Stickman's Weekly Column June 2nd, 2002

The Changing Thai Girl



It's not hard to figure out why bargirls become bargirls. Coming from a desperately poor part of the country and with but a mediocre education, work in the bar offers them the chance to make several times what they would elsewhere.

But what about all of these other Thai girls who are now interested in farang guys? Walk around Bangkok and you will find Western men gallivanting around with pretty Thai girls, girls who would never ever dream of working in a bar. And we're not talking small, insignificant numbers here. There are thousands of Thai girls, non-working girls, dating farang guys.

In years gone by, Thai girls were not exactly comfortable being seen in public with a foreigner. It was not something that the traditional Thai woman would do. The traditional Thai values that were so prevalent just a generation ago, are becoming harder and harder to find. What has contributed to this? Is it a symptom of the huge number of tourists that are coming to Thailand or can it perhaps be attributed to the ever increasing number of foreigners living in Thailand? Or have the likes of Hollywood and McDonalds played a part in changing the ways of Thai society? While these may have all contributed in some way, the social fabric of Thai society is in my eyes, breaking down.

Since they were very young, Thai girls have done everything that their parents asked of them. While the boys were running around having a riotous time and thoroughly enjoying themselves, the girls were doing their very best to be the model daughter. Long days at school would be followed by hours and hours of homework. And if they came from wealthy families, their would be even more study at the weekend. They never had a chance to enjoy themselves, but they were able to defer this thought, for being a good girl would pay dividends in the future.

The implication was that as long as they did as their parents said – and what Thai society dictated was the right thing to do – everything would work out just as it should. A good job and a good husband would be the reward for 20 odd years of dedication to being pooying reap roy (a proper Thai girl).

But the reality is that so many young Thai women have worked and studied hard all of their life, have done all that was asked and expected of them, yet they now they find themselves in their mid to late 20s with a job that they hate. Worse still, they are in an uphill struggle to find a decent man. (Remember, the ratio of university graduates in Thailand is 70% female : 30% male so finding a similarly educated local man is not easy.) These Thai women played the game. They followed the system and did just as society said. But the system let them down. All of the hard work that they did is questioned as they feel betrayed that they kept their end of the bargain, yet the reward never materialised.

All that hard work, stress, anxiety and deferred enjoyment has made many Thai women resentful. Putting on a brave face, there are huge numbers of local women who are starting to rebel. And the word is out amongst younger Thai women too. They see what is happening with their older sisters and are thinking "bugger it, I am going to enjoy myself".

Cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, tattoos, sexy clothes and promiscuity, all behaviour previously shunned by good Thai girls is becoming more and more common. Public affection between couples is common, even with farangs. And many of these Thai women are dropping their knickers in a flash. Sex before marriage? What is that?!

The values that were so revered in Thailand of the traditional Thai woman are not just being eroded, they are being totally shattered by a lack of faith and unwillingness to follow a system that is falling apart.

Who knows what the future holds? My crystal ball offers no clues, but one thing is for sure, the Thailand that we know now will be very different in the future… And those traditional Thai values that were once the norm, may very well be left behind….a distant memory. For better or for worse, in many ways Thailand is becoming more and more like the West.


Where is this pic?

Yeah, we know it is the xxxxxx, but which one?

Remember, the first person to email me with the right answer wins a fantastic calendar with pictures of Thai ladies from the good folks at ThaiTemptations.com. Last week's picture was somewhat easy, the view of the Nana intersection – the location where more condoms are sold than anywhere else in Bangkok, as photographed from the Nana Hotel. Zillions of people emailed in the right answer.

How big is your face?

I read your piece last week about the rise and rise of the laptop computer. The main reason they are popular is that the Thais like to show face and give an indication to passers-by how "rich" they are. Having a laptop hanging off your shoulder tells everybody that you have arrived. Remember not so long ago it was the same with mobile phones, before the prices came down and now everyone has got one from five year old school kids to the Isaan house maid. Mobile phones would be displayed the same way as the laptops are displayed now. They would be clipped on belts, hung around the neck complete with flashing lights, anything to attract attention, and announce to the World that you are part of the affluent society. Now mobile phones are as cheap as dog shit, they don't serve the purpose of informing the lower orders that one have arrived.
Are these the same people who pinch toilet paper from public toilets?
I know people that also rent a condo in the same building as I do who will only shower at the swimming pool, just to save out on the water bill, they go out at 7 PM (when the balloon parties are starting) and come back after the last happy hour with the ugliest of the ugliest freelancer from the Beach Road.
Are we safe?
About 1 month ago a 30 year old friend of mine from Bournemouth, England, was left for dead by a Thai man in what appears to have been a blood curdling assault. The attack took place outside his Thai girlfriend's apartment in the Sukhumvit area. The assailant was a former boyfriend of the girl. After spending seven days on a life support system, it was finally decided that treatment should be discontinued. His body was flown back to the UK where a second autopsy is being carried out. The incident has been reported in the local press (Bournemouth Echo), although seemingly not in Bangkok.

