Ted is a 46 year-old salesman from Wales. He is divorced, feels marginalised by middle age and is tired of life in the ‘nanny state’. Ted is a frequent visitor to Thailand as a result of his job in an import business. He revels in the freedom he finds in a country where everything is for sale at the right price; including the beautiful young women who want to be with him.
Ted meets Tip who is working in the Rooster Bar. She is in her mid thirties, from the northeastern Issan region, the poorest part of Thailand. Like many Issan women, Tip is uneducated and could never earn enough to own her house or educate her child. She hates the thought of her daughter growing up to be involved in prostitution. When she meets Ted, she thinks she has finally found a foreigner who will take care of her and her daughter.
Ted returns to the UK, but stays in contact with Tip by telephone. He sends her money so she can give up her bar job and return to her family’s farm in her village, Krasang. After a few months, at Tip’s request, Ted returns to Thailand and marries her. Ted liquidates his assets in Wales and sinks his money into building a house and piggery on Tip’s family farm.
He soon discovers there are many other foreign men who have married and settled in northeast Thailand. For many Issan women, marriage to a foreigner provides a way out of debt and a lifetime of difficult work. In northeast Thailand, marriage to a foreigner has become an industry. John, an Australian, says that there are about 90 foreigners living within a five-kilometre radius and that new foreigners arrive every week. Larry, an American, built his wife a large, luxurious house in Krasang. Larry believes she does love him, even though she tells him she doesn’t. Grant’s wife Pon says that when she took Grant home to Krasang, her friends and relatives all came over to her house to see the foreigner, because they couldn’t believe she got one.
Within 12 months, Ted’s hopes for a better life have been dashed. His money has disappeared much faster than he expected. Tip and her family don’t seem to want him around the farm anymore. When Ted asks Tip if she loves him, she says: “I can’t eat or drink your love.” Ted leaves the farm destitute and wonders whether it had been a con all along. Ted rents a room in a nearby town. After surviving on credit for several months, Ted begs Tip to give him some of his money back. But she is only willing to buy him a one-way ticket back to the UK.
Economically, Ted and Tip have traded places and Ted has learned what his Thai wife already knew: without money, you lose everything. My Thai Bride is about the power of money to save and destroy – and the harm that ensues when people are reduced to commodities. While there have been other films about prostitution in Thailand, My Thai Bride explores the lesser known story of the foreign marriage industry and the consequences for the men and women involved.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.