The Changing Bar Scene
I agree with your slant on the bar scene which in fact is an opinion you will find that most long term visitors or expats hold. Those new to the kingdom see the scene and cannot believe that it could have been any better and put down the idea's of the old timers to nostalgia.
In truth the scene has changed though it is arguable that there were more and prettier girls. I personally think every beer bar had one or two stunners rather than the occasional beer bar stunner who is a "roper" and not allowed to go with customers till midnight or so. This is a personal opinion but what is fact is that when you took a girl your problem wasn't them getting a call because their friend had no keys or similar excuses to cut short the engagement. Your problem was getting rid of her in the morning! You never heard the phrase I go short time only or indeed I not go with farangs. If you took a girl for a while she would be cleaning your room, clothes etc. I haven't heard of girls turning down payment recently either but it used to happen when the girl had enough money and she simply wanted to hang out and party.
Though there did use to be some girls working in the bars with Thai boyfriends, was a secret kept from the boss and all but their closest friends. It was never as prevalent as it is today!
I am not saying that it was paradise for there was the occasional rip off merchant or girl using drugs on a customer, the difference being that she then had to look out not only for the police but for her former co-workers who were incensed by her actions. If it did happen, the bar owner or the girls themselves would make sure with the occasional 20 baht for noodles or money for a room that they could survive on until money was sent from home. I even know one bar which allowed a couple of these victims to run a slate.
Girls I know who have had to re-enter the bar industry agree that it is not the same as before.
I personally ascribe the change not so much to the westernisation of Thailand but to the Internet. Message boards describing the wonders of Thailand – friendly people, great food and scenery <Where is the great scenery? For great scenery, think New Zealand, Switzerland, much of the UK, parts of the US…not Thailand! – Stick> places to go and have fun and included the bar scene were read and only the prices for sex were understood. So more and more people came just for the girls, rather like going to a fine restaurant and instead of enjoying a whole meal just having the dessert.
Changing the subject slightly as to "rescuing" a girl from the bar scene. Now rather than before I think it actually is part of the same changing attitude that Thailand is undergoing. Whereas before mama and papa would be officially horrified at what their good looking daughter was doing in Bangkok or Pattaya and could tell their neighbours that she was working in a 7 Eleven, now they put them on the bus with instructions to farm farangs! This allows them and their sons to stop the backbreaking work on the farm and sit back and wait for the money to roll in from their daughters / sisters.
A case in point. A few years ago I had this literally traffic stopping attractive live-in and I do mean this. If I was with her I stopped looking when crossing the road as I knew the drivers would certainly be noticing her. Both her sisters were in the bar scene and after a few months the money I gave her wasn't enough. Actually I could have given her more but wanted to see which way she would jump. Anyhow, she accused me wrongly, of butterflying as it happened, and left. I went to the Philippines and by the time I returned she was working in a bar. After 2 weeks she was a hardened bargirl who hated having to go with farang but happy about the money she was earning. All the bar girl tricks were tried on me.
The only way to keep her out of the bar was to go see the parents and discuss sin sot. The trip was duly made but luckily I was thinking with my big head rather than my little head. By this stage most of my feelings for her had gone but I didn't want her to screw up her life. Papa was a little surprised that I didn't want to pay a 300k sin sot for her and I countered with a 9,999 baht offer pointing out in front of the 20 or so Thais who had turned up for the negotiations and food and drink that went with it, that she already had a Thai boyfriend and she was working in a bar.
Normally of course I would not have done anything like this but he had caused me loss of face with such a silly demand that some reality had to be injected. Needless to say negotiations didn't go too well after this! Their demand that sin sot was a Thai thing didn't respond well to my logic. I agreed that it was a Thai thing so logically I should pay a Thai price!
After our return to Pattaya, papa put a 3 month limit on it with the understanding that she would return to the bar. I countered this with an offer to support her for 6 years, 3 to finish her schooling and 3 for university. For this all she had to do was stay away from the bars. I would even give her enough to send to her family on a level that she was on before where she worked in a factory, not her 2-week stint in a bar. A few days later I caught her sending texts to one of her customers and kicked her out.
It would be nice to say the story ended there. She learned from the way she treated me and found a nice guy to settle down with. Sadly not… She graduated to gogo bars and didn't have a lack of customers because, as I said, her looks were stunning. Something was missing from her that internal spark. The happiness she carried inside her was gone. Both her sisters had settled down and were out of the bar scene, one with an old farang of limited means and the other even worse, with a Thai bloke so the family finances fell mostly to her.
I next encountered her about a year later. I was sitting at a burger bar and next to me was a farang going on to his Thai girl, asking her all the questions about feelings and you just know that he's being played. Poor sod but none of my business. Imagine my surprise when he got up to leave and I could see that his Thai girlfriend was indeed the same lady still trying and not succeeding in her old bargirl tricks.
Fast forward another year or so. She's not working the gogos and has been missing for a while. She turns up but at a beer bar. She can't go with farangs as she has had internal problems. Not sure what they were but her belly has this big scar
you see from some Thai hospitals.
She isn't that successful though still attractive. She likes to drink way too much. She also has an attitude and likes to hang out drinking with her friends and will tell the customer when she wants to see him. Maybe she could have got away with this when she was a top gogo stunner but times have changed. She can't even have full sex since it's too painful for her.
The last I heard of her was ironically about the time she would have been ready to start university. If she had taken my deal and had given up the bar she could have returned to the village since she wouldn't need to make any money. Her one hope was a guy who it wasn't sure if he would return to Thailand, let alone travel to the village to see her.
I appreciate it that you understand my take on the bar scene, its deterioration and the fact that it is not what it once was.
The story of your lady friend is sad. Some of these women do suffer sexual and other physical issues. We will never know the incidences of STDs and other related physical problems, but I bet many women go through periods where they have (possibly multiple) STDs and do not know – and may perhaps even be cured when they are given antibiotics for another issue. Remember, Thai doctors, especially those in corner clinics, seem to see antibiotics as a cure all!
Sometimes the girl is greedy and sometimes her family is greedy. But for sure, while there is a lot of short-term fun to be had, you have to keep it all in perspective.