Sin sod (aka dowry or bride price) can become an issue for foreigners when their relationship with a Thai lady gets serious. The idea of paying a sum of money for the privilege of marrying someone is not part of Western culture and things can come to a head. Once a hot subject amongst those set to marry their Thai darling, these days you don’t hear so much about sin sod.
Thailand and its traditions are changing. Some young Thais are marrying without any sin sod being paid. Sin sod is not the big deal it once was.
Some say the sin sod is to compensate the family for the cost of raising their (good) daughter. Others say it compensates the family for the loss of labour – which goes back to the days when a Thai woman would move in with the groom and his family and work for them meaning her own family lost a set of hands. Others claim it is a safety net for the lady that should anything happen to the marriage (or to her husband), she would have money to look after herself for a period.
Thailand has changed. The days when most jobs were in agriculture are long gone and the idea of a family losing labour just isn’t relevant today. Divorced Thai women aren’t shunned the way they once were and Thai women don’t need a financial safety net because they have plenty of opportunity to get a good job and earn good money today. It isn’t so easy to justify sin sod these days.
Of course, a big part of sin sod is face. The more sin sod a man can pay, the more face he gains. Likewise the family of the lady gains much face for their daughter who has attracted such a wealthy suitor.
From time to time you hear of outrageous amounts of sin sod being paid, made up of a combination of a large sum of cash (which can run many millions of baht), a quantity of gold and other expensive jewellery, and sometimes even luxury items like a European car.
In some cases this sin sod is for keeps and the bride and / or her family keep it. In other cases it is simply for display so face is gained, with an express agreement that most or all will be returned to the groom after the wedding ceremony.
In some cases, the money used for the sin sod is borrowed from family members. In other cases, a sin sod so large that it will impress even the wealthiest Thais is hired.
Today, the hiring of items for show as part of the sin sod is big business. www.sinsord.com is a website where cash, gold, luxury cars etc. can be hired to show at the wedding ceremony. www.sinsordforrent.com is another such website.
The table below shows the amount of cash that can be hired in the column on the left, and the price to hire that cash in the column on the right. A modest sin sod of 50,000 baht can be hired for 3,500 baht. Hiring 10 million baht costs 200,000 baht.
For less than 20,000 baht you can hire a Mercedes Benz to show as part of the sin sod. Of course, when neither of the happy couple are ever seen driving the car it is a tell-tale sign that it was all for show – but that doesn’t bother anyone. It’s all about face on the big day.
This sort of ostentatious display of wealth appeals to some, but increasingly the younger generation are less interested in partaking in this game.
It’s not uncommon these days for young Thai couples to marry with no sin sod at all.
Let’s take the example of my other half’s younger brother. The families met and a sin sod was requested by her family. His family told hers that a sin sod would not be paid, explaining that they see it is outdated and not appropriate in modern day Thailand. They got married and so far, so good. Today this Bangkok born and bred couple lead what could be described as modern lifestyles – each has a full-time job and they each share duties at home.
They’re not alone. Many young, urban Thais feel the same way about sin sod.
I hear many stories of young Thais marrying with no sin sod paid, or the sin sod that is paid is all for show, and returned in its entirety when all the guests have gone home.
Thailand has changed massively over the past 20 years. Today, many Thai women have a higher income and more money saved than the man they are about to marry.
The other half frequently reminds me that amongst her married friends (Bangkok Thais with an average age around 40) that more often than not she earns more than he does.
In some cases the bride might put up the sin sod herself because the groom simply doesn’t have the money and neither does his family. The money is put on display as if it came from the groom.
In Thai culture one should not outright refuse to pay a sin sod, but it is acceptable to discuss why you think it is not appropriate. Modern, urban Thais understand the argument. In rural and more traditional areas, the reaction might not be so positive.
Many modern Thais live together, buy a house together and share a car or two without ever getting legally married. No sin sod is paid. Many of the new generation – and I use that term liberally, to include those aged up to around 40 – see sin sod as old-fashioned.
