I was born into a small village in Isaan, in the north east of Thailand. My mother and father worked hard as farmers and did there very best to give me a good life. I have 4 brothers and 2 sisters but I am the youngest in the family. I am lucky to be the youngest because that makes me special. My family has always spoiled me but I also have a special responsibility to look after my parents, as they grow old. It is very important that the youngest daughter takes special care of elderly parents and I am privileged to have this special role.
I remember when I was six years old; electricity first arrived in my village. It was amazing to be able to flick a switch and have a light come on. It was two more years before we had running water in out house. I used to love going to the river with my mother to get water. All of us kids had a great time playing in the shallow water while our mothers did washing and stuff. When I was seven, a special project done by Americans put taps in every house so that we could have water whenever we wanted. My mother was very excited but I liked going to the river better.
The village school I attended was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed learning about things. I was second in my class and everyone used to think I was really clever. While we were learning all about our culture, I could see many things changing in my village. I suppose we were poor but nobody knew that then, so I was not worried about it. If the rainy season was good there was always plenty of rice to eat and when the rice harvest wasn’t so good, everybody shared what we had and nobody was starving. Our family was the third family to get a TV when I was nine years old. I had seen a TV before when we went into town but having one I could watch whenever I wanted was very nice. One of my older brothers had a job in the city and although he did not earn much money, he saved enough to buy the TV for us.
When I finished junior school at 12 years of age I wanted to go to high school but my parents could not afford the fees and they wanted me to help around the house and on the farm. My oldest brother was already married and my parents had to pay a big dowry, 30,000 baht. His new wife was very beautiful and her family was quite rich with a very big rice farm and they also had a small pick up truck.
More than anything else my father wanted a truck just like theirs. One day someone told him the bank would lend him the money to buy a truck because our farm was very valuable. You can’t imagine how excited we all were when Papa bought the truck home for the first time. I did not know much about money and banks but I know now we had to pay 30,000 baht interest each year for ten years and after 10 years all the original 300,000 baht had to be paid back. By now my second brother was also working in the city and he could help a little bit with the loan payments. Over the next few years all my brothers got married and all found good wives with good families. My parents were very proud of this and although they had to borrow more money for the dowries, they did not mind. They were very proud that my brothers had such fine wives and in our village everyone thought we must be a very good family.
When Nit, my eldest sister got married we had a very big party. Although her husband’s family were not as rich as us, they paid 20,000 baht for a dowry and Pong, her husband, came to live with us. When the babies started arriving, I helped my sister at home and I also helped Pong on the farm, as my parents were now too old to do too much work. These were very happy days for me and I did not mind the hard work.
I was 20 when I found out my father was very worried about the bank. One way or another he had managed to pay the interest each year but the loan would be finished in 3 years and if we did not pay it back the bank would take our farm. It is tradition in my village that the farm would be split between me and my sisters and our families. If we lost the farm, I would never find a husband and with no land how would I support myself.
The loan was now 500,000 baht because my father had borrowed more to pay for my brother’s weddings and had also brought a motorbike for Pong and a washing machine for Mama. I had never heard of anyone having 500,000 baht and could not imagine how our family would ever get such a big amount of money.
There was one lady in our village who owned a very big house and seemed to have all the money she wanted. She was married to a farang from Germany and spent a lot of time away from the village with her husband in Germany. Every year she came back to the village for three months and lived in her big house. I was too afraid to speak to her but I heard many stories about how she got a farang. I used to dream about finding a rich farang to be my husband. He would take care of my family and me and we would all live in a big house and I would have many babies and life would be wonderful. Although I dreamed about it, I had no idea how to actually find a rich farang. I had seen a few in the big city near my village but I had never spoken to one and would not know what to say if one spoke to me.
One day, Toi, an old school friend of mine was visiting the village. She had gone away to Bangkok to look for work. She told me about a place called Pattaya where lots of farang came to look for a Thai wife. She said I could make very big money if I came to Pattaya and worked in a bar and went with farang and if I were lucky, a rich one would marry me and take care of my family and me forever. It sounded just like my dream but the part about going with farang shocked me. I thought about it every day and how all my family’s problems would be fixed if I did it but I was terrified of the idea.
Then the Thailand economy got very bad and my brothers all lost their jobs. We could not even pay the interest on the loans let alone pay back the 500,000 baht. My father who used to be a very happy man became withdrawn and never spoke to anyone. He was very worried because our farm has >been in the family for hundreds of years and it seemed he was going to be the one to lose it. Then he got sick and had to go to hospital. There was something wrong with his heart. The doctor said he could not do much at the government hospital but for 200,000 baht he could have an operation in a private hospital that would fix the problem.
Mama wanted to try and borrow more money from the bank to pay for the operation but Papa would not let her. He said he was old and it would be a waste of money. I used to go to the government hospital every day to bring him food and to hold his hand. One day I arrived with my mother and his bed was empty. He had died in the night and they had already taken him away. I cried and cried and cried but Mama was very strong and made all the arrangements for the funeral. She had to borrow money from my uncle to pay for everything but it was very important for her to give Papa a good funeral.
