Feelings of “Duality” in LOS
Quite a number of years ago, in my foolish “New Age” mode of thinking, I belonged to a school for metaphysics, based in London. Two years of full-time study brought me to the subject of “duality” and I mention this to draw the difference between “duality” in the metaphysical sense and “duality” with regard to feelings / thoughts that result in a dichotomy for the mind to try and resolve. Perhaps there is some overlap in definition for both forms – the common element being the term “illusion” and you can certainly get a full measure of that when one applies it to the bar / go-go scene in Thailand. I have heard Thailand referred to as “a 'Disneyland' that never closes” but I could not be so uncharitable as to hold that opinion <smile> – although I can appreciate why this simile is used by some old hands.
Several of my Farang friends here in Australia are married to Thai ladies who live here and the overwhelming message that comes through in conversation with them (although they love their wives) is one of cynicism and resentment toward the family back in Thailand and their inability to come to terms with the fact that they will never be able to impose their Western values on a Thai. This really gets up their hooters but it gives me a fair amount of amusement to see them banging their heads against the wall. We all know the rules of engagement in courting and marrying an Asian woman so I say “don't marry or enter into a long-term relationship unless you accept that this support for family is a prerequisite and you are happy with it.” To approach it with any other attitude is a sure-fire recipe for frustration and possible disaster. I should point out here that at least two of the Farang friends of which I speak are married to “mainstream” Thai ladies and they are truly lovely women with good hearts, coming from good backgrounds. What the husbands find most aggravating are the expectations by young adult male Thais (wife’s offspring) that they will be “bailed-out” when things go pear-shaped due to their excesses of overspending and their propensity to sit or lie idly around the house for most of the day watching television while the parents are content to allow this to continue. I say “don't blame the boys – it is part and parcel of the parenting role that many Thai women see as their duty. The young men are never made to accept responsibility for life or for sharing the workload. If you want to blame anyone, let it be the passive parental allowance extended by mothers (and fathers more so, if they are still around) that permits this to continue. They are raised like little princes.”
But back to “duality” and its relevance to all of this. I have been married to a “mainstream” Thai lady in the past and have had several medium and long-term relationships with Thai and other Asian women (some of them bar hostesses). The golden rule is “do not fall in love with a bar / go-go girl” and we can all understand why – but understanding that does not make us immune. I can't speak for men in general but I do know that my purpose in going to an Asian country was to find an Asian lady to settle down with, marry and stay together until the end. After two marriages to Western women and numerous short / medium / long-term relationships with Western women I had to face the reality that I have long, been enchanted by Asian women but had denied / ignored / not realised my true needs. With the luxury of hindsight there is no doubt in my mind that the best decision for me would have been to go to Asia instead of marrying an Australian girl that first time – and extending that further to say that it would have been better had I gone to Japan. Always have had a soft spot for the Japanese people in general and Japanese women in particular. In Thailand I find it very enjoyable to talk with Japanese men who come on business trips or golfing holidays because they are easy to speak with and the conversation is nearly always enlightening. Their culture fascinates me, their work ethic is so admirable – and their code of honor commands my respect.
Guess I've always been vulnerable as a result of never being afraid to fall in love with a Thai (or any) woman – still love the ones from the past in certain ways. There was a Maltese girl whose presence still haunts my mind today even though that was 30 years ago – so that should illustrate that I really am a “sucker” when it comes to love. Never looked at it from the money aspect – for me the only important thing was the relationship, above all. Now I can hear the rising chorus from readers – “No money, no honey” – when we talk about Thailand but that appraisal is not entirely accurate as I know at least two independently-wealthy Thai ladies who own properties in Krungthep, are married and live with their Farang husbands in good old US of A, yet take great pride in the fact that they never (ever) ask their husbands for money and support for family back in Thailand. As a matter of fact they do not even like the environment or lifestyle where they are living and miss Thailand badly – but they stay with their husbands because of love and see it as their duty. One of them e-mails me regularly and is so affected by the separation from her homeland that she needs to go to her home in Krungthep for three months every year or she feels she would go crazy. I can understand that because I am not a Thai and I feel the same when I cannot be in Thailand. I should add that both these ladies have dual American / Thai citizenship.
