In Love with a Thai Bar GirlIf there's one thing Thailand has become famous for, it's the holiday romance. Married, single, divorced - it doesn't matter for the Thai girl, who will be on the lookout for the Farang who will make her life less of a hardship.
It's easy to see how romance blossoms under the sun and I was one of those caught up in the world of beer and bars.
I'm a bus driver in the UK and to this day still totally besotted with Nong, a lovely girl from Burriram. She was the girl who became my exotic long time friend, on the other side of the world.
Or so I thought. We met in a bar in Pattaya where Nong worked as 'a bar girl' . She gave me the sad dog look and told me I was her only customer that night.
Absolute nonsense of course. I bought her a drink, and then we had a load more until her boss made some signs that meant "Are you going to take her out for the night or do you want her short time?".
At least that's what Nong told me the signs meant - I hadn't a clue. I was so naive I didn't even know their job was to entertain their male customers and get paid for the pleasure they bring, sometimes a different one every night.
I found out later the very name 'bar girl' often brings sneers from many people.
I thought it was just me she liked, but over time I learnt how it all works and how you can get screwed.
But I didn't care - at least I thought I didn't. I guessed Nong had been around the block a few times but for me, at that time, she was mine.
Fact was that she was great to be with and a very funny person, always had a huge smile from ear to ear and absolutely nothing stopped her from being the fun girl.
I got back home and couldn't stop thinking about her, and thinking up ways of affording to get back to Thailand to see her.
Of course she just carried on doing what she had always done, but when I eventually turned up again, she gave me her full attention. We talked long distance on the phone and eventually after a while, we became an item.
I felt we were as close to being a couple as Thai girl and Farang man can be. She was great, she helped out in lots of ways, we went on holidays together, and for me we were 'in love' My long term aim was to divorce the wife and move to Thailand, live in Burriram and build a nice house.
But then it all started to go wrong. I got jealous. I wanted her all the time just for me, not for a load of fat beer swilling punters who turned up every night.
Eventually I said enough is enough - you leave the bar or I'm going home. So she said OK give me 20,000 Baht a month and we'll see. No chance - not on my wages. So, I left.
Let down, bewildered and still not totally understanding what I'd done wrong. I do now. . I couldn't afford her and I guess she couldn't afford to support her family without that money, but I know she also enjoyed the bar life.
For her it was fun and it meant not living in a quiet village looking after her old parents. And she got a paid for doing something she enjoyed - the nightlife scene. That all came out one night when we both got pissed.
She told me she would take my 20,000 and still work in the bar. That was too much - I guess I'm a dreamer but reality struck and kicked me.
She said she might go back upcountry one day and pick spuds, but I'm back on the buses, a wiser but no less hurt guy who believed for just a while he had become a friend and lover, not a customer.
There's a difference - the delusions and desires of the western man and the ambitions of a Thai bar girl are never far apart in The Land of Smiles.
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