Isaan's not ready for the worldwide wooing on the Web
All but a few local women met foreign hubbies the old way
Only about 4 per cent of women in the Northeast of Thailand with Western husbands met them over the Internet, despite the explosion of the world wide web, a brief study has found.
Most of the women first came into contact with their spouses at their work places or entertainment venues, the study by Asst Professor Supawatanakorn Wongthanawasu of Khon Kaen University found.
Supawatanakorn, of the university's Faculty of Nursing, said most of those who met their husbands over the Internet had university degrees and careers and were mainly interest in marrying foreign men.
The information was part of an ongoing study of the cultural impact of Thai-Western marriages in the region.
Supawatanakorn interviewed 231 Thai wives in Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and Roi Et. She found about 60 per cent had met their future husbands at workplaces or entertainment venues, about 20 per cent via mutual friends and 17 per cent through relatives, most of whom were married to foreigners.
Among the first group, Supawatanakorn cited the case of 28-year-old Khon Kaen native Boonsom, whose Thai husband had left her and their one-month-old child. Boonsom had worked in Pattaya as a bar girl for nearly a year when she met her German future husband, who asked her to quit the job and bought her a house there.
The couple later visited her family and bought another house in Khon Kaen, renting out the Pattaya house. Her husband goes back to Germany to work for three months each year to earn money for Boonsom.
Supawatanakorn said the 4 per cent of women who met their Western partners via the Internet and matchmaking services were an interesting group because they were single and most were well educated and had good careers.
One woman, Kay, has a bachelors degree and works for an educational institute. She met her husband on the website Italiandating.com. She had to post her photo and personal information such as age, educational background, job, personality, hobby and preferred qualifications of a partner.
Kay specified that she preferred his age to be around 25-39 and he must be rich. Since she was a single woman, Kay could post her information for free while women who were divorced had to pay the webmaster a Bt699 fee.
After the photo and information was posted, the female user received a membership code in Italian. Whenever a foreign man became interested in a Thai member, he could contact them via e-mail only. When ready to take the next step in the relationship the man would have to pay US$200 (Bt7,300) which allowed the exchange of telephone numbers or postal addresses.
Kay was in contact with one of her correspondents, who owned a restaurant in Bangkok, for two months before they became serious and later got married.
"Cross-cultural matchmaking services via electronic means receive a lot of attention and have become widespread, as seen from advertisements of such services in the media," Supawatanakorn said, adding the study found many matchmakers were also married to foreigners.
She cited the case of Khon Kaen resident Somporn who was married to a Briton and opened a company providing matchmaking services to about 100 women - each paid her a Bt20,000 membership fee - and many had already succeed in marrying foreigners.
The study found that about 80 per cent of the women chose their partners solely on their own intuition, while 11 per cent were influenced by parents, 7 per cent by friends and 1 per cent by their children from a previous marriage.
Meanwhile, 52 per cent said there was no formal marriage proposal from the would-be husband to their families, while 51 per cent had no wedding ceremony.
Supawatanakorn said 56 per cent registered their marriages and the rest did not. Seventy-four per cent had not had children with their foreign husbands, 17 per cent had one kid, 5 per cent had two children and 1 per cent had more than two kids.