Why I Don’t Blog About Thai Bar Girls

Recently a friend of mine asked me why I didn’t write posts about Thai bar girls and the sex scene to drive up traffic on my blog. The answer was short and simple, yet the explanation slightly longer.

In short, quite frankly, it’s boring. The subject matter of bar girls has been discussed into oblivion on hundreds of other websites. Blog and forum owners happily let people thrash out misogynistic musings on their sites as link-bait to drive traffic, but this isn’t what I set up my blog to do, and the reality is that Thailand is so much more than the perception of sex tourists.

I don’t want to sit around speculating on questions such as “Can you trust a bargirl”, “Can bar girls ever be faithful”, or statements like; “I am 60 years old and met a girl in bar, she’s 21 and the bitch has now taken all my money”. I’d rather encourage people to get out the bars and into Thailand.

But anyway…for the record, once and for all, let me put to bed in one post why I don’t blog about Thai bar girls.

Let me start by saying that bar girls aren’t aliens, and for all the hatred and idiocy ranted on forums and blogs and regularly from the mouths of barstool experts, foreigners would do well to remember that these girls are the daughters and sisters of other human beings, and at one time children with dreams and aspirations, just like our own children.

The Facts

Let’s look at the demographic of the average Thai prostitute. A substandard school education, if she finished at all, married young in a rural village (usually in the North or North East somewhere), partnered by her family with an ill-suited young man who quickly becomes restless and ends up boozing and womanising like his father did and his father before that. Boy leaves girl with one or two kids, girl has no social security money or child maintenance from the poor father of her children. So pressure falls on the girl to find work to support the children and her aging parents, who, by the way, she has already disappointed by having a failed marriage, and further upset by now being a single mother and scarring the face of family pride.

Girl then becomes determined to give a better life to her children, and to elevate the face of her family in the village, and in society as a whole. Girl hears from another girl that working in a bar in the city, or on one of the popular tourist islands, is the best way to make fast money and meet a rich foreign boyfriend who will be prepared to take on her kids and support her parents (or a story very similar to that). Girl then weighs up the other options as a cleaner, rice farmer or factory worker, facing ridiculous hours that will never provide enough money to make her children’s/parent’s lives any better than the current situation. So girl migrates to the city or island to start her covert initiation into the world of prostitution; most likely with no idea what it entails and what she’s letting herself in for.

*At this point it should be noted that many girls arrive at bars in debt to middlemen who arrange travel and accommodation. So even if the girl wants to leave once she arrives she will have to work off that debt first. This is a devious way to keep the recruitment numbers high and the deserters low. I mean once you’ve sold your soul a few times the deed is done; pointless returning only to disappoint your parents with the news that you didn’t make it in the big city after all once you’ve crossed the line, as it were.

Cultural & Social Obligations

Having travelled to the North and North East and seen the grass roots progression of these girls and the pressures of money (debt), keeping face and achieving success that lay on their shoulders – particularly the youngest in the family – when I see a bar girl, no matter how sexy she is trying to be, I find it impossible to see her as anything other than a victim of a system that socially engineers and openly encourages the sex trade.

What I see in the bar is not a piece of meat to be exploited, but a girl that grew up believing that one day, when she finished school (if possible) she would have a good job and be able to make her parents proud. I don’t see a girl that grew up aspiring to be a dirty old man’s fantasy, nor aspired to have nightly sex with sociopathic western men. I see a girl who naively bought into the idea that her teenage husband would stay faithful and do his best to always support her and her kids, and into the antiquated cultural requirements that a girl must marry the first seemingly decent boy she is seen flirting with.

I see a girl forced to sell her soul, going against all the beliefs and morals she was brought up with in an attempt to better the future of her family. I see a girl who has sacrificed her own happiness and potentially her mental stability for the benefit of others; no girl should ever have to do that. And then I see a plethora or foreign men coming to exploit, not help as they may proclaim, the unfortunate situation of a woman failed by a society that provides zero social welfare, and does not hold men in the slightest bit accountable for their offspring.

Think Carefully Before Using The Word Choice!

No doubt someone will surf on through here and tell me that many bar girls do the job by choice, making that self-serving observation that “she doesn’t have to do it if she doesn’t want to”. But as I stipulated above, the unfair cultural pressures and limited choice of economic progression force the hand into the fire and, for a moment, let’s explore that ambiguous word “choice”, and the alternatives that you might have in mind.

When you debate this issue and use the word “choice” as your key defence, do you mean the same “choices” (quote on quote) that you would accept for your kids or close friends? I very much doubt it. If the alternative career paths wouldn’t provide an acceptable level of living for our children then how dare we use the word “choice” as a justification for what these girls do?

Seeing The Reality

I won’t lie, I am a man, too, and indeed my eyes danced when I first saw the bright lights, high heels, elegance and youthful beauty of the girls in the go-go bars, and it almost didn’t compute that the hostesses in the bars were actually no different from the hookers lurking in the back streets of Soho, London.

And it’s this sugar-coated version of prostitution that makes it easier to ignore the truth. However, the more I learnt about the industry, the girls, the social-economic structure of the country, the systematic oppression of the lower classes and the regional prejudice, the more I couldn’t help but see the radiating internal sadness, and the longing to be respected beyond the external smiles and gracious gestures.

Strangely, men seem to get so caught up in the ego of “handsome man” that they neglect to notice that these bar girls are simply young Thai girls, and by preference don’t actually fancy western men. The majority of young Thai women are into young, male Korean pop stars and Channel 7/Channel 3 Thai movie stars.

Yet being lower class, divorced/separated (more often than not with kids) prior to the bar, the only Thai men they have access to on a serious relationship level are lower class, low earning Thai men that will (generally) resemble similar characteristics to the inadequate man they were once married to. Also, once a Thai girl has been in the bar she will struggle to get a Thai boyfriend at all. Therefore, once in the bar, a westerner/foreigner isn’t a choice, he is the only option.

If you know an iota about Thai culture you’ll know that a girl who has worked in a farang style beer bar will struggle to earn the respect of other Thais going forward. Thais unfortunately tend to be able to tell working girls or ex-working girls simply by mannerisms and a few strategic questions. Of course few will refer to her as a prostitute, in fact the word prostitute is frowned upon so severely that Thais seldom label a girl they know to be a prostitute as a prostitute. Two of the more preferred terms are “Poo ying gaan koon” (lady working at night) or “Poo ying haa gin” (lady looking to eat).

A girl who has worked in the bar, regardless of whether she bags a rich farang or not, will suffer a lifetime of gossip and stares from the village folk, not to mention the society standard whispers and looks all Thai women endure when they acquire a foreign boyfriend.

What’s strange is that Thailand has an abundance of single women from all walks of life, yet many foreign men choose to hand around in the bar scene paying for sex while looking for a partner, and then wonder why it all goes belly up. Not so long ago a friend of mine was in town and he wanted to walk down the infamous bar-laden Soi Nana in Bangkok.

We paced the cesspit of hawkers, child and amputee beggars, ladyboy and female street hookers and plethora of unkempt men, and honestly it made me never want to walk on that street again. Rather than thinking, “Wow look at all these hot women”, I thought “Man this is must be one of the most soulless places on the planet, one that exists for one reason only; for the desperate to feed off the desperate”. And that brings me to my conclusion.

Bar Girls Are Human, Just Like You & Me…

A Thai bar girl isn’t a nymphomaniac seeking a life of endless sexual endeavours as many expats and forum posters would have you believe. No, she is seeking a guy to take her off the lowest run of the ladder and elevate her and her family’s status to heights that simply wouldn’t be possible trying to run the capitalist gauntlet from her current standpoint. She is also, like every other human being, wanting to be loved, respected and valued. And this is the one thing guys that frequently pursue encounters with bar girls can’t face up to; that underneath all the makeup and forced sexual suggestion is a girl who wants to be loved acting like a woman who can’t be broken. I think Bob Dylan put it best when he sung:

“She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl”

The reason guys hate to be reminded of the human side of a bar girl is because it would take the “She loves it!” shine off of the conquest. Imagining that one of those girls could be your own daughter brings the conscience into play. It makes guys realize that these girls have feelings and emotions beyond the delirious male ego that believes these girls are more than happy to be exploited for sex in exchange for money.

Becoming a fulltime bargirl takes conditioning. Just look at the face of a new addition to a bar, and then return two months later to see her stripped of all that might have been sacred. I have seen it with my own eyes….

I will never forget one very timid girl who looked like a rabbit in headlights on arriving at her new place of work – “her cousin” had invited her to take up a position as a “waitress”. It took her weeks to go with a customer, and I know this because the bar boss was an acquaintance of mine for a while.

Three months later my travels took me away, and as my taxi passed the bar on the way to Samui airport she was swinging on the pole, hair extensions, knee high boots and calling out to men walking by. But the way men discuss these girls on forums is as if they were born to do it. No, let me tell you, you have to be broken in and conditioned to do this job. And this one particular bar boss was all to happy to tell me how girls were sourced and lured to the post.

The Paradox Between Bargirl & Customer

Paradoxically, the average sex-tourist isn’t so far removed from his subject. He may talk a good conquest to his pals, but secretly he longs to be admired as a man, to be loved, to be held, to be respected and noticed by women; perhaps things life has failed to ever present amicably, or in a way that would be considered “normal” to the average guy. So he chooses to pay, dominate and control, the only avenue he has to getting close to what he really wants from a woman.

Yet often in this realm this type of man falls foul to the strategic lies of a seasoned player, getting too involved and losing not just his integrity but his emotional investment and integrity, too. His bitterness at being “played” then results in increased misogynistic behaviour, and the need for revenge through the verbal degradation of Thai women.

The Impact On Mental Stability

So can a bar girl have a normal relationship after the bar? Of course it’s possible, and I am sure there are many happy relationships that have lasted the distance between bar girls and westerners. The amount of foreigners maintaining contact with bargirls and sending money once they return home is testament to the fact that in many cases the needy find the needy on common ground; she admires he complies, she “takes care of him” and he “takes care” (financially of her), beyond the bar. The success rate, however, comes into question when reading all the negative stories foreigners post online.

On the other hand, it should be considered that sleeping with men twice/thrice their age, and unkempt men they have no physical attraction to, week in week out, will take its toll on the majority of bargirls; and no doubt the physiological damage in many cases is similar to that experienced by victims of rape, albeit the bargirl act is consensual and transactional.

Therefore, it isn’t surprising that so many girls experience breakdowns and end up in refuges, turn to drugs, alcoholism and struggle to ever have a normal, loving relationship post the bar. The lucky few are able to settle for a retired expat who is prepared to pay the bills in return for financial stability and regular thrills. True love really isn’t an option for most bargirls, period.

When you hit the bars on a Saturday night I wouldn’t blame you for thinking the last paragraph is a little far fetched; I would have thought so four years ago. Yet I saw many broken girls when I taught martial arts at a women’s refuge in Bangkok in 2010, and when I tell the “it’s their choice” guys about the refuge, they simple can’t believe it, either.

Neither can they believe that many girls are bought and pimped, and in fact can’t leave the bar until the debt is paid in full. The fewer customers you go with the more your rent accumulates on top of the money that was paid for you to secure the job in the first place. Okay, not every case fits this template, and there are many variations in circumstance, but the point is that 99% of bar migrations aren’t fully transparent, and the majority of girls, however they may seem now, would have been largely ignorant to the life that would become them.

In Conclusion

And so, collectively, all of the above documents why I don’t in any way glamourize the Thai girl bar scene on my blog, because my Thai blog isn’t a platform to speak about these girls as toys to be played, and not to be respected or appropriated as human beings. My blog is not a corner of the web that will degrade, marginalize, generalize or spread hatred. A Thai bar girlis a woman, just like your mother, sister, girlfriend or wife. Yet the only differences between your dearly loved women and a Thai bar girl is an education and a level playing field of opportunity, which amounts to nothing more than the lottery that is birth.

I want to end by playing you Mae Sai by Thai group Carabou. The song is about a girl from the North who goes away to become a prostitute to make money for her parents. She gets hooked on drugs and by the time she returns her mother is dead. The video imagery says it all, so don’t worry if you don’t speak Thai.

Makes you think, huh?

Thai cupid

 

Comments

  1. Basilseven says

    Very good aritcle. You hit it right on the head. These girls were borned in the wrong place and have to pay for it. The class system in Thailand is stinck. Good education is the only hope but the Government is unwilling to pay for it. You have a good heart.

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  2. Albert Park says

    I wonder if you know that there are actually academic studies of the “average” prostitute and that these do not entirely match your well-meaning sketch?

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    • TheThailandLife says

      I have no doubt there are Albert, yet relying on the leadership of academics rather than the wise and experienced is what got the world into this mess in the first place. Do you have any examples of such studies based in Thailand?

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      • Adrian says

        Good post. I agree with most of what you have said here, and applaud you for your attitude, and for writing about it. Following on from what Albert alluded to, I have an interesting anecdote to tell you, that if nothing else demonstrates that this is a complex scene with complex issues, and many different facets.

        I have a friend who was a news anchor here for a while (I won’t tell you her name or the network) and now works as a correspondent. About a year back, she went ‘undercover’ on the streets with the prostitutes, to get an idea of what goes through their heads. Unfortunately I don’t think they filmed the whole thing, it was just ‘research’ for a piece.

        She talked to a lot of prostitutes and asked them what they thought of their jobs. She never came across a single hint of shame. The women were almost proud of what they did, given that they earned a lot of money doing it. Something you don’t doubt when you visit an expensive club like Bed Supperclub and see the number of women there who obviously work as bar-girls or prostitutes, looking to pick up.

        My friend asked the prostitutes a hypothetical question: “If I paid for you to go to university, would you quit the sex trade and do it?” From what she tells me, overwhelmingly the answer was no. The women could see that they earn more a month than your average middle-class university grad does, doing what they consider to be an easy job.

        Of course, I don’t think these anecdotes tell the whole story either. They sound like words of bravado told to someone who was an obvious outsider within their ranks. Not mentioned is rape, abuse, drugs and all the other dangers that a woman of the night faces in Bangkok. It does prompt me to wonder how much truth there is to their words.

        Either way, the larger issue is not going to go away any time soon. And as much as we’d like to, we can’t blame the droves of Sexpats for the momentum behind the industry. Foreign sex-trade has only been popularised in Thailand since the Vietnam War, but the sex trade has been around in Thailand long before that. The local men still make up the larger percentage of patrons to the sex trade across Thailand, albeit away from the glitzy farang-traps like Patpong and Soi Cowboy.

        Really, I think the problem only goes away when these women have options. Your point about the true nature of choice is well made. When the country has developed such that the average woman growing up in rural Thailand can progress from a lower class life, through the education system to gainful employment, then the lure of the sex industry will be avoidable.

        Do you still work with the woman’s shelter? Sounds like very rewarding work.

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        • TheThailandLife says

          @Adrian.

          You raise a good point with the example of your friend’s work, although I feel some of the attitude might be “reverse face keeping”, as in “we are not ashamed, we are doing well for ourselves.” I was thinking about the whole “face” thing the other day when i was on the BTS around 6pm and saw a couple of working girls get off at Nana – I know one shouldn’t presume but the boobs hanging out and lycra-type mini outfit nearly revealing bottom meant the carriage had made the opinion for me. I do see this regularly though, and it got me to thinking that for some women they may, in the initial stages certainly, feel like they have made good in some way. This might sound ridiculous, but working with foreigners in the tourist industry, breaking away from the mould of village life poverty, not toiling a field, being able to afford new clothes and an iphone, and support your parents and child back home, is, I presume for some, relative success. I am not saying that it makes the situation justifiable, but it’s an observation, albeit speculative at best.

          I think this might be where many foreigners come up with the notion that these girls “love it” and “love the money” etc. It’s all too easy to say “this is a better life for her, i am doing her a favour”. of course i think that makes for a temporary conscience massage. It is the long term ramifications that concern me. For example, the conditioning and reengineering of one’s soul, morals, personality etc. The knock on effect to dependents when they realise what mum used to be or is in the big city. The inability to have a normal relationship post the industry. Mental health issues. Risk of drug and alcohol abuse to numb the soul destroying consensus view by society and clients that you are nothing but an object of sex, and as such should be treated like one indefinitely. Whatever the facets of this industry, I don’t believe any girl grows up aspiring to work on Cowboy or Nana etc, and from that very standpoint I think we should all open our minds further on this subject, rather than using the “it’s an age old profession” approach – which i don’t believe is applicable in the case of the majority of these girls/women.

          I spoke with someone involved with the shelter recently and i hope to go back and do some more self-defence with the women. It is rewarding and a stark reminder that while there might be some women hard headed enough to see the life through, make a good living and come out the other side relatively unscathed, many don’t make it that far. No bar girl is likely to say she has been a victim of sexual abuse since 13 years old and is dying inside, no. Instead you will see her on Nana offering you her last scraps of dignity for $35….either that or I might see her at the women’s shelter, pregnant, broke, unwanted, unloved, rejected by society and loved ones and down trodden. Of course not all women there are victims of prostitution, many of domestic violence, too.

