Stickman's guide to Bangkok
Bitter Old Men In Pattaya
Why do they keep coming back?
I have been to Thailand now 5 times (a novice, I know) and on each occasion I have met up with “grumpy old men” who seem to do nothing but criticise the weather, the prices, the police, the bar girls and anything else they can think of. The street vendors bother them relentlessly, the “ladyboys” are weird and should not be tolerated, the food gives them the shits and everyone is looking to rip them off at every turn.
Amongst those who post on Stickman’s website, there are a number. If Thailand is so bad fellas, piss off back home to Britain or the USA or whatever stone you crawled out from in the first place.
I love Thailand! I love Koh Samui and I love Pattaya. I have little experience of Bangkok but that experience was good. From the moment I walk into my hotel in Pattaya after 24 hours travelling, hot sweaty and in need of a Singha, I am greeted by welcome smiles and service that is second to none and certainly streets ahead of that in supposedly sophisticated countries in the West - I love every minute! Hell, I even book the same room number sometimes – it feels like home.
I even think it hilarious when my motorbike taxi pulls up next to the exhaust duct of a coach in the traffic. I love the irony of the pharmacy which sells cigarettes, the HIV clinics which sell Viagra – its fantastic! Hell, I have even got to love the smell of the open sewers! (OK, so I am gilding the lily somewhat here, maybe my subconscious associates this smell with hedonism – and no, I don’t like using the tradesman’s entrance!)
I guess you could say I am hooked; you may be right but I love it.
I hate to see tourists being rude to street vendors. Ok, so they do approach you often when you are having a beer at a beer bar, but there are polite ways of saying no thank you! I know they are illegal but that is their problem and that of the police - or are they a source of “shakedown” money for the local constabulary who probably would rather have them than not!
I hate to see westerners treating their bargirls like shit. They are human beings who are providing a service – more often than not a bloody good one. I think that most farangs apparent disdain stems from the fact that they don’t (or can’t be bothered to try to) understand Thai culture and the ranking of priorities therein. Sure a bargirl will try to make as much money from you as she can – it is the same as the guy in the shoe shop who tries to sell you a can of shoe cleaner with your new boots – merely good cross-selling. Yes I accept that there will inevitably be an element that will steal but that is the same in any walk of life and not exclusive to prostitution.
I do have an element of sympathy with guys who have been victims of bar girl lies but when she tells you that you are “the only one” and the usual story unfolds as told many times on Stick’s site, – get real, nod, smile and say “sure” but be realistic and ask yourself why this young beautiful and ever willing girl should “love” you, a fat balding mid fortyish guy who has a face like a slapped arse. If you don’t get it, I fear you are beyond redemption and perhaps love is blind after all.
I have seen a few bargirls and have one particular favourite. She is good fun, we get along and to me she is like a pal who I can have sex with. Of course I pay, and happily so. She does get pissed off if I want to butterfly a bit, partly due to loss of face amongst her peers and partly due to her income being curtailed if I “let her go” for a few days but I am afraid she will have to accept that, and does. She may not like the fact that I will not be monogamous with her when in Pattaya, but she will have to accept it. I don’t like to think of her with other farangs but she probably is the beneficiary of several monthly bank transfers and part of me hopes she is – she deserves every baht, or her mother does – whatever!
What I guess I am trying to say is this: A farang in Thailand is immersed in a culture so far removed from his own as to be completely alien, a language the structure of which is unrecognisable and for most of us, extremely hard to speak and as for writing it….well, forget it. This ignorance leads to fear, not fear as in crapping oneself, but as in fear of the unknown and we don’t like the unknown, it makes us nervous and to counter this we become aggressive and aggression leads to hatred, ok so hatred is a little strong, perhaps it leads us to be disdainful, yes disdainful, that’s it. It’s the principle upon which racism is based, why AIDS sufferers are shunned etc.
My advice therefore, and you can go and tell me to shove it my arse if you like, “up to you”, is this. Do some research, maybe read Stephen Leather’s “Private Dancer” (I think there is a link to the free down loan on Stick’s site somewhere), there is loads to read on the internet and remember, Thailand is not our country and they do things differently there and that doesn’t make it wrong. They speak a different language and when the bar girl struggles with a few words of English, just remember that you probably had a far better education (academically anyway) than she and consider that she probably knows far more English than you Thai, and be a little ashamed – go buy a phrase book and for f**ks sake make an effort. All over the world, hookers hook, that’s what they do – fact. Just in Thailand, they hook nicely.
And if you can’t deal with this, you sophisticated farang, piss off back home!
At the end of the day, we do have the option to leave if it gets really bad. We'll never change them, and I guess we shouldn't even try. Offer ideas, and leave it at that.
The link for Stephen Leather's great book, which truly is COMPULSORY READING, is:
To contact the author of this article can be contacted at: SPAL@aol.com
Return to Readers Submissions index
All feedback is welcome - please forward email to firstname.lastname@example.org.