Diary Of A Newbie
A few weeks ago, a work colleague indicated his desire to come to Thailand for the first time and asked me for a few helpful pointers. I told him that Thailand was a great place to visit, particularly if it was the first time, however, being a newbie, he’d need to keep his wits about him otherwise he’d be an easy target for the scams and rip offs that abound in that fair land.
My friend, Joe, had the standard profile of a newbie: mid fifties, recently separated from his western wife and looking for a bit of female companionship. I thought it would be interesting to keep track of his movements to see what pit falls he fell into during his first visit here. Essentially, it was a bit like an experiment with a lab rat: take one newbie, with the social mores of the western world (honesty, integrity, decency) and drop him into the un-transparent world of Bangkok.
While we were still at work – and before he’d even set foot in Thailand – Joe told me that he’d met a Thai lady over an internet dating site and was keeping in contact with her. He told me that she was a ‘good girl’, that she was thirty years of age and that she worked in a beauty salon somewhere off Sukhumvit Road. I advised him to be careful because there was a high percentage chance that she was a freelancer. When he asked why, I said that most freelancers only use free internet dating sites, such as the one he was using, because they weren’t really serious and wouldn’t spend any of their own money in finding gullible foreigners to meet and milk. A real ‘good girl’ would, more than likely, use a site in which membership / join up fees were required. I also said that working in a beauty salon was the standard type of part time work that a freelancer could do when things weren’t going so well in the ‘tricks’ department or an occupation, a girl who was approaching her use by date, could move onto if she hadn’t found a farang to support her.
He assured me that he was being careful and that he’d keep in mind what I’d told him. A day or two later, he made his first tactical blunder. He started exchanging text messages on his cell phone using his primary number. This was his international number that he used worldwide for keeping in contact with employers and friends. I told him that was not a good idea because she now had access to him before he’d even arrived in Thailand.
A couple of days later, the first red flag went up; and he was still to step foot in Thailand for the first time. Joe was due to depart the jobsite in a couple of weeks. Before arriving in Bangkok though he had to make a detour to Singapore to pick up some paperwork from the office. Unwittingly, he advised the lady of his movements. He received a text message back which was something along these lines ‘so, are you going to take a lady in Singapore before you come to see me’. I advised him right then and there to break off all communication with her because her message, as far as I was concerned, was a very big red flag. When he asked why, I said that a real ‘good girl’ would never mention something like that because it would be considered rude to do so, or, she simply would have no knowledge that there’s a P4P (pay for pleasure) scene in Singapore. The fact that this girl has mentioned it indicates that she knows something about the P4P scene there or, more than likely, she’s got first-hand knowledge of it. In my opinion she wasn’t a ‘good girl’, she was a freelancer and he should take note of that.
A few days later we both left the jobsite. I told Joe to contact me when he arrived in Thailand.
We met up in Bangkok and once again, against my best advice, he’d continued making tactical blinders which, ever so surely, had this girl reeling him in. I’d advised him to be careful, simply because he knew nothing about the lady in question. I told him that he should follow these simple steps:
· Don’t tell her when he’s arriving in Thailand (he did and she wanted to come out to the airport to pick him up). That way he can book into a hotel and have a few days to himself checking out the fleshpots before contacting her.
· When he does contact her, make an arrangement to meet her at a neutral venue so that he can see what kind of person she really is. Under no circumstances should he let her know what hotel he’s staying at.
· Buy a cheap phone and a local SIM card and use that number for contacting the ladies. He’d already blown that by giving the lady in question his international primary number and, to make matters worse, she’d bought him a local SIM card which meant that she now had two lines of contact to him.
We met up in the lobby of a well known Bangkok hotel for a coffee. He had her in tow and, from what he told me, she’d been with him from his first day in Thailand. Once again the classic case of a newbie falling for the first Thai lady that smiled nicely at him. I couldn’t believe it. She was, to put it bluntly, very ordinary and a guy with his bearing and financial status could have done a whole lot better if he’d simply shown a bit of patience.
Since arriving he’d been out to no bars or night clubs. She’d been with him constantly and was a step away from moving into the apartment that he’d taken a long term rent on. I engaged her in a casual conversation in English. This was another red flag. A so called good girl who works in a Thai oriented beauty salon just wouldn’t have knowledge of English to the level that she could speak and understand. I sat there and watched her and within a few minutes I was fairly convinced she was just another conniving freelancer. If you’ve spent enough time around Thai bar girls / prostitutes you start to pick up on a lot of their contrived antics, or mannerisms, and that’s what I was seeing; the body language tells you a lot.
We decided to go and get something to eat and I suggested the seafood restaurants on soi 7. Joe thought that would be a good idea but the look on his Thai lady's face was something akin to being told that a relative had died. We moved off towards soi 7 and as we approached the corner on Sukhumvit Joe told me that his lady didn’t want to go the seafood restaurants so we were now going to another restaurant on Soi 11. To me, this was another red flag. It was clear that my suggestion to go to Soi 7 had unnerved her and she’d slyly maneuvered to go elsewhere to avoid, no doubt, the possibility of being recognized by one of her professional colleagues that ply their trade at the Biergarten. The more I looked at her the more I could see an over the hill freelancer, with one child (where was the Thai father), who was looking for a financial life line.
