Stickman Weekly 2/11/2008
The 10 Biggest Mistakes Western Guys Make With Thai Women
Western guys like Thai women and Thai women like Western men. We might not quite be in vogue like we were several years ago, but the average Thai woman will still consider a foreign guy, even if she is not one of the so-called farang hungry women.
So with foreign guy / Thai girl relationships so common these days, why is it that we hear far more tales of woe than we do fairy tales? Of course Western men and Thai women are very different, but what I see are the same mistakes being made over and over again.
I believe that more happiness or more misery comes from your relationship with your other half than any other aspect of your life - so it really is important to get it right! What follows are some of the most common mistakes I see Western men making in serious relationships with Thai women.
Taking the "easy way" to meet a life partner
Clearly the most common mistake so many guys make is taking the easy route to meeting a woman. In other words, they look for a wife in a bar. The easiest route usually ends in the biggest disaster as guys who attempt to turn a prostitute into a wife find out. Sure, some make it, but the vast majority crash and burn, only those guys who have near endless pots of gold are able to navigate the minefield that is a relationship with an ex-prostitute. If there was one theme that runs endlessly through this website - and has done since the site's inception - it is that marrying a prostitute is a recipe for disaster.
Moving her in
If you are genuinely contemplating marriage to your current darling then move her in. Otherwise don't! It's as simple as that. The only reason to move a Thai lady in is if you really think you'll be putting a ring on her finger. Later discovering that she was not quite as suitable as you first thought and finding yourself in a situation where you have to move her out can become a nightmare. A lady being told to move out can become manipulative and may attempt to demand a "settlement". Failure to cough up can result in theatrics the sort you just don't want to experience. Drama with an hysterical girl in your condo is no-one's idea of fun.
Settling down too fast
Do a survey amongst your Western friends married to or engaged Thai women to ascertain just how many got engaged or even married because of threats she would do a runner if marriage was not agreed to. It is so common in Western guy / Thai girl relationships that sometimes I think it is almost the norm. (Real life examples (and two nicely written stories) can be found here and here.) Stories abound of guys getting engaged to women they have known less than two weeks. "But I talked with her online for months and months", he says. What is she like at that time of the month? What are her friends like? What does she do in her free time? What is she like when she is under pressure? What does she really think of you insisting of watching every All Blacks test and in her mind, putting your love of sport before your love of her? There is no substitute for spending a good amount of time together. A few weeks just is not long enough to know what a person is really like. And if it was while you were in Thailand on holiday, the proverbial two-week millionaire, she is going to have some lofty expectations...
Language and culture are inextricably linked. Communication is critical and if your Thai is better than her English then Thai becomes the language of the relationship. Speaking Thai is all very good and well but you will find that you tend to do things the Thai way. That means that the norms of Thai relationships will become the norms of your relationship. Try arguing with a Thai that you are not prepared to pay a dowry or not willing to support distant lay about relatives. If you're arguing in Thai it isn't easy.
I don't think it's any coincidence that when she speaks very good English and thus the language of the relationship is English that the chances of long-term success are much higher. Besides, and this really is as an aside, I think one of the best things you can do for her is to get her English up to speed. By doing so you open up the world to her.
Agreeing to things you really don't want to agree to
"But it's the Thai way" she claims and you foolishly try and rationalise that this is Thailand and you don't really understand everything that is going on around you and oh so begrudgingly give in. You really don't want to do it but failure to might result in the relationship going south... Too many guys agree to things with their Thai girlfriend that they really would not agree to in their homeland. Sometimes it can be packaged in such a way that failure to do so might result in a premature end to the relationship.
If you're constantly told that you do not understand Thai culture or you do not understand Thai women then run, run as fast as you can and never ever look back. It's a card that many play...
