassy in Bangkok (third attempt) and I met her at Heathrow, we were so excited. She settled in and made a concerted effort to adjust to the total opposite of cultures here in Farangland from what she was used to, not easy at all for her. My parents and sister welcomed her immediately and did everything to make her feel part of the family from the second she arrived. Her command of the English language was reasonable, but it always meant she'd never get a job customer or client facing in any way as it was always obvious that she was a 'foreigner' and she struggled to understand some words, but she held two jobs here for around 18 months following lengthy and continued college courses for computers and English (EFL) and she passed everything she studied for, some with distinction. I also did everything I could to help her and helped with all the above for her, ensured her extended visa applications were correct and applied for and helped her through all the red tape that litters the English law and sheer existence here, including becoming a British citizen. She now holds a British passport too. Those legal matters were a very tiring and weary process for both of us over the years.
She was a fantastic cook, great housewife and with no shortage of boom-boom, I could never have wished for more. But imagine life from her perspective, a matter I attempted to give maximum consideration to at all times. Feeling caged, trapped, the cold climate with its heavy clothes, language issues, limited availability of her preferred foods, no Thai speakers for conversation, no Thai TV or radio and minimal Thai literature. Being immersed totally and absolutely into a foreign land, language, culture and people, something the Thai educational system and media could never have prepared her for. Ultimately frustrations mounted up and arguments and tensions began do develop, however understandable they were they were difficult to live with almost daily. Tensions were endured for several years and misunderstandings over simple things would easily turn into arguments and it's almost impossible to translate the subtleties and nuances required in a relationship regarding security, honesty, faithfulness etc. Being out in public or social gatherings with her often accompanied thoughts in others that she was either acquired from a catalogue or otherwise obtained through the naughty nightlife scene in Bangkok, commonly by women or guys who had never been, this is something that I almost always carried and felt stigmatised with, despite strong efforts to bury it.
It might sound uncaring now to say this, but I don't really miss her. I felt trapped and now massively relieved that it is behind me, the weight off my shoulders was and is immense. Maybe I was never the marrying type anyway and got drawn into Thailand and the women, like a moth to the flame. Those things I'm sure you can totally understand having now experienced it first hand yourself.
My words to you and Steve would be to take care and think carefully about any situation involving a long distance relationship with a Thai girl and about what is happening. Bee is an exceptionally gorgeous girl and great fun, a real cracker, but the reality is she's a gogo girl working in one of the most notorious organized bar complexes in the world. But the advice is to never ever send money to them once you are back home, certainly not at this early stage of a relationship. Right now maintain email contact if desired, but resist all hints or requests, however subtle, to send funds over to her. Keep contact so you can plan to meet up again next visit (I do that occasionally), but don't forget that a long distance show of desire from a Thai girl is commonly her managing and protecting her own interests, which is all ultimately for financial reasons. Don't forget (possibly painful and excuse me for saying) but the chances of her having more than one farang potentially subsidising her income from afar is possible, if not likely. Hopefully it is nothing more than friendship and perhaps Bee keeping a 'hook' into Steve is to ensure that he remains her 'friend' when he returns to Thailand. This is most likely the case and that he doesn't butterfly around with other girls and will be dedicated to her on his return. The problem with this is that we often want to be butterflies and Thai girls have a way of exploding when face is lost or things don't go their way.
It can be a cruel world and Thailand is no exception. It could be argued these girls have been dealt a cruel hand. Poverty is a big problem in Isaan (North Eastern Thailand) where most of these girls from. They end up in the bars of Bangkok and Pattaya and there are parents, kids, a buffalo and a long list of (lazy) brothers and various other relations to feed. But they know exactly how to make us feel better than we've ever felt in our lives, pulling the right strings (usually heart) and they have amazing skills in manipulating western guys to fulfil their own needs, again financial, for them and their families. Numerous tales of woe scatter the Stickman website, where guys desperately try to convince themselves again and again that "she's different from those other girls". She may be, but keep an eye open for those warning signals. Damn those girls, damn them, they are so cute, lovable and addictive, it's by no means easy at all. In fact one of the hardest things to do is to resist the temptations of a beautiful adoring Thai girl, but keep feet firmly on the ground, however hard, and that's not just girls from bars and a gogo bars, that’s all Thai girls.
I don't mean to preach and in no way is the above for one second any insult, slant or in any other way shape or form meant to be derogatory towards Steve or Bee. I have been there myself (post marriage) and I fight to maintain control. It's tough but it must be done and I'm glad I manage to do it these days. ‘Touch wood’.
I'm still currently without work, but things can turn around over-night. Finances fortunately are such that it's not a worry for a while yet, though I am keen to find work as soon as possible, because it hurts to spend money simply existing in England that could be better spent on an extended trip to Thailand.
Good luck to both of you with everything you do. I reckon with effort you and Steve can work things out to allow yourselves to be there at the end of the year. I know I will. My social life here in the UK is pretty much put on hold for the duration and my thoughts are solely for future time spent in the Land of Smiles and I am prepared to sacrifice 'fun' here at home for those short-lived intense days and nights and the addictive buzz Thailand offers. To say I am obsessed with Thailand makes me sound like I've been sucked in by an over-powering force. Like a drug addict, it's a fact I have been. But I've been divorced for almost 2 years and in my life I have never experienced anything or anywhere like Thailand. I doubt I could ever feel the way Thailand makes me feel doing anything else or being anywhere. I don't want anything else. I just want to be there. I'm hooked.
Try explaining that to someone who's never been and it's impossible. You will understand exactly where I am coming from because you've been there and tasted it first hand, but be warned, I have spent well over a year in Thailand overall in numerous trips and I cannot even begin to shake it off or have any inclination or desire to do so. I want to be there again so bad it hurts. I read the new updates on Stickman almost daily.
By all means forward this email to Steve. I didn't send it to him directly as I wasn't sure if you thought my comments about Bee were inappropriate.
Do please keep in touch, would be great to maybe one day share a few beers in Nana Plaza with you both again, hopefully Xmas / New Year. I thoroughly enjoyed your company and you made my last few days in Thailand memorable, the afternoon at the pool chatting with you guys and Bee being a particularly fond memory.
Take care both of you.
Chok dee krab
You have really got the Thailand bug.
Don't ever move to Thailand….because I don't think anyone who lives in country can maintain that same passion for it that you have!