Curiously, some foreigners – particularly some long-term expats – have what I consider odd and even misplaced ideas about sin sod. Some insist that sin sod is a Thai tradition that all foreigners must pay when marrying a Thai women. In their mind, failure to pay a sin sod is showing extreme disrespect to Thai culture. It’s sanctimonious nonsense. They’re living in the past and just because they may have paid does not mean others must. Increasingly, modern, urban Thais are choosing not to pay sin sod – so why should foreigners?
Of course, there are plenty of Thai women whose family will not allow her to be married – or will not give their blessing – if the gentleman won’t pay a sin sod.
If you’re planning to marry your Thai darling and wish to pay a sin sod, go for it! But it should be your choice. If you choose not to, explain why. Not all modern, urban Thais will agree, but they will understand.
The attitudes of modern, urban Thais are changing and the rest of the country will follow. Will sin sod go the way of other outdated traditions that no longer exist? Within a generation or so could sin sod be a thing of the past?
Last week’s photo was taken of the Took Lae Dee diner at the branch of Foodland in Sukhumvit soi 5. Many readers knew it was Took Lae Dee but thought it was another branch. One reader, Mr. MK, mentioned the cheap breakfast special at Took Lae Dee which runs from something like 5:00 AM – 9:00 AM, describing it as a great way to cap off a good night out!
Stick’s Inbox – the best emails from the past week.
Keep your big farang mouth shut.
The lesson we should take away about Wesley Barnes, the American teacher who wrote a bad review of his stay at the Seaview Resort, Ko Chang, is to shut up and enjoy paradise. I taught in Thailand for 5 years. I kept my mouth shut when I saw things I disagreed with. After 5 years I said enough is enough and moved back to the United States. I still visit Thailand every year, but I keep my mouth shut when I am there.
Beware those who are hungry.
Visiting gogo bars these days is quite enjoyable and can be great fun but beware, it’s like swimming with sharks that have not been fed in a week.
A hard life by the sea.
The girl you mention attempting suicide reminds me of one of my regulars in Pattaya. I met her at a bar on Soi 6. She was sexy and a little crazy, just the way I like them. On a later trip the bar manager mentioned she was the only girl in Pattaya who scared him. Apparently she went to slice a guy up while he slept! She had a tattoo on her wrist that looked a little “crinkly”. On closer inspection I realised the covered over 50 slash marks on her wrist. I asked her about it and she said it was from when she broke up with her farang boyfriend. That was years ago, and still she would say he was coming back for her, but it never happened. At the start of one trip she had just been thrown out of a bar so I let her stay with me and helped her get back on her feet. It is a hard life that these girls lead, and things are only getting worse.
Out-bid and out-charmed by fellow customers.
Asian men hog the talent in the gogo bars. I hadn’t noticed this so much previously, but when I was in Pattaya last there were small groups of Japanese & Korean men in gogos bar, attended to by a couple of pretties. They don’t seem to do much, just sit with them for ages, taking them out of circulation. Say you walk into a gogo bar, look up at the stage and there are two hot girls, two ‘maybes’ and ten also-rans. You sit down for a beer, you notice the two hotties and think, ‘I’ll catch their attention when they’re getting down from their rotation and buy one of them a drink’. But an Asian man has already requested both of them down mid-dance. I wouldn’t mind but I’ve been to some of their countries and they have shitloads of pretty women in the streets, in shops, on public transport, everywhere, to look at every day. You’d think they would mop up some of the filler (of which there is a surfeit in every Thai agogo) when they come to Pattaya and leave more talent for us Asian-cutie-starved Westerners. But no, they want the slimmest, fittest, prettiest girls off the gogo stage. <Every guy wants to meet the most attractive ladies. Use your looks, your charm or your wallet, and don’t bleat like a lamb when you miss out – Stick>
What’s behind that tiny hole in the ceiling?