Meeting her family for the first time...on your big day
It's an old cliché but you really do marry the family when you marry a Thai woman. With this in mind, one should take a close look at her family - and long before the time that many foreigners meet their bride to be's family, either on the wedding day, at the occasion of the engagement ceremony or at the dowry discussion. Believe me, the Thai family will examine you closely and they will ask all sorts of personal and impertinent questions. These are the people you will be spending time with over holiday weekends, the people who may visit you unannounced and expect to stay with you for days on end and from whom there very well may be requests for assistance of some sort. Are they decent folks? Do they have a sustainable lifestyle? Are they people you would be proud to introduce your parents to? I find it quite appalling the number of Westerners who have said to me that they love their in-laws to death and how they are decent people and the salt of the earth and they would do anything for them.....but no way in hell would they ever introduce them to their own parents! You have every right to ask all of the same questions to your dearest about her and her family. In fact you would be foolish not to.
Perhaps I ought to add that two of the guys I know who have genuinely happy and successful relationships as best I can see married orphans. There *is* something in that!
Marrying a moron
The average IQ in Thailand of 91 is a lot lower than the average IQ in Western countries (Canada 97, USA & Australia 98, England & New Zealand 100) - and I am told that the difference between say 91 and 100 is actually quite significant. Many guys may claim that they do not get their emotional needs from their wife. They have plenty of mates who satisfy their intellectual needs. That is all well and good but we simply cannot overlook the fact that some rural Thais have not had anything like the opportunities the average Westerner has. The reality is that looks fade and (sorry to alienate the female readership here) few women look that attractive after menopause. If it was looks that attracted you to her initially, I sure hope she has a bit of substance to her or something about her grows on you over time because looks don't last forever! If you married a simple girl you might find she is unable to stimulate you intellectually. You may find her simple nature appealing, uncomplicated and perhaps even cute, but will it remain endearing forever? In terms of simple compatibility, is it not preferable to have someone with a similar education to yourself? When you face difficult times, be it external such as a job loss, or something within the relationship itself, it is much easier to work through things with someone who thinks beyond what their next meal will be.
Revealing too much too soon (if at all)
I have always lived my life with the philosophy of not telling everything to anyone. Not the other half, not my parents, not even my closest, most trusted friends know everything about me. As one ages, one realises more and more the vulnerability in letting any one person know too much about you. Friendships go sour, people fall out and if you're really unlucky the person you once called your best buddy is now mouthing off about you to all and sundry. Your deepest, darkest secrets and some incredibly embarrassing moments are now in the public domain. Fortunately this sort of thing doesn't happen in the West so much.
But it does in Thailand. If you asked me to give you five adjectives to describe the Thai character then "vindictive" would be one of them. Should things go bad between you and your Thai other half then don't be surprised if she gets nasty. Many Thai women feel hard done by when a relationship with a Western man goes bad - whatever the reason! They often feel aggrieved and it often seems that 99% of the time they get it in their mind that it was all your fault. Expect pay back, perhaps even revenge. The best way to minimise any damage is to ensure that she doesn't know too much about you. Be prepared. For example, I would not reveal my place of work or the company I worked for if I was dating a lower class Thai woman with whom I felt the relationship wasn't going anywhere. For some, their vindictiveness knows no limits.
And a reminder about making your Thai wife the sole beneficiary of your estate. Doing so inadvertently makes you more valuable to her dead than alive! Not if but when the inheritance question comes up, tell her that it is split between her and your closest family members, whether that be the case or not.
Supporting her ad infinitum
Each partner has a role in a relationship and once you have reached the point where you're living together, it is perhaps time for these to be defined. Allowing her freedom to do as she pleases while supporting her handsomely will reinforce the message that having a foreign husband is a ticket to a sabai sabai (comfortable and easy) life. By all means support her if she is playing housewife and / or raising the kids, but if she isn't - even if money is not an issue for you - get her doing something. Thai women married to Western men who don't have kids yet lay about the house all day doing precious little are the absolute scorn of expat society. A woman gainfully employed or pulling her weight in a relationship carries herself with pride. Woman who are supported, sleep for half the day and do previous little of any value have a very different air about them.
Letting her get away with murder!
The Western guy's amazing ability to overlook the most heinous behaviour in a relationship continues to bewilder me. How many guys have forgiven their betrothed after she has slept with a former flame? How many are blind to the obvious clues that you're not the only one in her life?
