Too Many Lies
When former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s son cheated on a school exam his father defended him saying it was merely an honest mistake. President Trump and his clan call lies or distortion of facts alternative truths. Another president went on TV years ago to declare that he “had never had sex with that woman” only to be forced later to admit that in fact he had. Let’s face it, we all lie at various times for all sort of reasons. It’s part of human nature. Here in Thailand the interpretation of the matter takes another dimension. It’s either more complicated or perhaps simpler whichever way you look at it. It’s called; “never lose face.” Which in the view of many foreigners (plus one foreign-educated Thai I’m acquainted with) equates to nothing more than a license to lie and cheat. Or, to use a kinder formulation, a permission to deceive. This follows the story of a farang who fell into the trap of deception. The twist here is that he was far from being an innocent bystander caught in Thai-style deception as he was less than an honest man himself. In the end he deserved no better.
Jiri went on holiday to Pattaya. It was the late ’90s and before the invasion of the Russians and Chinese to the resort town. It was a time when Farang tourists were still welcome with a large smile almost everywhere. Jiri descended on a small hotel not too far from the beach where he liked to spend the afternoon, later returning to the hotel. In the evenings the reception was occupied by a beautiful, charming and smiling young lady. Jiri, who was on his first trip to LOS, was immediately smitten. He took to sit on the reception’s small bench in early evenings, sometimes for close to an hour just eying up the girl. On the third or fourth day he plucked up his courage and asked her if she would join him for a drink after her shift was over. Naruemon (Mon) said she would but only if accompanied by her friend. Later she explained to Jiri the Thai interpretation of good girl manners & tradition. She was young and innocent with an impeccable reputation and had of course never been intimate with a man. The after shift drink scenario went on for a few more days until Jiri left to spend another week in Phuket. On the last day Jiri tried to kiss her but Mon refused. He then tried to shake hands but Mon only laughed and gave him the polite Thai wai to say good-bye.
Jiri originally was a resident of the former Czechoslovakia. When the communist regime fell it became the Czech Republic. It was close to the end of the last millennium. The austere communist regime gave way to capitalism and almost overnight people became more comfortable, earning a decent living, some got rich and a few even wealthy. It was an agitated episode and Jiri, a young man, then decided to relocate and live in Germany. There he soon found a niche for himself in the prosperous country. He purchased second-hand luxury cars and sold them to the now much more affluent Czechs. That was not entirely legal of course, especially when the cars were imported under false pretenses and registration papers had to be doctored to avoid Customs duties. There was a real shortage of luxury vehicles then and Jiri no doubt made good money for a few years. He decided to treat himself to a prolonged holiday in the land of smiles.
Just like the charming seaside resort of Pattaya in the late ’90s, Thailand’s favorite island had much to offer and Jiri again enjoyed long afternoons on the lovely beaches. But he did not find peace of mind despite the animated nightlife offering parties, discos, beer-bars, a-gogos and a variety of pretty girls. Mon was on his mind. After the week was up he returned to Pattaya and the little hotel. He had decided to continue the courtship of Mon. She was quite obviously enchanted by his perseverance. And Jiri was in no hurry, he could afford to stay several more weeks if that was required to get what he wanted. He presented Mon with a lovely gold necklace and then a bracelet the following week. The after shift drinks routine with the chaperone in tow continued for a time. Then he decided it was time to get one step further.
Jiri was not exactly a braggart but he liked to come across an accomplished businessman and sometimes embellished his curriculum especially when in the company of friends and after a few drinks. He hated to be seen as cheap. On outings he would invariably want to pick up the bill or offer drinks around sometimes to people he didn’t even know. Conversely he seemed somewhat inhibited when in the presence of the oh so pretty Mon. The language barrier did not help either. He felt the need to show some prestige so he went out and rented a 100 m² nicely furnished condo in Jomtien and settled in.
Eventually the after shift barhops with Mon were upgraded to a dinner date with the chaperone no longer present. After much lobbying and following an extra glass of wine Mon finally agreed to visit his condo. It was a memorable evening for Jiri and later he’d tell the details over and over again. But he remembered two things that stood out. Mon was not a virgin and shortly after 11.30 PM she needed to go home. She soon explained away the first because of much gymnastics and other sporting activity that had robbed her of her the hymen in her teenage years, and the second that her family did not allow her a past midnight curfew. To Jiri in his forlorn lovesickness that was just more proof of her excellent family ties.
