Duan is a Pattaya prostitute who works in one of the many bars in the city. Like most of her colleagues she comes from Isaan in the poor rural northeast. She has worked in Pattaya, as a bar-girl, for more than three years and is professional in every way.
In many ways she is also an absolutely lovely girl, and certainly a much nicer lady than some that have worked in the bars...
As lovely as Duan is, certain aspects of her work require that she cannot be a lovely girl and completely successful in her trade. The bar-work game demands questionable behaviour from time to time and, when the situation calls for it, she is perfectly capable of unquestionably BAD behaviour!
At the time of writing, Duan is 21 years old. Her hair is jet-black in colour, straight, and hangs just below her shoulder-line. She is fair skinned, especially by Isaan standards, and she has the face of an angel. Her general appearance is anything but the kind of thing you would expect from a time-served Pattaya prostitute.
Whereas many Pattaya girls have tattoos on various parts of their bodies, Duan has no visible tattoos at all. Her manner is calm, quiet and reserved. If you met her, I guarantee that you would think her to be very shy and unaccustomed to life behind a bar.
Her dress sense is also quite reserved and resembles the kind of clothing that you would expect to see a respectable, married or unavailable, lady to wear. She does not display gold chains, rings, earrings, bracelets, piercings or any of the usual things associated with a Pattaya prostitute.
She dislikes heavy make-up and prefers to go for a more natural look - a little light make-up aside. Her body is petite in size, she is very slim and I'd imagine that she would tip the scales at no more than about 44kg.
Duan is very softly spoken and I've never once heard her use foul language. She chooses to work behind the bar, serving drinks, rather than going for the front-of-bar work that a louder, more outgoing Pattaya prostitute would prefer i.e. those that grab men as they walk by in an attempt to get them into their bar.
She does not like those occasions when the bar has a party, because she does not really like to drink, not to excess at any rate. She feels out of place when the other girls get drunk on such occasions.
In every way you can imagine, she fits the profile of a respectable Thai lady that would never go near a tourist-focused bar area if she had any choice in the matter... so why does she work in the Thailand prostitution scene?
Unfortunately for Duan, her life has not been without its challenges. At the age of 18, her child was born and her boyfriend, the child's father, almost immediately took off with another girl leaving her with all the expense of raising the child by herself! Both her parents are living, but they are divorced. Neither of them work and both of them are in need of financial support. She is the eldest of three sisters and, unfortunately for her, that means that she has a responsibility to provide for her younger siblings too.
So, with a 3 year old child, two younger sisters, and both parents to support, a significant income is needed to cover all the expenses! She was never able to go to University and has only a basic level of education, meaning that well paid work in a business career is not possible.
Added to that, the fact that she has had a child with another man means that marrying into a wealthy Thai family is out of the question. That doesn't leave her with too many options.... it is a similar set of options that many a Pattaya prostitute has had to grapple with, and her choice is somewhat forced upon her...
The whole situation regarding Thai family responsibilities is one of the hardest cultural differences to understand if you are from the Western world. It certainly took me a while to come to terms with it and it still raises my eyebrows from time to time.
Being a foreigner in Thailand does mean that in some ways you are seen as a second class citizen but, on balance, I think it is a good thing. Unlike a Thai person, a ‘farang’ is not subjected to all the cultural expectations that are very much expected of a Thai.
Nobody will mind if you sit in a bar all day without raising a finger... except to take a drink or order your next beer. Nobody minds at all if you seem to live, and actually do live, a completely selfish life devoid of any other responsibilities whatsoever. This would not be so easy if you were Thai; there are many expectations placed on Thais and family commitments are at the top of the list.
To begin to appreciate it you really need to cast aside your own preconceptions. Thailand is not the West, things are different here. There is a concept in Thai culture known as 'Ga tan yoo', it refers to the immense debt of gratitude that Thai children feel towards their parents for bringing them into the world and looking after them. It is a debt that can never be repaid.
Thais do not feel this debt to be a burden, they genuinely want to help their parents as much as they can even if it means having to do without things for themselves, and even if it means working as a Pattaya prostitute.
Duan's situation is not unique, but even amongst the Pattaya prostitute fraternity it is more unfortunate than most. It is particularly unfortunate in that there seems to be little sympathy for her amongst her own family. Her father is in and out of her life, usually reappearing at times when he needs money.
Her sisters take her clothes, live in her apartment, eat her food and use her electricity, all without contributing towards the bills. They do not give her any money at all and at times she is expected to give them money even though they have jobs and money of their own.
At times, when money is short and she cannot help out as much as usual, she is accused of being selfish and keeping money back for herself. When times are good and she helps out more than usual, her parents spend the extra cash on alcohol. If you knew Duan, you would find it very difficult not to feel completely outraged at the injustice of her situation.
Regardless of her situation, she will stick with her responsibilities come what may. Her family will always come first, second and third in her list of priorities. Those Thai girls that turn their backs on their families are utterly despised by other Thais. Even if other Thais all agreed that she was being taken advantage of, abandoning her family would be seen as being infinitely worse, and this is something that she will never do.
Duan keeps very little money for herself, she has a small apartment that she shares with her sisters and she has very few personal belongings. She does not have a motorbike, and doesn't even know how to ride one. She doesn't drink much, she doesn't smoke cigarettes or take drugs. I am convinced that, due to her sweet nature, someone at some point is going to fall head over heels in love with her.
Here’s the problem; the last thing that I would advise anyone to do is to get romantically involved with a lady like Duan. I've seen it happen many times before and it just doesn't work. Duan is a lovely girl.... in her family life! When she dons her Pattaya prostitute posture she is a completely different girl and she has absolutely no concern for the welfare of any wealthy foreigner that is on a sex vacation! She has far greater problems to worry about than that.
You may think that you can straighten her out and solve her problems – but you almost certainly can't. A Westerner might look at the situation, help her out financially, and start to blame her parents for everything... and as soon as you do that, Duan will hate your guts! This is a no-win situation as far as any sort of long-term romance is concerned.
I've personally watched her laughing with friends about an SMS message that had been sent to her by an admiring Westerner. It was a tender message declaring loving feelings and so on. The laughter was due to happiness at having snared another unsuspecting farang boyfriend, and another income stream.
Ruthlessness in a Pattaya prostitute is necessary if she is going to maximize her income. She is banking on getting her customers to fall in love with her and send money to her each month after they have departed Thailand.
The consequences for the men that fall victim to this sort of treatment can be severe, and the well documented Pattaya Flying Club welcomes new members every year at an alarming rate...
Duan is not a bad person, she's just a person who is in a bad situation. Maybe one day she will meet someone that is right for her but there's no way she is about to risk anything on your average tourist. She will hedge her bets, she will not put all her eggs in one basket, and she will attempt to get as many farang boyfriends as she can. That's her best way of securing a reliable, sizable income and being able to support her family.
Just don't make the mistake of thinking that your 'Duan' is different. If you met her in a tourist area bar then she is almost guaranteed to be a Pattaya prostitute, and you are very likely to get stung. You might think that a girl capable of such total devotion towards her family will be sure to mirror that loyalty in her devotion towards you... think again!
You will almost certainly be seen as not much more than a means to an end - the end being financial security for her family. In terms of ranking you in her list of priorities, even if you were to marry her, it would probably go something like this:
At least you wouldn't come last!
My advice... treat your average Pattaya prostitute with the utmost of respect, try to understand her situation and always pay your dues. Then wave goodbye and move on.
It would be very nice to be able to 'save' all the ladies out there but, sadly, it just isn't possible. If it is a long-term relationship that you are looking for, you will do better to start with an online dating site than a girl that you met in a bar.
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