Stickman Readers' Submissions December 22nd, 2008

Thoughts On Mr. Canada

The Thai economy and tourism in general.

Just a brief note on your piece a few weeks ago about the acutely immature guy who wanted you to find 'his' lady… I realise you are quite au fait with what I say but I thought you deserved a little support.

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Surely in all cultures (apart from highly repressive societies) human nature is such that shortly after puberty we all take an interest in the opposite sex (or in some other sex…) and by the time we've finished with being teenagers we have learnt that not every lady we encounter, and apparently fall in love with, reciprocates our own feelings – and we learn to move on.

Anybody who reaches 25 without learning this is fundamentally immature or naive (much the same thing in this case) and still needs to grow up! I do realise that the later this process is left, the harder it is to accomplish but it still has to be acknowledged.

Secondly, when two people meet and fall in love (however you wish to define the term) it doesn't necessarily last for ever – people don't necessarily change but our opinions can change as we find out more about our lovers – so if one partner decides they no longer 'love' the other, and wish to end the relationship, the other person is powerless to prevent it.

Either both parties are in love or neither is – if one person is not in love the other is merely infatuated. It cannot be love because love has to be mutually reciprocated – with trust and respect on both sides.

So, as you realise, without me going on about it, if your client wishes to find a lady who doesn't wish to be found he has to give up. If he cannot get over it he is too immature to be in any relationship, which might be why he is over here in the first place… and thereby hangs another tale. I just wanted to support your own view that this guy was never going to find satisfaction in this matter and you could put yourself in a position of some danger if you succumb to the entreaties of such sad characters and agree to meet them.


Your sensitive and passionate piece about 'Mr Canada' almost forces me to put pen to paper…

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There are many aspects of this, and other, stories that always seem to baffle me but your apparent conclusion that most of the blame goes to 'Marvin' is not quite how I see it. In reality apportioning blame rarely achieves much but I would be inclined to do so here by offering 45% to the wife, 35%, or more, to the husband and only 20%, or less, to the third tip of the triangle.

When I came here twelve years ago there was no internet that might have opened my eyes so it continues to amaze and appal me now that so many guys still arrive here as blind as I did. That they marry too quickly (as I also did) still surprises me but that they then sell up everything back home and move out here within months is too absurd for words – this I never did. It had nothing to do with being ignorant of Thai customs but simply an awareness of not burning your boats… This is not a recent concept so I rather despair when guys give up so much, so quickly, for what sadly often turns out to be so little (with apologies to Mr Churchill…).

Specifically to Mr Canada you talk about his life-savings that have been sunk into this Isaan house. Six million baht is a pathetically paltry sum as life-savings but even so one has to ask why did he sink the entire sum into the house? How did he expect to live for the rest of his life with no more capital? Did he know this price up front, or was he conned as the price later rose?

One is also entitled to ask what sort of 'palace' is he building… Six years ago I built a smallish, all-timber, house in Korat for 395,790 baht – inc. buying the land, drilling two wells and laying on electricity. The locals thought I was daft to spend so much on a timber house when I could have saved at least 100,000 baht by building a 'nice modern concrete' structure…

In the past year I have met three farangs who have built such concrete jobs in Isaan, 2/3 bedrooms, for over two million baht. Personally I think they were done… I suspect the locals all took their cut… so, I still ask, what sort of 'palace' was Mr Canada building – or has he been badly conned. In Hua Hin you can buy a nice villa (if you like that sort of thing) for the same amount of money (most of which goes to the developers' extortionate pocket…) so… in Isaan… who is conning whom…??

