One of the themes in the early days of this website was the danger of entering in to a serious relationship with, or marrying a bargirl. I thought bargirl relationships were a thing of the past but I was wrong.
In the past 3 weeks I have received a flood of emails from people keen to check out their bargirl girlfriend. This spike in emails came out of the blue. I had no idea that so many are still trying to make a go of it with a bargirl.
It has long been said that relationships with bargirls don’t work, even if there is little evidence to suggest that such relationships are any less successful than those between a Western man and a Thai lady who has never stepped inside a bar.
Once upon a time it seemed like most Western men involved with a Thai woman met in a bar. There was a time when there weren’t a whole lot of other options.
It’s only a generation ago most Thai women had little interest in foreign men. Western men did not have the best reputation in Thailand – they had heard stories about what American GIs got up to in their backyard during the Vietnam War, and a diet of American movies showed Westerners to be sexually liberated. Many Thais felt they just weren’t compatible with Western men.
It’s not that long ago that Thai women dating Western men were referred to as mia chao, which literally translates as “rented wife”.
By the time I rocked along to Thailand, there was a good chance the fellow sitting next to you in a bar would quote the old “You can take the girl out of the bar but you can’t take the bar out of the girl” mantra.
But times changed and the number of Westerners visiting and living in Thailand was on the up. Thais’ views on Westerners had softened and there were Thai ladies who found Western men to their liking.
Some ladies even entered the bar industry not only because they were poor and / or couldn’t find work that paid enough to support themselves and their family, they hoped to meet a foreign man – and they didn’t know where to do so outside of the bars.
I don’t think anyone went to Thailand planning to get involved with a hooker, but before the late ‘90s they tell me there were few options to meet a local lady. Presentable friends with good jobs who visited Thailand in the mid ‘90s tell me that when they asked a Thai lady out she would be shocked! A good Thai lady dating a Western man just wasn’t the done thing. Guys didn’t go to the bars wife-hunting, but what started as a transaction in a bar would sometimes develop in to something much more serious.
By the turn of the millennium, Thai women were becoming more open-minded and expats found themselves in demand. Foreigners in Thailand already in a relationship with a Thai lady would be asked by the lady’s friends if he had any single friends. Foreign men’s stock was on the way up.
At the same time, plenty of guys were still meeting ladies in the bars and trying to make a go of it with them. They would travel to Thailand every few months to see their darling and many would invite her to his homeland.
Websites like this one had no shortage of stories about relationships which started in a bar, promised so much but turned in to a nightmare. Old mantras seldom lie and many found out the hard way that working girls often don’t make good relationship partners.
The bar ladies made good money back then – but nothing like the sort of money some girls do today. Some girls struggled to meet their quotas which were often 7 barfines a month and 30 lady drinks. Offered a new life in a new country, many were up for it. After all, if it didn’t work out they could always return, right?
New ways to meet local women appeared. BangkokChat was followed by ThailandFriends, and then there was ThaiLoveLinks and ThaiFriendly. Now, every Thai woman could get online and meet a Western man. The Internet did more for relationships between Western men and Thai women than anything before it.
These women were relationship-minded, most were employed and some were doing very well for themselves. Business owners and professionals were amongst their number, especially in the early days when most Thais didn’t have a computer at home and the Internet was something you went to a café to use – those online at that time tended to be middle class and up. They were not looking for money nor a sugar daddy.
As the flood of Western men flocking to Thailand gathered pace, so did the number of Thai women keen to get involved with a Western man. In any group of Thai female friends, odds are that at least one had dated a Western man.
Today, any Western man can meet a Thai woman with little effort. Sign up for a dating site, or download a dating app or get on Facebook, or simply go out and meet someone the old-fashioned way.
Just as the dating scene has changed for foreign men in Thailand, so too has the bar industry. Thailand’s economy has come on in leaps and bounds and the minimum wage today is at a level that full-time employees can make enough to live without having to consider the bar industry.
Today, the bar industry tends to attract a more hardcore woman, those who have had rugged lives, those who don’t always have great discipline and who might not be able to hold down a 9-5 job. You might call them hardcore. They work in the bar to make money. They’re not looking for love.
Bargirls today are not looking for love and they are certainly not looking to be rescued! They don’t want to stay with a customer for any longer than is necessary. Do the business quickly and move on to the next customer is the best way to maximise income.