I heard a classic the other day. A fellow was walking along the road with his girlfriend when she made him duck down behind a car as a motorbike whizzed past with what she described as her brother riding it. Clearly she came from an incestuous family.
Thai soap operas propagate tantrums and seem to reinforce to the local woman that if things don't go their way then they should scream and shout and start destroying property as a mechanism to change their boyfriend's / husband's behaviour so that they do manage to get their way. Never does a week go by when I don't receive a tale of woe from a reader whose Thai girlfriend has thrown a wobbly. It starts with the destruction of property with remote controls, cups and the 21st century favourite, the mobile phone, all learning, totally unsuccessfully, to fly. A bad sign and you need to review things at that point. But it gets worse. Next is the threats to harm herself, usually with a knife, possibly to jump from the balcony (a favourite when she realises that you want to call the relationship off), or perhaps even to harm you. When it gets to this stage, it's time to walk. Don't think that a woman who is capable of pulling a knife on you is not capable of castrating you while you sleep...although with that said, Thai women tend to slice the meat as opposed to the vegetables. Whatever, we're talking semantics. You get the point.
There's no reason why you can't have a fabulous relationship with a Thai woman. Take the time to choose the right one, take the time to get to know her and don't accept anything that you would not be prepared to accept in the West. A Thai woman can make a fabulous life partner but if you choose badly, she can end up a real nightmare!
Where was this picture taken?
Last week's picture was taken on Soi Buakow in Pattaya, up at the top of Soi Diana. Obviously not many Stickman readers get off the beaten path in Pattaya because few people got it right. The first person to email me with the correct location of the picture wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British Fish And Chips restaurant. The second person to get it right wins a free jug of margarita, valued at 840 baht from Charley Brown's, a popular Tex-Mex restaurant, offering authentic cuisine and delicious margaritas. Charley Brown's is located in the small sub-soi off Sukhumvit Soi 11. The third prize is offered by ThailandFriends.com, an online dating community that boasts over 50,000 members, hosts live events in and around Thailand and allows basic members to send 5 messages a day for free. The prize offered is one month premium membership which adds more to the ThailandFriends' experience with unlimited messaging, detailed member searches, 24 profile pictures, and a whole lot more.
Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. The Charley Brown's prize MUST be claimed within 7 days. Prizes are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per month. The ThailandFriends prize must be claimed within one week.
FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.
EMAIL OF THE WEEK - It is but a matter of time...
I don’t understand why people in Thailand are not more worried about the economy than they are. I understand that people are worried about tourism because of the world economy and this is surely going to be a bad year on that front but the government tells everyone it's only a small part of GDP, so no significant impact on the economy as a whole. But nobody seems to be worried about exchange rates, which affect tourism but much more importantly, exports from Thailand. This alone has affectively raised the cost of exports to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK by 25% in the last month or two. If this continues it's going to leave a very big hole in Thailand’s exports which they keep telling everyone is still growing and providing a large proportion of this country’s GDP. Not if, but when exports fall through the floorboards in the near future, I believe this country is going to suffer very badly indeed.
Reason for the baht's strength.
The baht's strength is attributable to the fact that Thailand is right smack in the middle of the region that is going to have the strongest growth for the next 2 - 3 quarters. The markets are assuming that they will piggyback their way out of it. China is still going to be the "biggest growth" story in spite of the collapses occurring in western economies.
Thai banks, as safe as houses!
Thailand, along with the majority of Asian countries, learnt the lesson of the Asian economic crisis ten years ago and began prudent housekeeping leading to Asia holding the bulk of the world's foreign exchange reserves. Unbelievably, Thailand holds more than $100 billion foreign exchange reserves - more than the UK and Australia combined and the 14th highest in the world! Moreover due to the insularity of the Thai banking system, they only had limited exposure to the credit derivatives which led to the collapse of major US financial institutions and brought a large number of the European banks to their knees. One can find Thai banks and some of their practices infuriating but at least they had the common sense not to participate in financial instruments that even George Soros did not understand! As a result, Thai banks are well capitalized and the Monetary Authority of Thailand can withstand any attempt to weaken the Thai baht by currency speculators - something that would have been impossible ten years ago. The currency weaknesses of Australia, Europe and UK can be explained by very loose monetary policies and poor risk management leading to asset values plummeting and their currencies being severely eroded against financially stronger, more conservative economies including believe it or not - Thailand! However, Thailand is dependent on exports so if, as is widely reported, there is a potential for sudden deceleration of exports due to the contracting US economy, Thailand's trade deficit will widen sharply, putting downward pressure on the Thai baht. Please also note that the US is likely to cut interest rates to record lows which is already lifting the Euro, pound sterling and Aussie dollar as I write. The currency turmoil is something that will continue to be in a state of flux over a number of months as the US tries to increase liquidity to stem probably its worst recession for 38 years, sucking a large number of countries with it.