The police took a hell of a long time to investigate the matter; the suspect was finally invited to attend an interview. He failed to show and was finally arrested.

Another teacher colleague of mine has received death threats from a similarly disgruntled jilted Thai man, and thinking about it I had an email a few months back from a friend who also was worried about the behaviour of his girlfriends ex. All these incidents were unconnected.

Until recently I thought the worst that could happen to guys in the Bangkok scene was a malicious wounding to the wallet, or an unpleasant few hours in a clap clinic, but this recent development has changed my mind.

Haven't been to America for a few years – but it sounds bad!
American women have more education, more job opportunities, more money and more laws protecting their rights than any other women in the world. And, they still want more. They still claim they are oppressed. YES, western women (at least Americans) are that bad. And, once you felt the gentle touch of a young Thai lady, isn't it rather impossible to get excited about one of those loud leather-faced hags we call American women?
Voluntarily leave?
Have you ever come across a farang expat on a fixed term posting to Bangkok who can’t wait for the single ticket home? I have. Someone on a three year stint that comes to an end in a few months time is counting the days. A person who is fed up of being accosted and abused by fellow countrymen in shopping malls, working behind bullet proof glass and forced to stay at home or workplace while in this fair city. Who is this unfortunate? Why, a front line immigration official in a farangland embassy, no less. Several horror stories were related – the nicest being of a man pleading and desperate to get a visa for his beautiful princess. The guy had a bank account of 4m baht (converted to real money) so with misgivings a visa was granted. One year later the guy returns, minus princess and minus 4m baht. He lodges a formal complaint with the embassy against the immigration official for granting the visa! Another useful thought for those preparing for a visa application for the girl of your dreams – which should be obvious if you are thinking straight, but by now you are not – is that the embassies all read the websites as well. They know about the latest sure fire way to fool the officials before you do.

Hanging out at Lumpini last Monday. A public holiday
with perfect weather….and the place was dead! Why?

The sexification of Sukumvit Road continues with the latest bar area being built right amongst it all in Sex Tourist Alley. A new bar area is being erected in the lane between Sukumvit sois 5 and 7, down the side of the Beergarden and next to that dodgy looking short time place.

If you want to get a discount at a department store, don't be shy to ask. Many of the department stores have various specials ranging from automatic 55 discount to tourists to VIP vouchers to The sales assistants appear to have the discretion to allow discounts – and given that these people are on commission, it is in their best interests to make the sale. Central and the Emporium Deportment store are two examples where a request for a discount will not be turned down.

Lumpini Park really is nice when the weather is good. But why is always deserted? Even in public holidays, few people seem to visit.

Very strong rumours coming through suggest that the goal posts are going to be changed AGAIN on the criteria for the issuing of work permits for English teachers. With the current criteria not enforced in a consistent manner, it is hard to see policy changes resulting in anything different.

Quote of the week comes from Adelaide Ian. "Is Phuket Thai for rip-off?"

Nana Plaza's oasis of peace and tranquility, Woodstock, has a great special right through the duration of the World Cup. All of the matches will be shown live and during each and every match, bottled beers (excluding imports) are just 60 baht a bottle, and draught beer is just 55 baht. Damned good value and with their big screen, it is well worth choosing Woodstock as the place to watch the football.

If you are looking for a steak, I see that Outback Steakhouse have just opened. I went for a nosy and it looks quite nice, but at around 600 baht for a steak (imported from Australia), a poor English teacher like me will not be dining there in a hurry.

But if you want something a lot cheaper, try one of the Oishi chain of restaurants. They have their curry and rice on special from 114 baht to 55 baht. Not sure how long this will last but this is a good thick stew with big pieces of meat and good sized chunks of vegetables – just like we get back in the west, and is so hard to find here.

