Daddy's Hobby by Owen Jones

The Story of Lek, A Bar Girl in Pattaya

Behind The Smile: The Story of Lek, a Bar Girl in Pattaya

Daddy's hobby

The Behind The Smile Series is the story of Lek, a bar girl in Pattaya, Thailand. Lek was born the eldest child of four in a typical rice farming family in the northern rice belt of Thailand. A catastrophe occurred out of the blue one day – her father died young with huge debts that the family knew nothing about. Lek was just twenty years of age, and the only one who could prevent the foreclosure of the family farm, and allow her younger sister and two brothers to continue their education. However, the only way she knew how was to go to work in her cousin’s bar in Pattaya.

Can a Pattaya bar girl ever go back to being a regular girlfriend or wife?

'Behind The Smile' is a look into one part of Thailand, a country known around the world as 'The Land of Smiles'.

Lek went to the bar ‘Daddy’s Hobby’, in Pattaya, as a waitress-cum-cashier, until she realised that she was pregnant by her estranged husband, and everything changed. After having the baby, a girl, whom she left with her mother on the farm, she needed real money to provide a better life for her child and drifted into the tourist sex industry.

The adventures, dreams and sometimes nightmares, this is Lek's point of view of what it's really like to be a Thai bar girl... the exhilarating hopes that cover up the frustrations, let-downs, lies and deceit of daily life, give way to the dream of a normal life when she meets a new man, yet again.

When this new man returns for a real life relationship, Lek finds it's not so easy going through the good and bad of couplehood.

Will they stay together, and for how long? Will she ever be able to trust a man enough again either? Or will she go back to the bar girl life?


Genre: FICTION / Coming of Age

Language: English

Keywords: Pattaya, Thailand, bar girl, sex tourism, sex industry, southeast asia, contemporary women, biographical fiction

Word Count: 112,000

Sales info:

Daddy's Hobby is extremely popular among the English-speaking visitors to and residents of Pattaya and Thailand. I am asked for translations every week by people speaking all European languages.

There are now seven volumes, so plenty of scope for the right translators.

Sample text:

Chapter One: A Close Call

“Oh, bloody hell, girl! What have you gotten yourself into this time?” thought Lek as she was waking up yet again.

She had not slept much at all that night so far. Her ‘boyfriend’, Ali, was still asleep and the fumes coming from his open mouth told her that he must have been very drunk the night before. She had not noticed at the time, as she had been quite out of it herself. Her backside was still throbbing though where Ali had tried to take her and had beaten her in his frustration at not being able to manage it. She could have one of the boys do him over for that, she thought with some degree of satisfaction, or even report him to the police. She decided she would, if she were bruised. Yet he had seemed such a nice man earlier that night. It just went to show that you never can tell.

She wanted to get up and leave, but she had not been paid the 1,000 Baht they had agreed on; yet she was frightened of him waking up in case he wanted to try doing it again. It was not in Lek’s nature to take the money from his pocket and sneak out, even though it was rightfully hers already. There was nothing for it, but to lie there awake, watchful, letting him sleep and hoping that the sleep would put him in a better frame of mind when he did wake up. Lek gave him one more furtive glance and prepared herself for a long wait. It was 5:35 a.m. and she could not reasonably expect him to surface much before 9:00 a.m.

The night before, Lek had been working in ‘Daddy’s Hobby’, a bar off Beach Road when a thirty-odd year old Arab, Ali, had sat down. Things had been very quiet for her up until then, although most of the other girls were ‘out’. 

Book translation status:

The book is available for translation into any language except those listed below:

Already translated.
Already translated.
Already translated. Translated by Fleur Koetsier
Author review:
Fleur made an excellent translation. I am very happy with it.
Already translated.
Unavailable for translation. Translated by Tamara Aymerich Correa
Author review:
Tamara was doing a great job, but we had to cancel because of problems with the MS and Covid-19. I hope we will work together again on a different project one day.

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