The ultimate Thai dating site with ladies from all over Thailand!
Reason for reducing the alcohol content of some Thai beers?
In the US beer is classified as near beer if less than 3.2% by volume alcohol, and only wimps drink that, that is there is a limited market. Alcohol content above 5% is called malt liquor, not sold as beer and there are restrictions in selling it. So if a company wants to sell its beer in the US, the largest market is for between 3.2 and 5.0 % by volumes. AND many countries tax alcohol on the amount of alcohol in the liquid. That is a pint of 6% beer carries a higher tax than a pint of 5% beer. This includes the customs or entry tax in the EU.
"The Palace is closed."
They are really gouging the tourists and doing their country's reputation a great disservice. As for all the hundreds of blatant scammers including tourist police out front of the grand palace every day, should they not be charged with Les Majeste? I would have thought that a great insult to the Royal Family, cheating visitors wishing to visit their property. But I guess in a country with people so obsessed with money, a blind eye is given to just about anything.
The smiling Immigration man!
I had one unusual and one usual airport experience this week. The unusual one was that the immigration man smiled at me upon my arrival and departure from his desk, and my passport wasn't tossed at me. No doubt he will soon be reprimanded by his superiors. The usual one was that, having come off a flight so full I was bumped up from riff-raff class to business, only around 20 or so people were collecting bags, others obviously transiting to somewhere else. Plus there were a group of about 12 Thais who all flew business class. I thought all Thais were poor and that's why there were more letters in the Bangkok Post this week from some of the few tourists who still bother coming here complaining at the "racist" double-pricing.
Australia cheaper than Thailand?
Here's an observation. I have just been running through this site and other sites in Thailand to see if I have enough of an income to take my wife there for a holiday. I do if I want to live and eat like a peasant. It is just as cheap and a helluva lot better and safer to holiday in Australia. And that is an absolute shock to me.
There's been a massive increase in the number of freelancers milling around Sukhumvit Road in recent weeks. On the even soi numbered side of Sukhumvit, up and down soi 4 and even in and around some of the surrounding sois girls are smiling in the shadows, inviting passers by whether it would be possible to go with them. Whether these are girls who don't wish to base themselves in the popular freelancer haunts or what, I do not know, but there is no doubt there are more hungry ladies on the streets.
With most commentators giving Nana Plaza the thumbs down and the general consensus being that Cowboy is where it's at these days, frankly there is little to report from the most decrepit of Bangkok's farang bar areas. Pretty Lady is worth a visit and the atmosphere while not as good as it was in the late '90s (it was the first bar I ever visited in Nana), makes it one spot worth a drink or two.
But should you make it into a certain Nana bar with a name shared by both a citrus fruit and a language, be very, very careful if you make a purchase. If the boys in brown decided to carry out an ID check, what follows could be nothing short of ruinous...
The rumour mill has it that we might be in for four days reprieve from the ills of alcohol in mid November as a mark of respect for the royal cremation ceremony.
