The following contains a collection of pieces I created in an effort to provide information to ease your time in Thailand. That which I wish I had known before stepping off the plane. That which seems to be excluded from travel guides. I’ve also included other resources to help you along your way.
I hope the following will assist you in making better informed decisions in Thailand and perhaps provide comfort for those of you who are experiencing similar circumstances and are wondering if it’s normal, just you, or if you’re reading situations incorrectly.
The following is incredibly important for women traveling alone.
Please be advised, some of my stories may disturb you. My intent isn’t to scare you, rather, it’s to educate you. Thailand is an incredible country to experience, but like anywhere else, good to bad things can happen. Rather than parrot the typical, the stories we all hear of the beauties of Thailand, much of my content has concentrated on filling in the gaps – on discussing what isn’t discussed, on trying to bridge cultural differences, and on helping others cultivate the street smarts I didn’t have when I arrived in Thailand. The street intelligence I had cultivated in my home country were not enough to navigate the culture of Thailand, which is very different than my own. Please note, I spent four years of my life in Thailand and I can speak Thai. This greatly influenced what I experienced, what I was exposed to and the influence a new culture had on my own sense of my place in the world.
I would love to hear your questions and about your experiences in the comment section of this resource page and/or the articles you read. Please share this piece if you feel it has been beneficial. Most importantly, for those of you traveling to Thailand or for those of you there already, enjoy yourself and stay safe. It’s a wonderful, lush country with much history and culture that can provide even those with the most timid heart adventure.
This is a work in process and will be updated as new content is published.
Women in Thai Society
“A kiss goodnight. Directions to the driver. The snap of the door closing. I opened my purse. H had insisted on paying for my ride to Pomprab. After some debate I had accepted but H had placed the bills in my purse without unfolding them. Now resting between my fingers, I realized H had not only given me funds for my ride home, he had covered the majority of my rent for the month. Had I just been paid?”
“If you’re good/do well, in your next life you will be born a man.”
“All Thai men have more than one woman. And Thai women only have one man. It’s the way it is in Thailand.”
“White skin is the ideal here and white women have the reputation of being as easy as they come, as easy as I can’t even imagine fathomable. I’ve probably said it before here on MBSB and if not, prepare to hear it again, but the best way I know how to put it is that the stereotype of white women is akin to a prostitute you don’t have to pay for.”
“Then it occurred to me, that for many Thais, the term free sex wasn’t fully defined by choice of whom you had sex with, or the nature of your relationship, it was defined by what you would get out of it. For many women this means money, for some it means gifts, or a mix of both.”
“A recommended read for anyone who is planning on staying for any length of time in Thailand and walking in blind. This includes those of you who are in relationships and those of you who don’t plan to date. Shama’s series will give you a great primer on the fundamentals of how things work here.”
“One of the things I want to highlight about the research is the fact that when you tell people the reality of what it’s like to train in Thailand as a western woman for an extended period of time (and there are always exceptions, of course), people don’t want to hear it.”
“The Western bubbled side of my brain tries to dissuade me from thinking that I was perhaps called fat on average, every other day for the two and a half years I lived in Buriram. The Buriram side of my brain scoffs. It shouts, “You were called it more, if you count groups of people who made fun of you. And if you exclude the days you didn’t leave your room. Or the days you ran your errands as quickly as possible to avoid people. Or the days you waited until past 4:00 pm to go out in public because that’s when the people who lived in the country went home.” There was a definite decrease in public opinion at night. So how often did this happen in any form? Too often.”
Women’s Safety in Thailand
If you read one post in this list, please read this one.
“Feminism hasn’t hit Thailand. Neither has the dissolution of class hierarchies, many of which are entrenched in socioeconomic factors and place of origin/colour of skin (and the relationships binding the two). Current Thai mainstream notions of equality and freedom aren’t on par with definitions in the West. Not all rules apply to all people. Not all freedoms apply to all people.”
Although this piece takes place in The Philippines, it is both pertinent and extremely important for those traveling to Thailand, as similar experiences are reported to happen.
“Had I been poisoned? Had I been drugged? I had never felt anything to this degree before, I wasn’t simply high. When Pacita and staff followed me to my room, I could barely move or speak once I collapsed on the bed. I just stared at that white circle. Was I going to die?”
“Despite my feelings towards the man, at the time I would have thought it inconceivable the breaking of my hand to be an act of intent. That belief was shattered when a group of fighters informed me otherwise, one evening, near the 7-Eleven we often congregated at in the evenings.”
“Life isn’t as easy to read as it once was. As a result, we’re left open to cultural misunderstandings and drama with decent people and are easy prey for the unkind.”
“Everything in my personal experience in Thailand has taught me that acting as customary of most Western women may in such situations, meaning not addressing the officers demurely, may be construed as a problem with authority, a breach of a woman’s place when addressing a man of power, and depending on who I run into, may cause me grief. In a small community, if not at that moment, perhaps later. I’ve found Western men are allowed to act as Western men may, meaning closing the power gap between them and the police, but not a woman.”
“This is just one example of how knowing how to speak Thai can protect you.”
“As I approached this man’s home, there he burned, against the gate, both feet planted and fully facing me. Through the bars I could see his exposed penis resting in his left hand. His eyes bore into mine. His body didn’t move.”
“And so began the dance I’ve become accustomed to in Thailand with certain men, of specific dispositions who hold positions of power. I had to politely play to his ego, never giving too much, to be deemed a whore and never giving too little, to insult him.”
“This is a great and passive way of keeping abreast of changes to visa requirements and issues of personal safety (i.e. bomb found in XXX, torrential rain in XXXX). Ladies, there is a forum just for us.”
“See the rubber doorstop as a tiny light substitute you won’t have to feed or bathe and it’ll have your back when you’re sleeping without expecting any attention in return. How may you ask?”
Other Tips for Women Traveling to Thailand
“I go through moments, sometimes days, weeks, a blur of time when I try to disappear in the crowd. I shrink. I’m afraid to shine. I fear being beautiful as much as I criticize myself for not being beautiful enough. All on a deep, hidden level. On a level that should I not pay careful attention to it, the self criticism will hum away softly and erode my soul.”
“I had no idea what he was on about. He was too excited. I asked him to repeat the question. And he did…….as he whipped down his lycra swimshorts and showed me the top of his penis. He then proceeded to beat off. Quickly. “Have you ever seen a kid’s dick before?”
“When I first arrived at the gym, one of the trainers made it known he was attracted to me. I didn’t think much of it until he told a fighter from another gym that was pursuing me, that he and I were lovers. This didn’t sit well with me, so I confronted him about it privately and let my feelings, or rather, lack of, be known, again. He said he understood and I didn’t let his actions affect me too deeply.”
“Mentally I felt fine, but something deep inside was screaming.”
“Despite how dark and at time of writing, taboo the topic is, it’s part of my process and I feel it should be addressed. What do I hope will come of it? Perhaps the effort will effectively illustrate how discrimination, thus feelings of powerlessness, can profoundly change someone.”
“Returning to the West I realize I’m now prone to chuckle at the incidental things which often annoy and enrage others.”
Recommended Thailand Social Networks and Guides
Chicky Net -The Social Network for Women in Thailand
Thailand Starter Kit – Unmatched, long-from guides for expats on short and long-term living in Thailand
Consultations on Living in and Traveling to Thailand
Thailand Consulting Services – Personalized consulting services that answer the questions travel guides don’t.