          I guess if money didn’t exist or wealth was fairly distributed, prostitution on such a scale wouldn’t exist. Or at least then you would truly know that the women were there by choice.

          Have you watched this yet? Would love to know your thoughts: http://thethailandlife.com/bangkok-girl-documentary-jordan-clark

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          • Adrian says

            Yeah. As I said, it may be bravado or “reverse face keeping” as you call it. ;-)

            And don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that just because the sex industry here has been around for centuries it’s a good thing. I merely think it’s worth people remembering that foreign sex tourists are not who started the problem, and are not solely responsible for perpetuating it. Basically, there is a reason it was so easy for Bangkok to become a hot-spot for sex tourism, and it goes much deeper than foreign demand, the reasons I believe are economic as well as cultural, involving gender identities and the fact that the existence and patronage of brothels and full-service massage parlours is such a widely accepted norm.

            I think therefore it’s going to take time and a whole lot of economic and social progress before there is meaningful change. And even then, now that there is such big money in the industry, will it ever change?

            The Sexpats are just like sad moths to a flame. I don’t blame them, but I don’t excuse them or respect them either.

            Yeah, I watched Bangkok Girl last night after finding your blog from the Tourism piece. It broke my heart.

            Of course you can see from the beginning Pla is just like any other bar girl, despite the innocent act. But it was great that he managed to earn her trust and take a peek into the dark past of a bar girl and the difficulties of her life. It’s hard to know what else to say – and perhaps you felt the same way from your fairly short post – it’s just really really sad.

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      • says

        Did it ever occur to you that sex does not have to be perceived as dirty or sleazy, even if there is no money involved. Forthermore, for some people the idea of monetizing sex isn’t shameful or dehumanizing. There is a hardware store to buy tools, a car dealership to buy a vehicle, restaurants to buy food, and brothels when consenting adults want to have sex. And even the USA has brothels (Reno, Nevada I think) as well as other adult entertainment venues. But they don’t quite get the same type of victimization from the feminist (and feminized men), mainly do to the much larger income that a Western whore gets “selling their soul”.

        On average, a Thai woman is more slutty than a Western woman with ‘morals’ simply because their views about sex and life are different. There is no stigma attached to actually going with a man and having a child together. There is no fear that the child will starve. Boy mewts girl and walks forward in a relationship based on instincts, not a religious or romantic ideal.

        There was an interesting discussion on Thai Visa recently about ‘normal’ Thai woman with regular jobs that still appeared ‘desperate’ to want to go with a man, but not for monetary gain. One possible explanation is that there is a natural leniency to want to go with the opposite sex (companionship). No tricks or hidden agendas of trying to ‘trap’ or ‘trick’ a man into giving her anything (although ironically, a man often VOLUNTEERS to give a woman part of his money).

        What I find interesting is how we can monetize posters, paintings, real estate and other “art” into the billions of dollars, but sex? Oh no who would anyone want to monetize something that is in such high demand in the human experience (business 101). Sex has always sold, whether it is virtual (porn, webcam, strip club) or physical (go-go, brothel, freelance, marriage, etc).

        There is no “battle of the sexes” or too much gender confusion here in Thailand or most of SE Asia that I’ve visited. Girls want to be girls and guys want to be guys. The relationship roles are on average WAY more traditional regardless of income level, and it is not uncommon to actually get experience from a prostitute (whatever form you want to call it) as a natural progression to manhood. The experience doesn’t just fall out of the sky, neither does it have to be sleazy just because some people don’t agree with a particular way of delivery. There is a time and a place for everything; and so if Thailand and other places want to be known for its open/honest sex culture, so what? Do we have to constantly judge or victimize people that we don’t understand may handle the topic of sex differently?

        – here is a summary article on a Vietnamese woman with a western education who did field study with women in the sex industry. Victim spoiler: They do it by choice. The feminist and religious groups really don’t like the fact that their victim story doesn’t always apply (me personally, it never applies, as only victims victimize themselves or allow themselves to be victims) The only ‘victims’ in thailand, in where the prostitution is so transparent and organized in my opinion is those who never actually try to court some of these women (bargirl, freelancer, massage clerk, or whoever you judge as being prostitute). It is easy for anyone (local or foreigner) who wants an honest assessment of a sex worker to see for yourself the type of women they are and the type of relationships they offer. It is probably one of the most honest, intimate relationships you’ll ever encounter, even with all the ‘little Thai lies’. I’ve seen workers regularly turn down potential clients they didn’t want to go with; I didn’t see any forced activities. Never went down any dark alleys or any secret paths; everything sex related is very obvious, open, and well lit. And there were a lot of different levels of sex work technically speaking, well beyond the stereotypical bar scene.

        Western people are usually conditioned with a certain arrogance that their way of looking at the world is somehow superior, and therefore alternate points of view are either incorrect or morally/emotionally wrong. A good example of this (and the fact that there are real cultural differences in how Thais view life/death) is how the 2011 Bangkok floods were handled. There was an instance where the US military offered Naval assistance to Thai gov’t with aid, but the Thai gov’t declined it. The response from the typical westerner was “I can’t believe the Thai gov’t/people are so stupid.” Did the flooding eventually stop? Yes. Were their homes and business affected by the damage? Yes. Did Thailand recover? Yes. Did Thailand move on with their lives without a huge emotional drama? YES.

        One more thing I wanted to address. The point the OP made on the sex workers requiring a “break-in” period before being able to do their job. Most jobs require some sort of training or apprenticeship from an experience person in that job to give them an idea of what the expectations of the job are and how to deal with them. The military does this, Fedex does this, McDonalds does this, so I suppose soul-selling….err go-go dancing wouldn’t be any different.

        Nobody (that I saw) was starving in Issan, in fact I was surprised how well my gf’s mother ate despite the house not having hot water, extension cords for electrical appliances, or other things that I might consider a ‘necessity’. No government, not even the USA g9v’t with the ton of ‘free’ social aid is ultimately responsible for your WANTS. But that would get at one of the cores of anybody entertaining the victim role in the first place: WANTING.

        I totally respect the OPs decision not to discuss or glorify the Thai bar scene. There are other forums more appropriate for this type of discussion.

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  3. larry says

    Very good article indeed
    It is the corruption in this country, and we know from who, which makes it impossible for these girls to have access to a good and proper education, let s hope for a revolution of a sort….

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  4. jotuk says

    Congrats ! This article is 100% true and by far the Best i ever read on the subject . Thanks for all of these girls …

    Keep up the good work . Your blog is excellent .

    ลาก่อน ;0)

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  5. Allen says

    I was actually considering going and I was feeling a little guilty about it. After reading your blog, I think I probably will not go for this. It is actually quite sad when you think about it.

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  6. John says

    One of the most intelligent and compassionate blogs I have read on the subject. I hope plenty more folk read it and dispell some of the ill-informed opinions that are all too common.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      Thank you John. I felt compelled to write this post after becoming sick and tired of reading such consistent demonization of these women.

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  7. john says

    Well said.

    I was introduced to the Philippine version of aforementioned world as a 20-something engineer working in Subic Bay/Olongapo (86-87), a town at the time seemingly driven solely by the engine of bar entertainment.
    I was only too happy to participate in my newly found role as handsome rich foreigner. After the glitz wore off, the reality of what you described was painfully obvious. While the participants differed – they tended to be young wide-eyed guys from typically small towns involuntarily dropped into the scene, the the stories of the girls as told in the aftermath relayed the same tragic economic realities and complicated social pressures that you so well described.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      Hi John, I think your sentence sums it up; “After the glitz wore off, the reality of what you described was painfully obvious”. It has become so obvious to me that, as much as i try to “lighten up” about it, and put the moral high ground to one side and show friends the “sights” when they come to visit, I just don’t find the scene appealing in any way. I guess we are all guilty of seeing what we want to see in certain situations at times, but once the reality of something consumes the mind completely, things become increasingly hard to ignore.

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  8. Bernard says

    That is the whole truth of it. Poverty, lack of social justice, a social structure that not only does not care about the poor but encourages prostitution because it is benefitting from it. After all, Prostitution is Illegal in Thailand and if the powers that be wanted it stopped they would have it stopped. Land of Smiles? I think not.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      I couldn’t agree more Bernard. The more I research into this area, the more it appears as a social genocide; deliberately underfunding education, failing to provide welfare support for single parents, or holding fathers responsible for financial contribution; zero investment in back to work schemes for women to boost their earning potential past that of a cleaner, and a minimum wage that makes it impossible for those with an average job to support their children and aging parents. The ugly truth is that these women are worth more to the state as prostitutes than as human beings worth investing in to provide better lives with dignity and self-respect. There is a demand, and the pathway is cleverly engineered for the supply to be delivered. At the end of the day, few prostitutes strike it rich, but they do okay while their looks last. But what of the person, the soul, the individual? Where is the quest to provide the same choices for a girl born in a rural farming community as a girl born the daughter of a politician or other more privileged member of society? Where are the initiatives to provide employment that would match the average wage of a working girl. If the money trail were uncovered in this industry the face of the true abuser would be seen.

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  9. says

    Prostitution is a stable job, and so they continue doing it. But unlike the “normal” job-hunters, they don’t have much choice as to where they are to submit their resumes. Unlike what the majority of my countrymen think of them, I see them as real strong women, far stronger than I am. And I agree they are victims of a stinky system. Ironically, many westerners look down to these acts when a lot of their women open their legs just for pleasure. These girls are lured to sex because they have to, not because they practically want to.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      Well put Cris. I agree, these girls indeed have to be very strong to endure that life, yet unfortunately some do break. And unfortunately us Westerners have a history of dominating, abusing and stealing from those we perceive to be lesser beings than ourselves.

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  10. says

    Quote:

    “these girls are the daughters and sisters of other human beings, and at one time children with dreams and aspirations.”

    Now there is a truth, a real truth that nobody can ever deny. No matter what you read, or see, or even do, they will always be human beings and nothing less than that.

    I think your article on this Chris is bang-on, very insightful and should be read by more people. Not many have made the connection between non-existent social services and the flourishing of this industry…

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  11. bibblies says

    What you say contains a lot of truth but it seems to miss what to me is the most shameful thing. Maybe you haven’t had enough experience with bar-girls but every one of them that I’ve got to know well has parents that are parasites caring more about ‘face’ than their daughters. And the daughters, culturally brainwashed, play along with this. Once in, they consider themselves dirty and lost beings. May as well continue being a factory for a non-caring family then…

    You talk about supporting ‘ageing’ parents but how many do you actually know? When hearing that a girls parents are ‘too old to work’, have you ever asked how old they actually are? Usually you’ll find out that they’re in their mid-forties! Have you then gone on to meet any of them, find how lazy and/or reckless they are with money and know of the ways they manipulate a girl’s guilt? I have, it’s shameful. And the whole culture bangs in the message to ‘respect’ parents, no matter what. To have the latest phone or a car you don’t even need. This is why Thailand is more notorious for prostitution than poorer countries. All of your argument is geared towards poverty but why isn’t there more prostitution in places that are as poor or poorer than Thailand (even Isaan)?

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    • says

      Thanks for your comment because it’s the only real one here. Most bar girls I know have someone close to them that has made them do it and continue to do it because of pressure from them. Aging parents total BS! How old can your parents be if your 20y/o? give me a break. They call at random hours asking for money telling lies of this and that, they want to buy a car and make her do more guys this is the real reality.

      Do all these girls have a choice? 95% of them do! They can refuse to do it this is Thailand not east Africa! Thai people do have a choice and can find work easily, might not be good money but they won’t starve or go without a place to live.

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      • TheThailandLife says

        Chris, I agree about parental pressure for money, and I see this not just with prostitutes but with women and men in every day professions. But that isn’t the only part of the story. Moreover, what is your idea of choice? Without an education and a couple of kids from a guy that will never pay a bean in child support leaves few options for soem women; cleaner perhaps, living in squalid accommodation hawking whatever gear you can get your hands on? Is that a reasonable life choice to have? 6000-8000 baht won’t get you far. Remember, you need capital to set up a business, and how does a girl from a poor family get that capital? Dangerous loan sharks with extortionate rates or go on the game for a bit I guess. Yes, no one starves in Thailand, but like you and I, and every other person in a capitalist society, the carrot is dangling in front of the donkey and we aspire to be better off, to give our kids the things we never had, to make our parents proud of us, and in the case of these Thai women, to honour the family name and elevate the face of one’s family. And when I say “aging parents” I mean parents getting older, who are of course are looking after their parents who also will be without a pension, state or private.

        So how far do you think this 8000 baht salary will go on 2 kids, the parents, the grandparents and taking care of one’s self. Yes parents are taking advantage of their kids, egging them on to find a “rich farang”, and the bar is the best route to that. I mean how can an uneducated girl with no money learn English and put herself in a position to meet a foreigner…sure as hell no middle class Thai guy is going to marry her. Don’t become the typical farang who uses the “choice” excuse to justify his actions. These women are there because they are victims of a society that does nothing to empower them to do anything else, and their families who are driven by keeping up with the “jones'”. Birth is a lottery in countries like Thailand. Class and name determine your future, and the cycle is very hard to break. This is why many girls believe this is their karma, and although they are demerited in Thai Buddhism for being a prostitute, they receive greater merit for supporting their parents no matter how it is done.

        Being a hooker is soul destroying, and not a choice a woman takes lightly. These women grew up with the same aspirations and goals as any other around the world; a girl doesn’t grow up thinking I want to sleep with sociapathic elderly western men when I grow up. So why weren’t any of these goals realised? For that you need to look at the social, educational, political, and class mechanics of the society. You have generations of women selling themselves. And what of them in the future? Mentally scarred, unable to have normal intimate relationships, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, it isn’t all bright lights and high heels behind the scenes. You should visit the women’s refuge I visited twice and hear the stories of some of the women, women who have been torn apart by the industry, the pimps, the drugs, the debts, the rape, the abuse, the unwanted pregnancies. Of course, this isn’t the case for the average bar girl perhaps, and each woman has a different experience, but don’t over simplify the situation and and be one of the ignorant who think they like doing it or are too lazy to do anything else.

        Let’s say you are right, let’s say it is all down to the parent’s making their daughters do this, and arguably you are right because a parent can beg their daughter not to do it, and instead encourage the family to toil the fields forever for 80 baht a day and eat off the land. The fact remains that it isn’t a natural human instinct for a parent is it? To literally sell one’s daughter. And if it is so disgraceful, why are foreigners coming in and supporting this despicable trade by sleeping with these women for money? Shouldn’t we be discouraging the practice? No, the truth is we love it. We love to think that those little Thai women love it and are only good for one thing. And that their families are brainless parasites without our superior human makeup. To think these women and their families might have feelings and are systematically manipulated into doing such things would be to ask us to show compassion, which just isn’t part of our imperialistic nature.

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        • says

          I know plenty of thai girls from poor families who have dirt floors. They worked full time in Chiang Mai and finished highschool by correspondence then got a government loan (easy to do) to go to uni while working part time. It all comes down to effort and just saying your poor is no excuse. I don’t think foreigners are to blame, at least here in Chiang Mai the sex industry with Thai men is way higher.
          But in all I do like your article and agree with most, i havn’t been with a bar girl for years because I understand them when they talk it sounds like one of those skanky b8()tches you see on Jerry Springer. That’s the reality of what happens to Thai bar girls they just get dragged down. Put a good apple in with rotten apples and it goes rotten too.

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          • bibblies says

            I meant to keep my replies on this sub-thread before but obviously clicked the wrong link.

            Yes, precisely, Chris. The arguments about poverty and culture fall down when you see most other girls from a similar background, similar circumstances, NOT going into prostitution. There’s something different with the girls who go into it without even having the excuse of being a single parent. There’s simply something in them that prefers money to feelings and integrity. Their parents or elder sisters are often complicit but, even if they pressurise, it’s resistable. There is something in the girls that give in. One thing you didn’t mention, Chris, is that the parents also get used to this money and simply leech more, finding more ways to spend it, just like the girls. They’re all complicit. They all have choices.

            I wonder how many stories LivingInThai really knows. Taking the girls who work without having kids to support, they usually try other work before and simply change because they think the money’s not enough, the work’s ‘too hard’. E.g. I know one or two who worked in MK. And they simply wanted more money, heard from ‘friends’ and ‘family’ where they could get it. The work’s so ‘hard’ in MK for them. Yet I see waitresses of the same age in my local MK who have been there for years. Why is the money enough for them, the work not so ‘hard’?

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  12. bibblies says

    “Yes, no one starves in Thailand, but like you and I, and every other person in a capitalist society, the carrot is dangling in front of the donkey and we aspire to be better off, to give our kids the things we never had, to make our parents proud of us, and in the case of these Thai women, to honour the family name and elevate the face of one’s family. And when I say “aging parents” I mean parents getting older, who are of course are looking after their parents who also will be without a pension, state or private.”