So I have received a heap of emails in the last 3 weeks from guys keen to check out their bargirl girlfriend. Many share their story and most are paying their girlfriend 20,000 – 40,000 baht per month. Why, I don’t know, as most are still working. Some guys think that if they don’t pay her, she will leave them – even when she is not with him in the first place. Typically he can only speak to her when it suits her and for much of the day she is unavailable. It is not a relationship in any sense of the world; it is throwing money down the drain.
Everyone is online in Thailand. Everyone in Thailand knows online dating. Everyone knows Facebook and social media where many hookups happen and relationships begin. In other words, any Thai woman who wishes to meet a foreign man has many options – and they are very well aware of all of these options.
I cannot reiterate enough how the ladies who end up in the bars today tend to be troubled. They’ve had hard lives. Many are, sadly, not ideal relationship material.
There was a time when the bars appeared to be the only place to meet Thai women. And some of the ladies working in the bars really were genuinely keen to meet a man for a relationship rather than renting their body to stranger after stranger.
These days the ladies in the bars know that the money they can make in the bars is far more than almost all guys would be willing to pay them to be exclusive to them.
I don’t believe anyone goes to the bars these days looking for love, but feelings of love can come along when you least expect it. But, seriously, if you want a Thai girlfriend then the naughty bars of Thailand are the last place to find her.
Some of these guys who sent emails seemed to genuinely believe that if you want a Thai girlfriend you have to pay. They seem to have been brainwashed in to thinking that whatever she says, you have to accept it.
You absolutely do not have to pay money to a Thai lady for her to be your girlfriend. You don’t have to share your girlfriend with others. A decent Thai girlfriend will be delighted if you call her (and will probably be angry if you don’t) at least twice a day. A decent Thai women never makes excuses that she is not able to talk with you. The crazy part is that these days it is much more difficult to find a girlfriend in the bar industry than outside it, and it is much more difficult to make a relationship work with a bargirl than with a lady from the mainstream – so don’t fight the odds!
Where Was This Photo Taken
Last week’s photo was taken at Phom Pra Sumen Park, the old fortress in a park on Phra Arthit Road, next to the main river, not far from the temple end of Khao San Road. This week’s photo was kindly provided by long-time reader Bangkok Barry. It was taken in downtown Bangkok in an area many readers know. Surely that is a giveaway clue?!
Stick’s Inbox (The best emails from the past week.)
Down and out in Bangkok.
I felt like you were talking to me in your latest column. We don’t always see the big things coming in life because, like boiling a frog, we drift off course ever so slightly and then a few years later realise that we’ll never make it back to dry land. I’m one of those trapped in Thailand and it’s far from paradise when the money runs out. A daily food and drink budget of THB 250 means you eat and drink at the 7 Eleven – 2 bottles of Leo and a couple of microwave meals, day after day. Still, it could be worse. Nights out on Sukhumvit become more infrequent unless someone else is paying. You quickly discover that all the blokes you thought were friends were just drinking buddies. Having said that I’m luckier than some. I have an income and manage to survive, but only month-to-month and cannot return home due to financial constraints. I would be homeless, simple as that, and in that context it’s a no-brainer to remain here as long as possible. Not being able to make plans for the future is a bizarre way to spend your life – the futility of it all quickly asserts itself. I understand why some guys take a leap at Swampy when faced with the prospect of boarding a plane home – it’s just bringing forward the inevitable for many.
Pork adobo or USDA grade A steak?
I agree that rent is a huge expense when returning home; same for the USA. Of course it depends on where one chooses to reside but in general rents have increased significantly all over the USA. The 2008 housing bubble collapse created a huge demand for rentals and we know what happens when supply does not meet demand. I decided to try living in the Philippines after my 7-month Central and South American trip. I pay $160 US/month for an unfurnished 865 square foot apartment. So cheap that I’ll probably keep it when I return to the USA. I like living in the Philippines but Thailand has much better infrastructure and – relatively – more efficient government bureaucracy. I purchased several used bikes in Thailand and I was able to transfer registration in to my name in one or two business days. I bought a used bike here in the Philippines and it took me 10 business days – and I was asked for a bribe by an LTO official. I didn’t pay and they made me wait. In any case, I love travel and living abroad, but I’ve always known that I would return to the USA at some point. I think in a couple of years I’ll be ready to leave pork adobo for USDA grade A steak. Ha!
The Facebook love affair.