One of my major gripes about scams targeting foreigners in Thailand seldom get stopped. The gem scam, the Grand Palace is closed scam and various other scams have been a problem since the early '70s - and show no signs of stopping. There are all sorts of shady, but connected and influential figures involved hence the scams not just continue, but proliferate. So it pisses me off even more that in a farang-owned, farang-managed bar a scam that has been brought to the attention of those in charge continues. The venue is Nana's top bar, Angelwitch. The scam is very simple. You are simply not brought your change. There seems to be a threshold and it sure doesn't happen to everyone - in fact it would only seem to be a couple of staff members involved. When your change is a small amount, usually under 100 baht, they simply don't bring it to you but pocket it. It doesn't go in the tip box, but into their pockets. I have been subject to it - although they didn't get away with it, the dirty doctor has been subject to it on multiple occasions and a number of readers have emailed about it. It is widespread and ongoing. The bottom line is that when you pay your bill in Angelwitch, make sure you get your change. And if you don't, don't complain to the service staff but instead let the manager know!
Dancing girls are suggesting to bar owners that CCTV cameras should be installed in the men's room in gogo bars. With the economic downturn starting to bite the girls are feeling the pinch as punters refuse to pay the lofty barfines Bangkok's chrome pole palaces charge. Said little Lek of an unnamed Nana Plaza bar. Man falang come watch me dance. I jump on lap him make him horny too much. Ask him pay bar he say too expensive. I see he go toilet and he shake too long. CCTV cameras in the men's room. Coming soon to a gogo bar near you?
I wonder if Cathouse could be on to a winner with their low prices. More and more locally based guys seem to be watching their pennies and more and more are complaining about what a few us have been saying for some time - drinks prices in the gogos are just too high. I pick Cathouse to be one bar to ride out this recession well.
Sisterz on Walking Street has come to the party with some economic doom and gloom friendly prices. Every night until 11 PM they have a 45 baht menu. You have a choice of 330ml draft Chang, bottles of Tiger, Singha and Chang, soft drinks, all house spirits including Tequila, Sang Som, Rum as well as the obvious ones like Gin and Vodka. This may well make them the best value gogo bar on Walking Street before 11 PM. And if a young lovely manages to twist your arm to buy her a drink, lady drinks run a reasonable 99 baht.
The lean times being felt in Bangkok and Pattaya are no different to what is going on in the south. From a bar on Ko Samui comes word that takings are down 70% this year compared to last year. Ouch!
It's really going to feel like the United Nations next week when this Kiwi boy and his American friend get a slice of Aussie culture in an Irish bar run by an Englishman as we all descend on Molly Malone's to watch the Melbourne Cup live on Tuesday November 4 at 9AM. There's a sweepstake and tickets are on sale on the day. There's also an all you can eat breakfast for 300 baht with all the usual goodies including Bloody Marys!
But one pub you might want to give a little time to iron out a few issues is the Queen Victoria on Sukhumvit soi 23. There appear to be staffing problems and the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing although I expect it will all be sorted out before too long. A shame because it is a nicely done out venue. I do question one thing on their menu however. As well as all the traditional English favourites, they offer Thai food - as they should. But isn't 70 baht for steamed rice a little rich?! 70 baht! That makes it more expensive than, well, just about anywhere!
The effects of the global financial crisis are well and truly being felt in Bangkok where there have been at least two farang suicides in the past fortnight. An expat banker jumped from the building at a friend of a friend's condo in Sukhumvit soi 8 last week and there was another jumper last week in Silom.
Just why is it that events like this do not make it into the press? Is negative news suppressed so as to maintain the illusion to outsiders that Thailand is safe (something which pretty much every statistic totally refutes). Unfortunately it is not only Bangkok where such incidents aren't reported, but around the country too as the following item shows...
An American resident in so-called sleepy, peaceful Hua Hin was shot in front of his own home. The gent had sought media attention to highlight the plight he and his American wife had suffered in their ongoing dispute, which will soon be before the courts, with property developers who are working on what has been described as the couple's dream home. Whether there is any connection between his grievance with the developers and his shooting remains to be seen. The gent is fighting for his life in a Bangkok hospital having undergone various surgeries.
The shoe is on the other foot with the excellent Pattaya One News reporting that a bargirl was robbed after being drugged by a customer. Unfortunately she lost all she owned and tried to kill herself. There was also a report of the arrest of part of a gang of hi-tech Chinese criminals that were breaking into rooms and electronic safes in Pattaya with their mooted take around 20 million baht. Pattaya is really attracting a new class of criminal.