    In the cases I’ve seen, the money is not used to elevate the family’s standing or anything that would better a family’s life for the future. It is wasted for gambling, or it’s used for throwing big parties in the village, it’s used for spending on boyfriends. I’ve sat in a bar with a girl I knew well who was crying because her mother wouldn’t talk to her. Her crime? Not sending enough money home. She’d just sent 20,000B a week ago and it was gone. She didn’t have a kid. The mother was just partying and treating her own boyfriend and not giving a shit about her own daughter.

    Face, having fun, parents not caring, people not condemning others for their behaviour. That’s why there’s so much prostitution here. That and irresponsible fathers running away.

    You go on about the parents being trapped in consumer culture, blah, blah. But at some point, when they’re sitting there in their home with air conditioners, flat screen TV, microwave, etc, more comfortable than they’d ever thought they’d be, they have to consider their daughters before the next party or gambling night or pick-up truck upgrade.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      I completely agree, but that’s the tragedy; the belief that having more will bring happiness or a better life, when in fact, like you say, all that happens is gambling, drinking, and wasting money on frivolous stuff. The majority of these parents didn’t finish school and neither did their daughters; money management and investment isn’t going to be a strong point. this isn’t exclusive to Thailand. in the UK there are plenty of people buying expensive cars, gambling at the casino, drinking in pubs, buying on credit and living off the state with benefits and council houses. This is no different, except they are parasites to the state and taxpayer rather than to their daughters. The rich get richer because they are generally smarter with money and don’t have the “poor man’s complex” that makes a person invest in short term materialism to feed their insecurities of feeling worthless, poor, uneducated, looked down on, etc…

      Another point is this: even if a family does build a nice home, invest in a business and manage the money well, their class ranking won’t change. They will always be “bann nock” (lower class country bumpkins) in the eyes of the upper echelons of society. Plus the fact that people know their daughter is a hooker, so the face is destroyed before the wealth is accumulated anyway. No one wins here, the families drink and gamble themselves into depression and debt, and the daughters destroy their souls and any chance of a relatively normal life.

      Whenever I have been to a bar or place with working girls I always ask any that speak with me about their background; where are are you from, have you got kids, did you finish school, etc. The answer is always the same, North or Northeast, occasionally South, kids yes, didn’t finish school or no higher education. When I lived in Samui I must have encountered 100s of women all with the same story, the same in Bangkok when I get dragged to the cess pits that are nana and cowboy by visiting friends who want to live out the eurocentric vision of Thailand. This points to the fact the women enter the industry due to being poor or being from a poor family, and the fact that they have dependents to support. It is a last choice, not the first choice. Whether or not the money is squandered once it’s earned is largely irrelevant, that only forms the reason why they become trapped in the cycle, not the primary reason for starting out. No one goes in wanting to stay in; it is a means to an end, one that sadly doesn’t come for many until they are simply too old to carry on. I refuse to believe that many even do that well out of it. Many rarely get taken because competition is rife. Yes, some are big earners, but for the most part, if you followed each girl back to her village independently I very much doubt you would see many flat screen TVs or microwaves as you suggest.

      And what of the foreigners who go with these women? You didn’t address my points on that. Foreigners seem ready to run a social commentary on how despicable their families are, yet are an integral part of the problem

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      • dv says

        MMany informed, intelligent and wise posts here. Very refreshing indeed considering many of the posters on some other highly popular forums hint; thailandvisa

        Thai society is like a dysfunctional family. Money seems to be God and a corrupt education system that largely does not train the mind to think, but the system is democratic in that it does not limit this mis-education to any single socio-economic class of people. Google “our idiotic mind set” bangkokpost article for a deeper understanding.

        There is cheating and corruption at all levels of society and lots of hyprocisy and denial. The perceived bar girl scamming is just another flavor of that same culture. Throughout their society, things occur to make “quick money” that astonish many of us.

        I have knowledge from exposure to the entertainment scene and can also speak fairly decently as well as read and write Thai (not as well as a native of course) I also am not here because of my social life and the bar stuff is low importance. I think human trafficking is reprehensible.

        Although I have never lived with a bar girl (IMO even a very high % of middle/upper class girls are not interesting either) I’ve heard most if not all of the stories. I’ve been (apparently) befriended by successful bar girl types that did not seek money, just someone to talk to and party with. I’ve seen photos of very nice large houses in Issan and cars, all funded by western guy(s). One girl asked me why despite the house and cars, there is no happiness in her family. I explained the concepts of personal, intellectual, emotional development, and self esteem not based on money for nothing and checks for free. One girl even showed me photos of the homes and cars of 2 wannabe western husbands, asking me which one I thought she should marry. She never spoke about her feelings for them or attraction or happiness with them.

        Theres a multitude of western guy enthralled and fascinated with the bar girl culture. Frankly imo theres not much fascination at all anywhere. I do have some great Thai friends though, and yes, they think outside of the box; the exception.

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        • bibblies says

          How did explaining the “concepts of personal, intellectual, emotional development, and self esteem not based on money for nothing and checks for free” go? If I’m staking a guess, she nodded along but it didn’t stick.

          The whole blog entry, of course, is disingenuous. The author professed himself to be ‘bored’ by the subject yet not only wrote a large entry but has responded to comments with more copious debate.

          I don’t see any evidence of the misogynistic or simplistic replies he was assuming he’d get, that ‘bar girls are bad’, etc. But it’s also perfectly obvious that there is some cultural element at foot here, that it’s simplistic to blame poverty. Thailand is far from being the poorest nation on Earth. And blaming the ‘culture’ is not the same as blaming the girl.

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  13. bibblies says

    With respect, you seem to be only on bargirl level 2 or 3 (yes, there’s a standard scale ;) ), asking about their backgrounds in bars and refuges. Do you take everything they say at face value? You need to live with a few for some time, enough of them and for enough time and you’ll realise that what they say often doesn’t tally with the behaviour and the reality you see. They’ll want themselves to be seen in the best light. Haven’t you noticed that Thai trait? It applies to them. (I don’t blame you for not living with any, by the way. I don’t generally recommend it!)

    Of course they’ll always say they go into the trade for the good of their families or children, of course their families are nice people, of course the customers are bad and of course the Thai former boyfriends or the farangs they broke up with are bad. You need to stay with them and check, not just listen to their stories. Everybody wants to show themselves in the best light but Thais more than most nations because of ‘face’. They’ll paint themselves in the best light, not just to you but to themselves.

    You haven’t met bargirls from outside the North or North East and they always have dependents to ‘support’? You don’t know enough. I know girls from Bangkok, girls who start part-time supposedly to help pay for university or other studies, who are different at first and noticeably more polite than their Isaan cousins but you’ll still see them a year, 2 years, 3 years later. By that time they will have a tattoo or two, they may have gone abroad to Singapore or Hong Kong (to ‘work’), and their ‘studies’ will still not have finished.

    I suggest the bug is in these girls already and they’re somewhat complicit in it.

    Your theory of it being due to cultural pressure and poverty falls down when you just look around at similarly poor girls in the same culture who DON’T do this, whose parent’s DON’T push them (explicitly or implicitly). They’re the majority.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      I tend to think they are telling me the truth because I level with them. I have never been into the “scene” and make it clear i am not interested in money-sex relations. They enjoy the conversation because i treat them like humans, don’t fondle them and using my limited thai chat to them like i would anyone else. They know there is nothing to get out of me so they drop the act and just talk; a welcome break from the sexpests they have to deal with I’m sure. But you’re right, I’ve never lived with a bargirl so I don’t have that experience. But as I said previously, I have worked with a number of women at the refuge who are clearly from very poor backgrounds and have been abused in a number of ways. Not all in the tourist scene but many in the thai-thai prostitution scene.

      i am not saying some girls don’t choose money for sex as an easier option to work. I am not saying some uni girls don’t do it for kicks or extra cash. And I am not saying that the majority aren’t being pressured by parents to send money home which is then wasted on gambling and booze. But the point is that the large majority have dependents, have no education, no welfare support, no back to work/education schemes available, and little choice; not all, but many. Take a look at the girls hanging around the Westin hotel near Asoke station in Bangkok for example. these girls look malnourished, dirty, and beaten down. Many are clearly on drugs and more akin to the type of street hookers you get in the back streets of Soho in London. Hell, these girls aren’t even good enough for the bars. It’s sad, and whatever the reasons for going into the game, many end up abused, both mentally and physically. I took a walk a couple of months back from nana station to asoke on my way home. It was saddening, the amount of very young girls lined up along the streets like peices of meat. It is getting worse and worse, and is happening outside of the confines and pretense of the bars. Are you telling me there is a future out there for all these girls? Career options, government support, a job that will pay enough for a decent, clean 1 bed apartment and proper education for their children? Come on guys, look at the real issues here, look beyond the parents and at the socio-political game at large here.

      It baffles me as to why foreigners always comment on this subject as if they expect these girls to accept less for their lives they they would accept for themselves or their kids. So you want all these girls and their children to live on the breadline forever so you can say, “see they have a choice”. You aren’t living in a reality. You want them to stand back and let the ruling classes dictate their lives forever. Born poor stay poor. Forget the parents gambling and drinking the money away and try and walk in the shoes of the average bar girl from a shack in Yasathorn somewhere. Left school at 13, pregnant by 15, husband drinks, gambles, and leaves. She gets a job, parents say it isn’t enough; and of course, as the culture dictates, youngest single daughter should be supporting the family, and so the pressure mounts until a cousin/friend on an island or in the city says come and work at my work there are lots of foreigners here who give you money….and so it goes. You would be surprised just how many country people have no idea of this industry until they hit the big cty. For example, my gfs sister had never heard of girls selling themselves with farangs in nana and cowboy. Of course she knows of karaoke bars, but was genuinely shocked when i showed her some pictures online. Many of these girls come to the big city with no clue, and are led by the example of whoever gives them a roof over their head. You see it all the time in bkk. Everyone knows where a bargirl is getting on going to work because she looks so out of sorts, unable to walk in heels and no city etiquette. They feel the stares and they feel low, but what else have they got? Go back back to the rice fields for 80 baht a day? Do what 6 generations before them were doing? Risk letting her daughter become like her? Let her parents down (the cardinal thai sin), lose all face in the village? ……..

      What seems to be lacking in this debate is any concern or compassion for the girls. It is far too general to say all bar girls are there by choice and are lazy good for nothings. The refuge I have visited proves this isn’t the case. As I have said, no young girl grows up aspiring to service filthy old western men on a nightly basis, there is a sequence of events that leads to this. To go completely against one’s ‘thainess” and religion takes more than just a choice of “oh go on then I might as well do that”. It is all to easy to say, “yea but I know a girl who worked in MK and then became a hooker etc..” Come on, the majority of bar girls look one of the same; dark skinned upcountry girls from poor families. When was the last middle-class, fair skinned thai girl you saw working in a bar? Which suggests what guys? They are poor, lower class people with little privilege and opportunity in comparison to the middle classes and elite.

      in previous answers you have evaded many of my key points. How can a girl with 2 kids support herself and them with 6000-7000 baht as a cleaner or else. The majority of half decent jobs require a degree, or at the very least school finishing papers. If you don’t have these then what other way can you follow to try and make a better life for your family? Okay, yes, the parents may squander the money, but the point is the girl goes in sacrificing her own happiness to try and create increased prosperity for her family. And in truth most want to find a rich farang quick and get out. You can say “they have a choice” and question why some do it and some don’t…”they are a different breed” you say. Indeed they are. The same way some people become entrepreneurs and take risks and others sit behind a desk all their lives. Certain girls bite the bullet and do the deed, others would rather cut their own wrists and end it; others drink every night to numb the sex, many take yabaa to go all night; most just become comfortably numb and a shadow of their former selves.

      And then what of the farangs who then enter relationships with bar girls post the bar? they complain the bar girls are dishonest, lying, cheating, moody, etc. Slagging them off on forums and dehumanising them to their mates when the girl runs off with cash or a younger version. What the hell do they expect when guys just like them have been dominating the girls like dogs night in night out for god knows how long. What do they expect when most of them would never have chosen to marry a farang growing up, or to ever sleep with one, let alone one as old as their Dad. What do you expect from uneducated farm girls with nothing whatsoever in common with western life, culture, intellect, etc. I know some foreigners do have successful relationships with bar girls and have happy ever after, and I think that’s wonderful. These girls are human beings, and like each and every one of us, want love and deserve love. But when you analyse their life pre and during the bar, it is no wonder so many end up desperately unhappy and unable to have proper relationships. All the money in the world can’t make up for being abused by undesirable, and used as a cash cow by greedy parents, not to mention being marginalised and looked down upon by their fellow countrymen.

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      • bibblies says

        “I tend to think they are telling me the truth because I level with them. I have never been into the “scene” and make it clear i am not interested in money-sex relations. They enjoy the conversation because i treat them like humans, don’t fondle them and using my limited thai chat to them like i would anyone else. They know there is nothing to get out of me so they drop the act and just talk; a welcome break from the sexpests they have to deal with I’m sure. ”

        You’re really only on level 2 if you believe this. I remember when I used to believe this. Don’t you know Thais? Think. Yes, you’ll get some truth but they won’t confront it all, even to themselves. You have to stay with them or know them a long long time for that.

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      • bibblies says

        “But the point is that the large majority have dependents, have no education, no welfare support, no back to work/education schemes available, and little choice; not all, but many”

        You don’t explain why the majority, in the same situation, don’t do it – don’t push their kids or don’t want the transient material goods or ‘face’. Your arguments completely fall down on that point alone.

        I know people in the same families or extended families who don’t go down the same route and, guess what? They’re fine. They have normal lives. Maybe they don’t have the very latest phone but that’s just like life in the West.

        “Take a look at the girls hanging around the Westin hotel near Asoke station in Bangkok for example. these girls look malnourished, dirty, and beaten down. Many are clearly on drugs and more akin to the type of street hookers you get in the back streets of Soho in London. Hell, these girls aren’t even good enough for the bars.”
        I know some and their back stories.

        “Are you telling me there is a future out there for all these girls?” Career options, government support, a job that will pay enough for a decent, clean 1 bed apartment and proper education for their children?”
        Yes. As I say, I know girls from the same family as hookers or ex-hookers. It’s possible, if their parents don’t pressure them or if they resist the pressure and bad choices. Choices, in the end. Just like everywhere really. You’re going back to level 1 here. Tell us why poorer countries than Thailand don’t have a bigger hooker problem?

        “When was the last middle-class, fair skinned thai girl you saw working in a bar? Which suggests what guys? They are poor, lower class people with little privilege and opportunity in comparison to the middle classes and elite”
        I know one who works the streets between Nana and Asoke, let alone a bar. Middle class, tall, white, Chinese-Thai, all her siblings are professionals… she’s been doing it for years, talks about it as her ‘career’. Some people have different attitudes.

        You seem to be demonising farangs too much. In my experience, farangs are much kinder to the girls than their countrymen and women.

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        • Adrian says

          I commented on this thread a while back and as such keep getting the responses in my inbox. You astonish me.

          Why are you so unwilling to admit that there are girls out there stuck in this trade against their will? Why are you so unwilling to admit that it’s a shitty life? Do you think they’re happy, deep down, even if they chose the life? You accuse the author of this thread of being fooled by the girls he’s interacted with and taking things at face value… you think it’s any different when you see a girl who talks about it as her ‘career’? You think any girl in this life is going to tell you the honest truth even once you live with her and know her for a long time? It’s ALL a game, and the name of the game is play or get played. Whatever a girl can say she will, in order to appear to walk tall, or to gain sympathy. Either way she’s playing this game with the truth for a reason – because her life is not a fairy-tale and given a better choice, she’ll fight for it.

          You are seeming to accuse the author of the blog of only telling one side of the story, and then turning around and presenting your side of the story as if it’s the ONLY side of the story! Obviously seeing as you both base your view-points on first-hand evidence, then the truth includes all aspects of both your arguments.

          And what is with this ranking for Bar-Girl levels? Like it’s a badge of honour? Like you’re better then the author because you know so much more and you’re at level 999? To me that doesn’t make you better, it means you’ve been walking down a few too many red-lit streets in Bangkok for far too long. Seems like somewhere along the way you lost your compassion.

          Finally: Who are you trying to convince of your beliefs that the bar girls choose this life and love farang because they are so much nicer than thai men etc etc? Us, or yourself?

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          • bibblies says

            You seem to be angry about something without cause. Read back to my first post, the one that begins “What you say contains a lot of truth but it seems to miss what to me is the most shameful thing…”

            That one says it all. I’m hard on the parents (usually the mother) exploiting the girls for ends that usually aren’t even noble and am scathing of their motives, what they do to their children and the society that lets this happen. The rest is mainly me reacting to TheThailandLife trying to blame poverty and trying to excuse the mothers doing this in some way as victims of society, as if their choices to keep up with the Joneses and piss money away being more important than their daughters’ welfare is is excusable or even understandable in any way. Having being in the middle of that many times, I don’t excuse it. I think those mothers are scum.

