In the new book by Owen Jones, "Behind The Smile ~ the story of Lek, a bar girl in Pattaya", Mr. Jones says that after trying to work at a straight job to pay off her family debts, Lek "drifted into the tourist sex industry", basically because the money was better than working as a waitress.
In the book, Lek was confronted with this predicament because her father had died unexpectedly leaving a massive debt to the bank, which threatened to cost the family the farm that would be her siblings' and her own inheritance.
This sad state of affairs would have reduced their social status from landowner farmers to agricultural labourers. The family knew that it would cost them generations to recoup their status, if they ever could.
Lek's sister and brothers were younger and so could not be expected to help except after school and on the weekends, which they were doing anyway.
Lek had left school a few years previously because neither she nor her family had had the foresight or the ambition to encourage her to go on to further education, which she had been capable of doing.
With no qualifications and a philandering husband, Lek and the family took the only option that they saw open to them: they sent Lek 500 km south to Pattaya to work in her cousin's bar as a barmaid.
From there, she drifted into the sex tourism industry, mostly because a barmaid's money was insufficient for her requirements. However, if the truth be told, Lek was also very lonely, because for 20 years, she had slept in one room with all her family - old rural Thai style - and she missed the noise, the bustle and the companionship.
When Lek gave herself time to think about it, she knew that if she had just stayed in school and got a better education she would not be doing what she was doing. She also knew that it was too late for her to go back to school. After all she was already working from four until one and all night too, if she were lucky.
Although she did not like her job, she put up with it for 10 years and smiled every day until one day the bank loan was paid off. When that period was over, she was not sure what to do.
New problems unfolded.
How could she go back to the village and pretend that the last 10 years hadn't happened? Moreover, she knew so much more about the world than the villagers. Also, she had only seen her daughter 20 odd times in her 10 years of existence, so could she be a real mum? Could she be a dutiful daughter or even a farmer's wife?
These quandaries span around and around in her head and she could not find an answer, which was not surprising because there were no answers. No-one knew.
That was to be Lek's next adventure, but would it have a happy outcome or not?
By Owen Jones