Tag Archives: marriage

8 Things About Hot Thai Girls that Get With Ugly White Men

Soi Cowboy - one of Bangkok's main red light districts....

I grew up seeing it all the times in the Philippines. I even wrote a CultureMutt post about it a while ago: ugly old white guys with hot Filipina girls. Although it was surprising at first, you got used to seeing it. As soon as Jammie and I landed in Thailand we started to see the same thing here. Only it was even more prevalent. AND it felt like there was an even seedier undertone.

Everywhere you look in the touristy corners of Bangkok, white, middle-aged travelers have a hot Thai girl in tow. Jammie and I have asked our local friends about this and here are a few explanations we’ve been given for why Thai girls go for these men:

Worst Case Scenario – As depressing as it is, it needs to be said: prostitution is alive and well in Bangkok. Areas like Patpong, Nana and Soi Cowboy are teeming with sexpats and Asian prostitutes. For many, prostitution has become a form of modern-day slavery.

Jammie and I will be collaborating with a group that is working to prevent child prostitution later during our stay in Thailand. Key to solving the problem is presenting viable economic alternatives to families. Prostitution has often been seen as the most lucrative profession for young women with little education and other earning options. One of the best ways to fight prostitution is to present better ways to earn a living.

White Men are Seen As Affluent – A lot of older white men in Thailand are traveling on little more than their Social Security checks. Although this is not much to live on back home, this income puts them in a higher income category than most Thais. So the stereotype of the wealthy white foreigner is understandable. Just as rich guys in the West attract hot women, white men here are seen as wealthy and therefore attract hot Thai girls.

Better Living in Thailand – The dollar or euro stretches far in Thailand and the average old white guy looking for a hot Thai girl is going to live at a relatively high standard of living while they are in Thailand. Even if there is nothing else in the cards, this alone will motivate some Thai women to want to be with tourists.

A Way Out of Thailand – Here’s the bigger goal for many Thai women: go home with the tourist. As in all the way home and out of Thailand. And that’s how you get old white guys hobbling around with hot Thai girls back home. It looks crazy but when you understand why it happens, it starts to explain things.

They Actually Prefer White Guys – This part came as a bit of a surprise to me. And it’s good news for white dudes wanting to snag a hot Thai girl: she may actually prefer white guys. For reasons other than just finances. What are these reasons? Keep reading.

They Think White Men Will Be Better Husbands – It is a sad nonsecret in Thailand. Married Thai men often have mistresses. Now obviously marital unfaithfulness is not exactly rare in the US or Europe either. The difference comes in the degree of social acceptance of mistresses. It happens a lot in Thailand. Much more than it does in Western countries.

And Better Boyfriends Single Thai guys often have lots of different girls going at the same time. Again, I’m not saying that you don’t get a lot of players stateside but the idea of only having one girlfriend at a time is more of a cultural norm in the West.

Thai women know all this and therefore many of them prefer the farang (foreigner) because he is more likely to be faithful.

They Find White Guys Exotic – Here’s a crowd pleaser to end with. Whenever you are up against a numbers game and a certain kind of man is a rarity, the laws of supply and demand come into play. One trend that I have seen more and more of over the years in Asia is hot local girls with equally attractive foreigners. At least part of the reason for this is a much more “normal” one: opposites attract and because there aren’t a lot of foreigners around they are a bit of a catch.

Over to you: Are you in an interracial relationship in Thailand or Asia? Or do you know someone that is? How would you add to the above list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.



Bjorn Karlman

Bangkok, Thailand


On Filipino-American-Swedish Marriage

I certainly would not have predicted it before meeting Jammie but 13 years after leaving the Philippines I married a Filipina-American in Los Angeles on April 3, 2011.  We were polar opposites on the one hand – an American of Filipino descent, born and raised in Los Angeles and a vaguely Swedish Third Culture Kid born in Stockholm and raised in too many different places.  Seen differently we had very similar backgrounds – we both loved and understood Filipino culture (Jammie as a matter of heritage and I from living there for six years) and we both loved Los Angeles and its chaotic creativity, with near-foolish abandon.

We’ve been married for five months today so I thought I’d post on a few defining features of our Filipino-American-Swedish union so far:

Loud vs. Shy Culture – Anyone that knows me well would condescendingly smirk at this understatement:  I am loud.  I love talking to and engaging people.  I therefore enjoy Filipino gatherings because they tend to be high energy and boisterous.  My family on the other hand, is a lot more Swedish in that they tend to be a little more quiet – especially when you take a step beyond my nuclear family.  I remember my aunt’s reaction to raucous laughter at our rehearsal dinner in LA’s Chinatown.  She thought something was wrong.  It was just a buddy of mine being himself.

How to Really Party – Traditional Swedish birthday parties involve your nuclear family and some carefully-chosen close friends and often take place within the safety of your locked home.  The birthday parties I went to in the Filipino fishing village I lived in involved the whole village and a lavishly roasted pig, displayed dramatically on the spit against a backdrop of lesser dishes and assorted balloons.  For my 30th Jammie and I compromised and only invited my work friends, an entire think tank, and the volunteers and Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce.  Our one bedroom apartment was crammed beyond recognition and people spilled out onto the lawn.  We had a piñata.