You’re right about the Thais’ dependence on Facebook. Yesterday I visited my wife in hospital in Isaan; nothing serious, but that doesn’t stop the doctors from insisting they spend time and money on rooms and tests. Anyway, she was in mid sentence speaking to me when her phone beeped with a Facebook message. She immediately stopped talking and totally focused on her phone. I was a tad miffed, having driven 70 km to see her, so tried to start the conversation again, but nothing doing. Feeling even more miffed, I headed out of the hospital, over to the obligatory 7 Eleven for a coffee then back to the 7th floor room. I walked inside and she was still on the phone, completely oblivious. When she finally surfaced from yakking online, or whatever she was doing, I asked her what Thais did before Facebook and I got the expected blank look.
I agree with you that many farangs give up their careers too early and move to Thailand because it’s cheap where they take low paying jobs teaching etc. then they wake up at 45 – 50 years of age and realize they have little retirement money and as you say are stuck in Thailand. I have met many over 50 expats who can’t afford the 800,000 baht bank deposit nor do they have sufficient pension to meet the requirements for a retirement visa. It might have been fun in your 40s, but being 60 years old, living in a 10,000 baht a month studio apartment and eating cheap at food courts every day is not exactly living the dream, though it may work for some. When asked, I advise people if you have a skill and the ability to earn a good living back home then work your butt off, live below your means and save – and you can probably retire early and move to Thailand if you so choose.
Busy or not?
I’m not sure where your friends went that they thought it was like high season. I just returned from Bangkok (Sukhumvit) and thought that it was the slowest I have ever seen it. The rains didn’t help matters.
Preference for Taiwan.
Having lived in Bangkok for 4 years (I can read and write Thai and travel extensively), and been to Taipei twice for visa runs, I have to say that Taipei is better value for money. People are civilized, and the climate is temperate. If I had know about Taiwan 6 years ago, I would probably have skipped Thailand after a few holidays and settled in Taiwan. I am currently unemployed and the employment situation in Germany is dire, even for university graduates. If I found a job somewhere, I would instantly leave Thailand (but come back for holidays as often as possible). But having the choice between being unemployed in Germany or unemployed in Thailand (living on my savings in both cases), I prefer Thailand!
Girl Of The Week
Miss New, gogo dancer, Enter, Nana Plaza
#906, she is a new hire and new to the industry.
The party this past Tuesday night at Mandarin in Nana Plaza was huge. By 8:45 PM, the upstairs bar was packed solid and by 9:30 downstairs was pumping too. Things went so well that the boss has decided he wants to do it all again this coming Tuesday, May 30th. So get ready for another round of Cowboy hats, plastic pistols, a free buffet and tickets & prizes.
Mandarin has a unique problem – too many girls! They recently signed up with 2 additional agencies and this past Monday they had to send some girls away because there were just too many. On Friday of last week there were 70 girls upstairs and 50 downstairs – and for a bar the size of Mandarin, that’s a lot!
From the provinces, some expat bars are dying. In Khon Kaen, three expat bars have closed in recent months. With the pound getting Brits fewer baht and fewer Americans retiring to rural Thailand these days, there just isn’t the customer base to support many dedicated expat bars. Compare this with the sector of the bar industry popular with Thais where new venues are opening all the time and many are booming.
And business isn’t great in Bangkok or Pattaya where the word disaster is being used to describe bar trade early this year. It’s not just that May is traditionally the quietest or second quietest month of the year (September being the other especially quiet month), unseasonal and very heavy rains that have caused flooding have seen many stay indoors in the sanctity of their condo rather than venture out.
Following on from the article about hidden video in the bar areas, the management of Nana Plaza is in the process of designing new “no video” signs in English, Japanese and Thai – with several to be placed in clear view on each floor of the plaza.
The new owners of the bar previously known as Playskool have spent much time and effort on restoring its image as an “all-girl” gogo bar but now the new owners have reverted back to the mixed format with ladyboys joining real girls on stage at the bar now known as Easy Lick. Needless to say, this hasn’t gone down well with punters. Ladyboy bars are one thing but when you mix real ladies and ladyboys together you alienate punters. And as if things couldn’t get worse, Easy Lick service staff deny that there are ladyboys on the premises! The official name of the bar is Easy Lick but perhaps Easy Dick would be more fitting? If you practice your oral sex technique on bananas then you’ll love what’s happening at Easy Dick, oops, I mean Easy Lick. If the idea of ladyboys on stage turns you off, vote with your feet and give Easy Dick a miss and hopefully they will abandon the concept and return to being all-girl again.