Happy days followed even tough Mon never really settled in his condo but limited the trysts to two or three evenings a week. But then the time came when Jiri had to return home and attend to his car trafficking & selling business. He asked Mon to become his regular girlfriend and come stay with him for an initial 3-month period in Germany. In those days it was still possible if not easy to get a visa for Thai girls for that period of time. Not without much hassle to be sure and Jiri often bitterly complained on oversea calls to me of the endless documents to fill and the many hurdles to jump. Eventually Mon boarded the flight to Germany and I heard pure joy in Jiri’s voice when he called to confirm her arrival in Frankfurt. I heard little news of either of them during the 3 months but assume they surely had a good time.
Unlike Jiri, Mon was not a show-off but was certainly not bashful or shy and always liked to be well-dressed in stylish and fashionable clothes. As most 22-year-old Thai girls, she had the body to do just that. On one of the rare calls to me she was overjoyed by the many beautiful garments she had been given by Jiri during her stay in Europe. He was a wealthy man no doubt, generous and what’s more sending money to her parents while staying with him on holiday, she exclaimed. I started to have some doubts but kept them to myself. But Jiri was sincere in his intentions and undertakings. When talking on the phone he would call Mon his fiancée. He asked for my help to obtain the necessary documents on the Thai side for the upcoming nuptials that would take place in the not too distant future. Then the time came when the 3 months were up and she had to depart for Thailand again. Most of her belongings and her new clothing remained there in Germany as she was going back for another 3 months shortly. This time to get married to her beloved. Just a matter of waiting a few weeks for the renewed visa and travel documents. That is what she told me on her return.
It never happened. Jiri had pushed his luck too far, apparently. Shortly after Mon’s return he was arrested and placed under investigative detention. He was accused of smuggling offences but worse, it turned out that some of the trafficked cars were stolen vehicles. Would I please inform Mon that there was a slight delay before the next visa could be issued? I knew otherwise. There was no way for him with this newly acquired rap sheet to obtain a tourist visa for a Thai girl. Probably not for years as he was not even a German national but living in the country under an Ausländerausweis.
I decided to wait for Mon’s call as I had offered earlier on to accompany her to the embassy for the visa formalities. When it came I didn’t have the heart to tell her on the phone about the latest developments so we agreed to meet in Bangkok. She came to the meeting accompanied by a cute little girl of about 3 years old who she introduced as her sister’s daughter. It’s the sight of the kid with so remarkably similar features to Mon that had me decide not to hold back any longer. I dished out the truth in one long sentence. Mon did not seem overly upset or concerned. But she did eventually shed a tear or two. Seeing her mother unhappy the little girl started to cry. It’s not often that Thais show emotion in public and for the people around our table I must have come across as the real villain and got some angry looks.
Later I tried to explain Jiri’s predicament, which in turn incited Mon to open up also, at least to some degree. Yes, she was married to a Thai man but had separated for the time of the German interlude and yes, the little girl was hers, cared for by the family while she was gone. Jiri never knew. She did not tell him but now she said it didn’t matter any longer as she would likely not see him again.
Some weeks later and by pure chance one of my staff crossed Mon’s path. Between Thais the conversation flowed and some of the remaining lies surfaced. I finally heard about it months later. It was all a set-up on Mon and her husband’s part from the get-go. Jiri had paid handsomely first to take her away and continued sending lumps of money from Germany. Most of it went to her husband. Did Mon really intend to return to him and get married? Or was it just more fake pretense to extort more money? I never got to know that.
Thais adapt easy to new situations. Better than many of us. Get on with life whatever happens, turn the page and start a new chapter. Mon did. I heard twice more from her after the events. The first time was to ask if I would please demand Jiri to send back all her beautiful garments left behind in Germany (he did not). The second time was a few years later when she told me she was now the proud new mother of a second child, a boy, and still living with her Thai husband.
I’ve no news from Jiri and have no idea what has become of him.
This is a sad story on so many levels. There was a time when many of those in Thai / farang relationships – i.e. both parties – were duplicitous but these days I think most are on the straight and narrow. Still, stories like this are not entirely uncommon these days and when I see some of the relationships Thais are in with Kiwi men here in New Zealand, I do question whether the idea of true love comes in to it.
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