Readers' Submissions

Hitting 40

  • Written by Jay
  • May 2nd, 2012
  • 11 min read

I used to be a backpacker in my 20s – Khao San Road and all that. I love Thailand and I've spent a lot of time exploring the country – the monkeys in Lopburi I liked best.

I'm 40 now, and I go to Thailand every 8 weeks. But it's Samui and Pattaya for me now. I work hard for 7 weeks, save up, don't drink, then do my socialising in Thailand. This is how I like to live my life and I enjoy it. I'm sure I will move out to Thailand permanently in the future. But for now, I like visiting for 1 week in holiday mode and not having to worry too much about money.

I always see the same Thai girl. Spend the week with her. Jeab. I really like her. I know the pitfalls of sending money etc to bargirls. So I don't do it. When I first met her she made requests. Now she doesn't. If I have a good week with her I tip her a hundred pounds at the end, on top of the 2,000 baht a day I pay her. She's happy with that.

Jeab is a gorgeous girl. In England we have a bakers called Greggs. There's one on every high street. In Greggs, you can buy pasties. If you want a hot one, you must pay 20% more. The same principle applies in Thailand.

Jeab and I have established a good rapport and she knows that I will always pay her well. But only when I'm in the country. I think that's fair. It amazes me that people send 25,000 baht a month to these girls – you can fly to Thailand for that! Keep your money, and visit more.

Your 25,000 will not keep the girl out of the bar. Think about it. Have you ever met a bargirl who says to you – "I cannot go back to your hotel, because a man in Germany / Switzerland is sending me money." Doesn't happen!

These girls are natural born scammers. What do you think they talk about to each other in the bars? Love? They know all the tricks, every one.

That's the thing, you see. That's where us foreigners get caught out. Deep down, we can't help thinking that we are cleverer than them because we come from more developed nations. Because we've had a superior education. How could THEY possibly be smarter than us? But they are, my friends. Their line of work is sometimes described as being on "the game". And why? Because it IS a game. And they play it every day. I'm ok at chess, but If I played chess every day I reckon I'd be ace at it.

You may remember an English footballer called Gazza. In the 90s, he was brilliant. A genius with a football. But off the pitch? Not a clever guy. You wouldn't describe Gazza as well-educated.

But Gazza was a genius because he was brilliant at what he did. His poor background and lack of education meant little when he was displaying his talents. And that's the bargirls, gentlemen – absolutely brilliant at what they do.

I think that for a bargirl in Thailand, sex is only about 20% of what they do. I really do believe that. Their real talents lie in keeping us coming back for more. And that takes much more than 20 minutes in the sack. Jeab texts and emails me everyday. I know that it's not always from her – her sister's texts are quite funny, pretending to be Jeab.

I find the whole Thai girlfriend process quite amusing really. Especially when I read that some bargirls' emails and texts are written by male bar owners! I think I read that in Stephen Leather's excellent "Private Dancer."

So consider that, chaps, if you are contacted by your Thai sweetheart with a "miss you too much darling!", it could well have been written by an fat tattooed English bar owner called Dave!

Having been reading Stickman since 2004, I swore I would never be caught out by a Thai bargirl. Money-wise, I mean. I promised myself I'd never be scammed. I'd learn all the tricks.

But you know what? Jeab got me!

Part of me, bizarrely, is a touch proud that she got me. At first there was a sense of anger, but that subsided into a "that's my girl!" She beat me at the game! Haha! I thought I knew the score, but it turns out she's a sharper cookie than I gave her credit for.

I'll tell you what happened. It wasn't a major thing. It was early on in our "friendship", before we really got to know each other. I think it was the third time I was flying into Pattaya to meet her. I told her the date, and she texted – "Oh good! You will be here for my birthday!"

At first I thought – great. Then as the holiday got closer, I started to not look forward to it. Jeab has at least 3 other "regulars" (that I know of), and I knew that they would all be calling her on her birthday. This would lead to lots of "It's my brother! I'll take this call outside…"

One thing I've learned is that you never ever draw attention to the fact that these girls are prostitutes. Jeab likes to keep the veneer that she is a one-man girl, that man being me. And I like to keep the veneer that I have no idea about any other men.
Not a lot of men realise this, but if you say to your bargirl, "It's ok, I understand why you do this, your just trying to help your family", you think you are showing her compassion and empathy. In reality, she will HATE you inside. Under no account make your girl feel like a prostitute, not even a little bit. Jeab told me once that she works in a restaurant, and I ask no questions.