            I don’t say there weren’t girls ‘forced’ into it, that’s a strawman argument. I do blame parental pressure. But I’ve noticed that the girls have a slight role in enabling this pressure, that some girls can resist it and do. That some grow to like certain things about it, the power and the thrill of having money, etc. That they find it hard to give it up. Maybe if you went through the pain of caring about someone who wouldn’t give it up so easily, you might see it.

            As for the rest – e.g. “You accuse the author of this thread of being fooled by the girls he’s interacted with and taking things at face value… you think it’s any different when you see a girl who talks about it as her ‘career’? You think any girl in this life is going to tell you the honest truth even once you live with her and know her for a long time?”, well it’s common sense that a guy who lives with someone and sees their every ACTION every day as well as the words, never mind their family environment and friends, will be able to form a better opinion after many years of that than someone who only speaks to girls in the bars and refuges. So often actions will contradict words. I don’t apologise for using common sense here.

            Bar girl levels? It’s just a mechanism I made up for the layers that you have to wade through (and that I’m still wading through). I’m sure the author, knowing about Thais, would have thought twice when I reminded him that Thais will be telling a story to appear better even to themselves, let alone you. My experiences are first hand, living with a girl every day in a relationship for years, you will learn a lot more. I don’t see that the author’s are. I think he’ll admit that.

            Level 2 is an off the cuff thing, saying that there are guys who don’t care at all, who never talk or notice the girls, just have sex with them. Other guys who have sex, talk a bit but don’t know any Thai. Then guys who learn Thai well and talk to them, don’t have sex with them. (I guess that’s higher than level 2 there!) But it’s still not the same as living with them and SEEING their lives, their ACTIONS as well as the words. I don’t think any Thai will tell the truth but seeing much more of their actions and words every single day makes it easier to form a judgement. I think the author has admitted he’s never met the parents of a bargirl, for example.

            The ‘career’ girl is a bit different from the usual in her mentality as well. She simply does detach it as a career that makes good money, she isn’t damaged by it apart from that. She’s quite old for her profession and started late. She’s quite similar to me in many ways, actually!

            Your final paragraph just seems to be you assuming I’m one of those stereotype old fat bald farang who disparages Thai men. It’s all strawman stuff. When you live with bargirls for a long time you get to know their friends’ or sisters’ boyfriends and they’re not bad in most cases.

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          • TheThailandLife says

            Just one correction there before Adrian replies. I have met the parents of a bar girl. It was through a friend who was invited to her home in the North and invited me along. They were a lovely family and made us very welcome (we stayed 4 days in a local apartment block), but clearly they were turning a blind eye to what their daughter was doing to support her three children. I guess they only had two choices though, ignore it and hope she’d strike it lucky meeting a rich foreigner, or tell their daughter she was betraying them and her faith by doing such work and instead should work in the rice fields and struggle to give her 3 kids a life mildly better than her own had been.

            While at her home we learned a lot of her story. She really had fallen from grace, and I do believe the bar was a last resort. She left her husband because of years of cheating, in doing so she left the home and car they shared. Her Dad has a building business which is profitable in periods, but others in the family still work the rice fields to plug the gaps. If it was just a few mouths to feed I am sure things would have been different, but with 2 other kids still living at home, a wife, the grandparents, 3 grandkids and her 3 kids to support, moving back home meant she had to pull her weight and provide. She sold food at first locally, but it isn’t exactly a busy town so they wasn’t making much. She was then enticed by another girl whom she called her “cousin”, to go to a bar on samui and work. My friend first met her when she had only been there six weeks or so and was wiping down tables and cashiering and didn’t approach farangs, although we learned she had been with a few guys. One thing led to another and my friend got involved, even against the advice of other expats who had walked the road before. It ended when he had to move back home, but I know he still has a lot of love for her. She is a good, gentle person, and fun to be around, and would never have ended up in that bar had life not played out some bad cards and fate thrown up the avenue. Her family were clearly struggling for cash, she had no financial support for her 3 kids from her ex husband, and she felt desperately bad on her mother struggling with her kids and the other grandkids.

            I have no reason to believe her story was a lie; bits and pieces were filled in by friends and my friend had met her in the bar so that couldn’t be covered up. Regardless, she didn’t want to work in a bar. Last I heard her mum died of cancer and she was at home selling food again.

            While I am here I will gloss over an early experience.

            In my very early days of living in Thailand I was friends with a group of freelancers who were always in the disco i went to. They were lovely people; even invited me to a BBQ for a birthday once – it was a totally different experience seeing them all no make-up & no heels not playing up to the farangs. Two in particular became good friends. One liked me a lot and in truth I liked her, but we had a sort of understanding that it was pointless; she knew I wouldn’t make her my GF and wasn’t going to supporting her financially, and she had to do what she did to make money. The other friend died unfortunately. Another victim of Cancer. She disappeared one day, and months later I enquired of her whereabouts with a friend, who explained she’d gone home to her province to die. That got to me quite a bit. She was about 23, and pretty much her entire adult life was spent night after night in the same disco dancing for drinks and sleeping with guys for cash. All the girls had had kids very young and were sending money home to support them. One thing that sticks in my mind is that they felt proud to show me pictures of their kids – i guess it made it all worthwhile.

            Whatever drives the individual choice, or whatever the motivation of greedy parents, by and large the endings aren’t happy for the girls that enter the bar scene. What is most concerning is the general lack of compassion by expats and Thais, and the lack of effort on behalf of anyone to educate families on the dangers of letting their daughters fall into this industry, not to mention the lack of investment in social development to offer viable alternatives that offer a promising and prosperous future. What of the kids of the bargirls? What of the bar girls who get HIV and other STDs? Who knows, who cares…it was their choice, right?

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  14. bibblies says

    I forgot to comment on the UK scroungers bit. Although they’re despicable in their own way, I don’t think it’s quite as bad being a parasite on the state or taxpayer. That’s spread over many people, unknown people and it can be rationalised away. Although it’s wrong, it’s not as bad as knowingly sending your own daughters to sell themselves so you can gamble/get a nicer TV/brag to the village.

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    • bibblies says

      No reply option on your post? Are you getting tired?

      TheThailandLife, you met one bargirl’s parents for 4 days. Doubtless the story’s true but I’ve met more, over more time. Of the ones I know, usually the families/parents aren’t so hard working. Usually they’re ‘too old’ to work.

      Interesting that the girl gave up the house and the car if she was married. Had she signed to complete the marriage legally? Were those the guy’s before the marriage (it sounds unlikely). Even if she hadn’t signed, I know another girl really well who’s been married a few times (always to Thais). She recently broke up with the last guy and had to be convinced by her sister to pursue the 50% of assets. Left to herself she was going to call it fate and let the guy sell it all for himself or keep it. And she hadn’t signed.

      Very few girls die of cancer at 23. Are you sure the underlying cause wasn’t something else?

      “What is most concerning is the general lack of compassion by expats and Thais, and the lack of effort on behalf of anyone to educate families on the dangers of letting their daughters fall into this industry…. Who knows, who cares…it was their choice, right?”

      Well ultimately you didn’t care enough about this girl to make her your GF, support her financially, etc, did you? It would have brought you down socially, financially, compromised your beliefs, your life, whatever. Ultimately while you sat on the sidelines being compassionate, you didn’t really support her. Maybe things might have been different if you had?

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      • TheThailandLife says

        sorry, unsure why there is no reply option? Will look into that.
        I am unsure about the marriage and other finer details. As for my friend I couldn’t tell you. Perhaps she had cancer at a young age and was in remission until it returned.

        In regards to the girl I was fond of; we never had anything physical and if I had pursued that it wouldn’t have been fair because I didn’t want a GF at the time. I got the feeling she felt she was better off without a full time BF anyway; guys would return intermittently and she would be their GF for the duration. I am sure this provided enough for her son and parents. I was compassionate with her and didn’t judge her for what she was doing. She was open about it. We had some good laughs as friends.

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        • bibblies says

          I was implying that it could have been called cancer like Jermaine Stewart’s death was called ‘cancer’ (at first), given her occupation and age. Doesn’t really matter either way – just as sad to die so young.

          Fair enough that you didn’t want to be her boyfriend. What I was pointing out there, in reply to your allegation that there was a “general lack of compassion by expats and Thais, and the lack of effort on behalf of anyone to educate families on the dangers of letting their daughters fall into this industry” was that it takes an extraordinary amount of time, effort, pain, patience and, usually, money to get involved enough with just one of these girls and change her life and you yourself know that. Despite your sympathy, would you ever do it?

          There are plenty of nice farang guys with compassion but usually the girl or the girl and combined with the weight of family, will drag the guy down and, often, drag the guy with her. Would you want to spend precious years of your life like that? Or wreck your business trying to give people chance after chance? You have to be a combination of saint, teacher, masochist and idiot.

          Read the ThailandGuru entry about ‘Good guys trying to help often get burned’ and the cases where he tried to give chances to girls and imagine if you could take that, time after time, until a girl changes (and her family changes).

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  15. Bill says

    Lol – Like it “Heres me writing about why I don’t write about bar girls to drive traffic” whilst writing about bar girls and thus driving traffic. Clever stuff that. Thought you were being ironic for a moment. Maybe you were. To be fair what you say is sensible. . . I guess why not cash in on it?

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  16. Random John says

    I’d like to offer my 2 cents of anecdotal evidence.

    I guess I’m an overall friendly guy with a normal thirst for beer and conversation, and speaking a bit of broken Thai in some of the tourist spots got me to befriend a few of the girls. Not sure exactly on what level that puts me on the “bargirl scale” but I would like to think it’s not at the bottom rung. I remember one story that really struck me.

    During a vacation I made friends with one of the girls in a bar, and we stayed in touch after I left that area. She’s from Isaan and stays there for most of the off-season, so when I had to make a visa run I was invited to visit her at her village, and for a few days I was living in their house.

    She had the most welcoming family, she was living with her parents, siblings, and her teen daughter, and i was living in their house for the duration of my stay. They were not extremely rich of course, but they were pretty well off. My friend have managed to snare a few sponsors that sent her money regularly and it paid for more than what would be necessary for a comfortable life.

    I think this is a point that was yet to be made: if it was so universal that the girls suffer in the bars, why are some of those girls that found a sponsor continue to work in the bar? Once they were out of that financial mud, what would make them want to return?

    I was there when the guys called, I have listened to her asking for money. I have seen the money transfer papers she filed neatly in a folder. I have seen the pride she had in that pile of papers when she showed them to me.

    A few months later I returned to the same tourist spot, and came by to meet her. She told me her daughter is there too, and she would be very happy to meet me too, but when I came to see her that evening I could not meet her daughter. And why is that? With the same pride in her eyes she told me that her daughter already went with some farang.

    As I tried to figure out what’s going on in her mind, why would she send her own daughter down this path, where it is quite clear they have no stressing need for cash, I realized she was just passing on her “trade”. I guess that in her mind what she was doing was a very rewarding career!

    Of course that is only one story, but among the mothers who strive to feed their babies (sure have seen lots of them), I have also seen those college students who thought it would be cool to get a new iPhone and “allowance” from handsome foreigners from time to time. Among girls who ran away from their shitty homes and abusive parents and decided they could gain their independence by selling their bodies, I also met girls that were seeking adventure from what they thought to be a mundane life, girls that appear to genuinely have insatiable libidos and figured out that they could turn a few baht as well, and one particular odd girl that told me her father does not allow her to date the local guys so she went to find a farang boyfriend in the worst possible way. I have seen the girls that gave the bar a try and ran away never to return. Although I will never know if what these girls told me was true or just a feel-good story, I have been in enough situations to convince myself they were not all made up.

    I can also tell you that from what I have seen, although probably most girls will be destroyed by having this way of life, there are a few of them who are strong enough, and can leverage themselves and use their advantage to get far ahead of where they would have been otherwise. Look at the smart girl in the bar who doesn’t throw away her gains on gambling, methamphetamine, or karaoke guys, and you may see her owning that bar sooner than you’d expect.

    My point is: You will never be able to see the whole picture by telling the story of one girl you know, because I’m sure you could find another one who will disprove your theory. Not all the guys sitting in those bars are the same, and similarly neither are all of the girls. As everything in life, it is more complicated than what you see on the surface, and there are many surprises everywhere you turn.

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  17. TheMaker says

    I have spent sufficient time to go through all the blogs from author and other people.

    What I believe is there are 2 sides of each coin. We need to take precautions at all stages, whether we are in our country or some other.

    Of course I would like to say “Hats Off” to the author since he had dared to write something which is not written in any other blogs. Somebody has to write in the direction where no body is looking at.

    I would also say that “bibblies” has got point. So it is everybody’s perception to look at the things or the cases they might come across.

    But I recommend the thoughts of the Author. In my country also, people tell lies, do cheating and gets the money by those means. So why to blame Thai Girls for that, it can happen anywhere. We need to be cautions the way we do in business (see ups and downs) and take decisions.

    Just getting too involved and blindly taking any decision (of helping financially) is too risky and hands might get burned. If you really love someone or crazy about any girl, then support her to get out of the bar business and get her settled in some way where she can live with pride and stand on her own feet. Even if she will not earn what she might be earning in bar but she can live with kids & family very happily. If this cannot happen, then I believe there is no point in supporting the girls since they might be utilizing the guys just for their money and not for love or affection.

    Every person has dark & bright side and we have to analyze properly before taking such decisions.

    Poor education and less financial sources may be the true areas where something really should happen from government side to eliminate. It is cause of concern for many countries where poor education and less job opportunities in government or industrial sectors.

    I cannot really comment on which side I am but I liked the post very much by Author and also some of the points by “bibblies”. We should be human to think about the girls and their problems and try to solve with other means and not by just giving them money but also right direction to spend and utilize the money. And also by checking if the money is being utilized properly or not.

    This is the same case where we pay the taxes to country and we keep check on government that tax money getting utilized for people’s benefit and not going in wrong hands for politicians or bureaucrats. Then there would be no problem. So trust your instincts and find out more details and then you can take appropriate action like trusting the girl or not. If you have a long term plan then I don’t think there is any problem. Any short term plan might fail resulting problems in both ends.

    And of course such blogs will help the other guys a lot.

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  18. Patrick S says

    Good, honest blog…all critical response is for the most part from people attempting to justify consorting with prostitutes or living a life surrounded by prostıtution. Such people are the real backbone of the sex tourist industry (read Dean Barretts blog ıf you want to see terrific example of an articulate whore monger)……they will never agree with a blog such as this…how could they?

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    • bibblies says

      I just see a discussion, with people adding intelligent points relevant to the blog from their experience and discussion continuing. Apart from your sanctimonious last comment, that is. It’s a blog entry about bar girls. People who know the most about the subject will have been ‘consorting with prostitutes’ at some time.

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      • Patrıck S says

        I doubt that I could be holier than you, bibblies…but from your posts its clear where your interest in the subject lies. Keep on doing your best to justify yourself ;)

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  19. bibblies says

    You probably are holier than me, using phrases like ‘consorting with prostitutes’. It reminds me of Victorian Dad.

    I don’t see anyone ‘justifying’ being around prostitutes. That would need posts saying things like “I stay with prostitutes because…” and I don’t see any like that, just (mostly) intelligent comments around what the blogger wrote (which wasn’t “Why do you consort with prostitutes?”) The reason why you don’t see these posts is because no one cares about ‘justifying’ these things. They’re all long past that. No one even thought of it until you came into the picture with your Victorian Dad oddness.

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  20. jackman says

    You are 100% correct. I’ve been a student of Thailand and everything Thai for the past 37 years. Living here since 2000. Often hear a old wise guy tell me , I well educated in the West have a master degree and 60 years plus. Found this gal who is 23 and only has a 6th grade education. Talk to the guy 24 months later about his stupid girl with the 5th grade education has cleaned him out of all his saving, house, new car, gold etc etc. So, I listen and tink to myself yeah so you’re a smart guy and think you’re getting over on a gal with a 6th grade education.

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      • bibblies says

        That’s the knee-jerk reaction. Have you ever thought twice about your own prejudices?

        “Som nam na”. An old guy has been conned out of his life savings. And he’s old, he’s got no working life left, no chance to start again. And you laugh?

        Why? Because he succumbed to emotions or because he was so concerned with sex after maybe a hard life? That’s such a bad thing that the guy deserves to lose all his worldly goods and future? And the girl’s behaviour is OK in your eyes?

        Now I’m not this guy’s age – I’m much closer to yours – but, for me, you saying the easy “som nam na” here is pretty much like saying “som nam na” to a gay guy who’s slept around and got HIV/AIDS. That guy would have been where he was through his love of sex and own irresponsible behaviour but he doesn’t deserve something of that magnitude to happen to him in my opinion and I bet you wouldn’t say “som nam na” there.

