The men who come to Thailand looking for love or its counterpart are not the ones who resemble movie stars. As a rule, they are the guys who struggled to find girlfriends back where they came from, and are hoping that the economic incentives a developing country offers might make them more desirable.  They are often right, though you get what you pay for. Purposeful forgetting will not erase the fact that this is a largely economic transaction. When questioned, most of these men will insist that the woman in question finds them charming or interesting or funny, and that the money has nothing to do with it.

It can be fun to see these hookups in action.  Not all of them are exploitative or creepy.  Pattaya is Bangkok’s whorehouse-by-the-sea. There, many an aging Caucasian man can be seen hanging onto the arm of a young Thai hottie.  I don’t think any one man or any one woman in this case is guilty of anything.  Since the women speak only a few words of English and the men speak no Thai, not much conversation goes on, but they both look reasonably content in each other’s company.  It’s not a creepy scene.  It’s a business deal, up-front and out in the open.  It’s transparent.

And how important are age and looks anyway?  If two people want to be together for whatever reason, why shouldn’t they, no matter whether their partnership fits into conventional models of romance?

I am a retired Caucasian man in Thailand and have recently met an attractive Thai girlfriend who is nineteen years my junior.  She doesn’t speak English, and I only speak a little Thai, so communicating about practical matters is often problematic.  Google Translate can only do so much.  When I describe our relationship to my women friends they always ask “How do you communicate?”  No man has ever asked me that.

Don’t know how far we’ll be able to run with this, but so far, I’d have to say that our lack of a common spoken language has had one unintended benefit.  She has never invited me to talk about our “relationship.” and we have never wasted a moment of our time together arguing about abstractions.


Village Wedding Thai Style











My friend Pen lives in the village of Wiang Hong Long, about an hour south of Chiang Mai. She was invited to a wedding in the village of Hot, and asked me if I wanted to go with her. I did, and I’m glad I went.

It wasn’t a large wedding, but everyone was primed to have a good time, and that they did. It started with a procession up the hill to the bride’s house. Many firecrackers were thrown. The actual wedding ceremony took place is a small room, and only a fraction of the guests were interested in trying to cram themselves into it. Beer and whiskey flowed outside, and many people were content with that.

They observed what must be a tradition where the bride’s family stopped the procession at their gates, holding a symbolic chain across the road until the groom’s family had paid a dowry. Everyone was laughing on both sides of the chain. This happened again at the entrance to the wedding room, where I guess the ante was upped.

I don’t have to speak fluent Thai to know what was going on most of the time. The other guests were nice to me, and I realized almost without exception I was one of a handful of elderly there. A woman across from me spoke some English and told me I looked like a famous American actor. I asked “which one?” She had to think about it. After about ten minutes she said “Sylvester Stallone.”

The celebration ended with karaoke, as all Asian ceremonies seem to. Traditional Thai romance songs were greeted with applause. All of those sound the same to me, like what I have always thought of as Chinese music. Warbly runs up and down an oriental scale. Women singing too high and shrilly for my taste.