Look at it cynically for a brief moment. The lady wants to get through university but can't afford it. She finds someone who is only too happy to finance her. Then he agrees to marry her, for 200,000 baht sin sot (no small sum, as you always wisely remind us…) and her family is now happy as well. Then they are amazed when he 'offers' to liquidate all his assets back home and give the proceeds to his wife, to build a house the like of which nobody in that area has seen. And then this provider of golden eggs becomes barren, to the surprise of all (although why is Mr Canada surprised… didn't he see it coming…!?). The perceived Thai/Isaan wisdom (and taught in schools, to my knowledge) is that not only are farangs rich but their bank accounts never dry up…

Now everything goes 'topsy-toivy' and the wife, and her family, wonder what's occurring. But the house isn't finished so nobody rocks the boat as they all sit back patiently to await new funds. When these don't arrive things change… as you say: 'Subtle changes, but changes nonetheless.' First, while the guy apparently does nothing (was he really prepared, and expecting, to be looked after by her for the rest of his life…? Where in the world is that likely to happen, for goodness sake!?), the lady looks elsewhere for her future. And why not…? This one hasn't turned out as she expected. Something has changed and she didn't change it…! That she moves into a life of intrigue and deception should surprise none of us. But what's this '34 baht per diem'… all about? When I was looking after my wife, and she wasn't working, she would have killed me rather than accept 34 baht /day. No Thai lady would accept such a miserly attitude so why did Mr Canada think this was the basis of a happy marriage…? He may be a very nice guy but he's twice her age, his life has reached October/November and hers is still in April. I can understand how us old guys can be attracted to these young ladies but why are some of us so easily flattered and led stupidly astray – crying all the way to the bank…? Why!?

Now, to top it all, the 'cabaret' arrives. How? Did the wife summon them? I hardly think it likely they would come to commiserate with him of their own accord… Perhaps they came to find out just what was going on, and just why the house wasn't being finished off. Of course they would have been prepared to look after him – until the house was finished, and they no longer needed him lying around, making the place untidy. And have you never seen crocodile tears in Thailand…? I'm just not convinced by this pantomime.

Finally… the wife finds a new prospect. Someone who can take care of her, without her having to work, who can pay (even if he doesn't know it) for the house to be finished, for the benefit of her family, and so, apparently without a word of farewell, she flounces out the door. The guy is devastated and hasn't a clue what to do. The lover perhaps knows little or nothing about his girlfriend's marital status, probably having been told: "My husband, him bad man. Maak maak! Him not give money him promise. Now my family have unfinished house. Him bad man." The lover never met the husband and only knows what he's been told and, in my view, none of this is his problem. If it wasn't him she would have looked for another.

And then, out of the blue, An Inspector Calls (good movie…). Nobody wants this. The lover tells the lady to deal with it. She tells her family about a 'hit-man' (being common Thai practice it is probable that she fabricated this story, using stuff she knows about) and everything comes to a head.

The 'truth' could be anywhere between these two extremes but ultimately I'm inclined to feel that us farangs have to take far more responsibility (blame?) for these incidents and not always look at it from our own perspectives, and blame others. It is not enough for anybody to enter into a marriage/relationship/partnership, anywhere in the world, without looking carefully at all the aspects and not just automatically accepting what we are told. Whether you are the one who is told your partner will look after you ("I take care you…") or the one who believes their partner will take care of them ("I have much money…") both people have to be careful of being misguided or even being led astray – deliberately or unwittingly. Every time a farang opens his wallet and reveals more money than his companion could earn in a month or two it is assumed he has lots more where that came from. That this might be all the money he has saved in the previous eleven months for this holiday just isn't understood by the ladies he will meet in Thailand.

Whenever I meet 'new' guys in town, and only if they ask, I only ever offer three pieces of advice. First, fabricate some little ruse to upset the lady – it is essential to also see her cross and not always smiling. Second, do nothing quickly, and never anything impulsively. Third, do not sell up everything back home.

Stickman's thoughts:

Excellent pieces of advice in the final paragraph.

I have to say that in the early days I used to almost always see the woman as being the one in the wrong but when I look more closely I see that the guy often stuffs things up himself…and has a lot to answer for the predicament he finds himself in…

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