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    • chiboy says

      This is so prevalent. Farang looking down on the women expecting their intelligence to overwhelm these women lacking in education. It’s profound pay back and I love it. I won’t waste time in making judgement but individual response to bad situations is just that ‘INDIVIDUAL’. A course their are societal dynamics that drive a person both good and bad. First of all, I see human being and I won’t be a dilutional purist nor a heartless scum. I have admiration, “making lemonade out of lemons”. I’ve seen entrepreneurial bar girls as well as materialistic ones. I wish them all luck (chok dee) & love (rak)

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  21. nicolas says

    yes life is tough and unfair. Some people die young or are forced to go to war too.

    That’s nice article very idealistic and bit self righteous too. I wouldn’t judge the old farts going over there too as I am not old yet.

    It’s easy and big money for most of them so some go for it but some don’t. they are free.
    Go to Europe, see the prostitution over there, that’s slavery and mafia involved, tha’ts disgusting. Get offended about that, its real

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    • bibblies says

      Yep, the author simply doesn’t know enough (and he should count himself lucky that he doesn’t!)

      By the way, why do so many farang women live here now and why so many farang men who don’t come here for the p4p choose to live here, I wonder?

      Think about it. A lot of them will be living here mainly because it’s easy and …

      … it’s CHEAP.

      In other words, they take advantage of the lower cost of living here. Curiously they don’t worry about the wages of the shop workers as they go around the malls or the security guards in their apartment blocks. They don’t think too much about the wages of the masseuses in the legimate massage places, the wages in any restaurants or any local places they take advantage of on a daily basis. They also don’t think about the effect of more farangs living there pushing up housing prices. Of course they don’t think about any of this… they want costs to stay low… they’re taking advantage as much (and perhaps more) as any guy indulging in p4p.

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  22. Kee Nok says

    I like your blog! I don’t know how I got to this post, but I started and couldn’t stop reading the post all the way down to the last response.

    As everyone can agree it’s a complex issue. But lets break it down into two groups and reasons.

    Buyer- Anyone who is willing to pay for temporary or extended companionship

    Want: Someone to talk/wipe their ass/sex up/clean their house/learn thai* (BS)

    Risk: losing sight of a normal relationship, getting a STD, getting robbed, spending all their money.

    Seller- Anyone willing to engage in sexual acts for money.

    Want: More money. Wanting more money has either increased or decreased their standard of living personally or as a family.

    For instance: A Brown bar girl from Isaan that works on Soi Cow Boy and is reasonably attractive/young could make 3,000 or more baht a day on average. That’s already doubling the wage of a college graduate without rich connections.

    A pale tofu skinned, scared of the sun, university student, model could make 10,000 baht or more a day screwing old rich Thai dudes.

    If anything someone should teach the girls that choose to go into the line of risky work how to preserve their commodity they sell by not eating bad food, and working out.

    Risk: STD, Debt to the pimp/bar, meaningful relationship

    Bottom line. If people stopped buying chicken the market would stop selling chicken.

    Since this is a realistic world of people that engage in desire (anything you don’t need to live) it will not happen. If you do not gamble you will not die, if you do not have sex you will not die, if you do not drink you will not die, yet we all die so it’s your choice in how you use your body. All I’m asking is to please shower if you eat curry every day. A hot Thai bus with a back of Bangladesh workers on it smells the same as if you lit a bag of hair and a used baby diaper on fire.

    Monopolies exist in Thailand. Just ask any “Thai” you meet with a long Sanskrit name, they’ll tell you the same.

    A good friend of mine is college educated in the US, and she’s trying to get a job in Bangkok selling BMW cars. They will pay her 7,000 baht a month plus commission. She hopes to earn around 30k baht a month. She turned down a job recently selling 20 million baht apartments that paid 20k baht flat with commission.
    She’s smart and educate, but she mainly got the job offers for being pale and young, she knows this. A side from all this, single women get paid more then married women in Thailand. Why? Because if the business owner can find a way to pay you less they will.

    People’s desires get them into trouble. Sadly that’s all people have to live on, if they are not taught by them self or others how to ask questions to themselves and their surroundings.

    We are all victims of our environment regardless of how good or bad that is. I have a very rich Thai** friend living here that’s single and 37 years old. You know how hard it is for her to find a husband? Her family will only let her marry someone that has more money then her. Most Thai guys that have more money then her are too busy paying 5,000 baht a go with a FHM model. She’s screwed.

    At the end of the day the “Buyer” and “Seller” make their own decisions and take their own risks. In Thailand, if you don’t have connections for a good job and you want more money then the market is willing to pay you, you get lucky or take a higher risk.

    P.S. Burmese day laborers make around 200-300 baht a day you can live on that in Thailand but you will sleep in a shack, get dark skin and clauses. No one will want to marry you so you can sit on the sofa eating candy watching soap operas… Oops did I just write that?? Oh well, I’m sticking with it.

    Keep up the good work on the blog!

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    • TheThailandLife says

      You coined many a true point here Kee Nok. And one thing remains a constant amidst broad debate on this subject; the hand holding the cash is the whip hand, and that man is inevitably the white foreigner or better off Asian. So money is able to buy the soul of young women, or at least the right to a normal life, a normal loving, sexual relationship with someone her own age with the same interests, etc. There are girls lining the streets of sukhumvit of a night these days, more than ever, not even in the bars. The faces are younger, the desperation and naivety more apparent. As you point out the market is thriving, the investor is hungry. These girls have become a commodity; stripped of their humanity and sold as flesh. Perhaps cleverly convinced – albeit unspoken – by the market that this is a solid career choice for a poor, uneducated girl with dependents to support. In reality these women are treated worse than dogs (reference this page to join our fellow brothers as they tell of their misogynistic exploits http://www.bigmangobar.com/main/2012/01/12/my-1st-trip-to-nataree-by-louie/), yet we forget, these are our human sisters, they represent our daughters, our mothers. And so we have two choices. To use our money to gratify ourselves, to fulfil our sordid fantasies and boost our laboured ego, or to in some way help better educate and finance better choices. To join a movement of change for the greater good, in some way. To learn to respect these women instead of simply desiring to dominate them and abuse them in true colonial fashion. Just because Thai society supports and arguably engineers the state of play, doesn’t mean we have to play ball.

      In a way the bar girls are the more privileged of the industry. Many from poor areas are bought and resold very young in Korea, Japan, China and in brothels in thailand where they barely see the light of day. I was only reading today that the industry is morphing; the demand is so high now for whiter skin girls in thailand – because northern Thai girls aren’t going into the industry as much as they once did, yes the north was the hub of prostitution in Thailand before the Isaan invasion – that more women are trafficked into Thailand from poor parts of Southern China than Thais going into the industry domestically.

      So I ask my fellow white europeans/westerners, are we to continue propping up what is at the core a cruel, pernicious and misanthropic industry, and continue to plough money into funding the pimps, the mafia, the aristocracy and all the others who benefit from the exploitation of what is largely the marginalised, underprivileged, rural poor, who bewilderedly follow a superficial dream of money and respect = elevation of face and family, or do choose to do something positive.

      Shame on us.

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  23. says

    Nicely witten article. I’ve lived on soi 4 and many of these girls are some of my best friends. You’ve hit the nail on the head in your description of them.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      Thanks Lynn. Glad I found your site, spent the morning reading your posts; the baby Pichai story is so touching, you truly gave that child a chance in life.

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  24. vanesssa says

    Hi interesting post.
    I just want to share some of my knowledge about the prostitution thing in Thailand. I have a bestfriend there who is working in an office. She was relocated there from Singapore because of requirement in Phuket office. She lived very well here in our country(not SG). I can say that she doesn’t need to work but she chose to because she is a professional and wanted to see the world. I can consider her as rich as some falang who do travel a lot and lived with extravagance in every country. She consider relocation there because her brother has business there. blah blah..

    She shared to me one thing she knows about the staffs in her office. She found out that a group of staffs in her office is also engaged in the bar scene and confirmed that they go to the bar every night after office and some are “freelance” there who has private transactions with falang and many has regular allowance from their falang boyfriend. She also investigated this. And since then we try to figure out why they are doing these things since they have a DECENT income in the company she is also working at. I have to say that your blog helps a lot to help me understand the pressure that these girls are facing in their society. But at some point it still leaves me some confusion and just want to take it from there until I find my own internal understanding with the whole “bar scene”. Thanks a lot.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      Hi Vanessa. I have never heard of office women leaving the office and going straight to a bargirl job for a night’s work (in say soi cowboy or nana), surely the 3-4 hour’s sleep wouldn’t be sufficient each night to perform an office job. However, I have heard of office women, who don’t need the money (as you said) going to freelance in bars and discos. There is, however, a distinct difference between these women and the average uneducated, single mother from relative rural poverty in the stereotypical ladybar role.

      Okay, so both effectively engage in prostitution. But the office working freelancer who doesn’t need to charge may be doing this for one of the following reasons:

      1. A simple thrill. An alter ego-cum-secret lifestyle could be quite exciting. Office worker by day – hooker by night.
      2. She gets to choose her client. She doesn’t really need the money so she can be selective. She doesn’t need to go with sixty-something men if she’s at a loose end for her rent.
      3. Perhaps some of these single office worker women simply think, “Hey, all these girls taking cash for sex in the discos, and there’s me having one night stands with foreigners for nothing! Well, I might as well charge because I can…and enjoy the sex!”
      4. No ties to any mafia boss, mama sang, or one particular bar. No drug addicted or alcoholic friends hanging around trying to borrow money – this side of the fence doesn’t really feel like prostitution at all, I guess.
      5. Also consider that an office worker in Bangkok (University educated) probably isn’t earning more than 25-30k (per moth) at say 25 yrs old, and they need a lot more than that if they are to live the hi-so existence so many aspire to. There is a massive “must keep up with the Jones’s” culture in this city.

      You will find freelancers in the cities of Thailand, China, Singapore, Japan, Cambodia, all over Asia. Where sex in exchange for money is commonplace a “culture” will naturally evolve, and perhaps that’s what’s happening here. And if a woman who doesn’t need the money but likes to have sex with guys she finds attractive wants to make money on it then it’s her choice.

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  25. thaiger says

    Wow what a great blog. You really did a great job to explain how really is,the real truth.I’ve been in Thailand for many years and every time when i talk to bar girl it was ALWAYS a same story always those 3 things:

    Comes from Isaan,have no education,take care baby(ies) alone with no help whatsoever not even a child welfare,poor family.In fact i dont know even 1 bar girl who hasnt problems like that unfortunately.
    But one thing that is really annoying and sad is that people all over the world unfortunately have a bad image about Thailand.I give you an example: just search,look on internet,forums,youtube for a word thai girl.Everytime when you put word thai girl it comes along with a word prostitute.
    It really sad becouse of some people who visit Thailand and 99% of time spend in red light district and come back home and post wanker videos,posts about every thai lady is a prostitute,you should not trust them,they take you money etc.Its just stupid and moronic,its like going to amsterdam and talk every girl from Netherland is a prostitute.
    There are billions of streets in Thailand,does really couple of street make country look bad. Its really sad to hear if you mention thai girl somebody have to mantion word prostitute.Some people dont understand that there are millions of millions of normal thai girls in thailand so why looking for a prostitute.If you want to find a good girl dont look in a bad place.
    sorry for my english as im not a native speaker:-P

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    • TheThailandLife says

      @thaiger Don’t apologise, you have made your points very clearly. No one can disagree that prostitution in Thailand isn’t linked to poor families, lack of education, welfare and opportunity. Neither can anyone deny that it is fuelled by corruption on so many levels. Sadly people focus on this one aspect of Thailand, forgetting that the sex industry includes (only) approximately 1.7% of the population (65m). Isaan is disproportionately represented because of its size (25 million people – more than a third of the country) but it should be noted that there are women from areas all over Thailand (incl Bangkok) involved in the industry.

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  26. Gerdy says

    You only need to read a few reader submissions from stickmans site to realize that not every westerner is some evil colonialist, and that this is a rather simplistic viewpoint. Many have good intentions, but are taken advantage of by conniving scanners. Some bargirls and freelancers even pose as non bargirls on buses and train stations to fool western men that they are normal girls looking for a relationship. Read this submission for just one sad example:

    http://www.stickmanbangkok.com/reader/reader263.html

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    • TheThailandLife says

      So what are you saying Gerdy, “Some bargirls and freelancers even pose as non bargirls on buses and train stations to fool western men that they are normal girls looking for a relationship”. Come on. How is this even possible? At some point she will ask for money in return for sex; this is her job. Anyone with half a brain cell who has been here in central Bangkok or one of the other tourist spots around the country knows that if a girl is giving you the come on (excessively) in public then something isn’t right; Because this just isn’t the way of the average Thai woman. Moreover, you’d need only ask a few questions to rumble her “disguise”. Like what do you do for work, what university did you go to? Then you can dig deeper; if she isn’t educated why is her English so good, etc, etc. Furthermore, if her plan is to sleep with you a few times then fleece you for cash you’ll know she is a freelancer when she doesn’t go to work for so many days in a row.

      If she never asks for money and genuinely does want a “normal” relationship, but used to be a freelancer, it won’t be long before you realise this simply through pieces of the puzzle that don’t make sense. But then if she’s a genuine girl with a heart of gold and good intentions toward you, and you love her, would you care. Up to you.

      Regardless of what people like Stickman might purport, this notion that women who work at night spend their lives concealing what they do is complete rubbish. Thai people know, their home town knows, everyone knows. It is only the “stupid farang” who never bothers to learn a snippit of the language who doesn’t. However, most Thais don’t refer to the girls as “prostitutes” because this word is like using the ‘c” word in English. And so they use phrasing. For example, when I speak with the owner of the cafe in my local area, she’ll tell me stories about the girls working “night”, referring to them as “poo ying glang koon” (ladies working at night). Thais know prostitutes a mile off from how they speak, act and from their daily movements. They pity them, and the girls don’t deny what they do, yet don’t talk about it openly. The Thai men drinking in the soi, on the other hand, refer to the women as “poo ying haa gin” when they strut past in heels and minis off to work, which means a woman looking for something to eat (men).

      I don’t want to be ageist or offensive here, but come on. If a hot, young girl is coming onto you, showing overt interest in public and going to extensive lengths to establish a connection with you, and you’re almost twice her age, or looks-wise she is generally way out of your league, then have a bit of common sense. Perhaps, just maybe, she’s seeing you as a target more than the potential love of her life.

      As for Stickman’s blog; well, most of us who’ve been here a fair few years know that it’s sensationalist, fabricated bull**** that all reads with one agenda, and that is to make out that every Thai woman is a secret whore with a monetary agenda. Anyone who writes and reads a lot can tell a large majority of those stories are written by the same person; it’s very transparent. Behind that screen is a bitter man with a hateful agenda.

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    • Random John says

      Have you actually read this story? The girl wasn’t trapping him at all, he set the trap all for himself. He was chasing that girl, he was giving her money that she never asked for! My guess is that for the first time they stayed together, she actually liked him and wasn’t trying to scam him or anything.

      And the other girl who wanted to sleep with him – if he was young and good looking and she was “half old, half ugly” as he described, perhaps she was just happy to get an opportunity to stay with a guy like that. Perhaps she was lonely and saw that he was lonely too. Many girls actually do enjoy having sex with young good looking guys. Or maybe she was really just a prostitute trying to make a buck, so what’s wrong with that? He didn’t have to take her to his room if he didn’t want to.

      If anything, this story goes to demonstrate how a guy can be stupid enough to set himself up, get brokenhearted and become totally nuts (barfighting, flushing money in the toilet to take revenge on a completely unrelated person!). Come on, he would blame the “money grabbing Thai girls” just to have anyone to blame but himself.

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      • TheThailandLife says

        Hi, yes I read it, wires crossed a bit, sorry – my reply was in response to your comment about men being taken advantage of; and yes I agree, reading the story he set himself up. Thing is, I do think that the time he spent with her had some “realness” to it; she just couldn’t take the risk of putting all her eggs in one basket, nor the risk of making herself so vulnerable to emotion and attachment. I don’t know her past, but the majority of these girls have been mistreated by men their entire lives. Thai men have cheated on them and left them with kids to support alone, and farang have passed them around like dogs in bars and hotels. Not to mention that being poor in a highly class driven society brings its own oppression from the country at large from birth. Women, indeed people, who’ve been subject to abuse, be it mental or physical, often require help and support to form healthy relationships again. Can we really expect a bar girl to love and trust a man she met in a bar? To take a promise of monogamy from a man who regularly uses prostitutes?

        The guy sounds lost, and I feel for him as he obviously has a lot of love to give and wanted to give it to her. She just wasn’t a good choice, for various reasons. However, I think he should believe that much of what he saw on the isolation of that island was the “real her”, and that it was not a personal attack on him, just a reflection of her life experience, which I am willing to bet has been for the most part a negative one.

        Sadly though Stickman only publishes such stories, real or not, to further dehumanize Thai woman. Thus his witty, intelligent analysis at the end, I quote: “Sounds like she really fucked you up big time. Still, imagine if you had got the wench back to Norway – then it would have really got bad!.