Regarding short-time hotels, I always wondered if the owners set up cameras in the rooms. I know of a guy who has a clock radio with a high-definition video camera inside.
Nowhere I’d rather be.
I’m glad to report that after 9 months of being locked out, I’m finally back in Thailand. I had to move heaven and earth, submitting dozens of documents to the Thai embassy where I made several trips until I was finally approved to enter Thailand on a repatriation flight. The quarantine hotel was not cheap (average cost is 50,000 – 70,000 baht), but that’s the price you have to pay to enter. Now that I’m here, I’m going to stay for as long as possible. I realized I missed Thailand and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
The long road to Thailand.
Getting back to Thailand took a whole month from the first day I applied, and it required way too many trips to the consulate. At one point I was so frustrated with the draconian measures and bureaucratic red tape that I considered giving up. I had to make two trips to the consulate one day because I had forgotten an essential document that was due that very day. It was exhausting. The Thai consulate staff weren’t very polite or friendly and I had to deal with their constant eye-rolling and patronizing tones. But I consider it all worth it, I persisted and now I’m finally back.
Girl Of The Week
Nuta, Butterflies, Nana Plaza
Nuta, aka La Mong, has perhaps the hardest body you’ll find in Nana Plaza.
A total gym rat, she’s also heavily in to muay Thai boxing.
She had never worked in a go-go bar before last year,
but has embraced the naughty lifestyle.
In last week’s column I reported that the iconic Dollhouse sign that has towered over Soi Cowboy for almost 20 years has been taken down. Word from Dollhouse is that at this stage there are no plans for the bar to change hands. If all goes to plan, Dollhouse on Soi Cowboy will reopen in December.
Many bars on Soi Cowboy remain closed. Another big-name Soi Cowboy gogo bar, Tilac has been closed since March – at least the gogo bar is closed; the outdoor area of the bar is open. All of the Arab’s gogo bars also remain closed. That makes nine of the bigger gogo bars on Soi Cowboy that have been closed since March. Is it any wonder that Soi Cowboy is so quiet?
But if things are bad at Soi Cowboy, they are dire at Patpong. Last night, a friend wandered along Patpong soi 2 at 9:00 PM. He reported that a number of gogo bars were open. But not one of the gogo bars had a single customer! OK, so 9:00 PM is early and hardly the busiest time of the night, but factor in that the day before was the end of Buddhist Lent – and the bars were closed so you expect the following night to be somewhat busy. The rain cannot be blamed – it didn’t start raining until much later. Things at Patpong are dire.
Back on Soi Cowboy, the price of a pint at Country Road is 180 baht. I am told that before Covid came along they were 140 baht. Assuming that’s right, it is quite a price hike and a peculiar time to put prices up. Emails from those on the ground in Thailand at the moment suggest some are increasingly sensitive to price.
On this note, over the past several years the customer base in Soi Nana and Soi Cowboy bars has been predominately tourists. There are few gogo bars or beer bars these days which you could say were expat bars. Tourists typically only stay for a few days in Bangkok and want to make the most of their time – so they tend to be more willing to pay more for drinks and entertainment than expats, especially those expats on local salaries. Few bars have anything in the way of frequent customer reward programs (Stumble Inn and the Hillary Group are a couple of exceptions). Perhaps now is the time for bars to make more effort with expats. 200 baht beers, 1,000 baht barfines and 3,000 baht short-times don’t fly with many expats. I reckon it’s 18 months before tourists will be back so bars really need to think hard about how they’re going to get through until then – and looking after expats would be a good place to start.
Down in Pattaya, things have settled in to a clear pattern on Soi LK Metro. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, gogo bars feel more like pubs as locals drop by for a drink and a moan. The level of trade some bars do early in the week has been described to me by one Soi LK Metro gogo bar boss as “soul-destroying”. Thursdays tend to pick up but it’s more about drinking and ogling the dancers with few barfines paid. Fridays and Saturdays are the closest to how things were pre-Covid with barfines paid and ladies taken away. Sundays are said to be much like Thursdays.