Down by the sea, BabyDolls will celebrate tomorrow night with an ’80s party. There’ll be ’80s music, hopefully ’80s style colourful wigs for the girls and punters are encouraged to go along looking like ’80s porn stars – which should be easy as that’s the default look for many Pattaya expats already.
Speaking of Pattaya, word from Sin City is that the coppers are very keen to breathalyse expats behind the wheel. This is having an effect on bar business, especially on the darkside, as expats not only choose not to drive but don’t bother going out. Many of the bars on the darkside are spaced apart so you really need your own transport to get around – and while there are plenty of motorbike taxi riders in the area, there’s no guarantee there will be one there when you need them and besides, the cost could mount up if you’re crawling from bar to bar to bar.
How much money does the average Thai working girl make per month? It really is a how long is a piece of string question. One way to estimate a lady’s earnings would be to peek at the bar’s book. The book outlines every member of staff’s daily or monthly pay rate to how many days they worked that month to how many lady drinks they earned to how many times they were barfined etc. With that info, you could calculate exactly how much they received from the bar and then estimate how much they made from extracurricular activities and come up with a rough total of a lady’s total earnings. Getting your hands on the book isn’t easy but from time to time info leaks. And that is what has happened with a printed pay slip from a popular gogo bar in Soi LK Metro in Pattaya making it my way. It has long been known how bars love to cut ladies salaries and what this particular pay slip shows is just how much a lady’s salary can be cut. In the pay slip below, Miss Tak is on a monthly salary of 25,000 baht. That sounds good but that’s where the good news ends. Once the many penalties imposed on her for various infractions have been deducted, along with what appears to be a 5,000 baht loan to the mysterious Ron, Miss Tak took home the grand total of 273 baht for her month of work at the bar, or an average of about 9 baht per day! It should be noted that 159 lady drinks were bought for her and she was barfined 16 times that month. At an average of, say, 2,500 baht per time, my best guess would be that she made around 40,000 baht for the month. She might have the odd sucker abroad sending her money on top of that too.
In recent weeks I have mentioned a phenomenon in Thailand that fascinates me – the growing movement of puritanical, xenophobic Thais online who attack foreigners whose behaviour (or merely whose words) they do not approve of. But foreigners are not the only people they go after. They are just as quick to pass judgment on their fellow Thais. A case in point this past week was the story of a fetching Thai nurse whose photos appeared on an amusingly named Facebook group, the Thai Nurses Appreciation Society. Apparently this fair-skinned beauty got quite a reaction. But the Sourpuss Society – as I think might be the best way to refer to this movement of puritanical, xenophobic Thais – didn’t approve of her short skirt and were quick to admonish her for supposedly disrespecting the nursing profession. After her image was posted online, she drew the attention of haters, and such a furore followed that she decided to resign – all over the supposed crime of having a skirt that some considered too short and unbecoming of a nurse….when the real truth is more likely that she is better looking than those who complained about her and they were jealous. This is just another example of how reactions on social media in Thailand can change someone’s life in the blink of an eye.
A note for any readers looking at heading over the border to Cambodia for some fun next weekend, the Cambodian Government has banned the sale and consumption of alcohol over June 3 and 4 to prevent unrest during commune elections. Whether that means it will be like an election weekend in Thailand when many bars close or what, I do not know.
The local mad man I call The Mad Professor is still roaming central Bangkok scribbling equations that are only understood by him with a reader capturing some of his latest work at a bus stop in the embassy district.
It was around 2010 when the trend of long-term foreign residents of Thailand choosing to move on from Thailand became noticeable. Up until that point it seemed that most of us had a real love affair with Thailand and the only folks moving were those who had run out of money or their company was relocating them. From around 2010 it seemed like people were leaving because they just didn’t enjoy Thailand as much as they used to and / or they felt somewhere else would be better. It seemed like the Philippines was the number one choice until around 2013 when Cambodia seemed to become more popular, especially with those running out of visa options. Now Vietnam seems to be the destination of choice for foreigners moving on from Thailand. I get quite a few emails from Stickman readers in Vietnam who used to live in Thailand and they all seem happy to have moved there. Vietnam did cross my mind at one time but ultimately I thought it would be more of the same.
Do you read The Nation newspaper? There was a time when it was, arguably, the better of the two main English language rags. I used to. I don’t really enjoy The Bangkok Post either, but it’s streets ahead of The Nation these days, in my opinion.