        Thanks for posting that link.

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        • Random John says

          Actually, the way I see it, if the setting of this story was in another country, it would have been the story of a woman cheating on her husband, by having an affair with that Norwegian man. During the months he spent back home the strong feeling that they shared had subsided, and she realized she should live in her country, with her husband who is the father of her child, with whom she has a history, and share the same language and culture. This is something that could have happened anywhere, with a women who doesn’t sell her body for a living as well.

          The money part is just some icing on the cake. She could have used it as an excuse (for herself, for her friends, for her husband later on). I find it hard to expect her to ask that guy to stop sending her a monthly “allowance” when it means for her that she could stop work (as he said she did, which many times is not the case) and stay with her family and take care of her son. Or perhaps, as you said, she did not want to throw away her option to have a relationship with that guy if she chose to later on.

          I think nobody really knows the true story, and what went on in her mind, or her life, just by reading what the guy wrote on his post.

          I totally agree with you about Stickman’s comment, for this particular story I also believe it wasn’t appropriate, but I’d like to think he was just showing solidarity for the poor guy. I am not reading Stickman regularly, so I’ll have to take your word that most stories are complaints about the wrongdoings of Thai women. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he has some sort of agenda, though. These are the stories people want to write about when they are upset, and people want to read about as well because it is exciting (sex! money! drugs! clever scams! etc.). I don’t think it would be too common for someone to feel like writing about how he got married to his dentist and how they live a happy life, or read about it either, it’s a boring story.

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  27. Erik says

    Sorry mate but this is simply to naive, bleeding heart a post to be REALLY relevant. I do agree with a lot of what you wrote. I also can’t walk down Soi Cowboy, much less Nana, anymore and see anything other than despair and filth. I also know the ‘hooker look’ in the eyes of a woman, dead inside, it’s not that dissimilar from girls in the west who sleep with a lot of guys.

    However, the basic premise of your post could be written about prostitution almost anywhere. There ARE prostitutes in rich countries too you know, remember the famous New York escort girl who brought down that politician. She was very well off and still hooked. A lot more women than you think have taken money or things for sex at some point in their life. Naturally there’s a major difference from being a bar girl or a high end escort girl but selling your body is selling your body.

    But you’re simply being way, way to naive and whiteknight about the whole thing. Prostitution and promiscuity is simply a Thai cultural phenomonen and favorite past time. Prostitution is rampant in Thailand at all levels of society. The expensive Thai only memberclubs don’t have poor Isaan girls in them, but middle class educated pale Thai girls who can hold a conversation about wine just as easily as flirt with you.

    I have to say, this is another account of falling sway to the myth of the ‘beautiful savage’ and whiteknighting.

    Why do you even waste your time with these girls? There are millions of normal Thai women to spend your time with.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      Hi Erik, I’m not sure you fully understood my points in this post. In terms of wasting my time with the girls, I don’t in that respect, although I have all the time in the world to verbally protect any woman who becomes a victim of a vicious class divisive society that consciously engineers social oppression among the lower classes for its own gain. I do have what I guess you are referring to as a “normal” long-term girlfriend, even though I am hesitant to suggest the girls working in bars are in some way abnormal. My interaction with the girls/women in the refuge showed me that they’re 100% human, just dehumanised like dogs by abusers.

      I don’t disagree that there are higher class escorts,and of course prostitution exists in all countries, and there will always be the odd woman, even in a society where it isn’t necessary to sell one’s body on any level, that will. Fact is, people use the resources they have at hand to make a living. And so it’s no surprise that prostitution grows in activity in poor areas, as does theft. However, the face of prostitution in the bar and club-freelancer scenes here is very different to a high-class hooker who picks and chooses select clients in hi-so circles of London or New York. Remember, there isn’t even a social welfare system in place here.

      Fact is, there are far too many young, naive women losing their lives to this industry: becoming drug addicts, drunks, HIV victims, mentally ill, unable to enter “normal” sexual/intimate relationships, victims of attacks & rape by pimps and those they owe money to, becoming outcasts in their local communities and from family units; and what of the ramifications for their children?

      So please do elaborate on what you mean by whiteknight? This is just a convenient phrase I hear white men use who want to justify their actions or avoid the real truth; or at least bothering to research the truth. With all due respect, I’d say you imperial suggestion that “Prostitution and promiscuity is simply a Thai cultural phenomonen and favorite past time” makes you the whiteknight, on a par with those who holiday for sex and return to Europe telling the world that all Thai women are sex-hungry whores. The truth is the large majority of these women are uneducated, poor women who’ve been discriminated against since birth, denied a real education, and left with children to support and no accountability forced upon the father(s) of their children. Many encounter serious financial difficulty, due to lack of work, funds to start a business, or the prospect of a job that will struggle to support one person let alone an extended family. Often families are being harassed by loan sharks, and culturally the onus and pressure falls upon single daughters to help out and save family face. So, those able to go through the mental barrier, to break all the cultural and religious morality they’ve been brought up with, sacrifice their souls by turning to prostitution in the hope that the financial return will take their family out of the perpetual poverty cycle.

      The money and resources are in abundance to protect women through the provision of further education, child support, and more – a different path can be provided. But no one wants to share; there’s too much money to be made off the back of it, too. And the white tourist isn’t likely to show any compassion and speak out against it, why would we? We enjoy dominating and degrading brown people; we’ve been doing it for the last 200 years.

      To suggest the girls working in the backstreets of Thailand’s tourist spots is in some way cultural is simply absurd, and I really suggest you do some research on Thai history; where Thai people come from, where regional cultural influence comes from and more. I ask you not to close your mind and see things so black and white; they aren’t.

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      • Erik says

        Thanks for your reply.

        I don’t frequent prostitutes anymore, but I am not ashamed that I did have a few experiences with bargirls as a newb in Thailand. Paying for sex is unsatisfying and degrading for both parties and indeed is a soul destroying venture for both the customer and the girl, unless of course you’re a sociopath, whom are found on both sides. Otherwise how can you justify stealing a mans entire life savings like all the sob stories so rampant on Thaivisa? Don’t tell me that it’s ok to scam and rob someone of all their savings just because someone is old, stupid and delusional?

        Thai promiscuity?

        A study done by Durex which you may have heard about (http://www.coconutsbangkok.com/news/durex-condoms-thai-men-most-unfaithful-in-the-world/) found that Thai men were the most likely to cheat on their spouse in the world and that Thai women were the second most likely in the world. Accoding to the study a whopping 59% of Thai women admit to having cheated on their husband/boyfriend and 54% of Thai men admit the same.

        As you probably know, the vast majority of prostituion in Thailand is Thai to Thai in many different forms say the oppulent ‘massage’ palaces on Ratchada the size of hotels. Or the many, many membership clubs used to entertain business prospects or the karaoke places found in EVERY hole in the wall town in the countryside. Don’t tell me that this isn’t a Thai cultural phenomonen. In which other poor countries is prostitution so rampant and obvious?

        There actually have been written books about this subject such as ‘Prostitution in Thailand: Myth and Reality’ written by a female Indian PHD. Here is an excerpt from a review:

        “The chapter 2 of the work begins with the specific question of prostitution in Thailand. This chapter entitled “Prostitution in Thailand: its Historical Evolution” discusses the social and cultural ambience in Thailand answerable for the growth of prostitution. The influence of Brahmanical philosophy and the role of Buddhism behind are narrated in this part. It discusses the historical evolution of prostitution from the ayuthia period (i.e., fourteenth century itself) and refers to the social position of women in Thai society. In this context it refers to women in traditional society and the system of polygamy. Analysis of customary Thai laws and social-legal environment as a factor behind growth of prostitution are also discussed. The factor of colonical infiltration by the middle of nineteenth century and its role behind growth of commercial economy and bureaucratic class and related changes in social order also helped to change the social position of women and in the growth of the practice and trade of harlotry. In large commercial houses of Bangkok, for male folk it was not deemed unusual to have concubines, and once men with numerical superiority of concubines began to acquire some kind of status symbol.”

        And:

        “This part of the study seeks to analyse if prostitution has been culturally and socially defended in Thai society. The question of general socialization of Thai girls, the family expectation and role of girls are points of study and analysis. It is concluded that social and cultural environment of Thailand, at least in some parts of the country contributes to the easy growth of the occupation.”

        So as you see, there ARE cultural factors at play in why Thailand and not say Bangladesh has become infamous for prostitution.

        Let me be clear that I don’t condone prostitution, I think it’s very harmful in the long run, but not the act itself, but the dehumanizing aspect of doing it over and over.

        The whiteknight comment was out of place personal attack so I’d like to retract it.

        But it does seem like you carry some ‘white guilt’. I certainly didn’t dominate any brown people or any other people for that matter for 200 years. The Japanese however were absolutely brutal in Asia during WW2.

        I don’t claim to know the motivation and background of bargirls. From my limited experience, it seems like some/many seem to quite enjoy being young, partying every night and having more money than a managing director. It’s rare to see a bargirl without an expensive smartphone for example. For many others being a wife-for-rent is a smart retirement plan. Of course, all this comes at a big price and I am not saying it’s ok or condonable, but trying to argue, that it’s not always clear who is exploiting who. Marrigage for money is not exactly a new thing.

        I think that the worst exploitation is done by Thais to Thais and that many sextourists are not really the monsters they’re made out to be (except for the sociopaths you describe). Many are just lonely, older men who are looking for love in all the wrong places.

        Really, having this kind of discussion makes me feel kind of dirty because this part of Thailand isn’t the Thailand that I’d like to live in. I honestly can’t understand how anyone can live the bar lifestyle for any amount of time whether as a customer or bar girl. I look forward to Thailand becoming truly prosperous.

        Anyway, your post is written with good intentions and I think it’s good to get some opposition to the sexpat drivel that is all over the internet.

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        • [email protected] says

          Hi Erik,

          1. ‘I think that the worst exploitation is done by Thais to Thais and that many sextourists are not really the monsters they’re made out to be’.

          Yes, exactly.

          2. In which other poor countries is prostitution so rampant and obvious?

          ‘The Thailand Life’ conspicuously hasn’t answered this. It’s his main point, poverty, and yet he never addresses the glaring hole in it.

          3. ‘But it does seem like you carry some ‘white guilt’

          Three strikes, three goals! Yes, this is probably why he doesn’t answer. He just seems to be interested in going on about white men taking advantage of these girls whereas, as you point out, other Thais are more guilty and often some of these men will try to help these girls far more than their fellow Thais…

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          • pattayacondo says

            <a onclick="javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/mailto/bibblies@hotmail.com');" href="mailto:bibblies@hotmail.com">bibblies@hotmail.com</a>:
            Hi Erik,

            1. ‘I think that the worst exploitation is done by Thais to Thais and that many sextourists are not really the monsters they’re made out to be’.

            Yes, exactly.

            2. In which other poor countries is prostitution so rampant and obvious?

            ‘The Thailand Life’ conspicuously hasn’t answered this. It’s his main point, poverty, and yet he never addresses the glaring hole in it.

            3. ‘But it does seem like you carry some ‘white guilt’

            Three strikes, three goals! Yes, this is probably why he doesn’t answer. He just seems to be interested in going on about white men taking advantage of these girls whereas, as you point out, other Thais are more guilty and often some of these men will try to help these girls far more than their fellow Thais…

            To answers Erik- yes its wrong to steal entire mens life saving,house etc.Can you blame them,No! Why?Because they work for money.Maybe some foreigner should start date prostitutes in their home countries so can have experience when come here with same kind of girls.It is same,just different country.Like i sad,why Thai would never consider having a prostitute as girlfriend,wife.Becouse every one of them understand why she works like this,only foreigners dont.
            Most of ladies that works in bar are married and have babies from the relatevely young age,it was responsabilty of parents to teach their kinds.Did you ever see bar girl with good parents..i had never.In my moo-baan ,village, of my girlfriend everybody are married,happily,why? because they didnt start having men and screwing and marring at the age of 15.Everybody who is married had married after 20year.People dont have brain until that age,especially for happy marriage and think something more about men.So men cant be blamed for being men.Pussy dont stay on ladies head so everybody can fuck.Its her choice,and later probably have consequnces and have a baby and take care alone.And its very big reason why they have to work in bar.Eduction isnt a problem if they dont have to take care baby or family.They can find work everywhere at 7000,8000baht and maybe even a find a foreigner.But find a foreigner with good intensions and heart as a normal girl isnt same working as a bar girl and finding a foreigner.I know many good ladies that work for minimal wage and look for foreigner.Not old,not for money,for love.Because they have choice.They not have baby,bad family.its easy when you have own life and dont think about take care nobody except yourself.
            1.You said:”As you probably know, the vast majority of prostituion in Thailand is Thai to Thai”- How many bars are there that service for farang in pattaya for example and how much are there for thai only? 300 to 1?Tell me 1 soi in thailand that is only for thai? Nana,soi cowboy,patpong,soi 6,7 etc.,walking street,soi bukhao,bangla road only for farangs.If there aint those areas nobody would even know about prostitution here.
            2.bibbles I dont know about other poor countries(btw Thailand isnt considered really poor),but let me tell you in richer Korea and many others there is also much prostitution..just behind closed doors.
            It isnt only about removing a bar scene,you have to look what is behind this.If average bar girl have decent education(high school),no babies at young age(or if have at least she will get child support),normal family there wouldnt be any bar scene.
            When i read Stickman blog before i want to go to toilet and puke!Every blog entry starts with a bar girl,and then complaining why she do like this.Well,hey just a thought! Maybe you should step outside red light district and step into a real world with normal girls which have some choices in life and which you dont have to spend thai baht to talk to you.
            Only becouse of “people” who spend life in red light districts and see only THAT KIND OF GIRLS is reason why Thailand has a bad image like this.

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          • TheThailandLife says

            @Bibbles: I have answered it numerous times. Have you ever met bargirl that was born into a rich family? Have you ever met a bargirl that didn’t leave school before 14/15 years old – perhaps but it’s very rare. I don’t know why foreigners are in denial about this. Ask any Thai, they’ll tell you.

            1. Poor family, of low class/name etc.
            2. Left school with no university education
            3. Has kids and/or family problems like gambling/alcoholism

            Period.

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  28. pattayacondo says

    Hello, how are you?
    I don’t even know how the hell i google here to “Why I Don’t Blog About Thai Bar Girls” because i didn’t look anything related to your blog but it was best thing i did in last 2 weeks.
    And after reading it i just fell obligated to write a couple a words. Im 27 year old,I live in Thailand for a 4 years now.I had owned a big bar buisness in Pattaya along with 2 friends.After 10months i sold my percent of bar to my friends and i went to condominium buisness.
    The profit from bar buisness was good,but for people like me(people with good heart) it was too much.The things i saw in that 10months i must admit and im not shy to tell that cuople of times i even cried.People dont understand why they have to work like that.Most foreigners that i talk with think they like sex more then everything,believe me ITS FAR FROM TRUTH.
    I dont know about 100% of bar girls but im sure for 99% of them.Like you said and i seen too much times,when you compare lady that comes to work in bar for a first time-first day-first week and compare same lady 1-2months later difference is like comparing black and white.Believe me NOBODY wants to work like this.Of course after a time she get used to it.
    Unfortunately she DOESN’T have any CHOICE in life.Ive seen many times newcomers crying in room after “customers”,i’ve seen atempted suicides,much percent of them after some time start using drugs,not a day pass without alcohol.Ive talk to MANY of them as i can talk moderate thai and i know what is behind those eyes and smiles when you look passing by on street and nobody can tell me different.
    Behind those smiles is a totally different story.Like i said im not cold heart person and it was to much for me almost every day.I dont even know how much times i saw bar girl talk with foreigner and 5 minutes later saw her crying in bathroom.
    I dont want to be harsh and say stupid farangs never understand why she have to work like this but its true.
    Did anybody see thai people talk bad about thai bar girl or something similiar to this? NEVER. I never forget when i was in hotel,and in hallway near me was 3 cleaning ladies that i talk to them on thai and couple of foreigners talking together.Other hotel room door opened and 3 fat arab people and 1 young thai lady were on the way out.Foreigners said:”Uhuhu look look she get 3 dicks today i bet she feel great haha”, and 3 young cleaning ladies told me on thai:”songsan na,mai mi krai jaak tamgan jang ni.Which mean- Its sad right? Nobody wants to work like this.
    By listening that you can just think how thai people understand why she have to work like this compared to foreigners.Thais will NEVER talk bad about bar girl because everybody UNDERSTAND why she have to work like this and have bad life like this.
    I dont want to offend nobody but i think some farangs are really stupid in brain.Most of the Thai will never consider having a thai prostitute as girlfriend,wife because everybody understand why she works like this and what problems in life she has,from non euducation,babies to poor familiy.And thai will be ashamed even to walk outside along with bar girl.
    I dont feel sorry for foreigners who lose a house,everything becouse of bar girls.Foreigners that dont understand that she’s working for money,money much needed that is more important that same foreigner even when they walk together holding hands in moonlight. When i talk to one thai man taxi motorcycle near my condo,he asked me How can farang much education,money even consider dating a prostitiute,he asked me in western countries do farangs date with prostitutes?? I didnt know what to answer.
    Some website,like stickman’s website mentioned before and MANY OF THEM are stupid,somebody who dont know nothing can believe it but I sure wont.Ive seen too much time bar girls behind smiles and i know what kind of life they have.Life that is not considered to far from raping every day.Life that has to do not for herself but for family and baby(ies).But like i said,in time she get used to it,and from then on its only about money because her soul has dissapear already.
    Im really glad to come to your blog i hope much people will read it before talking things about bar girls.But i really hope one day people will talk something different about thailand as there are millions of great things in thailand unfortunately people always stick to talk about bad things.
    I like the way you talk you seem like a person who have brain to think, not like half of foreigners on different websites who live in red light district and consider everybody in thailand bar girl if she wear short skirt and have piercing in ears.
    I would like to have “farang” friend like you in Thailand im so boring with my “friends” who only know bad things about about Thailand and stories with bar girls,other than million of good things which make this country.I more enjoy play xbox 360 online then going out with them lol.This is why i started to have only thai friends,it seem like they have more brain in their head,but people like you still give me a hope that there is a decent western with brain still living in Thailand.