Two Bangkok teachers are up in arms at the choice of course books that they have to teach to their students this year. At the end of the last academic year, much time was spent carefully selecting books that were appropriate to the students, both in terms of suitable material, being interesting and the right level. Recommendations were made to the manager who accepted them and confirmed that the books would be ordered. Upon returning to school after the Summer break, the two teachers were horrified to see that not only had the recommended books not been ordered, but other books, far too difficult for the students had been. The two teachers could not work out quite what had happened. They later went on to learn that the English course books are sold to the students at a standard price of 300 baht, irrespective of cost. The book they had recommended was 297 baht, but the book ordered – one that they had crossed off the list as being totally inappropriate – was 265 baht. Hundreds of books had to be ordered and the manager ordered the books hxxself and collected money from the students hxxself too…. Ahhh, corruption in education – who would ever believe it!

One hears horror stories from some folks of how long it takes to get their work permit and subsequent visa extension in order. Many people moan and groan about the inefficiencies of Thai officialdom and how it takes months to get it all done. These people are either misinformed or have had bad luck, for all of my experiences have been very positive. So long as your paperwork is in order, the visa extension seldom takes more than an hour. You are looking at about the same time amount of time at the Labour Department – though you do have to return a week or so later to collect the document itself. This week, myself and a bunch of colleagues left work at around 10:15 AM and returned to work before 2:00 PM with everything complete. The system works – and it works damned well.

What is the official word on the first two years of one's employment in Thailand being tax free? I hear this rumour all the time – though some people say it only applies to the Americans. Anyone know the truth? Where's my tax refund?!

Are you really sure you want to buy a car and drive in Bangers?

Mistys A GoGo, one of my favourite gogo bars in Pattaya has undergone a refurbishment recently and looks a lot bigger than it used to. Also, in a recent column i mentioned how the uniform that the girls wear there is the best, I didn't actually realize that they have about five different outfits. It was the schoolgirl outfit that grabbed me….oooh, makes me sound like a pervert.

As a language teacher, and as someone who made more than a diligent effort to come to grips with the local lingo, I feel it is far more beneficial to study Thai in a classroom than through another means. The classroom setting with a skilled teacher cannot be beaten. If you are in lands afar and finding a teacher, skilled or other wise is impossible, then obviously self study is the only way to go. I always recommend books and tapes ahead of CD-Roms…have yet to see a good CD-Rom, though admittedly there may be many that I haven't seen. Still, at 150 baht for a CD in Panthip, one may as well buy them all. Admittedly I did learn to count using a CD-ROM, but that was the end of it.

What is it about the last day of the month and locals using taxis? Seems they are all in a race to get to their favourite restaurant / bar because such venues do a roaring trade at the end of the month – and getting a taxi can suddenly become just as difficult as it is when the skies open in the rainy season. Amongst the many other things that annoy me (yes, I whine a lot), is the last day of the month. Traffic is terrible, restaurants, bars and shops are packed and the locals walk faster – and that really throws a cat amongst the pigeons.

But truth be told, traffic is not bad at all at the moment. With the World Cup on, it seems that a good percentage of Thais are staying home to watch the matches. There is far less traffic on the roads than normal and getting around is a lot easier. Expect it to be like this for the next month or so.

Call me sexist, but I truly believe that in the Land Of Smiles, males make a far greater effort to learn about the culture, learn the language, and generally make far less errors in social situations than their female friends. Farang females in Thailand really do seem to be a bit clumsy… I could well be wrong, but I put it down to the fact that huge numbers of men fall in love with Thailand (and Thai women) and they have greater motivation to actually put the effort in an make it all work.

My email box was busy this week with a huge number of emails regarding the "guide to meeting non bar girl Thai ladies" that I have written, but was unsure whether to publish. I originally wrote the guide while I had a bit of free time on holiday but it ballooned into a huge piece. For so long I have warned of the dangers of pursuing a relationship with a prostitute but frankly, I have never really done a lot to help people who want to meet a genuine girl. The article was written as an effort to help genuine guys who wanted to meet genuine girls. I thought it would be nice to help these guys meet girls who were sincere, and who are actually prepared to put in the effort to make a farang / Thai relationship work. As far as the email responses went, about 85% of people responded that they would like the article to be published, and about 15% were against it. Around 20% said they would be prepared to pay for it – though I have no intention of ever selling it. I have to admit that some guys have sent me in some fairly good arguments on why it should be published. However, this has to be offset by some of the arguments offered against why it should not be published. These particular comments were VERY convincing… With this in mind, I believe that the article is best not published. I feel that the material would not be used for its intended purpose, and perhaps most of all, this site is not the place for it to be published. A lot of the emails sent in made interesting reading and I have compiled some of the the responses here.

From next week onwards, the official new publication time for the column will be 6:00 PM Bangkok time. Recently I have found it difficult to meet the 3:00 PM publication time.

Stick