In spite of my experiences I would not change much at all and would never hesitate to throw heart and soul into another relationship in Thailand if it were not for this “duality” spectre. It is probably the core issue for me and calls for brutally-honest self-assessment of what is really important for satisfaction and peace of mind. Sure, it is exciting to have three girls at The Eden Club or two girls at Chao Phraya II – or perhaps a full-service 2-hour lotion massage at any one of the “teen” massage shops that are largely patronised by the Japanese clientele – but what have you got when you walk away? You have nothing but an empty feeling inside and an empty hotel room or condo to go back to. So you start to think “I need more than this” – and you let your mind run down the long soi that is a permanent relationship and it looks and sounds wonderful – and it can be. A beautiful “goddess” to share dinner and conversation with, the warmth and closeness of going to sleep together with someone you care for – and waking up to see that lovely smile when she opens her eyes and says “Arun-sawat Khun Sarmee.” Then you jolt yourself back to reality and you analyse how you got to where you are in life and why it is that you are now on your own – and a light comes on and you realise that perhaps you really don't want the karma attached to causing pain and broken dreams to another beautiful, special person who deserves better than that. Or is it that you truthfully do not want to be with somebody day-in, day-out – because that can wear you down. Sometimes you just want to be alone. Perhaps even, in a moment of wild drunken delusion, you imagine it would be good if you could have both scenarios – but just forget about that (don't even give it a second thought) because I can tell you it will destroy you.
However, it all seems fairly clear that your “duality” will give you no peace in either scenario – so you begin to think that maybe the hardened mongers may have the right idea if only you could overcome this “duality” that keeps nagging you – that perhaps you would be better having a different girl every few days and not allowing yourself to become attached to any one. The only problem with that is in knowing this is a downward spiral toward ruin and a bad drinking problem that always ends in financial and personal destruction. Example: The company manager from Switzerland sent to Thailand to take care of their factory / sales office. He begins with good intentions but starts clubbing at night and getting slack with his work. He thinks he's in Paradise, hits the bars and starts short-timing girls. Pretty soon he's got a live-in girlfriend – the booze takes charge and we find that a half-empty bottle of bourbon is always there in the glove box of his SUV. Some days now he doesn't go into the office or check the plant and the production target is beginning to slip just like the sales figures. It probably takes a year or more before Head Office knows something is wrong and we all know the end of this story. So where are we? Right back where we began.
It is abundantly clear to me that the only route to a happy and contented life in Thailand is through being married to a “mainstream” Thai lady – and for both of you to live in Thailand. It goes without saying that you need to have a full-time job that provides sufficient income to support you and your wife comfortably – a job that provides the satisfaction of knowing you are doing something meaningful. As they say “The devil makes work for idle hands.” I have a very good Thai lady friend who owns a Thai video shop – and she comes with me for coffee each week and we talk about all things Thai. I know her husband and her two children and they are a lovely family – they helped my wife and I many times when I first brought her to Australia. This lady says to me “You need to have a lot of money to live in Thailand – not like here. Over there nobody takes care of you.” She is right, of course.
OK – so where does this leave us?
1.- Clearly, not all of us have the opportunity to meet, let alone marry, a “mainstream” Thai lady – but one of my Thai lady friends assures me that this is not beyond reach for most Farangs – the reason being that many Thai women do not wish to be married to a Thai man, having either seen or experienced a failed marriage with one. I can attest to that because I was a virtual “newbie” when I met my Thai wife – and perhaps I was lucky – but it is possible with a bit of sensible planning and setting standards for yourself. It is very important not to get blinded and sidetracked by the “availability” and easy access through the bar scene – if you want a lasting, compatible relationship. From my experience “mainstream” Thai ladies are more likely to be stable, faithful, honourable and loving – they are vastly different to most bar-girls and Filipinos (who have a questionable reputation here in Australia as opportunistic fly-by-nighters). Thai women are well respected here, although it is true that some former bar-girls fall into the gambling / party mode again when they get bored.