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  29. bibblies says

    TheThailandLife:
    @Bibbles: I have answered it numerous times. Have you ever met bargirl that was born into a rich family? Have you ever met a bargirl that didn’t leave school before 14/15 years old – perhaps but it’s very rare. I don’t know why foreigners are in denial about this. Ask any Thai, they’ll tell you.

    You still haven’t answered it at all. Saying prostitutes tend to come from poor and troubled backgrounds does not answer the question:

    Why do other countries, with more poverty and social problems, NOT have as much prostitution?

    And, by the way, I have met prostitutes born into relatively rich families.

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    • Bron says

      Seriously awesome article! I just find it heartless that this Bibblies guy cannot see the basic, compassionate message of it: A Thai bar girl is a woman, just like your mother, daughter, sister. And most girls would definitely never choose to earn their living having emotionless sex with men twice their age. Some of these poor girls have simply had rotten luck.

      This article refreshingly focuses on heart breaking reality as opposed to the crude exploitation of prostitution. It’s a very welcome change. He is not saying that this applies to ALL gogo girls. So you’ve had a few bargirl girlfriends – that does not make you the all-knowing professor of bargirl psychology. Believe it or not Bibblies, all girls are individuals, they are all different. And your ranking system is fked up btw.

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      • bibblies says

        Ever lived with any bargirls, Bron? Know any of their families? How many do you know, have you known for how long? Seen their choices in life? Ever really tried to help any away from the scene and seen them muck it up? And how dare you call me ‘heartless’ when I have and you just watch, cluessless, from afar?

        The answers to these questions will obviously be ‘no, not really’, ‘not really’, ‘not many’ and ‘not long’. On any subject, if I wanted an opinion on something, I’d talk to someone who actually knew something about it, not someone who didn’t have experience. Try thailandguru for some more writing about bargirls and the attitude difference between them and girls (often just as poor) who don’t work in bars. He’s closer to the mark. Look at his stories of trying to help bargirls. There’s a different attitude. He’s actually done it (unlike, I’d guess, you).

        Of course, there are normal girls there who’ve had bad luck and made bad choices. And there are some whose lives, with patience and hard work, you can help turn around. But there are undeniably also some, incredible as it may be to you and me, who just seem to prefer to make a living this way to getting a lower, if still reasonable livable wage elsewhere. I don’t understand it coming from the culture that I do. And I don’t like it. But they are there, undeniably.

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  30. bibblies says

    pattayacondo:
    ….Ive seen many times newcomers crying in room after “customers…

    Have you also seen them crying after ‘family’ and other Thai ‘friends’ have done something to them? I don’t think the customers are the main cause of their problems.

    pattayacondo:
    Did anybody see thai people talk bad about thai bar girl or something similiar to this? NEVER.

    Thais will NEVER talk bad about bar girl because everybody UNDERSTAND why she have to work like this and have bad life like this.

    This is wrong. I’ve heard plenty of Thais talk bad about bar girls. Thai bar girls (or ex-bar girls) also tell me that this happens to them. Being an employer of bar-girls doesn’t give you much more insight. Think what you’d tell an employer and then half it and half again for their level of trust.

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  31. bibblies says

    And, by the way, I have met prostitutes born into relatively rich families.

    … and those who’ve left school after 14-15. You seem to have met a small section. (Probably a good thing!)

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  32. Grof Melee says

    Pretty sweeping judgemental subjective opinions portrayed as fact from TL . Also why refer to western men as ‘strange looking’ and ‘sociopaths’?
    One common argument is that it ‘looks odd’ that old, bald, white, western men are seen with younger women. Odd to whom? Asian men marry younger Asian women too, nothing said as it’s ‘cultural’.
    Stop apologising for what YOU think are crimes on behalf of the western world.

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  33. paul fowler says

    wow, i read almost all the comments and the article, very good arguments everyone. i was thinking of going to thailand, but besides the bar girls being a question, im more concerned with the government and tough laws, and also the potential from crime against me. I would feel good about helping a bar girl out, and getting to know them, i think, i might be deluding myself though, because as interesting as that sounds, i think i still might be thinking selfishly, why not help out a poor thai guy. because i cant get anything back from him but a thank you, I dont know. im not that old 36, and have married a hmong girl a while back that didnt work out. i guess im just confused and should not make rash decisions.

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  34. James says

    Hello I am thinking about getting involved with an organization that helps these girls find a better lifesstyle. I am interested about what you did at the refuge and I was wondering what were the first steps that you took to help these women. I am only a college student but I am very interested about this issue because something must be done about the lack of opportunities in Thailand for women who are in poverty and in low class systems and I would like your advice on what to do.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      Hi James. I did the refuge work as part of my Martial Arts school. I went along with my teacher and one other student to teach days of self defence/empowerment for women. I am looking at doing something with this organisation this year: http://www.goodwillbangkok.org/volunteers.asp
      There are loads of wonderful organisations helping marginalised, poor women and men in Thailand, and refugees from the likes of Burma, such as Thai Freedom house, which I’ve been to a few times : https://www.facebook.com/ThaiFreedomHouseCM. Have a Google around and I am sure you’ll find something to positively contribute to.

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  35. James says

    Thank you for responding I am going to be majoring in Anthropology but I am not sure if that is the right major to have an occupation to get involved in something like this. I want to help people in these situations and to help those avoid having to go into a career like this. I know you are not an adviser but would you think that this would be a good start?

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  36. Farang says

    Just want to say that if you become a customer, you can still be a gentleman. Be polite, be kind, treat her like a lady and she’ll treat you like a man.

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  37. says

    Damn that was a good article. I first looked at the subject and the length and thought I’d need a few more Singhas ;)

    Anyway, I agree with most of it. Bar girls are born into bad situation, and they don’t have the resources to readily dig themselves out of that hole. Many of them are great, though some of them are pretty bad. I can say the same about most groups of people!

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  38. John says

    I have been with a couple of bar girls, & treated them as I would a regular girlfriend- with respect & consideration for their feelings.

    I did meet one girl & although I can’t speak Thai I could see from her expressions that she was very unhappy inside. I formed this opinion after having been with her for several days; not from being in bed with her. She told me that truly she doesn’t have a real choice, if she wants to have a half decent life & provide for her daughter & parents. She didn’t attempt to ask for money or decieve me at all, so I really don’t think she was spinning me a sympathy line, to get stuff from me.

    But as you rightly say, they are human beings who live, laugh & cry.

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  39. Filip Leander Nordhagen says

    I am so happy to see your writing in this subject.

    I have added this site to my favorites.

    Because this is real.

    And i spoken from a real open heart person.

    Bless you !

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  40. Filip Leander Nordhagen says

    The people that do not have closed heart.

    After they read about thai bar girl.

    They cry and see the reality of many of our sisters.

    Because we all brothers and sisters in this world.

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  41. mamo2234 says

    Great article.But i do have one question if you don’t mind.
    For many people who experience first trip to red light district what they basically see is how bar girls smile,joke,in general act/look happy,even in front of camera.At first it looks like they really enjoy their “work”.You’re speaking about “choices” that they don’t have. But i do believe they have choices.If they really don’t want to work like that they could just choose ” I WON’T DO IT”.
    For a single women with child/s to support alone,family to support is it possible that they could just work more or even 2 jobs so that they don’t have to choose a life of prostitute?People all over the world can work 2 jobs just to provide money,why they can’t?Is it being a prostitute just an”east way” to earn money?Or am i wrong and it’s just impossible because even in one job one would practically work all day.Do they have a choice -work more or just going with other “bad” choice?
    Really want to know your opinion on that,thx(sry for my english)

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    • TheThailandLife says

      Hi Mamo, you make a good point. remember that 99% of these girls left school before 16, some 13, 14 and 15 years old when they left to work and support their family, only to be married at 16/17 and then left with kids and no welfare support by the age of 18-20. That sort of education commands a salary of perhaps 8,000 Baht per month, maybe 10 in Bangkok, full time. If job progression was fair, i.e decent salary raises and promotion opportunities , then it would be fair to say that if a girl puts in the hard work she could make a living good enough (eventually) to give her kids better opportunity than she had. But working a month for $250 won’t go far here, especially considering the rising cost of living.

      You might argue; well some do it, so why can’t they? And you’re right, some manage. But as I have said before, it takes a strong (or young, naive and stupid) person to sacrifice their should by selling their flesh, particularly a young woman from a culture that heavily promotes sexual modesty among its women. Some just can’t bring themselves to do it, others are coaxed or gently submerged and others committed through peer pressure. Whatever the pathway, it seldom is a positive one.

      The fact is that no girl goes into the industry a hardened hooker looking to take as much money as she can from foreigners for sex. The large majority believe that they too (like the girl in their moo ban who lives in the big house with a foreigner and “seems to have it all) will meet a man who will provide for their kids and family.

      Most quickly become disillusioned with finding this dream, encountering only men equally as lost as they are themselves; those who treat them like pieces of meat and have zero respect for themselves or the women they pay for sex. From this underbelly emerges stories of Thai hookers playing foreigners off against each other to get as much as they can get.

      A few do find a guy, usually twice their age – looking for a carer-cum-sexual toy – to settle with. These women sacrifice love and romance with a guy their own age with whom they have things in common for a father-daughter type relationship with a guy who pays for her kids, parents and by Thailand’s standards, a middle-class lifestyle. This, however, is usually a much better setup than they could expect from the choice of men their social standing could afford.

      The sad thing is that so many young girls from poor rural backgrounds believe this is their path, that this is the only way, or the most lucrative way to get ahead in life. There are very few people working to stop young women taking this path, very few initiatives offering the necessary free education required to access better-paid jobs, or study-support initiates to young, single mothers so that they might develop a respectable career. And even if there was, they would need to overcome regional and social-class discrimination when applying for jobs. Moreover, there is no social welfare system to financially protect young women. And then there is the whole “face” culture, providing for ones parents etc.

      The cold reality is that only a handful ever find happiness or wealth on this path. The cold fact is that you never see a girl from a well-off family working in a go-go bar; you rarely see a girl who has attended university working in a go-go bar – though there are those that support their education doing such a job – and you rarely see a white-skinned Thai bar girl….why is this?

      When you look beyond the mini-skirts and heels and deeper into society, politics, classism, eduction, attitudes etc…you see a whole new reality.

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      • bibblies says

        The sad thing is that so many young girls from poor rural backgrounds believe this is their path, that this is the only way, or the most lucrative way to get ahead in life.

        The sad thing is that the people around them encourage this, that they waste time and chances to go off this path and that they end up making the future of their own children no better.

        Look at the Facebook account of bargirls (or a quasi-bargirls) . It’s depressing facile. All they all seem to care about are silly consumer goods, looking good, face, parties, what their silly peers think of them. It’s not like they’re putting the money into education for themselves or their children that could get them out. Even if they have an idea to do something like this and persistence, their native fellows will drag them down.

        Just about the only way this cycle stops is if a farang intercepts it, with patience, gets the girl out of it and away from the bad influences. Ironically, you seem to be more down on the farangs when the problem plainly stems from the native society.

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  42. says

    TheThailandLife:
    I have no doubt there are Albert, yet relying on the leadership of academics rather than the wise and experienced is what got the world into this mess in the first place. Do you have any examples of such studies based in Thailand?

    Dangerous rubbish, all knowledge and understanding comes impartially from academic research but the wise? and experienced? implement that pure knowledge in their own way to meet their own ends!

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  43. bibblies says

    … The cold fact is that you never see a girl from a well-off family working in a go-go bar; you rarely see a girl who has attended university working in a go-go bar – though there are those that support their education doing such a job – and you rarely see a white-skinned Thai bar girl….why is this?

    I’ve known quite a few bargirls who have attended university.

    White skinned girls inclined to get their money on their backs would do so further up the scale – in massage parlours, high-end places, coyote, rich men’s clubs, would become mia nois with all the trappings, etc.

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  44. Marco Cy says

    Thaank You very much for your hearthwarming article, full of humanity, dignity and sense of respect. I have met (but rarely befriended) many expats in my life and it seems westerners tends to truly loose any sensibility once they arrive in foreign countries, everyone is really happy to play the role of the Don Juan while the truth behind this ridiculous play is quite obvious, yet everyone pretend it isn’t there

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  45. wendy says

    Howdy! I google ”ladyboy” and that’s how I found your blog. I enjoy reading your article as I found it very intriguing and interesting. I will be coming to BKK soon and I am so looking forward to enrich my experience!

    Wendy from HKG
    :)

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  46. Fiona says

    I haven’t read all the comments but am amazed that other human beings believe that any woman would make a “choice” to do this type of work as if there were 3/4 other jobs with the same pay, hours and job satisfaction……talk about choice here, or money grabbing parents or whatever is all about making the service user feel better. Excuses and justifications……and absolutely patronizing!!!
    Supply and demand…..whilst there is a demand…..someone will supply. And it’s the suppliers really making money of this.
    In an egalitarian world….would any of us sleep with someone we didn’t want to? Share our bodies with someone we don’t know, are definitely not attracted to and have to shut down our emotions in order to fulfil the ‘transaction’.
    Women do get emotionally involved when they have sex. The cost to them to pursue this work is massive, make no mistake. Intellectual middle class discussion and dialogue does not change the fact that this is slavery.

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    • TheThailandLife says

      My sentiments exactly Fiona. Most guys adopt their stance on this subject from other guys to justify what they’re doing. I hear and read the same comments all the time: “They love it”. “Why don’t they work a normal job like millions of other women then?” “They’re money grabbing, scheming bitches”.

      Try getting a job in Thailand as a woman from a poor, rice farming family, with no education, 2 kids to support and zero work skills.The opportunities are very few for jobs over 8,000 Baht. Cleaner? Motorbike taxi driver? Choice? Would we accept such choices as reasonable for our daughters. Sure they could survive, but like we all do, they want better for their kids and to meet the expectations of their parents, which as has been pointed out already are usually unreasonably and demanding. Moreover, finding a decent Thai guy when all you have to offer is the burden of two kids from a previous relationship and no money is not going to be an easy task. The bar is a gamble. Some get lucky, if you can call it that – land a man twice their age with a good pension Others never make much money because their families squander it all and they end up back in the village when their too old to attract customers, old, lonely and used. But none of this matters to the guy that just wants to get his end away with a pretty young brown thing that he sees as no more important than a dog. Fact.

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  47. bibblies says

    TheThailandLife…they want better for their kids and to meet the expectations of their parents, which as has been pointed out already are usually unreasonably and demanding.

    You’re still focusing a little too much on your hatred of end-users, though at least you acknowledge more than Fiona. If she ever bothers to think past the standard middle-class view, she might wonder why other poorer countries don’t have the same problem. It doesn’t matter about her cliche about supply and demand. No one would supply if it weren’t for:

    1. Greedy parents who care more about money than their children.
    2. A society that tolerates the above and reinforces the view that daughters should sacrifice themselves and that surface appearance is everything.
    3. Irresponsible (usually Thai) men who father children and then flee, leaving the mothers to take care of them.

    All these things come together and make prostitution the size it is in Thailand. Think why supply doesn’t rise so easily to meet demand in so many other countries…

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  48. bibblies says

    I wonder if Fiona can believe that some western women choose to work as porn stars, etc? I bet she can’t and it wouldn’t be my choice for my daughter but, nonetheless, it happens.

    Fiona can’t speak for all women. People are different. Some women murder and cheat, some work selflessly for charity, etc. Some don’t necessarily always invest emotion in sex and some have the attitude that sex for money isn’t so bad. After all, you have to do something for money to buy those designer handbags or pay back your gambling parents’ loan shark.

