My Thai Girlfriend, And My Thai Friend Who Is A Girl
I'm not sure how this submission is going to turn out, it's probably more of an outlet for me to gather my own thoughts about my time in Thailand, and share what seems, from experiences I have read, to be a somewhat unique experience, where
the bargirl hasn't (yet) turned into a giant money sucking PITA. I'll say upfront, I am very confused about the whole situation, and hope Stickman has some valuable words of wisdom for me. So, don't expect to find any insight
into the mind of the bargirl here, because I don't feel like I have any. I guess my main reason for submitting this is so someone else, who may have the same confusion I have, can know that things sometimes happen the way they happened for
I read Private Dancer twice while planning my trip to Thailand, and thought I was well prepared for anything the bargirls could throw at me. In the initial 3 days of my trip, which I spent in Bangkok, I saw a lot of that book come to life. It was fascinating, and more than a little disturbing. That first weekend probably deserves its own post, whereas this one is about the following 2 weeks in Thailand, and the next couple of months at home.
I spent 2 weeks of December on Koh Samui with a friend. She and I did the tourist thing during the day, and I spent most evenings with a girl that worked at a local bar. I'll name her bargirl1, doing the typical single farang in the land of smiles thing. She is my age (late 30s) good English, very pretty, has a son, but otherwise no living family, has only been working the bar for 2 weeks, and I am her third customer. She is only in the bar because her regular place of employment was flooded. (Yes, according to her. No, I did not believe it for a second.)
Around my 3rd night at the bar, I am told the other bargirls would like to meet me, and I am invited to their table, to share a bag of crickets (which I enjoyed more than I expected). This is when I meet bargirl2 (early 20s), fair English, stunning, has a daughter, probably a pretty full extended family.
I never barfined bargirl2, but some time around the end of the first week, she would join bargirl1 and I for breakfast and or lunch as my friend and I were running out of things to see / do during the day, and I was getting more time in on the beach doing what vacation is really for, relaxing. Bargirl2 even cooked lunch for bargirl1 and I a couple of times at a small local restaurant where she apparently had kitchen privileges. They were both genuinely fun people to hang out with.
At some point in the latter half of the first week, my female friend says that she wants to go to the bar with me, and 'see how this shit works'. We go to the bar, sit in my usual chair, bargirls ignore us. Bargirl1 and bargirl2 won't even look at me. I figure that they must think my friend and I are more than friends, and are being respectful, so she decides to walk back to our bungalow, leaving me alone at the bar, to test the theory.
Sure enough, she has no more than touched the sidewalk (haha, sidewalk, in Thailand) and I have a 'Tiguu' beer (Tiger) in front of me, and a 'Thaiguu' (Thai Girl) on either side of me, asking questions about my 'wife'. I explain our platonic friendship, and everything returns to normal. My friend comes back ten minutes later, and ends up being quite chatty with a few of the other girls over the rest of our time on the island. No, she never (to my knowledge) barfines any.
Sometime in early week 2, my friend asks me if I am aware that bargirl1 has only been working at the bar for less than a month, and only saw 2 or 3 customers before me. I tell her that I had heard the same thing from bargirl1, and asked where her information came from. She says the other girls told her, that bargirl1 considered me 'special' and had also told her of her short experience as a bargirl. I was amazed at how well organized their stories were.
Fast forward to our last evening on the Island, the 4 of us (my friend, bargirl1, and bargirl2) go to Fisherman's village for walking street, crickets, and what would pass for 5 star dining in most of Thailand. A great time was had by all. It was a pretty late night for all of us, and bargirl1 and I were happy to get back 'home', take a shower, and go to bed. That night she told me, tearfully, how much she liked me (neither of us used the word love, ever), how much she wanted to live in America with me, and how impossible it was. I agreed. I liked her a great deal. I also agreed that a relationship past my time in Thailand seemed quite impossible. She stayed late the next morning, and tried to help me packing so I could catch my flight in the afternoon. We said our tearful farewell mid-morning, and bargirl1 walked out of my life, forever.
About an hour later, bargirl1 and bargirl2 show up at my door bearing a kilo each of Snake Fruit and Mangosteen for me to take home (this was REALLY impossible) because they knew how much I liked both. They didn't stay long, just enough time to draw a few more tears, and get my email address… (I knew that last bit was not wise, but damnit, I really liked them both, as people, not as objects).
I'd like to say, I paid bargirl1's long time rate, every night. With the exception of one night in the latter half of week 2, where she smoked me at a 5K baht game of pool (I would have gotten a free night, had I won). I also gave her ~2.5X her normal rate the last night. So, outside of being a regular customer, I don't feel like I paid any more, or any less for her services than anyone else would. At least not on a per-night basis.
I got my first email from bargirl2 while I was in Beijing waiting for my flight home. Wishing me a safe journey, letting me know that bargirl1 was a wreck, and missed me greatly. By the time I was home, I had email from bargirl1, letting me know how special I was, and she would never forget me. etc, etc. The following day, both were hitting me up on Facebook, probably for the same reason I correspond with Nigerian email scammers. I accepted. Bargirl1 has 12 friends, bargirl2 has 23. There are 4 non-Thai people between both friends lists.
I've been home for almost 2 months, and not a single day has passed without an email from one or both. It's never anything very substantive, How are you, How cold is it there, etc. Money has never even been hinted at. Never asked for, never offered. Simply, never discussed, period.
Bargirl1 (supposedly) returned to Bangkok for about 4 weeks, to visit with her son, and try to find work. And has just arrived back in Samui, the job hunt in Bangkok having not gone well. She wishes she had more time with her son, they both want to know when I am returning to Samui.
Not going into any great detail, but the general tone of email between myself and bargirl1 is that of two people who like each other a lot, and have slept together. The general tone of the exchange between myself and bargirl2 is very similar to any other platonic friend who happens to be a girl, I have had. Language barrier, and experiential asymmetry aside.
Now, my confusion:
What the hell game are these chicks playing with me? They are either the most patient long-con artists I have ever heard of, or I made a real connection with 2 great people, half a world away, and maybe bargirl1's desire to 'stay with me' isn't as far fetched as I thought it was.
Everything I read says option 2 is not correct, and I'm going to be asked to send a few thousand baht via Western Union for someone's sick mother. Or asked to make more regular payments so someone won't have to work in the bar any more. But neither of these has even been hinted at. I'm almost ashamed for even suspecting ulterior motives behind the friendship (that's JUST how they want me to feel!!!).
I always err on the cynical side when it comes to bargirls and their interactions and communications with Western men. Without knowing more it is hard to say too much, I am afraid. Sure, it could simply be that they like you as a person.
My advice would be simple: Get on with your life and remember these girls as holiday friends and nothing more. If nothing else – and again, I will acknowledge that I am cynical – they will not be the same sweet girls next time you're back in Thailand. The industry changes people, and not for the better.