In Love With Love
Much has been conjectured on the subject of Western men who form liaisons with Thai women. There seems deep suspicion from Western pragmatists and sceptics who observe such liaisons and question the sincerity of both the Western male and the Thai female. So, how real is this love? Is it really true love or a sham of convenience?
Call me a fool but I have never been cynical about stated “love” and, sure, we tend to see that which we want to see regardless of the warning signs and we plough on irrespective of the hurt that may lie at the inevitable end of the line. But is this inevitable? It doesn’t have to be.
I married a Thai woman and brought her to Australia, set her up with a small business, got her permanent residency and brought her two children to Australia and organised Australian citizenship for all of them. She is a wonderful, wonderful woman and I love her very deeply. I know she loves me and I will love her until the day I die. Nothing will change that, even though we are no longer married.
Having experienced this strong emotion and having it returned I find it difficult to understand where this cynicism comes from. Sure, there are pitfalls that all Westerners should be aware of in any Asian country but I find it highly offensive for people, who know nothing about love, to criticise Thai women for the absolute foolishness displayed by “moonstruck” Farangs who have come unstuck while trying to take advantage of the Thai female.
Thailand is a beautiful country and I have come to love her people – male and female – because of who they are. In my travels I have had many liaisons with Thai women and I must say that I have loved each of them in a very special way – none better than the other – but two, in particular, will always share a special place in my heart.
To interact with Thais one needs to understand their culture and respect their beliefs and motivations. They are unique, very special and like nobody you will ever encounter in Western culture. The Thai does not ask much – merely that you show respect for their King and their Buddhist faith. If you make an effort to learn to speak some Thai, and you treat them fairly, they will show you kindness and respect and make you welcome in their land which is truly wonderful and unique.
Many Westerners try to avoid Bangkok or to spend as little time as possible there on their way to the “glamour” destinations of Phuket, Kho Samui or Chiang Mai (to name a few). But to do so is to close your eyes to what is the crossroads of Asia – the “melting pot” of the Thai persona and a truly beautiful city that I have come to regard as my second home. I feel more at home in Bangkok than I do in the country where I was born and raised.
You can spend all of your time as a tourist in Thailand and never get to know what is the real Thailand – the palatable “pap” is served up to the Farang donkeys who go away home thinking that they understand what goes to make up life in this mysterious and wonderful place. But they don’t understand.
You must mix with the people who live the real life – the tuk-tuk drivers, the street vendors, the massage ladies and the bar girls. These are the people who will give you a glimpse of what life is really about – not a touched-up portrait of what tourists expect to see. You must engage in conversation with these people before you can penetrate the facade that protects “face" – the element of pride that we seem to have never learnt about in the West.
I have known many massage ladies and bar girls and have spent countless hours talking about life and how things are with them and, after a while, you begin to understand the hopes and dreams that all of these girls share. Of course they want somebody to take care of them – and what is wrong with that? Isn’t that what we all search for in various forms and in different places?
And it is here where we discover the amorphous quality of “love”.
Do massage ladies and bar girls fall in love with their patrons? That is not their primary objective because we must realise that those who walk this road quite often do so out of necessity. Of course, it does happen that the girl falls in love with her patron and there is no question that the patron certainly often believes he has fallen in love with the girl – and who are we to question the validity of these stated or unstated emotions? But here we are entering fragile ground and people can get hurt from both sides.
An ideal situation would be where the Farang tells the truth to the girl and the girl is honest with him. This is something that I have believed for a long time – yet putting this belief into practice is not always done. From my personal point of view I often feel less of a person because I have also stooped to the act of bending the truth or just out-and-out lying. I cannot speak for others but I experience the guilt that comes from this along with a feeling of regret and honest concern for the girl, in retrospect. But why do we do it?
Clinical analysis after the fact is a lot easier than how things look in the hot wave of sexual attraction and the need to perpetuate that experience of ecstasy with that same person over again. There are some girls that you know you would want to spend a lot of time with and sometimes we promise things that we are not capable of providing. I suppose fear is one motivating factor – fear that this will only be a one-night encounter when we wish it could be for always like this. Well, that’s how it has been for me once or twice.