The abandoned bars on Pattaya sois 7 and 8 have a new purpose – providing shelter from the elements for the increasing number of homeless trying to stay dry in the rainy season.
Still in Pattaya, more YouTubers are live-streaming in bars and interacting with viewers who donate money / buy lady drinks for the girls. This Covid-19 phenomenon seemed to start as a bit of fun but now some YouTubers have set up elaborate operations with a fancy control panel where viewers can message the girls and donate money / buy them drinks. It’s all a bit of a gimmick, right? Think again – some YouTubers are doing upwards of $US 2,000 per night. It’s lucrative for all involved.
And while we’re talking about live-streaming, back in Bangkok a Japanese fellow has been streaming videos from Patpong bars. The fellow who is said to own a karaoke bar in Soi Thaniya has streamed from Kiss, King’s Castle and also from the Pussy Club down in Pattaya. This video here is from King’s Castle in Patpong 1 this past Wednesday night.
Soi Nana was a mess for months as crews worked on upgrading the pipes and drainage system on the soi. The peak of the rainy season is upon Bangkok with very heavy falls this past week and flooding reported in districts across the city. And whadya know….when the rain hit hard this week, once again Soi Nana became the Nana River.
Businesses are closing. People are out of work. Some don’t have any money at all. As more people find themselves without money and no food in their belly, one has to expect an increase in crime. It’s stating the obvious, but I’d be careful when out and about. Keep your gold chains locked up at home. And ask yourself if you really need to check your iPhone while you’re walking along the street – snatch and grabs by someone sitting on the back of a motorbike aren’t uncommon. Be careful.
The availability of imported products in Thailand was never as bad as it was in, say, Cold War Russia, but I do remember those early years in Bangkok when many favourite items from home simply weren’t available. You had to wait for your annual trip home to stock up on stuff, or take a flight down to Singapore where most stuff was available if you knew where to look. These days it seems almost anything can be found in Thailand – and Lazada is the best place to find them. I am amazed at how many obscure products are available on Lazada which is the closest thing Thailand has to Amazon.com. I searched for a few unusual items I buy regularly here in New Zealand to see if they were available including my favourite brand of New Zealand Manuka honey, an obscure prescription diet cat food and some unusual camera accessories. Not only did I find them all, there were multiple vendors selling each item – and the honey aside, they were cheaper than I would pay for them here in Kiwiland. In this respect, expats have things so much better than we did in the old days.
Each week I wonder how long our lives are going to be put on hold due to the pandemic. One day someone in a white coat says vaccines will be ready to be distributed in the next few months. The next day someone else in a white coat says not to expect anything before this time next year. Earlier in the year, a friend booked tickets for an Elton John concert here in Kiwiland for January, 2021. He received an email this week informing him that the concert has been postponed until January of 2023. Do we have another couple of years of this crap to go?
This Week’s News-Feed / Thailand-Related News Articles
Quote of the week comes from a friend, “The longer the tourism ban lasts, the more hansum farangs living here get.”
Vienetta ice-cream is set to make a comeback in Thailand.
In another about-turn, the government extends stranded visitors visas / permission to stay.
In California, a Thai woman attempts to kidnap an NFL legend’s grand-daughter.
The hotel which complained to police about an American with a shady background who wrote nasty reviews on TripAdvisor is willing to meet him to work out a solution.
Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra contracted coronavirus and has since recovered from it.
The special tourist visa scheme which allows people to visit Thailand during Covid will proceed.
After a couple of column openers that had almost nothing to do with Thailand, this week’s was about Thailand. And next week will be about Thailand too as I look at Covid, the bar industry and where things are going. I might write a follow-up to last week’s opener What’s Happening Under The Dashboard as the tales of woe and my bad luck with cars continues…
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : [email protected]