2.- Employment in Thailand is not easy to come by and the Thai Government makes it extremely difficult (and rightly so) for Farangs to find the type of job that will support a man and his “mainstream” Thai wife in comfort. The only real opportunity there is to be lucky enough to work for a large company that has a branch in Thailand or to be rich enough to exist on your share trading via the Internet. It's not so easy these days to crack into that teaching job because the Thai Government has tightened up access to that avenue that was once a bonanza for every second backpacker or drifting dreamer. Of course, if you are cashed-up and adventurous, you could have a go at opening a bar and then you will need a Thai (woman of course) to be your nominee – but wait a minute, you may have trouble finding a “mainstream” woman who will agree to that so that puts you back with “non-mainstream” women and here you may be walking on thin ice. Oh, and don't forget the bribes for the police – that could cut into the profit margin. Also, remember that you are still not sure if you want to have someone with you all the time. Can't get away from this damned “duality” issue, can you?
While on the subject of starting a bar, I just remembered this friend of ours (we'll call him Cyril) – he was a retired banking employee from Australia and he teamed up with a military-looking woman (we'll call her Moo) who made you feel as if you should address her as “Sir”. Well, they started this bar in one of the low sois in Sukhumvit – and you wouldn't say it was a raging success but it paid the bills (and the bribes) and left him with a lot of time for “fooling around” – but not with Moo. Gee, I reckon he must have been a brave man as he was bar-fining quite a number of different girls on a regular basis. Every morning he would stumble out of his alcohol haze and skip down to the ATM to draw cash for Moo, give it to her and then go back to bed again. Quite a number of times he forgot he had already given her money so he would go through the same routine when he rose the second time – but Moo just took it and said nothing. You can imagine what she was thinking (“These bloody Farangs are truly stupid creatures!”) Anyhow, the long and the short of it was that this poor bugger (Cyril) caught HIV that grew into full-blown AIDS and he ended up going home to Australia and died in the small home-town where his family lived. Just thought I'd put that little tale in here to give you a reason why you should not open a bar.
3.- So we truly are back where we started – stuck with adjusting your expectations dependent upon the matter of “duality”. Of course you can ignore it – maybe you haven't even considered it, in which case it will not cause you any mental anguish (for a while possibly). My friend, Khun Loong, tells me the best plan is to remain unattached, never getting involved romantically with anyone other than “mainstream” – but he is a careful man to the point that he says if he knew what he knows now, when he first went to Thailand, he would have looked for a lady who was young, raised in an orphanage and had no relatives whatsoever. Well, that seems too calculating and cynical for me because I must be honest and say that some of the best times I have had in Thailand have been with the family of my ex-wife – and with the family of an ex-girlfriend. They never made demands for financial support. Right from the start, when I first went to Thailand, I have had this rule that I would never send money to support a woman while I was away overseas and she was in Thailand. Only a fool would do that as I know for a fact that there can be a string of three or more such “benefactors” for some of the calculating “angels” whom you may encounter – and common-sense should tell us (and all of her “benefactors”) she will still be working as well. Why would she stop? If I were she neither would I.
Guess it comes down to what you are prepared to accept – while remembering that there are always trade-offs even though you may not know what they are. If you are conscious of the role “duality” plays in your choices, then you are in trouble – and all you can do is try to adhere to your ideals / standards, if possible – so chohk-dee. Finally, just think about how your actions impact on the lady – and try to remember that not all of them are out to take you for the proverbial “bus-ride” – some are genuinely looking for love just the same as you are. I tend to think of them as dok-mai suay.
With Westerners and Thais so very, very different, it really isn't easy for both parties to be genuinely happy and fulfilled in a relationship. Even if on the surface they appear to be happy, you usually find that at least one partner isn't. I have often observed that one partner may even feel resentment for the sacrifices they make for the other.
Your friend Khun Loong is on to something. One Western friend married a Thai orphan and I reckon they are about the happiest of all of the Farang / Thai couples I know!