This week Stickman has yet another tale of woe from the Land of Smiles. I’m always surprised to what lengths guys will go to in order to stay buried in a fantasy world which simply doesn’t exist. Things that they would never do back home suddenly appear completely sane in Thailand. Often it is because the object of their desire has convinced them that it is the Thai way of doing things but more often than not it is plain stupidity.
Let’s remove Thailand from the equation and tell me if this conversation sounds even remotely sane.
You: So you’re going to quit just short of retirement thus lowering a lifetime of pension benefits and selling everything to go open up a bar in [INSERT ANY COUNTRY OF YOUR CHOOSING HERE]?
Friend: Yeah, I met this girl and I’m head over heels in love with her. She told me about a bar in her village that I can buy and it’ll make enough income for us to live off of.
You: But do you know anything about running a bar? Have you ever run a business before?
Friend: No, but that’s what’s so exciting. I’ll be my own boss. I’ll be the one calling all of the shots.
You: Yeah but most small businesses fail. Do you have a business plan? What are your fallbacks if that doesn’t work out?
Friend: It can’t be all that hard. I know the guy who runs my regular pub and he doesn’t seem especially gifted at business.
You: Okay, even so, what do you know about the business laws, taxes, and such in _______________?
Friend: Well, I don’t really know any of that stuff. I’m not the first guy to ever open a bar there before. I mean, how hard can it be?
You: Whatever. Still, you said that you’re putting the rest of your money into buying a home there? At least you’ll have something of value that you own in case it doesn’t work out.
Friend: Well, technically, she’ll own it but I’m paying for it. It’s illegal for foreigners to own real estate there.
You: Are you out of your fucking mind? You’re going to invest most of your life savings into a piece of property that she can walk off and keep?
Friend: It’s not like that. You don’t know her. She’s such a sweetheart. Besides after we get married half of it will be mine anyway. No different than if I got married here.
You: Do you know that for sure? What are the community property laws like over there? Have you checked?
Friend: How different could they be? I mean, you get a divorce and each party gets half. You just don’t know this girl. She really loves me.
You: Speaking of which, we’re friends so I can say this but you’re a fat fuck approaching retirement age and not exactly Sean fucking Connery. And she’s, what, 24? Mate, when’s the last time you’ve even dated a woman your own age let alone less than half your age? Hell, when’s the last time you’ve even gone out on a date since you got divorced five years ago?
Friend: Fuck off.
You: No seriously. Doesn’t it strike you as a little fishy?
Friend: Go fuck yourself.
Literally, you could plug any country into that conversation and it sounds just as mad. Would an American sell everything and dump all his money in a UK business he had no experience running because he met some girl on holiday? I’m sure you can find a few scattered stories of such things happening but it’s relatively rare. Would an Aussie use his last dollar to buy a house in his girlfriend’s name in Italy after only knowing her for a month or two? Maybe it’s happened before but certainly not to the degree that it happens in Thailand.
I don’t know if that’s a testament to Thai girls or a indictment of farang women who haven’t figured out what really motivates a man. Maybe it’s the western sense of fair play that allows guys to think that nobody would take advantage of them that callously. I really does boggle my mind.
I certainly don’t mean to sound insensitive to guys who have lost their life savings yet at the same time when you run through the thought process that got them there it’s difficult to see how they could have allowed themselves to get sunk that deep. I could even understand this happening to guys before the internet age but today a simple search on Google will yield a digital library of warnings. Seriously, before upending your entire life is doing a Google search too much?
I guess the part that always strikes me is that they always seem to find sites like Stickman, ThaiVisa, etc AFTER they’ve lost everything. When they sobered up to reality they started doing some research and found these sites.
Truth be told I think most of them knew beforehand but didn’t think it could happen to them. Otherwise how do you explain how they figured out how to get their money overseas, visas sorted out, etc, etc? Chances are they did do some internet research and if they clicked on anything after the first three sites returned by Google they probably read about what has happened to other guys. But they figured that their girl was too sweet and innocent or that they were too savvy to get snookered.
At times I like to think it’s just a matter of educating people about these traps but in a way it’s like the Nigerian scam artists who send you emails claiming to be holding millions of dollars in a secret bank account that they need your help to get access to. No matter how many times the story runs on local news channels, no matter how much it’s lampooned in popular culture, every year thousands of people lose their life savings thinking they’ve been blessed with the great fortune to be contacted by some former president’s nephew in need of help.
All scams work because they appeal to something greater than logic. In the case of the Nigerian scammers they appeal to greed. Greed is a powerful emotion. People will throw away all logic if they think they can get something for nothing.
And perhaps it is a sense of greed that drives a man to move half-way across the world for the arms of an uneducated farmer’s daughter. Not greed in the sense of wanting to get rich but the guys who fall prey to an unscrupulous Thai girl are trying to get something for nothing. They are trying to find love without all of the other baggage that comes with it. Who cares if she’s a fraction of his age and they share absolutely nothing whatsoever in common? Who cares if she has a five year old grasp of the English language and he speaks not a word of Thai? Who cares if he can’t even fathom what her life was like? Doesn’t love conquer all?
Well, not really. Not in real life anyway.
And that’s the lesson that gets played out for us again and again on message boards, blogs, and websites all over the internet. Love doesn’t conquer all. There was probably never any love on her side. In fact, I think if a lot of guys look really, really, really deep within themselves they’ll admit it wasn’t really love on their side either. Maybe it was the idea of having a gorgeous wife with a perfect body or living the dream life in paradise. Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t real love.
Thailand is not a place to come find yourself. If you don’t have your head screwed on straight and are confident in who you are as a person then this country will chew you up and spit you out. That’s not to say that there aren’t many genuine and lovely people here but the unscrupulous hunt in packs and they follow the herd until they identify the weakest and target that one. The naive are easy to spot and don’t stand a chance.
If you want to come to Thailand, meet a nice girl, get married, and raise a family then good for you. But use some common sense. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a relationship if any of the warning bells are sounding. They’re sounding for a reason.
And just so as to save people time when they disregard the above, I’ve put together a template you can use when writing to tell your tale.
Dear Stickman / ThaiVisa / OTHER___________________,
I am writing you to tell you about a recent experience that has left me gutted financially / emotionally / both. It all started when I met a Thai girl / ladyboy named ____________________. I fell deeply in love with her and decided to:
a) Sell everything I own, break off all ties to friends and family, and move to Thailand without any source of income
b) Sell everything I own, break off all ties to friends and family, and move to Thailand with the intention of using all my life savings to buy a home (in her name)
c) Sell everything I own, break off all ties to friends and family, and move to Thailand with the intention of using all my life savings to buy a business which I have no experience running
d) All of the above
At first things were fantastic. It was the best time I can ever remember in my life. Then something changed. The first warning bell was when _________________________________. But I ignored the warning signals because I was so in love with my little teerak.
Long story short:
a) The business was a huge money pit that drained me down to my last baht
b) Her and her husband/boyfriend/family stole all of my money and left me penniless
c) As soon as my money ran out she was gone.
d) a and c or b and c
I am now heartbroken, broke, and don’t know what to do as I no longer have any friends or family willing to send me enough money to go back home.
YOUR NAME HERE