Now we were a very poor family and soon we would lose our land as well. I prayed to Buddha every night to help but things only seemed to get worse. I knew I had to do something but the only way I had ever heard of making big money was to work in Pattaya. I phoned Toi in Pattaya and asked if she could find me a job. She said it would be easy and I could stay in her room as well if I liked. I thought and thought about it, not sure if I could really do it. Somehow I found the strength to go and see my uncle to borrow 350 baht for the bus fare. I told him I could get a job in a restaurant in Pattaya. I think he knew what I had in mind as he looked at me in a funny way but he leant me the money anyway.
I told everyone the restaurant story and everybody came into town too see me off at the bus station. On the twelve-hour ride to Pattaya I had lots of time to wonder about the future. What would Pattaya be like, could I find a rich man to take care of my family and me and what would it be like to talk to a farang. I was terrified and excited all at the same time.
Toi was at the bus station to meet me and took me to her room. It was small but comfortable and she shared with three other ladies. Twenty minutes after I arrived it was time for Toi to go to work. She dressed in very sexy clothes and put on make up. Next to her I really looked like someone who had just walked off the farm (which is exactly what I was). I could never wear clothes like that and I was already thinking this was not such a good idea. She took me to the bar and introduced me to the Mamasan. A. A was a very nice lady and said I could work at her bar if I liked but first I could just watch and see if I liked it.
Many farang came and went and the other ladies all seemed to have fun talking and laughing and even kissing them. I had never seen so many farang in my life but I could not understand a word they said. One tried to talk to me but I did not know what he was saying and I felt sick in my stomach. I told Toi I was going for a walk and as I walked along the beach, I saw things I’d never seen in my life and couldn’t even have imagined before. Bars and farang and Thai girls everywhere. Huge shops with things for sale that I had never seen before. It made my head hurt just to look.
I sat down near the beach to try and think about what I was going to do. A farang came up to me and touched my bum and said some things I didn’t understand. It scared me and I ran away back to Toifs bar. I told her about the man on the beach and she laughed. She said girls that didn’t work in bars went to the beach to find farangs. She said he wanted to have sex with me. I couldn’t believe it and felt incredibly stupid. It was all too much for me and I asked Toi if I could go back to her room. The next day I borrowed the bus fare from Toi and was on the bus home ± this was something I could not do.
At home everything was familiar including all the old problems. I cried every night because I was so stupid and could not do what had to be done to help my family. I had to find the strength somewhere to get the money. I made offerings to the spirits and prayed really hard for Buddha to help me. I went to the temple and talked to a monk about the future. He told me I would have a rich husband within two years and all my problems would be solved. He also gave me a special blessing to help me find the strength to do what I had to do.
My uncle gave me the money for the bus fare and before I knew it I was back in Toifs room in Pattaya. This time I didn’t think about it but just told A, I wanted to work. Toi tried to help me put on some make up but it never looked the same on me as it did on her. I worked for three days in the bar without ever talking to a farang. I learned to play the connect 4 game and on my fourth day I played it with a farang. He was very old and hairy but he seemed to like playing the game with me although I could only say hello in English.
He talked to A and said he wanted to take me short time. I didn’t know what that meant. A told me I could go with him for two or three hours and we would have sex and then he would give me 500 baht. I was very scared but said OK. We walked what seemed a very long way at a very fast pace and then got a taxi to his hotel. In his room I had no idea what to do but he pointed to the shower so I locked myself in the bathroom and showered for about thirty minutes. Then I heard a knock on the door and he said something so I thought I’d better come out. I wrapped a towel around me and came out. He wanted to kiss me but I felt sick so just kissed a little bit. He went to have a shower and I got into bed.
I was a virgin and had no idea what to expect. When he came out we had sex. It hurt me and I bled on the bed. He seemed angry with me because he thought I was having my period. Then he gave me 500 baht and told me to leave by pointing at the door. I showered quickly and then left the room. I had no idea where I was and could not find a taxi to take me back to Toifs room. I started walking and could not help crying. I felt very bad and knew I was doing something that was not good. Still I had made 500 baht in twenty minutes. My brother had to work for seven days to make that sort of money.
I soon got used to working in the bar and even learnt a little bit of English. Some of the men were kind to me and some were horrible. I got used to having sex and although it always hurt a bit I didn’t mind because I was making good money. At the end of the first month I was able to send 10,000 baht home. That was more money than I had ever seen in one place before in my life.
One day a younger than usual guy came to the bar. His name was Mike. I liked him right away and he seemed different from the others. He paid my bar fine and took me to an expensive restaurant to eat. One meal cost 1,000 baht. That would be enough to feed 40 people back home. We talked with the help of phrase books and he made me laugh a lot. Then we went to a disco. I am not a very good dancer but when they played some Isaan music I introduced Mike to Laos dancing. We had a lot of fun that night and we got back to the hotel something strange happened. For the first time I actually enjoyed having sex. Mike seemed to go much slower than other farang and I really liked kissing him.
