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Stickman Readers' Submissions August 20th, 2014

Venture Sponsorship – 3

In parts I & II, I tried to make clear that these articles are a generalisation, that I am aware not all people should be tarred with the same brush. And just as there are Thai ladies who are scheming and devious so too there are farang who are overly naive. It might be said that some Thai women aim to acquire what they think they deserve…and some farang men get what they deserve, without asking.

After plighting my troth, and trying my luck in the North, I withdrew to Jomtien, and then Hua Hin…where I found 90% of the Thai people were 190% easier to deal with than I had experienced for the previous half dozen years…and I had my first ever experiences of the Thai/farang bar-scene. My mother used to say: Once bitten, twice shy…and I did indeed attain a reputation for being shy, which I decided to foster.

He Clinic Bangkok

I was not interested in (re)marrying – not the first lady who came along – not at all…I also was not a standard type of ‘monger’ in that I had no particular yearnings to satisfy (which perhaps explains why I’ve never subsequently had a nasty itch that needed to be scratched…), and neither did I quite understand the sine qua non, or prerequisite, to purchase lady drinks.

But I did enjoy talking to Thai people for almost the first time, my wife having desperately kept me insulated from other Thais, in an attempt to control my activities. Most Thais failed to understand my limited linguistic resources because, as I gradually discovered, my wife had been praising my errors instead of correcting them. When others directly spoke to me my wife simply answered for me, as if I was dumb, rather than translating what had been said. It took me a year or two to realise some of this, and longer to get to grips with it. I would suggest this practice is much more widespread than is realised – after all, how can any of us know, if we don’t know, and cannot conceive that anybody could be so calculating and controlling…?

So, night after night, I sat in bars and cafes, just talking to Thai people – mostly ladies, mostly half my age. When the subject was raised I declined to allow them to call me ‘Papa’ and instead developed more an uncle/niece situation, which they also claimed to prefer.

But, mostly I just listened, interjecting when I didn’t understand something and, as I was usually in a group of 3-4 ladies, they helped each other improve my comprehension. I had an unexpected experience when chatting with two new girls outside a bar, one of whom spoke to me. I thought I understood her, and she seemed to understand my responses but, after a few minutes of silent bemusement, the second lady enquired what I had said and, to my surprise, the first lady repeated exactly what I had said, almost word for word…

I asked the first lady why her friend had not understood me when I had said the same as her. She said her friend was from Buriram…and she was from Surin…and, although they understood each other, one of them had a problem with my accent, or dialect, which by then was varied to put it mildly. Ever since, whenever I’ve met a new lady, and we’ve been instantly able to converse, I have always asked if she is from Surin – I am invariably right, and they are always amazed.

As a result of this my reputation gradually altered. I seemed to become trusted, in a way that I have never seen experienced by any other ‘cus-toh-mah’ (customer), and I was told things that were very different to what I was now reading on the internet. Stick’s newly created site was finally educating me about all the things I had previously thought were only happening to me. At the same time it seemed most other farang had suffered much more than I had. And I was learning that most of their woes were a direct result of the attitudes of bar-girls – as mine were not…My wife had never been a bargirl, but her attitudes were no different.

And yet, it still didn’t seem right to me. What Stick’s contributors were reporting was not like I was experiencing in Hua Hin – was the internet simply unreliable or were the bargirls in Pattaya such dragons…? Well, I never really found out but I had to eventually accept the ladies who came to work in Hua Hin were a different type of person…or, perhaps more correctly, there was a smaller percentage of dragons in Hua Hin. Certainly Hua Hin was better known for farang couples, not single ‘mongers’, so maybe the more ruthless ladies went where the pickings were more reliable. [NB: this is not the same today.]

From these entertaining ladies I learned something about their hopes and aspirations, and watched, often in painful silence, as they attempted to sort the wheat from the chaff amongst their farang ‘boyfriends’. One lady, who was a friend for several years, before striking pay-dirt, once proudly, and discreetly informed me she then had ten boyfriends. Somewhat bemused as to how she juggled them all she explained these were guys who sent her a monthly stipend from Farangland…and had nothing to do with what we ordinarily understand by ‘boyfriend’. It made me wonder why we expect them to understand what we mean by ‘girlfriend’…

For several years scores of ladies confided in me each evening, and I wrote up these sagas the following day, often making notes each night so I wouldn’t forget. They soon realised I did actually listen, and was sincerely interested in them, but also, I think, because they knew I could be trusted – I never passed on one lady’s story to anybody else. I even had a couple of ladies (both mamasans) who actually put me to the test (without my knowledge, until one of them later admitted it…), by fabricating a simple ‘fact’ that was only told to me, to see if it came back. It didn’t.

Several ladies independently said that, in Hua Hin, they had nobody to confide in. They seem so wrapped up in their family-centric culture from birth that ‘friends’ as we know the term barely seems to exist here – at least traditionally – this century has created numerous changes around the world as old-fashioned societies have jumped at becoming ‘modern’…

In the West we often say, ‘we are born with our relatives, but we choose our friends’, and a very large proportion of Westerners hold their friends in higher regard than their family. This process seems to be anathema to Thais, hence their families invariably hold greater respect than their husbands.

How often have you heard a Thai lady introduce her ‘friend’ as her ‘sister’, or her mamasan as her ‘mother’. It appears that if a lady takes on a good friend, that person has to be equated with her family, in order to be acknowledged, in her own mind.

A very good friend I met in a bar some years ago, who is a very scheming and ambitious lady, but a delightful ‘friend’, and has several times helped me out of a scrape with other Thai women, has often explained that she has her family back home, with whom she cannot discuss her problems in the bars (either they don’t understand or they’re just not interested), and she has colleagues in the bars, with whom she cannot discuss her problems (because they’re not family) – and then, she has me…

She often claims I am the only person in her world with whom she can discuss her life. She knows I will listen, I will try to understand, and I will tell her straight (but politely) what I think. I don’t tell her what to do (it wouldn’t do any good if I did – this is one very independent lady), but I do try to show her the differences in the way farang think and behave. Farang have resources like Stickman’s site, to teach us about the foibles of Thai people but Thais do not seem to have anything like this to teach them about the vagaries of farang…and I feel the things published on sites like Facebook, by Thais, for Thais, are no more accurate than much of what gets posted by farang. <Actually, there do exist sites for Thai women involved with foreign menStick>

This lady eventually disappeared to the West, for about three years, and returned with a new baby. She went away to make money to send her previous two kids to university. It didn’t happen. Now she has to put a third child through school…

Another friend of long-standing used to discreetly introduce her latest prospect to me. I would chat with him, man to man, and then report back. I didn’t comment on his personality, character, or bank account – that was none of my business. I just assessed whether his intentions were ‘strictly honorable’. It was always clear to me that none of these guys was thinking of marriage, but the lady was oblivious of the signs. Maybe she just didn’t want to see them. Maybe she was living on hopes and dreams. Maybe she thought she could turn one of the guys around. In the end she made her choice – a youngish guy, still working in the West, who nevertheless bought a house near Hua Hin, where she lived, alone, and then with her baby, for several years before he whizzed her off to Europe. She sent me Happy Birthday emails for a while but I’ve not heard from her recently. I hope they’ve sorted something out.

Then there are the SMSs and emails we are asked to read…

To be continued…