I heard an interesting analogy from a friend about salary levels in Thailand and how they relate in terms of spending power to a salary in the West. He mooted that your monthly salary in baht gives you similar spending power to an annual salary in dollars in your home country. So if you earn 30,000 baht a month, that gives you spending power and a lifestyle similar to what $30,000 a year would get at home. 85,000 baht a month would be similar to an $85,000 a year salary at home. 200,000 baht allows the same as $200,000 and so on. When I gave it a bit of thought, yeah, while not entirely accurate, it's a fair rule of thumb.
I was reminiscing this week, looking back at some of the snapshots I've fired off in Bangkok in the early years and one thing stood out. The city looked much quieter! There were less street vendors, fewer pedestrians and there just seemed to be less going on. Congestion on the footpaths seemed to be much less of a problem than it is today. In fact I was amazed at how comparatively quiet some central areas appeared with how they are now.
There's no shortage of locations in the cyber world to meet a Thai woman and the most popular dating websites get a regular mention here. Friends are telling me that the newest spot to explore fun opportunities with local women is Facebook. I'm not a Facebook user myself but from what people are telling me, I should be. It does seem to be, however, predominantly a young man's scene.
For the golfers out there, the Bourbon Street Masters will take place on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month and the tournament format will be a Stableford (whatever the hell that means?!) with full handicap. Tee off is at midday. There will be a trophy for the player with the highest number of Stableford points at each tournament and many more prizes - 2 near the pin prizes and 2 longest drive holes. Discounted green fees will be arranged at each of the courses. A tournament registration fee of 500 baht will be collected at registration in the clubhouse prior to the start of the tournament. Presentation of prizes and awards will take place at Bourbon Street immediately after the tournament and a set dinner will be available at cost. Free transport will be provided for those who require it. There will be 24 tournaments in the year and a league table will record the best net scores at each. The player with the best aggregate net score from their 6 best returns will win the Bourbon Street Masters Championship. If you would like to register to receive details of the Bourbon Street Masters please let owner Doug Harrison know and he will make sure your email address is added to the distribution list. This will be a great way to network meet new friends and have a lot of fun. Such a shame that I suck the big one at golf.
It's not recommended that you overstay your visa but if you happen to do so you're in good company. Peter Reid, the Thai national football team's coach, was caught with a one month overstay when he exited the country at the airport this past week. I guess the Thai Football Association is not really concerned about work permits...
A good mate has found himself in all sorts of hot water financially as he has been unable to access funds in his US bank account. After much toing and froing with the bank it appears that there was an alert sent out to some US banks from some banking body about accounts being accessed fraudulently in Thailand. This resulted in some banks - it seems to be only small banks in one state - putting a stop on transactions from Thailand. Scary.
I wonder if this feature film titled "Soi Cowboy" will make the big screen in Thailand?
This video clip from Hell Pizza in New Zealand associating its pizza with Thai massage has not amused some.
This economic downturn analogy with Soi Cowboy article was the best piece I've read in The Nation in a long time.
This has got to be the Thai personal ad of the month!
Remember Sandra Gregory who wrote the book "Forget You Had A Daughter"? Well, here's a series of 5 videos on YouTube comprising an hour-long documentary about her time banged up in a Thai jail.
Ask Mrs. Stick (Is she about to lose her job?!)
Mrs. Stick didn't receive any questions this week so we can but assume that no-one is having any relationship problems. Or perhaps it's the lack of tourists? Or perhaps you don't like her any more?
I really wish the rainy season would end. Chula Day, that is October 23rd, is often the marker for rain stopping in the capital, but not this year! While it is a fair comment that it only tends to rain for a 1 or 2 hour period anywhere from mid afternoon into the evening, the amount of rain that buckets down can prevent you from going anywhere. To this end, I am always non-committal about meeting friends at this time of year for a drink or a bite. You just don't know what the weather is going to do and I am therefore reluctant to plan anything in advance. Not good!
Your Bangkok commentator,
7/10 - opening piece didn't quite work as I hoped it would
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Stick can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.