The next day we went to the beach and up a big tower before we went back to the bar. Mike paid my barfine for 6 days ± the rest of the time he would be in Pattaya. It was the best week of my life. We did many things I’d never done before; he brought me presents of clothes and a gold necklace. On our last day together he said that he loved me and wanted to take me home to his country. I couldn’t believe it and felt really excited. It seemed that all my problems were coming to an end and the life I had always dreamed of was about to begin.
Mike said that he would have to get special papers for me to be able to go to his country and that he would be back within three months to get me. I had to make a passport in Bangkok. He said he wanted me to stop going with farang and to work as a bartender in the bar. He spoke with A who said that I could do that if I liked. When he left for the airport I thought my heart would break but I was happy that he would be back in three months to take me to my new life.
Mike gave me 3,000 baht to get my passport but he didn’t give me any money for the week we spent together. I though that was strange but Toi and the other ladies in the bar said farang were really funny about giving money to their girlfriends. Once we were married, money would not be a problem. I could not live on the 3,000 baht salary a bartender got let alone send money home to help my family so I had to keep going with farang. I decided not to tell Mike because I was afraid he would be angry with me.
I told everyone about my rich farang who was going to marry me and take care of my family for ever after. Some of the girls in the bar said I should keep it a secret as farang were always bullshitting and maybe I’d never see him again. I knew they were wrong because the bond between Mike and me was very special. He rang me every week to update me on progress with the visa and to see how I was. It was very difficult talking on the phone because my English was no good but just hearing his voice made me happy.
Sometimes when he rang I was with a farang but my friends at the bar would tell him I was sick or had a day off. Soon we were making plans for our reunion. I had my passport and Mike had all the papers for a visa. I had already arranged to go back to work as a bartender before he arrived.
The day he walked back into the bar I was so happy and excited I thought my heart would burst. He wanted me to stop working so that he would not have to pay a barfine everyday and of course I agreed. I had our last two weeks in Thailand all planned. Three days in Pattaya with just the two of us and then one week at my village so Mike could meet my family and then the last few days in Bangkok sorting out the visa and airline tickets for me.
The first two days were great and it was just like old times. Mike was not very happy on the bus trip back to my village. He said the bus was no good and the traffic was no good and the food was no good but I supposed it was a big change for him.
When we arrived in the village everyone was there to meet us. We had a big party that night and I asked Mike to buy some beer and whiskey for everyone. He seemed surprised that he had to do this but we all had a good time and got very drunk. When it was time to go to sleep Mike wanted to sleep with me. I had to tell him that was against our customs and he would have to sleep in the room with the other unmarried men. He was very unhappy about this but agreed reluctantly.
The next day my uncle who could speak a little English had a talk with Mike. He wanted to discuss how much the dowry for me would be. My mother was very excited that I was going to marry a rich farang and was wondering how much money she would have after paying off the bank loan. When my uncle asked Mike how much he wanted to give, Mike just laughed. Later he told me he was not going to give anything as he was marrying me and not my mother. I was horrified. How could I explain this to my mother and what about the family’s problems. If I went away with Mike who would look after my family and how could they pay the bank.
I tried to explain our customs to Mike but he did not seem to understand. That night I cried again for the first time in three months. What was I supposed to do now? Everything was going wrong and I didn’t know what to do about it. Mama told me that if I married Mike I would be finished as far as the family was concerned. She said he was no good and stupid as well.
The next day Mike wanted to go back to Bangkok. He said the village was dirty and boring and too hot without air conditioning. He also hated the food. As we traveled back in the bus we were both very quiet. Everything had gone wrong and I didn’t know how to fix it. We stayed in a hotel somewhere in Bangkok but Mike said he wanted to go out alone and think about our problems. He did not come back that night till 3 in the morning and when he did come back he was drunk.
He said he knew I had been seeing other farang while he had been away and that my family only wanted his money. He said it was a stupid idea for him to marry a slut anyway and he wanted me to go back to Pattaya in the morning. I couldn’t believe things had turned so bad. I thought I had made everything good for him but he seemed to hate me. I couldn’t sleep with him while feeling so bad so I spent the rest of the night sleeping on the bathroom floor.
The next day Mike gave me 100 baht for the bus fare back to Pattaya and told me to go. I cried all the way back to Pattaya. What was I going to tell everyone at the Bar? What bad thing had I done to make everything so bad? I knew everyone would say I was stupid to love a farang. Many people told me farang only think of themselves but I thought Mike was different.
Mike went home two weeks ago now and I know I will never see him again. I have hardened my heart and will never make such a stupid mistake again. Next time a farang loves me I will get as much money from him as possible but I will never open my heart to one again. It hurts too much and I think I hate them all. I don’t understand why they are so rich while we are so poor. What I do understand is that I need money for my family and I am going to get as much as possible. What happens to me doesn’t matter but I want to do everything for my family.
I have not contacted anyone in my village since Mike left. I don’t know what I can say to them. I have lost so much face I don’t think I can ever go home again. I still send the money though and I’m earning even more now because I am learning how to get as much out of the farang as possible.
Source: Unknown it has been widely distributed on the Internet and on various mailing lists. Regardless of its source it is the very typical story of why so many Thai women from upcountry get involved in the sexwork industry.