David (from the USA)
Doug is a friend of mine from Sydney, Australia and a long time visitor to Thailand. A life long bachelor, Doug is a “road warrior” and travels throughout the Pacific Rim from Korea to Indonesia during the week, where he provides consulting services to industrial clients throughout the region.
Although the pay is excellent, the amount of travel is brutal, with no
time for a home life in Sydney. It is Due to the amount of travel that,
most weeks, he opts to stay in Pattaya from Friday afternoon until
Monday morning when he will start travelling again. In Thailand, Doug
has had a long, long string of casual relationships with a number of
Thai girls over the years.
Typically Doug would arrive in Bangkok around 2:00 or so in the afternoon and head directly to Pattaya, which is about an hour and a half a way. Once he arrived at his regular hotel off of Walking Street, he would work for a while, checking in with his main office and responding to emails. After a shower, he would head out for dinner around 7:00 and catch up with some of his mates for a few drinks and then head out to the local go-go bars found along Walking Street. Most nights he would meet a girl, and she would stay with him for either the night of for the entire weekend. Everywhere Doug went, it seemed as if everyone knew him; especially the pretty, young Thai girls in their early 20s!
During the day, Doug would stay in his hotel room where he would work a while preparing for the upcoming week. Once caught up, he would then head out for a while to get something to eat and catch up with Australian sports, which seem to be shown everywhere in Thailand. Despite visiting Thailand for years, Doug hated the heat and humidity and would usually head over to an air-conditioned bar near his hotel. This bar had great food, lots of sports on TV, great air conditioning and a combination of Thai girls working as hostesses and dancers from 1:00 in the afternoon until closing. These girls where beautiful, fun, and willing to entertain the bar’s customers. They were also available for casual relationships.
Doug figured that at his age, the chances of him having a meaningful relationship with any woman was next to zero given his job and travel. Being a frequent visitor to Thailand, he understood the entire bar girl scene and had absolutely no interest in being in a relationship with any bar girl. Instead he would just continue to have casual relationships with the Thai girls he met in the bars when he was in town. In his eyes it was a "win-win" that suited his personality and lifestyle perfectly. Then one-day things began to change.
One afternoon, Doug was watching cricket and saw a new dancer that had
just started that day. It was not long before Doug was sharing a drink
with Gai, who spoke very little English. While Gai was pretty and had a
nice figure, she was really not the type of girl that Doug was usually
attracted to, but he had fun with her that afternoon, before leaving for
another night out with the guys in the gogo bars.
Over the next couple of months, Doug began to spend more and more time with Gai during his afternoons in Pattaya. While he never took her out of the bar, she would sit and talk with him in Thai when she was not dancing. Sometimes Gai would get bar-fined by other customers, but before long she would not go with customers on Saturday and Sunday, when Doug was in town.
After a couple of months Doug decided to bar-fine Gai one Friday afternoon as soon as he got into town. They spent the entire weekend together and had a great time. While Doug and Gai both liked each other, they were both realistic in their expectations of the possibility of a relationship. Doug was particularly spooked, because he had not had feelings for any Thai girls for a long time. Gai thought that while Doug was nice he was just another “butterfly” that moved from woman to woman.
Over the next couple of months, Doug continued to make his weekly trips to Pattaya and while he would try to distance himself from Gai, he would always find his way to where she worked. Sometimes he would just talk to her, while other times he would bar-fine her for the night, but he was making a visible effort not to allow himself to get too close.
One weekend, he stopped by Gai’s bar with another girl he had bar-fined, which caused a bunch of problems as by doing this it caused Gai to 'lose face' in front of the other Thai girls that she worked with. It also hurt her quite a bit and she stopped speaking with Doug for a while. She also got even with Doug by going with customers when Doug was in the bar over the weekend. While Doug appeared to be okay with it, it really ate him up seeing Gai with other men.
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After a while Doug was able to make peace with Gai over what he had done. It took a while but things gradually began to warm up again between the two of them. He ended up paying her bar-fine from Friday to Sunday on every weekend that he was in town. While she still went with customers during the week, they were exclusive to each other whilst he was in town. Doug told me one day, “I am not sure what it is about Gai; she is not the most beautiful girl here in Thailand, but she’s so sweet, genuine and a great girl”. While not outright admitting it, he was beginning to have feelings for her, but it was based upon a business relationship with Doug giving her money on Monday before leaving for the airport on his next business trip.
This kept on over the next few months with the two of them becoming closer. Gai became tired of working in a bar and spending time with other guys, so she left her job and took a much lower paying job stocking shelves in one of the local ‘Big C’ stores in town. This was a big step as it entailed a huge decrease in income for her; she was now making a salary of only 8,000 baht per month, with two days off. When she was working in a bar she was making approximately 25,000 baht per month between her base salary, commissions on drinks, commission on bar-fines and money customers paid her for spending time with them. Interestingly, she decided to leave the bar without Doug’s encouragement.
Gai continued to spend the weekends with Doug but she had to work during the days. Doug continued to hang around the bars but, to the surprise of everyone, he stopped running around with other Thai girls. Although he still enjoys going out to various bars at night with his mates, he always goes with Gai as they are now a couple. Tired of living in a hotel, he rented a nice condo for them to live in. They have now been together for over two years and Gai has been to Australia with Doug several times to visit friends and family.
There were several keys to having a successful relationship. The first was their ability to not dwell on how they met. Many guys tend to look down on Thai girls with a history of bar-work, and Doug was well aware of what working in the bar meant, but he was not judgmental of how his girl had been earning money when they met. The way he looked at it, he was no better than her and if she had not been working in a bar, he never would have met her.
The second key to their having a successful relationship is that Doug addressed the financial aspect of the relationship up-front and set clear expectations. Although he makes a lot of money, he lives a fairly modest lifestyle and he made it clear that his money was not going to be sent back to the village up north for the family to live on. On the first of the month Doug gives Gai approximately 60,000 baht for household expenses, which includes rent, electric, water, food, entertainment and many other things. Whatever is left at the end of the month is hers to keep, as well as her salary from Big C. Gai now understands the value of money and constantly rejects the claims for money from her family.
Doug’s friends cannot believe how happy he is now. While always a very upbeat guy, he now seems to have an inner peace with himself and is truly happy. He views Pattaya as home and his life with Gai has given him a great deal of stability in his personal life, which he truly desired. While many people would have given this relationship no chance for success, Doug and Gai are still together and stronger than ever.
Before I saying anything, bear in mind that I do not know either Doug or Gai. Whilst theirs may be a match made in heaven the first thing that jumps out at me here is that Gai was previously making 25,000 baht per month as a bar girl, and she stopped that for a mere 8,000 at a Big C superstore. She is now enjoying that 8,000 baht as well as being given 60,000 baht from Doug for household expenses; expenses that I can't imagine costing more than about 25,000 baht (for food & drink, toiletries, bills, and laundry.) That leaves her 43,000 baht per month left over, which is far more than the 25,000 she used to earn from bar work.
Now, without casting any aspersions on their relationship, I can tell you that this kind of financial step-up would turn most bar-girls into seemingly faultless girlfriends. I would have serious concerns for the future of any relationship formed this way. It is not uncommon for some guys to be duped for a number of years before learning the cold hard truth about what the relationship is based on. That said, these things do sometimes work out; it is just the added risk (read massively higher risk) of settling down with an ex bar-girl that worries me.
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