A TLL Experience
I've been a regular reader of your weekly column for some years, a near full-time resident of BKK for the past two, and a regular visitor to Thailand for a few years prior to that. For perspective in what I'm about to relate, I'm in my early 50's. I don't drink, go to bars, or patronize prostitutes; nor do I pass any judgment on people who enjoy doing those things.
Thanks in part to some of the stuff I've read in your column over the years plus what I've learned from experience, I consider myself to be pretty street-wise about women here. I sometimes use the Thai Love Links website to meet women. Although in the past I've culled some decent no-strings sex from that site, nowadays I agree to meet only women I think might be good for a long-term relationship, as that's what I really want.
My instincts about who to trust and who not to trust have always been reliable–up until today. I logged on to TLL a couple of mornings ago and a 27-year-old woman opened a chat window. After a few minutes of chattting she asked to meet me. We made a date for tonight and exchanged phone numbers. She phoned me and we talked for a few minutes. When she suggested meeting at the BTS station near where I live, I thought "how convenient," but didn't think anything more of it.
I checked the Internet for any references of her. She has a wholesome, credible Internet presence: a hi5 and a Facebook account, each with a fair number of photos, mostly with friends, and a few of her with older farang men.
We were to meet at 6:30 this evening. I am accustomed to Thai women who show up late or not at all without phoning, but she phoned in the afternoon to confirm the date and again at 6:10 to let me know she had arrived at the meeting place. "How considerate," I thought, but thought nothing more of it.
She was as attractive as her photos, though slightly heavier, dressed in normal office attire. I took her to a nice Thai restaurant in the neighborhood for dinner. She was a good conversationalist–pleasant, smiling, and good-humored. I was surprised at how good her English was, but I didn't think anything of it. Thinking of the photos of her with farang men on the Internet, I asked her if she socialized with farang a lot. She replied that I was the first one she'd gone out with, except for her previous boyfriend who was luk-krung (half and half) Thai/Australian. Her denial raised a bit of a red flag for me, but at the same time I could understand why she would answer that way.
I had not assumed the evening would lead to sex, but I asked her if she wanted to see where I live. She quickly answered yes. After dinner we went to 7-11 and got beer for her then headed back to my apartment, all less than ten minutes of walking. Although sex on the first date is pretty much the norm with the women on TLL, at that time I was already thinking that she's a nice girl with whom I would be content to take things slowly.
So it kind of surprised me after about fifteen minutes inside my apartment (with no forwardness on my part) when she asked for a towel and a shirt so she could take a shower. I was quick to provide them. "Wow!" I thought, but didn't think anything more. She came back out wearing my shirt and asked me if I wanted to take a shower. Sure, I agreed.
Now this is the part of a first date when I'm always a bit nervous. If I make it obvious that I'm being very protective of my wallet, etc., I could damage the trust factor in a potentially good relationship. But if I don't take precautions, I could easily get ripped off by a clever, dishonest woman. I grabbed a shirt to change into and started, fully clothed, toward the bathroom.
"You don't have to be so shy," she said. "You're a man." I didn't think anything of it. I saw that she had draped her dress over a towel bar in the bathroom, so I knew she wasn't going anywhere while I was in the shower. I left my trousers, wallet in the pocket, on the bed.
After I showered, she seemed eager to get started. More eager, in fact, than any other woman I've ever been with. She seemed in a hurry to finish, and for me to finish as well. During sex, I noticed a strong cigarette smoke odor in her hair, even though she said she'd been at work in an office all day. She mentioned a couple of times that she had to get home soon. She was the first Thai woman I've ever been with who didn't want any foreplay beforehand or closeness afterward. But I didn't dwell on any of that.
She hurriedly got dressed while we bantered about seeing each other during the weekend. She didn't want a taxi, so I walked her to the BTS. When I got back home, I undressed. And–as I do at the start of every day and at the end of every day–I took out my wallet to check how much money I had in it.
Exactly three 1000-baht notes were missing. As I had been to the ATM earlier in the afternoon, I knew to the satang how much I should have had. When I paid the bill at the restaurant, I had the correct amount. When I bought her beer at 7-11, I had the correct amount. No doubt about it. The only chance for money to go missing was while I was in the shower and my trousers were on the bed. The interesting thing is that there was one 1000-baht note still there, so that if I had glanced quickly at the contents of my wallet (which contained other denominations as well) I might not have noticed anything amiss.
I probably should have let it go, but I sent her an SMS: "You weren't worth that much." To my great surprise, she phoned, "wondering" what I was talking about. Mindful of not directly accusing, I told her that I was missing 3000 baht and asked her if she had noticed any time during the evening when I could have lost it.
Immediately she got defensive, assuming that I was accusing her of taking the money, and denying it. Even though that pretty much convinced me that she was the culprit, I backed out of the conversation by explaining that I wasn't accusing her, that I was just trying to figure out what had happened.
In retrospect, there were several little warning signs, which I passed over. As I write this, I actually almost feel lucky that repeatedly ignoring a whole series of little red flags only cost me 3000 baht. She could have easily grabbed my credit cards or any of a number of other valuable things in full view. But I think her strategy was to take money only, just enough so that I would not notice any missing until after she'd left.
In your weekly column you've made a number of references to the fact that some Thais are getting a bit more desperate in these tough times. My experience confirms that. It also shows that in these changing times, even a fairly experienced Westerner can have his discerning judgment fail him if he doesn't heed even the most subtle signs of irregularity.
A lot of my mates play the TLL game and they are getting plenty of "action". Sure, they have all mentioned a few crazies they have met but this is the first time I have heard of someone actually being ripped off. Here's hoping it serves as a warning to others to be careful.