So as I say – I started to dread spending her birthday with her. But the day came, and it went really smoothly – no calls at all. I assumed she received texts from her family and I didn't ask her. I gave her an additional 3,000 baht for a birthday present.
You can probably guess where this is going, can't you? A few trips later, I happened to see her ID card on the side, next to the bed. I looked at her date of birth. Guess what? It wasn't her birthday at all!

So that's why she didn't receive any calls! I can honestly say that it didn't even cross my mind that she might be lying about her birthday. Stupid of me really…who doesn't receive any phone calls on their birthday? You can be in prison and still receive phone calls on your birthday!

When I confronted her, she looked just like a kid, caught red-handed. My first instinct was anger, but that slowly turned to laughter, and then she was laughing too. When I was a kid I was always up to little tricks and scams. I couldn't be upset. She'd stiffed me for 3,000 baht – I wasn't as smart as I thought I was! I saw it as just like a game of chess, when the other player moves their piece across the board, and you think silently to yourself – "Hmmm….you know, that really was an excellent move…."

In a funny way, that incident actually seemed to take us to a new level. I think she appreciated that I didn't bawl her out over the whole thing. The whole "loss of face" thing. She's never attempted anything similar since.

I think I understand the way the bar scene works now. The Stickman column has been invaluable. I've seen Jeab 6 times this last year. Dangerous? It could be, but I won't allow that. I know it's not love, more an enjoyable friendship. I'm fine with her working as a bargirl. That tells me my real feelings. If I loved the girl it would eat me up inside to think of her working the bar every night. I don't think too much about it. I find it really funny when I'm at home about midnight in London, and I get an SMS from Jeab, obviously drunk at 6 AM. She always claims she's just getting up to visit a temple! Again, I never draw attention to the fact that she's obviously working at a bar. Either that, or she's working long hours at that restaurant.

I have no knight in shining armour aspirations. I don't think she will be sharing my surname anytime soon. But I do look forward to spending time with Jeab. Sometimes she really makes me laugh. Not always intentionally. On my last day before in Bangkok, I had an hour to kill before my taxi to the airport, so on a whim I went to the hairdressers outside my hotel and got my hair shaved off. All of it, right down to the bone. I came back into the hotel room, and she was sat on the bed looking at me when I walked in. She didn't say anything for ages, just looked at my shaved head with a quizzical expression on her face. I picked up my luggage, and said "Ready to go?" She nodded. She wouldn't take her eyes off my head. Eventually, she walked towards me, stroked the top of my head and said – "Why you leave your hair in Thailand?"

I prefer to stick with one girl that I know. Because I'm with Jeab, other girls leave me alone. But if you are a lone man in Pattaya, it can sometimes be a bit over-the-top. I remember once being on Walking Street, and this girl came straight over to me and grabbed my balls. She wanted me to go with her. I declined her offer. Another man walked by, and she dashed over to him. And I noticed that she was grabbing his town halls too. He said no as well, so she came back over to me. I thought, "I'm not sure your totally committed to this relationship…"

All said, I think Thailand is a brilliant place to socialise. I've travelled all over the world and I've never found anywhere better. All my friends back home are married now, so socialising in England is really over for me at 40. Coming to Thailand has evolved from a thing that I quite enjoyed to a major part of my life.

Thailand is very different to England. When you reach 40 in England, you really become invisible to girls. It almost happens overnight. It's like putting on an invisible cloak. Suddenly it's like you're not there! You know you are there, but the girls just can't see you.

When I was a kid, I always wanted a superpower like Spiderman or Superman. Now I'm the invisible man! So that's some exciting news for kids out there – if you are craving a superpower and nothing seems to be happening, just wait until you hit 40.

Socialising online means nothing to me, I've always preferred getting out there. You can have 500 online friends and still be the biggest loser in the world. Anyone can have 500 friends now. 20 years ago if you had 500 friends you were in the Rolling Stones.

Would I ever get married? Well have you looked at the stats? Check out the divorce rates – 1 out of 3 marriages go right down the toilet.

If you were going on a parachute jump, and someone told you 1 out of 3 parachutes didn't open, you'd say "Forget it, I'm not jumping."

I notice a lot of submissions seem to suggest that Bangkok and Pattaya are going downhill, that the bubble may burst. My thoughts – not a chance. Bangkok and Pattaya will remain attractive destinations for as long as sex is in fashion. Have you ever been on a flight to Suwannaphum that wasn't full? I certainly haven't. One thing though, guys – are you Bart Simpson? No? Are you 12? No? Then get out of those shorts, and put on a pair of trousers. And stick on a pair of shoes, gentlemen. You wouldn't wear sandals on a night out back home.


Stickman's thoughts:

I find it interesting that you keep coming back to the same lady time after time, a lady you have no future plans with, while there is so much choice out there. I guess she must really look after you!