I’m only a week into this little adventure, and so I’m hardly knowledgeable enough to make any sort of sweeping statements about the relationships between men and women here, more specifically Thai women and Western or farang (foreigner) men.
But let’s not let that stop me from making a few preliminary observations, hmm?
What I have observed thus far boils down to this: Most of Pattaya is an elaborate stage on which a rather predictable melodrama is carried out. The farang men walk down the street. The bar girls catcall after them. Sometimes they stop, and the girls turn on the charm. Move further on into the story, and the farang usually sets up the girl with some pretty nice things, while she helps him take care of the business of Thai life: translating, managing Visas, generally smoothing the way for the farang and “taking care” of him in pretty much any way he needs.
Then comes the drama. The farang is being well taken care of. Well, the girl expects to be well taken care of too, usually for both herself and her family. So she’ll be asking for money for this or that family member, and she’ll get offended if the farang breaches Thai custom. Meanwhile, she’s getting as much money out of the guy as she can while she can, and she’ll keep a pretty tight leash on him. There are fights and pouting and by the time it’s over, the farang may be out millions of baht (1 million baht would equal roughly $30k US).
Usually when we get into the millions of baht it’s because farangs are not allowed to own property in Thailand. So, if a guy gets all set up with a girl and/or marries her, all of the property they acquire goes into her name, including houses, bars or other businesses, etc. If the relationship falls apart, all of that stays with the girl and the farang is out of luck.
What kills me, though, is not just how many men fall for it, but how many men fall for it repeatedly. Yes, that’s right: losing millions of baht to more than one girl. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
I say, go for it girls. In a culture with so few options for women, playing a part in this absurd melodrama (to the tune of millions of baht and being able to provide for yourself and your family) seems like one of the smartest options. And the smartest of the “bar girls” will usually be secreting away a lot of that money. Many of them, if they do not get actual property out of the deal, can eventually save up enough to start their own businesses and/or go to school, etc.
Ah, prostitution: the path out of poverty.