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Not for Men Only


Not for Men Only

Not for Men Only

Fifteen years ago I never saw female foreigners in Thailand other than backpackers in Chiang Mai. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t really looking for them either.

Like men of all ages from all over the world, I came to Thailand with a preconceived notion about this being a country with a lot to offer men. For sure the idea of an entire country full of beautiful Asian women and a reverence for those of us who had achieved a certain vintage was, at the very least, intriguing.

And when I got here it seemed that my vision was fairly accurate. Thailand is an entire country full of beautiful women. Thais in general respect the age and wisdom of older people. The lifestyle here is free and easy. I expected all that. But, what surprised me most was the total absence of foreign women.

I found myself gawking like a Thai person if I saw a foreign woman on the Skytrain. If I was in a public place my ears would automatically focus on a conversation between two foreign women; their voices cutting through all the noise. Even in Bangkok, white women were a rare sight.

In the past ten years, things have changed drastically. I’ve met a multitude of foreign women both working and retiring in Thailand. In Koh Phangan I met an English lady who is a silversmith with her own jewelry shop. I know an American woman who built her own bakery in the countryside near Chiang Rai. In Pattaya we have a young Scottish girl who is a TV personality. And Western couples are flocking to Chiang Mai for the good weather, easy living and affordable retirement. Foreign women are now nearly as commonplace as foreign men.

When I first started noticing this phenomenon, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I mean, we fellas had this great place all to ourselves for so long. Go to any-pub that caters to foreigners in Thailand and you’ll eventually be invited to participate in a foreign woman-bashing discussion. Some of my fellow countrymen portray their female citizens as nagging pinch-faces shrews offering nothing but unending demands.

This is a rash generalization to be sure. The women shown in this week’s picture are living proof of that. It is taken at Jomtien Sauna near Pattaya. This pair of jolly Polish ladies were having the time of their lives, baking in the sauna and cooling down in the ice cold dipping pool. They are typical of the foreign women I see visiting. They are enjoying the tropical carefree lifestyle here just like us men.

Many men come to escape the stress and pressure of home countries. Why would it be different for women? In fact, many of the foreign women I meet here display that same look I usually have. I call it my “Damned happy to be in Thailand” look. I don’t begrudge anyone that feeling.

Thailand … no longer “For Men Only”

Orlando Barton

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