Don’t Eat Off my Plate! – Jammie is an ardent proponent of eating off of other people’s plates.  This took a while for me to get used to.  I was all about eating my own food and finishing it.  It barely occurred to me that I would need to share it or at least offer it up for multi-person sampling.  In fact, that seemed a little gross.  Jammie cured me of any such inhibitions.  I will now eat off your plate.

Visiting Family – Family is extremely important to both of us.  But visiting and communicating takes on different forms.  For starters, we live in Northern California so driving or flying to LA to see the Filipino side is easy.  If we lived in LA I am sure we would be over at Jammie’s parents’ place a lot or they would come to ours.  Scandinavian culture is a significantly more hands-off.  Even if my parents didn’t live in England but right here in California, the visits would be more spread out.  Not because the family bond is weaker but because Swedish parents believe it wise to “let the kids work things out for themselves” unless their help or opinion is directly solicited.  I am happy with either approach and am not sure yet how I will treat my future kids.  Probably some kind of hybrid approach as usual.

What Qualifies as Fashionably Late? – This is a biggie.  Jammie and I both are a blend of event-centered and time-centered cultures. The question is not so much one of when to arrive to work.  American culture can explain that one for you with a pink slip in record time.  Social engagements are the real question.  Last weekend we got to our favorite car show so late that the sun had set and we could barely see the cars.  That’s what you call unfashionably late.  So we do need to be more punctual with our social engagements but we want to keep the focus on the event, the people and the relationships, not militaristic time card punching.

As I said, we are just five months in but I’ll keep you updated on our very intercultural marriage.  In the meantime, leave a comment with how you navigate diversity in your relationships.



Bjorn Karlman

Getting Hitched? Some International Guidelines…

newly weds - wedding bands

My dad and I were catching up with an old family friend and he was telling the story of how his then-future son-in-law asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage.  “He took me golfing and didn’t say a word about my daughter.  It was the biggest white elephant in the room ever.  We went the whole day without him saying anything at all relevant to the whole reason we were golfing.  Then as we pulled into my driveway at the end of the whole day,” our friend breaks into a huge smile, “he shows me he’s a good Southern boy and he says, “Jill and I were thinking about getting married.  Do you, uh… do you… I mean… do you think that would be a good idea?”

The awkward suitor was given the go ahead after his stumbling efforts and the incident got a permanent page in family history.  A success story.  But things obviously don’t always go that smoothly.  Most of my American friends probably know someone that dodged family expectations, lavish custom and the accompanying bills and eloped in Vegas.  Some enjoy the notoriety of having done it “my way” regardless of offended relatives and fat Elvis impersonators that will forever mar the $19.99 picture album of their union.

But most people who decide to tie the knot want to do it well.  This is no easy thing, especially if you and your second half are from different cultures.  I am not married so the following are not my tips but rather an assortment of the cross-cultural knot-tying advice I’ve picked up while on the trail:

1) Examine motives: Sorry to start off with something so boring.  It is vital though.  I will never forget the time I was in line for check-in at the Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo airport.  In front of me was a very boring looking, potbellied, middle-aged white guy with a stunning local girl. I was about to roll my eyes when the woman reached into the old guy’s back pocket and pulled out a passport.  She proceeded to wave it to her friends who all started jumping in delight at the other end of the security barrier.  Joe may have bagged a beauty, but Juanita snagged a passport.  Avoid the marriage of convenience.  Enough said.

2)  If you are going local, don’t go “loco”. There’s nothing more pathetic than a wannabe.  Cultural sensitivity is great and is absolutely advised, but everyone can spot a desperate bluffer.  There is absolutely no reason that you should walk around in your future spouse’s national costume for days on end just so you can be accepted as “one of them”.  You are different, you are from somewhere else.  Own it.  It’s OK.

3)  Realize that you may never be “good enough”. As much as your future in-laws may like you, there is likely a little part of them that just wishes their son had married one of his own.  This is nothing personal.  Your attempts at Scandinavian midsummer frog dancing are commendable but you will never be mistaken for a Greta.  You will find that everyone, including yourself, harbors some kind of prejudice. Christine Benlafquih, in an article for suite101.com titled “Cross-Cultural Marriage”, makes the point that it helps to find out what some of the commonly held prejudices are in your significant other’s culture. This can prevent nasty surprises farther down the line. Innermost preferences and prejudices aside, your future family will most likely appreciate you and will eventually see you as a person before your nationality.

4)  Talk to others that have done it – Intercultural marriage is never problem free.  It is challenging.  Tamula Drumm, writing for TransitionsAbroad.com, states that although statistically intercultural and interracial marriages have a high rate of failure, many couples make them work. It helps to learn from the success stories of older couples that have had to deal with more cultural disapproval and discrimination but still were able to live happily together.  Ask questions, listen to their stories and learn from their mistakes.

In the end a cross-cultural marriage boils down to the same thing as any other marriage.  Where there is love and a will there is a way.  So relax, enjoy this special time of life and, if all hell breaks lose, there’s always Vegas.


Bjorn Karlman