Women in Thailand; reflections

By Shane (from Hua Hin)

First let me start by saying that women in Thailand are generally awesome. Obviously, you get miserable ones, and many really devious ones, but in my opinion, that is only to be expected. Anyway, I'm not going to try and categorize the women in Thailand based on their varying moral standards.

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I realize that what I'm about to say will almost certainly sound completely and utterly absurd to anyone who has never visited the country before, but I'll do my best to explain. I have come face to face with prostitution in my own country and in the UK, and believe me; I never once even entertained the idea of participating. The impression I got was that it was a dirty industry where junkies lurk in the shadows in areas where you shouldn't really be in the first place.

In Thailand, it is not even remotely similar. Here you have vibrant bars and nightclubs full of beautiful friendly women and most of them have never even seen any drugs, let alone taken any. Yes, virtually all the girls working in such bars are available so I guess that makes them prostitutes but in reality, it is almost as if they become a temporary girlfriend instead. They are sweet, respectful, and so much fun.

One thing which I have never figured out is their shyness once you get them back to your hotel or wherever you are staying. You will even see this with the women in Thailand who work as dancers in Go-Go bars. When I first started visiting Thailand, the girls in the Go-Go bars would all be naked with many doing shows that would leave you wide-eyed. They would get up to all sorts of things in front of a bar packed full of people, but take one back to your hotel for the night, and most would insist on all the lights being off before getting naked in front of you. It was, and as far as I know, it still is a set procedure. Once you get to your hotel room you both need to shower, usually one at a time. Then when everything is done and dusted the lights go off and you and your lady for a night go to bed and the two of you have some adult fun.

A typical Thai 'Spirit House'

Women in Thailand; incense & the lottery

Another fascinating thing about Thai lady is all the strange superstitions they have. Many of these are based on religion, or they are in some way a by-product of certain religious beliefs. I respect this and I have no intention of mocking them, but sometimes I really cannot believe some of the things I hear and see.

I remember my wife, several years ago, lighting a few incense sticks at a small spirit house in Bangkok. A quick prayer, and then the incense sticks were positioned in a bowl of sand. I thought everything was done and dusted, but no, we had to sit at a nearby cafe and wait for the incense sticks to finish burning. Obviously, I assumed that this must have something to do with respect for the spirits occupying the spirit house, but how wrong I was. After quite a long wait my wife walked back over to the spirit house to examine the incense sticks.

Our next mission was to go and buy lottery tickets. Later I discovered that the spirit house visit was not what I thought it was. Instead, it was all about finding out the winning lottery numbers by asking the spirits for help and then seeing the numbers revealed in the burnt incense sticks. Needless to say, my wife never won the lottery. Strangely enough, this was the first and last time she did this, at least to the best of my knowledge, but it is something you can see happening in many places all over Thailand.

The unsolved red Fanta mystery

Virtually every building in Thailand has a spirit house on the property. This includes homes; condominiums; office blocks; hotels and all government buildings. In most homes that have spirit houses, the women of the house are typically tasked with keeping the resident spirits happy by keeping the spirit house clean and nicely decorated. They are also responsible for putting a few offerings in front of the spirit house. These offerings will typically be a few flowers; some fruit, and almost always a glass or bottle of red Fanta.

Now, I am not trying to mock or belittle anyone, but where does the red Fanta idea come from? It certainly could not have been passed on down through the generations because red Fanta is actually quite a new fizzy drink. Let's just say that when I was a kid there only used to be orange Fanta. I have spoken to countless women in Thailand and not one of them has been able to explain the reason for using red Fanta.

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Women in Thailand and the Male Organ

One of the strange things which I find quite intriguing is the status which has been awarded to phallic symbols, including things like amulets, carvings and so on as well as attitudes about sex in Thailand. As I write this I am sitting at a small local shop and there’s an elderly Thai man sitting at the same table as me. Hanging around his neck is a cord with five different Buddhist amulets attached, and around his waist is another cord with a large carved wooden penis dangling from it. Nobody arriving at the shop even bats an eyelid, although while we have been sitting here two Thai men have had a brief discussion about it with him, as well as one woman.