The following day Joe told me that he’d got a bit of time to himself and that he planned to check out a couple of night clubs in Bangkok. When I asked him what his lady was up to he told me that she was busy doing something with the family and that he was free for the night. Apparently, just as he was getting ready to go out, at about ten thirty pm, she called him to see what he was doing. When he told her that he was going to a night club, she immediately told him that she wanted to see him and that she was coming over to his apartment. Once again the classic case of a conniving freelancer protecting her interests; she knew that if Joe was to go out alone and pick up a young hottie, she would be quickly relegated to the scrap heap of notches on the belt. This is what desperate old hookers are good at; controlling the movements of naïve newbies and boxing them into a corner.
The next morning his lady phoned and asked him if he would like to meet her daughter. Another situation in which a newbie is being softened up for the kill; getting him used to the idea that she’s got a child that needs supporting – something which is never revealed during the first couple of meetings, or at least not revealed until after she’s shagged him a couple of times to make him more relaxed about the idea when she finally mentions it. Joe thought there was no harm in it so he says ‘yeah, no problems’. Within the space of an hour she’s standing on his door step with the daughter; it was only 9 AM – Joe had agreed thinking that it would happen at a convenient time later in the day. Once again he’d been sucked in to another situation at which conniving bar girls are very good at; arriving unannounced, or dropping something on you with very little notice so that you’re put in an awkward situation which makes saying no difficult. In these situations it’s the newbie (read the farang) that’s always inconvenienced and never the Thai bar girl / prostitute. Instead of saying no and sticking to his original plan of having a coffee and then going to the gym, he had to rush around and get himself ready for a day out, at his expense, at MBK with his lady and her child because it was Thai children’s day. At the time, Joe probably thought that it was all off the cuff, by her, and not planned (and pigs might fly). In the afternoon, Joe finally put some steel in his spine and said no when she asked him if he wanted to head off into the afternoon traffic jam, on Sukhumvit, to go to her apartment on soi one hundred and something.
The next day his lady asked him if he wanted to meet her family; this was becoming all too predictable. The only consolation was that the family was in Bangkok; he wouldn’t have to endure a twelve hour bus ride up to Nakhon Nowhere. I called him later in the day to ask how things went and was told that he got to meet most of the family but he’d started to realize that things were beginning to get a bit out of control. I advised him to take a step back and take stock of the situation; he’d been in the country barely ten days and was now being viewed as a potential suitor. Even if he didn’t think so, that was the way they saw it. She would keep chipping away at his defenses until, before he even realized it, a marriage was being arranged. With a marriage arrangement will come a request for a large sum of money for the honor of marrying their worn out, beer bar daughter that no Thai man, other than a motorbike taxi driver, would marry. Joe calmly said ‘well that’s just not going to happen’. I told him, for his sanity's sake, I hoped he’d make sure it wouldn’t. I told him that he’s going to have a hard time getting rid of her now because she knows where he’s living and he’s taken out long term rent. If he moves to another area he’ll lose his deposit; another situation where a Thai bar girl / prostitute has a direct link in a guy losing money unnecessarily.
I then gave him the run down on what will happen next; she’s going to try the sympathy angle. He asked me what that meant. I told him that it will be the sick buffalo story only it will be a little bit more of a sophisticated version of this because the family is living in Bangkok and not on a rice farm in Isaan. This is how it will go: one day your teerak will not seem herself; she will appear to be in a bad mood, silent or not talking with you. You will be concerned about her feelings and will ask her what the problem is. Eventually something, accompanied by tears, will be blurted out along the lines of ‘her mother needs to go to hospital for an expensive operation and they don’t have the money’. You’ve already met the family and you’ve eaten a meal at the family home; you think they are nice people, generous and honest. You will feel sorry for her and for some strange reason offer to fork out the 200,000 baht, or more probably, that’s needed to help poor old mama. Of course, it’s all an act; just part of a scheme to have him part with his hard earned cash.
Joe then asked me how I could know all this. I told him that, once you’ve lived here for a while, you can see things for what they really are. I told him his lady had already raised too many red flags and it was only a matter of time before he started to understand what was really going on. He told me that she never asks for money. I replied that is probably because she is looking at you as a long term proposition with a large pay off further down the line.
Joe called me a couple of days later and told me that he’d thrown her out of his apartment. When I asked him why he told me that a lot of what I’d told him had finally sunk in but the straw that really broke the camel's back was catching her out ‘red handed’. It seems that she was in his apartment checking her emails, while she thought Joe was still in the bathroom. Joe told me that he crept up on her and looked over her shoulder and saw emails from two other punters in her inbox. He elbowed her aside and opened one and saw that there was an earlier reply from her telling this fool how much she loved him and how she was really looking forward to staying with him when he arrived in Thailand. To make matters worse, the email had been sent from Joe’s computer four days earlier.
Joe called me earlier today and told me that he’d be following my guidelines from now on; freelancers / bar girls / prostitutes would be a strictly short time proposition. He said he was heading down to Soi Cowboy tonight.
I wonder how long the ruse would have gone for if he had not been so well-informed by you?