By Rosalind Russell
BANGKOK (Reuters Life!) - He may be old, flabby, and far from handsome, but a Western husband can bring a lifetime of happiness, according to a new book advising Thai women on how to meet and marry foreign men.
"Foreign Boyfriend, Foreign Husband", with chapters written by Thai women already married to "farang", or foreigners, sells a Cinderella-style dream to young Thai women hoping for a passport to a better life.
The book is packed with tips on dating, kissing, sexual positions, weddings, living abroad and bringing up children.
An early chapter gives basic advice on how to meet your foreign man: hang out in a bar, hotel or department store, be alone, wear a sexy dress, make eye contact, and, if you get the chance, tell a funny story.
Once you've found your boyfriend, follow these rules to make him fall in love and marry you: always look good, have sex with him whenever he asks, don't be jealous of other women, don't be too demanding and do all the housework.
A certain stigma has always been attached to poor Thai women marrying foreigners. At worst it is seen as an extension of a red-light transaction, an exchange of youth and beauty for money and security.
But the book portrays a more romantic vision. Western men, it enthuses, are kind and respectful and less likely to have the bad habits sometimes associated with Thai men which include drinking, adultery and violence.
"Thai men may have sweet words," it says, "but they want to sleep with your sister too."
While your foreign man may be years -- even decades -- older than you, see that as a good thing. "An old man is very kind. An old man has more money. An old man is faithful," the guide says.
And foreigners are much more likely to accept a divorcee or widow, it claims, women not considered ideal wives in traditional Thai society.
Written in simple Thai, and available at bookstore chains across Thailand, the slim tome is aimed at impressionable, uneducated women and would be seen as a joke by many Thai women, said Aomjai Sarkhampee, a 27-year-old teacher in Bangkok.
"We don't believe that marrying a farang can make our dreams come true," she said. "We want more in life."
But in rural Thailand, finding a foreign husband is a common aspiration for young women. In the poor northeast, an influx of more than 15,000 foreign men has brought an economic windfall and a welcome alternative to back-breaking work in the paddy fields.
"Foreign men are not handsome, but they have more money," sums up the book.