While such displays might seem quite out of place as far as foreigners are concerned, I have long since discovered that in Thailand the male penis represents good fortune. I remember years ago prior to getting married, I was sitting with my wife-to-be and a small group of her friends. They were all playing some weird Thai card game, and yes, they were gambling but bets were only about five baht per round, so not really gambling in the true sense of the word.

After losing a few rounds, my wife-to be casually gave my little member a quick rub and a squeeze, right there in plain sight of her friends. I was informed that it was for good luck, so I promptly offered all her friends a chance to boost their luck as well, for some reason they declined my offer... Ironically, my wife started winning several rounds of cards which resulted in increasingly frequent rubs and squeezes to top up her luck.

I have never witnessed this sort of thing ever again, but it is absolutely clear that the male penis is held in high regard in Thailand. There is even a large temple here which is home to countless phallic ornaments, carvings etc.

Tolerance of Women in Thailand

You only need to do a minimal amount of research in order to find out what sort of fate awaits you if you get caught cheating on your Thai wife. Obviously, the severity of reprisals vary from one case to the next, but I can assure you, the overwhelming majority of women in Thailand do not take kindly to cheating husbands, and bear in mind that anything is possible when a Thai person is in a blind fit of rage.

Many men in Thailand have Mia Nois, which basically means lesser wives, or what we in the west would call mistresses I suppose. To a large extent, this practice is widely tolerated and even accepted, but don’t for a minute think that you would be able to get away with it if you have married a Thai woman. Foreign men are not to be shared, and this is not even open for discussion. As a foreigner, if you get caught cheating on your wife, you can expect the consequences to be swift and severe, although I’m sure there must obviously be a few exceptions.

If it makes you feel any better, let me assure you that most Thai men take a similar sort of risk if they decide to cheat on their wives. Based on the many years I’ve been living here, the whole “Mia Noi” thing seems to be reserved for wealthy Thai men. They continue living with the woman they originally married, and she remains retains the top position.

Wealthy Thai men will typically hook up with young Thai women and then support them financially in exchange for their company over weekends etc. Many of these girls are university students, or other young women who want financial security without having to be in an actual relationship. Instead, they only need to be wives when called upon, and in exchange they have their rent paid; they have other expenses taken care of, and they have some money to help them live a more comfortable life.

At this point I should add that even amongst the wealthy elite who do have Mia Nois, these women are, in the vast majority of cases, only tolerated rather than being accepted by a man’s legitimate wife. Saving face is of the utmost importance in Thai culture, so many women would rather tolerate their husbands having a mistress on the side rather than risk losing face if they challenged their husbands and their husbands simply divorce them as a result.

The further up the class system you go, the more important it is to save face. When poor rural women in Thailand get dumped by their husbands or boyfriends it is generally not a big deal because it happens all the time. When the same thing happens within an elite family, the result is a tremendous loss of face for the woman. Knowing that your husband is sleeping with a young mistress might be a bitter pill to swallow, but for many it is the easiest option.

Obsession with Fragrances

I am really tempted to say that all women in Thailand are obsessed with fragrances, but I am going to resist and instead say that every Thai woman I have met has been obsessed with fragrance. Forget going into a convenience store for a packet of washing powder and then walking out two minutes later. No, you will need to set aside a full day instead. Okay, maybe it is not quite as bad as that, but I can assure you that buying any sort of product that is available in different fragrances is no easy task. Every packet and/or bottle needs to be carefully sniffed, and once a particular product has been chosen, don’t automatically assume that’s the one you’ll be leaving the store with.  More often than not a reassessment will need to be done. Let’s just say, most of the women in Thailand would be useless contestants if they ever took part in a reality TV show like the “Supermarket Challenge” which used to be screened in the UK several years ago.

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