I would like to reiterate a point I have made a number of times which seems to have been lost if comments on the Facebook page are anything to go by. I don’t look at the Facebook page! I was told that some people had sent me messages there. Sorry, I hadn’t seen them as – I have explained many times – I don’t care for Facebook. If you’ve got something to say you can email me – I will read it and I will reply.
Quote of the week comes from a reader, “As seasoned travellers know, most hotels market themselves like girl markets herself on a dating site.”
Reader’s story of the week comes from Steve Rosse, “Big Papi And The Gun“.
Thailand’s first hospital for street dogs opens.
A nurse resigns in Thailand after her sexy uniform is criticised by many Thais online.
Well-known Central America sex tourism blogger Cuba Dave has won his appeal but remains in prison.
It looks like you’re going to have to agree to be fingerprinted if you wish to use a mobile phone in Thailand from next year.
From the LA Times, a bunch of Thais in Los Angeles are arrested for their part in an international sex trafficking deceiving Thai women to travel to the USA with false promises.
Ask Sunbelt Legal
Sunbelt Legal Advisors is here to help you with any legal questions you may have related to Thailand. Email any questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt and run their responses in the next column.
Question 1: I worked at a job in Thailand for several years until, at the age of 50, I applied for and received a retirement visa. Several months later, I realized that I failed to return my work permit to the Ministry of Labour. No one has contacted me to return it. From what I have read online, it seems that 1. I can’t return it after I have already left the job. And, 2. Failure to return the work permit can result in a 1,000 baht (or 2,000 baht?) fine. I will happily pay the fine but I don’t know exactly how to proceed.
Sunbelt Legal responds: It is possible to cancel the old work permit with no penalty. You do need the original work permit along with two copies, your passport and copies of the visa page. If you are concerned about the process and need assistance Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors is happy to help.
Question 2: My girlfriend owns all the shares (apart from the 2 or 3 owned by lawyers to meet Thai laws) in a Thai company whose sole asset is the house and land where she resides i.e. it is her house albeit for historic reasons held within a Thai corporate structure. She has no need for the company or the associated annual legal and accountancy costs and so would like to transfer the property directly in to her own name and close the company. The property is probably worth THB 5-6 million. Some basic research indicates this will be an expensive process in terms of taxes and legal costs, even though she is effectively transferring the asset to herself. Is there a cheaper option in this situation please?
Sunbelt Legal responds: The only way for her to acquire the property is that a purchase agreement must be made between her and the company, while the director of the company can also be her and also as the buyer, the agreement still must be made and registered at the Land Department. She will be required to pay the tax on the sale of the land and house however. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist with drawing up the agreement and registering it at the Land Department as well as shutting the company down once the assets are transferred.
Question 3: An American father and Thai mother (both USA citizens) had a son in the USA. Mother wants to register the child’s birth in Thailand. It’s unclear what “registration” means but appears to allow the child to have the benefits of having a Thai passport, owning land, etc. What exactly is “registering” and what benefits and obligations are the result of it? Is it legal to have a USA and Thai passport?
Sunbelt Legal responds: In this case registering a birth means that the Thai government will issue a birth certificate for the child. The mother must still hold Thai nationality however, dual nationality is not a problem but she must still have Thai citizenship. First the official US birth certificate will need to be translated to Thai and certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who will then send it to the Embassy in Washington D.C. who will issue the birth certificate. You can then apply for a Thai passport for the child. The child can also be registered in a house registration book or Tabian Baan in Thailand and obtain a Thai ID. It is best to contact the Thai Embassy in Washington D.C. for advice on translation and certification.
Despite living in New Zealand, I remain in regular contact with friends in Bangkok. Some friends I message on the Line app often, some I trade emails with and the odd person I speak to on Facetime. It’s nice how easy it is to stay in touch. One difference I notice between friends in Thailand and friends in New Zealand is that sooner or later, many friends in Thailand refer to social media in some way. It might be something they saw on social media or it might be that they tell me about the latest lady they met on Facebook. In New Zealand none of my friends ever mention social media, in fact most aren’t even on Facebook and their attitude towards it is much the same as mine. It seems to me that many middle-aged males in New Zealand don’t care for social media whereas in Thailand it plays quite a part in many people’s lives. Some friends tell me that what they like most about living in Thailand is that it is a social sort of place – but sometimes I get the impression they mean a social media sort of place!
Your Bangkok commentator,