    Fiona should be connected to the Facebook accounts that I am. She’d see a world of the madly superficial where girls sell sex just for a silly handbag or Ipad, parade the photos and then keep on doing it until they get old. There’s no big plan to get out of it, no saving of money for a business, no investments, no thought. Just the infuriatingly mindless and superficial. That’s part of the reasons Thais do it more than other poorer countries.

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  49. supattra mora says

  50. Jim says

    I can agree with this article 100%. Recently visited Thailand with intent to discover as much culture as I could. I went from South to North meeting Thai people from all walks of life (Engineers, 3D designers, bar owners, travel guides, and bar girls to list a few). All of them were willing to tell me about their country and how things work for them and where they came from, except with bar girls.

    The experience was outstanding for me. I had a bar owner take me to his home near a hilltribe village and show me his small farming project and family’s day to day lifestyle for a few days. I was invited to a Christmas party with successful business people and introduced to one of their sisters. I had Thai style New Years dinner with the employees of the guesthouse I was staying at along with a few of their family members. I even had a bar owner close down shop to take me and her employees fishing for the day. This is truly an amazing country full of amazing people.

    My introduction to the bar scene:
    I exchanged life stories with a bar owner and became good friends in a few days. She was in a moral dilemma about having girls working in her bar. She could not get people to stay for more than a few drinks or a game of pool and was already in debt with some (not so nice) moneylenders. I had seen them come 2 days in a row and argue with her in Thai. Thinking that I had a good idea of what was going on I asked her about the situation. She told me and I offered to lend to her for a few days. Might I add that this was very uncomfortable for me. Sure enough she paid me back. The next day she picked me up in the morning at my bungalow and told me that she had wanted to take me fishing for a day. We went to her bar/cafe, locked up, and informed her employees they had the day off to come fishing with us. We caught some fish and went back to the bar to cook them up. During dinner she asked me what I thought about having a girl work for her. I told her I had never been to a girly bar before so I didn’t really know what to tell her. She asked me if I would go to the main bar (having 10+ girls) and try to find a hard working girl that wasn’t too pushy. I agreed. She showed up later and joined our pool game. She basically interviewed her and then we left. She couldn’t do it anyway. She was so frustrated with her financial/moral dilemma. It was then I realized just how these bar girls must be feeling themselves.

    I sat in many bars after this throughout the country and tried my hardest to see this side of Thai culture. I didn’t just bar hop asking questions. I went to the same place for a few days and made friends. After talking to many I concluded that most of these girls were happy with what they were doing. They seemed to like going with Farang. I couldn’t understand it. I now know that bar girls will never tell you about their true feelings with a few simple questions. That I can almost guarantee. They have to maintain an image of respect for themselves even though they feel horrible inside. Much different from western prostitution. (I think?)

    On my journey into a new bar I met “the girl”. She brought me into her life. We talked for a few days. Eventually she asked me to go out with her. Then asked me if I wanted to stay with her instead of paying for a guesthouse. I was thinking, uh oh, now she is going to try and rob me or ask me for rent money. Not the case at all. She gave me the key to her room, would not let me clean anything (including my laundry), and often declined my efforts to pay for food. This was too good to be true. She told me she wanted time to learn me…. and if I was interested in her then that would give me the time too. She said “you can not learn me in the bar too easy”. We went out with her friends to party and went camping. Just spent time together. I then got to see how dramatically her behaviour changed when she was not working. It was like 2 completely different people. On one occasion at a “disco” she left. Just left, not saying anything to anyone. I noticed she was a bit off that day, but didn’t think anything of it. Her friend tracked her down. She was walking home crying. Her friend came back to tell me she was ok. Apparently she was starting to have “too much feeling” for me…. as I was for her. At that moment I realized how broken this fragile heart must be from what she has done to survive. Over the past 6 months I have watched these concrete walls around her heart start to crumble. I have never witnessed such a struggle in my life. She told me everything. Married at 18 to a Farang from the bar. She had barely worked at all and took the first chance she could get. She ran a bar for him very successfully for 5 years and had a child. He was cheating on her since he met her, and she knew this. After the child was born and he still didn’t change she had enough. The fighting got worse and he cared less, eventually bringing girls into their home. She “killed him in the street”, gave him his business back, and left with her son back home. She then went back to work and spent the most miserable 3 years of her life “doing anything” for money. Then she started lending money and slowing down for working. She could not handle it any more. Since that breaking point she has been looking for a good man. I showed up about a week after she left her previous bi-polar boyfriend (I met him a few times). She still has to work and will never ask me for money. She would rather I save my money and if I feel like it, plan for a future there. She wants to be self sufficient. She still does not fully trust me and does anything for me to trust her. She knows the day is coming when she will have to go with a customer and has prepared me for that. I fully understand her life and barely comprehensible respect for her family. She has changed so much since I first met her. I have fell in love with a bar girl. Now I sit here at my laptop far far away wondering how to make this all work. I honestly feel that I met this woman when she had only 1 more heart string left for someone to hang onto.

    It makes me sick to see some of the men who go to Thailand and exploit these human beings as if they are creatures without a soul. This does not go for just bargirls, but also the ladyboys and gay men in the bar scene.

    I would encourage everyone who travels to Thailand to go with an open heart and an open mind. Be happy, smile, be respectful, and most importantly be eager to learn! It will take you on an unforgettable journey. I am a 21 year old Canadian who had no previous travel experience and did just fine.

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  51. Barry Rowley says

    I very pleased to have read this article, it has helped me to understand the culture and the dilemmas facing bar girls(I am to marry a girl younger than me)and their families. God forbid being born the eldest girl in a poor Thai family. Where do they go and what do they do when their looks fade as they get older. I am happy to offer my girl marriage as a way out, I do love her and hope she feels the same, she says she does. I treat as I would an English woman with love and respect and put her past away. she knows no Thai for her now married once before and 37 years old. I regret the shame she must feel though going back home with me. I hope to make her happy

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  52. bibblies says

    What do they do when their looks fade? Assuming that they haven’t been scooped up by a man with more patience than sense?

    Usually they drink more. They start to lean on their younger siblings or more naive younger girls, to ‘teach’ them. They may encourage village friends or relatives (even daughters) into the profession and then mooch off them. They may, if they’re lucky enough to get someone else to stump up most of the cash, even start their own bars and have girls working for them. (Some would say exploit. But apparently that’s only a word used for white men, not leeching parents, ‘friends’, or relatives.)

    With the language barrier and exotic location taken away, there isn’t much mystery about it. In the US, they’d be on Jerry Springer. (Is he still around?)

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    • TheThailandLife says

      @Bibblies: I think there is a lot of truth in that. And psychology studies on those who’ve suffered mental and physical abuse support this theory – that the abused often becomes the abuser.

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  53. Jim says

    As my (bar) girlfriend says…. “everyone is always different”. You can generalize a cultural image, but not it’s people. When you try to understand why they don’t just slave for essentially minimum wage and simply survive you need to realize they are not Farang with western work ethic (the lower class anyway). As a Canadian I find it helpful to realize that they are an indigenous population, such as the Native Americans of my country. They come from the simple life of working the land and being happy. When you surround them with materialism how can you expect them to adapt maturely? Were you raised on rice water as a baby? Did you watch your mother eat only rice for dinner while you were allowed a small piece of fish? Were you hauling concrete blocks around at the age of 9? Did you see all of the other rich kids eating ice cream while holding their stuffed animals? I bet you would have cried when your mother handed you a small towel with an elastic holding it together when you asked for a “mickey mouse”. Try to understand the young mind of these girls where their dreams developed. Throw that mind into the false promises of the bar scene. Once they upgrade their lifestyle there is no going back. This is the same in the West. Of course we have credit cards so we don’t have to sell our bodies.

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    • bibblies says

      Jim: When you surround them with materialism how can you expect them to adapt maturely?

      I’d expect people to not sell themselves or, more importantly, their children for the sake of a shiny new object. But that’s just my expectations. Maybe I’m funny about that.

      Were you hauling concrete blocks around at the age of 9?
      I bet you would have cried when your mother handed you a small towel with an elastic holding it together when you asked for a “mickey mouse”.
      I think I was doing paper rounds and chores. I might have been playing with bricks. I have a small daughter and she’s as happy with a towel and piece of elastic (probably more so!) than with a Mickey Mouse toy. I try to play with her rather than dump her with my parents and I don’t sell my butt to buy the stupid Mickey Mouse toy. Parents are supposed to teach you what matters and what doesn’t. People adapt to their budgets. That’s part of life. I played with sticks and stones. They were free and, as far as I know, still are. We didn’t have credit cards.

      You’re 21. I first came to Thailand when I was about your age. There was a lot to learn and you can fall for a lot. Try looking at poor people who don’t sell themselves or their children just to ‘look big’ in front of the village.

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      • Jim says

        It is more than a shiny new object. It is quality of life. A solid waterproof roof over your head, a bed to sleep on, and a full belly at the start and end of each day. I am sure your daughter has more than just a stick and a few stones. The simple fact that you have the time to play with your daughter and not dump her shows that you can not relate to their situation. Most of the time the Fathers ditched the family and the mothers are working 19+ hours a day. Some of these girls had NOTHING. Not a small piece of candy to reward good behaviour or a real toy with a face they felt they could tell their feelings to. When put in school having their toes poking out of their shoes by second year and heavily stained clothes to match. My point is having nothing while being surrounded with materialism at a young age is where these minds come from. Comparing your life of paper runs, chores, and quality time with your daughter to lower class Thailand seems unrealistic to me. Maybe I am silly in my thinking but you still did not wake up at 3AM to help Mom prepare food to sell, make and stack bricks in the early morning, bike to school for a half day, then go back to bricks until dinner. It isn’t about comparing anyway. It’s about understanding. I may be speaking for a small %, but I have heard enough and seen enough of them to feel confident doing so. I am in no way saying that their choices are positive or that I would have done the same. I am just trying to relate to their situation. I’m young and have much more to learn. I am not sure exactly what you mean, but I certainly hope I am not “falling for” anything.

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        • bibblies says

          The simple fact that you have the time to play with your daughter and not dump her shows that you can not relate to their situation. Most of the time the Fathers ditched the family and the mothers are working 19+ hours a day.

          Try again. I’ve known more bargirls than you’ve had hot dinners (and have lived with a few).

          When I say ‘known’, I mean known, not just your first trip where you think you know everything but you can’t even speak Thai. (How can you think that you really know anything when you can’t even understand their language?)

          I’ve had about 20 years of knowing such girls. So I can pull up specific cases I’ve known where they DID have time for their children, if they wanted, but chose to spend their time instead going out with their ‘friends’ or boyfriends rather than returning home. And among these are, of course, people not working 19 hours a day. (That you should even think an average bargirl works 19 hours a day is laughable). Perhaps they’re taking clues from their own parents, where they seem to regard the children as a pension?

          Try living with a few, for months or years, and then come back to me and say if you think the same way. The families usually have a lot to do with it.

          I hope you’re not falling for anything. I wouldn’t take what anyone says at face value. You’ve only heard one side of your girl’s story. But you’re young anyway. You could afford to lose everything and start again.

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          • Jim says

            I actually lived with a bar owner for 1 month in the South. Following that I stayed with a Farang and his Thai wife (and her family next door) in their humble abode in the mountains. I ended my journey staying a month with my current (bargirl) girlfriend. So I am not saying all this simply from eyes on the street and bar stories. I have had many intimate conversations with these people. As I said before I may be speaking for a small %, but I am fairly confident they are not throwing b.s. at me. There would have been no reason to do so. I can read and write more than half of the alphabet. Vocabulary is still lacking along with tone distinction. I plan to have it down before I go back in a few months so I can really see what’s going on. I feel bad that you have formed these opinions, but I am sure it is for good reason. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Maybe one day I will see Thailand through your eyes.
            My woman already warned me:
            1) You probably won’t want to be with me after you meet my family. (realizing the potential burden)
            2) You probably won’t like my country any more once you speak Thai. (it already feels childish)
            3) If after that you are sure you want to move, study the Law here before buying anything. (with her name on it)

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  54. bibblies says

    My woman already warned me:
    1) You probably won’t want to be with me after you meet my family. (realizing the potential burden)
    2) You probably won’t like my country any more once you speak Thai. (it already feels childish)
    3) If after that you are sure you want to move, study the Law here before buying anything. (with her name on it)

    I’m quite impressed with her warnings! ;) Behind most bargirls, I think there’s something bad lurking in their families. It’s not just poverty and she’s probably alluding to that. You may soon tire of the childish arguments and concerns, as you suspect. ‘Face’ is childish in itself. I wouldn’t buy any property in Thailand. One of the main reasons my wife and I moved away from Thailand was because of the unfair laws and the lack of trust in the system. A place where you can’t own property or could be chucked out any second? A place where the elite keep the majority subdued by encouraging unearned deference and superstition rather than offer a fair education to all? Not for our children!

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  55. RandomThoughtlessReader says

    I’ve been reading this trying to be objective to both sides of the discussion and have come to a few conclusions of my own. I live in the not-so glorious state of Kentucky in the U.S. where the per capita income is one of the lowest in the country, education is publicly available, yet overburdened, and most people only know how to think based on how they were raised or whatever garbage FoxNews delivers to them. I do not believe that prostitution is a WANTED dream path for the vast majority of women(and men) that find themselves within its clutches, but it was still a choice they made. I dreamed of being an astrophysicist at one time, but I made CHOICES that screwed that up and I’m stuck working at Walmart for goodness sakes. Pride, social pressure, family obligations, and mistakes be damned, it’s still a CHOICE. I was born to a poor father with little education, a mother with little education, and a family from a blue collar background. Still yet, I had choices that I could have made to change my station in life and made mistakes. Minimum wage here in the states is at present around the equivalent of 37k Baht per month. Rental of a studio apartment in my city is at the lowest $279 US per month(around 9k Baht). When you tie in efficiency costs of around $70 a month(another 2200 baht), then throw in my child support $200 US (another 6.5k Baht), $170 in health insurance (5.5k Baht), $265 car payment (8.6k B), car insurance @ $202 US(6.5k ish again) you see that I’m in debt just with bills. What about food? Drink? Some would say ‘You don’t NEED a car, but live here and try to get from where I live to go pick up my son at 9pm EST on the bus and walk the three miles with him after exiting the bus at 10pm just to get home and have no food for either of us. Oh, what about when I work? Daycare costs are astronomical. Income inequality is global, the haves make sure to press the boot-heel into the throats of the have-nots, no matter what nation you’re in. There are prostitutes here, sure. There are go-go dancers that DON’T screw for money and make a good living. Everywhere sex sells. You wanna know why? IT FUCKIN FEELS PHYSICALLY GOOD to get that release. Is it right? Maybe not. Is it exploitive? YES. To both parties I would say. Some of the ‘She must love the cock or she wouldn’t ride three with a smile’ bastards likely deserve a warm spot in some manifestation of a hell for their opinion of someone just trying to make the best outta what life threw at em. I could sell drugs to increase my income, but do I? No. It’s not a risk I would want to take. Do these girls want to sell their bodies? Likely not, but it is a risk they are WILLING to take, no matter how you posture around their life being sad, or their culture willing them into it. The culture over here wills people into a greedy consumerist gimme gimme state of being that some, by CHOICE, manage to avoid, but the vast majority get swept into it. Maybe every nation needs to cull the heads at the top and remake it. Eventually, personal opinion will once again become law or rules that others beneath the upper crust will have to heel to. Eventually greed will corrupt even the patriots that strive to see people freed from oppression. I know it’s a long rant for a first post, but I just felt a need to vent a bit. Try being an unattractive, broke ginger kid in the states and see how many women flock to your banner to have a loving relationship. I need release from time to time. I’ve never paid for sex in the straight up way they do in prostitution, but ALL MEN PAY in one way or another. The women who take advantage of that are applauded for doing so in a shady and deceptive manner while the women who do it out in the open are frowned upon. Another thing to check is the population. Women outnumber men near 4-1 world-wide. Women could, if they would stop posturing and competing with one another, gather, organize, and overpower the men through sheer numbers and demand for this type of ridiculous stuff to stop. Have you ever given thought to why they haven’t yet? Hmmmm.

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  56. Ben says

    This is an excellent post. It is well thought-out and very nicely written. Compared to most of what is written about Thai women, this is really a breath of fresh air. Even the comments are generally thoughtful and non-trollish. Many comments raise some fair points about problems in the Thai social and familial structures, but as arguments they just don’t trump the thesis of the post, that “we” would never accept these so-called choices for our sisters. The blame for the situation is far-reaching in Thailand; that doesn’t excuse Westerners who implicitly support this industry. How refreshing to read an article that gives Thai women the agency that is owed to all human beings.

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  57. Om says

    I went to Phuket for a short holiday and ended up hiring a go go girl for one night. It was my first experience of sex with a lady. Till the time I never had sex. I felt a great attachment with the girl after that. I paid a very high amount to the bar and to the girl as well. But I couldn’t sleep for days thinking of these girls’ future and life. It makes me restless even today. May God give them the due respect.

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