I have never made any secret of the fact that I am totally vulnerable where it comes to Asian women because I believe they are the ultimate sexual experience and nothing comes even close to having a relationship with an Asian woman. For me it has always been this way. Nobody has ever touched my heart the way Thai women have – that is just a fact of life for me.
Yet, having said that, I admit that there were times when I lied to whoever I was with – and I would be a fool not to accept that she has done the same to me. I am under no illusions that her lies were probably made out of a need to survive in a world that is very difficult to function within when you must live by your wits and good looks. And there were some who certainly had good looks. But it was more than good looks that kept me with a couple. They were warm people with good hearts – jai dee – and for me that was far more important than just good looks.
So, why did I lie and under what circumstances?
Firstly, let me make the observation that I now see that I had become what I had always despised in the behaviour of Farangs who are dealing with Asian or, in this case, Thai women.
They wanted nothing unreasonable from me – just a home we could call our own, a modest vehicle and some form of earning a living, like a beauty salon. I wanted those same things yet I knew, deep down, that I could not provide them, at those times, because of insufficient finances – but I was not man enough to be honest and admit that early in the relationships. Wanting to hold onto a magic piece of time for as long as possible was all I could see when faced with the reality of my personal situation.
This is indeed a dichotomy faced by many men who find themselves in love with a Thai woman. You love that woman so strongly that you will do anything to maintain the relationship because it is so magical and wonderful – yet you seem not to love her enough to be honest with her and think of her future when you are no longer there. I am guilty of that, accepting it in hindsight, yet I always believed deep down that, somehow, I would be able to make good on the promises. When love kills love, who is to blame?
Another hot summer night on Soi 7/1 and I am relaxing outside Bia’s bar with a Bia Singha and a few of the girls, just chatting and enjoying the evening. Nit is a regular here and she is sharing time with me and talking about life.
“Nit, I don’t see Yow here tonight. Has she left?”
“Mai – she is up in Khon Khaen attending a funeral service for one of her family. She is my “Sister” and we are quite close. I try to look after her. She has a good heart.”
“And what about you, Nit – who looks after you?”
“I have a poo-chai – a Farang man who has an apartment in Sukhumvit in the high numbers. He lets me stay there and he pays the rent but he is never there and I am really angry because – you know, when you like somebody you want to be with them but he only ever seems to want to be somewhere else.”
“Nit, why don’t you find a place of your own and be independent of anyone?”
“Mai-dai – I don’t have money and the pay from working here is not enough to afford an apartment in Bangkok. In my home town there is no work, so you have to come to the city to try to make money to help provide support for your parents and family members still there. You know, we all dream of finding somebody who will love us and take care of us but the city is a hard place and life is not easy for a country girl".
I know that Nit is being honest about the difficulties in a big city and I see the faraway look in her eyes as she finishes her drink and looks at me.
“Can I buy another drink for you?”
“Korp khun-ka – Khun Paul.”
The night is slipping away and the pace in Soi 7/1 has quickened as I sit and watch the comings and goings of the visitors and the girls from this and the other bars who have been successful in finding someone to be with, even for a few short hours. Nit has wandered inside to get her drink and is now talking with a couple of the girls and a Farang who looks decidedly incapable of satisfying anyone or anything but a craving for more alcohol.
I pay the “slate” and bid goodnight to Bia and the girls as I head down toward Thanon Sukhumvit and turn right to Nana Skytrain.
Not much ever changes, does it?
Will it ever change?
I hope so.
It's great that Thailand makes you so happy and your experiences with Thai women have brought you so much pleasure. I hear similar from many guys but I do wonder how many of these people have experienced many other countries. Yes, Thailand is great, but what sort of breadth of experience does one have and how wide is their comparison? Comparing only with their homeland? Comparing with other parts of South-East Asia? What about South America?
I had an interesting chat with a gentleman who is a prolific contributor to this site on Friday night and he said that he much prefers the women of the Philippines and would never get involved with a Thai woman.