The Old Farang/Thai Girl Debate
Just recently returned from a trip to England (family trip), and, having had an entertaining conversation with a 55 year old mate of my brother’s, my thoughts have now turned to the old “farang v Thai girl” debate. My recent email to Stick on this conversation was published on his site, but for those who missed it, I will briefly recap. Recently divorced, “Jack” was on the prowl, and had set his eyes on a voluptuous, large-assed 40-something female. Our discussion concluded with him agreeing that it would probably cost him around 8,000 baht in drinks and dinner to have a CHANCE of getting laid. I suggested a trip to Thailand may be in order, to which, offended, he retorted, “I will never pay for sex”! (And he’s still got the divorce negotiations to come!).
18 months ago, I visited a massage parlour that I know well in Patong (I’ve lived in Phuket for several years) and was introduced to “Nok”, a recent addition to the staff. (Very recent, as I’d been there only 3 days earlier). Not stunning, but attractive, with a great, natural smile (yeah, yeah, where have I heard and read that before?!), I decided to take a chance, much to the chagrin of one of my regulars there.
Great massage! BUT, no “extras”!! Ended up feeling like a first date in Farangland. So, the bill was paid, plus decent tip, and off I went for a stroll and a coffee. One hour later, I was back for a repeat – this had become a challenge!
Well, this time, part of my “hour” was spent in pleasant conversation with a naïve, unprepared 29 year old who had spent 3 weeks paying for, and learning to perform a reasonably good massage and hoped to earn sufficient to support herself and son purely from this profession.
Nok, as we shall see later, is, by Thai standards, well educated. Brought up by grandparents in the suburbs of Bangkok, and then university-educated in Udon Thani, she loves kids, and her great desire is (was) to teach. The Thai boyfriend and subsequent pregnancy put paid to this ambition and, inevitably, Patong beckoned…
I paid the equivalent of a barfine for a couple of days, showed her around Phuket, and, as these things sometimes develop, she moved in with me.
And so I get to the substance of my story. Nok is not the first Thai girl I’ve had a live-in relationship with, and I have, over the years, developed a healthy Stickman-like dose of cynicism, but this felt a bit different, and life was certainly very different from my days in the UK…
Firstly, in the early days, she ALWAYS put the toilet seat back UP after she used the loo! I quickly explained this was unnecessary, provided she didn’t start complaining when I didn’t put it back down after I had a piss!
One afternoon, whilst relaxing on the sofa, I asked her to turn the overhead fan on as she was walking past. Quick as a flash, she picked up the TV remote and pretended to turn the fan on, as she walked toward the switch…. since when, and purely in communal jest, that has become one of her nicknames. So, I’m in the shower, wet through, and realize there is no soap. The cry goes up…“REMOTE!” and the missing item will soon appear (she’s worked out location / action / need – I told you she’s intelligent!). This sounds awfully chauvinistic but does work both ways, I promise you.
Eating out. Whenever we’re somewhere that I’m unfamiliar with (Issan barbeques in Udon Thani spring to mind!), I will invariably leave her to order the food. In general I love Thai food and will try most things, but, obviously not everything appeals. It’s amazing, when out with Nok, that there’s always plenty of the dishes I enjoy, whilst she takes care of those less favoured by me!
I pay Nok, and I don’t have any qualms about this. Apart from the obvious, she cooks for me, cleans the house and generally takes care of me. She also, like many other Thai girls working in the “tourist” sector, sends money for her son’s upkeep. In some ways, I equate it with my own childhood. My mother, like most of her generation, never worked after getting married, and my father gave her a weekly allowance to cover housekeeping, child care etc.
Earlier this year I did the Issan trip I’ve always promised myself, and drove to Udon Thani – with a great deal of trepidation I may add. On the drive up, we were stopped for speeding no less than 4 times (guilty on each count, your honour!). The first time, outside Surat Thani I ended up paying 200 baht, (after which Nok spent 30 minutes complaining to me about police corruption). Outside Bangkok she got me off for nothing after suggesting she knew the police captain at the local nick. Third time, between Khon Kaen and Udon, she felt sorry for the guy and apologetically asked me to pay 100 baht and, finally, a few miles further on, she explained that we’d just been done, and we were waved through! (In UK, that would have been 12,000 baht and loss of license – but that’s a totally different debate, I do get pissed of with expats who continually moan about the corruption and lawlessness in Thailand whilst continuing to drive when pissed, smoke in air-con bars and are happy to make “pay offs” when it suits them).
I met her son, a really good 9 year old, and his foster parents, who turned out to be a couple of the nicest people I’ve met in Thailand. No pressure on me for money, no family standing in line for handouts, just nice, genuine Thais, who gave me a warm and undemanding welcome.
Nok has recently passed a set of exams, coming 6th out of 100+ entrants, and is now qualified to teach in a government school. She has been offered, and has accepted, a post at a school in Samut Prakan, a suburb of Bangkok. She starts this job at the beginning of November, and I have great admiration for this decision. Her salary will be approx. 9,000 baht, out of which she will need to pay rent (apartment already found at 4,000 baht), plus living expenses. I’m helping her out through the initial months, but beyond that, who’s to say. I’ve made a visit, and I have to say, to make the move would be akin to moving from Guernsey to Croydon, so will take some consideration. I admit that, after 8 years in Phuket, I’m ready for a change, but a move to Samut Prakan would be, at the very least, a major culture shock. It’s, now, probably 60-40 in favour of a change, but we will have to see….
What’s certain is that a return to western female culture is, for me, a total no-no.
Good on Nok for training hard to become a teacher. It's a secure job that will earn her a generous pension if she sticks with it. It's really good to see a Thai woman looking and thinking long-term!