Tears In My Eyes
Although I read the warnings re: just how easy it is to fall in love with a bar girl before my recent (last week) trip to Pattaya, I still managed to leave the place with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes :}
A major part of my decision to contract a girl for several days was that I felt totally intimidated by Thailand. Two nights in a Bangkok hotel and a quick 'tour' of the city by an enterprising Tuk-Tuk driver convinced me that I was going to be easy prey in Pattaya if I didn't find some local help fast.
When I picked Daeng up in a Pattaya bar, I stipulated that she must have good English (she did). Despite some early comms issues (loud music etc), we eventually agreed on 2000 baht per day for her to stay with me in my hotel room. To my surprise, the bar did not want a bar fine, even though she did seem to be getting a small cut for my drinks. It was getting close to 2 AM, so maybe that's it.
The next few days were bizarre – I expected subtle requests for money / jewellery, and possibly theft : I meticulously locked away my wallet and passport accordingly. To my surprise, she seemed to treat the money as completely secondary, leaving her purse open on the dresser and never showing any interest in the contents of my wallet. I expected that the sex would be wild : what I didn't expect is that we would talk half the night while she stared into my eyes. When we walked around Pattaya, her hand would often find its way into my oversize mitt as naturally as a 'real' couple – I knew then that I was in trouble. When she told me how a German dork had kept her as a virtual slave in Germany for 12 months, my heartstrings where at breaking point – still, this was not accompanied by any requests for money. She piloted me around Pattaya on her motorbike (often taking one hand off the handlebars to place it over mine); showed me the tiny, one room flat she shared with her friend; and showered me with what seemed like genuine affection. Like many Thai women, she was a little crazy, too, but that only drove the stake deeper into my heart.
The punch line? There isn't one. I came back to Oz (she offered to come and see me off at the airport, saying that she had family in Bangkok), having bawled my eyes out unceremoniously in front of her on the night before I left. She said to me 'if you come back to Thailand, we talk, no fuck. Its up to you.' Any composure I had at that point disappeared, and I fear for this girl. She is 27, looks about 17, and daily plays Russian roulette with HIV, organised crime, corrupt cops and potentially violent clients. She showed me what real strength is : when the world has fucked you over from day one (poor family , few prospects etc), you take whatever resources you can muster and survive. It's a lesson we would do well to heed in the developed world.
OK, so I'm on the road to recovery, and the whole Thailand thing is starting to seem like some kind of dream. If I were to do it again, I'd hook up with other Westerners during the day, and restrict my Thai princess excursions to short timers. And under no circumstances would I look into those Obsidian eyes….
I just hope the bar girls and the other Farangs are being good to Daeng: she deserves a break.
Firstly, I claimed that my Pattaya bar girl showed 'real strength' in choosing the life she did, simply in order to survive. A contrasting viewpoint would say that 'real strength' is the ability to work for minimum wage without compromising one's dignity. She told me that she had done other work in the past, but that she had been unemployed for a month when she returned from Germany with the shirt on her back and a single bag of clothes. Only the willingness of her girlfriend to accommodate her saved her from the streets. There seems to be an excess of supply of all types of labour in Pattaya at the moment, from door openers to bargirls, and I wonder how many of us would prefer 12 hours of cleaning deck chairs each day to 12 hours of carousing with party animals each night ??
I also wrote of my despair at having to return to Oz and leave such a beautiful rose in the midst of so much shit. Reading similar anecdotes from other Farangs, this is the point at which she could have sprung the old 'you send me money and I be good girl' line. No way – she was emphatic, saying stuff like "I can look after myself ! Before, I have nothing. Now, I can make my own money – I don't need anyone else' and 'You come Thailand, you have good beer, good food, good fuck – you have good holiday and then you leave' (The Thai Tourist Commission could use that on a billboard !). Man, if that isn't honesty personified, I cant think what angle she was playing. If any of the above had been delivered with a sneer, I would not have been the basket case I was when I left. Instead, it was delivered with a mixture of righteous indignation and, I believe, compassion for my lack of understanding.
Her comment regarding her preference to simply talk to me, rather than bonk, if I return to Thailand may sound a lot like the 'lets just be friends' line of Farangland. I tend to believe that the only real friendships bar girls can have is with other bar girls, but I would gladly take her up on the 'talk only' offer, even if it meant paying to have her to myself. Right now, you are probably thinking 'Come in, spinner !', and I guess you'd be right :}
I am a little peeved when I read about guys who manage to get a bar girl to sleep with them for little or no money : I valued her company and paid her accordingly. I'd like to point out that I thought most of the girls working the bars were pretty ordinary in my eyes – OK bods but little in the way of presentation. This girl is absolutely gorgeous and would not look out-of-place in an expensive nightclub here in Oz. I doubt that she would consider much below 2000 baht for a long-time assignment.
Short-time is, doubtless, a different kettle of fish, but does anyone really believe that they'd be happier with a girl who was doing 6-8 guys a day for 400 baht each versus 1 guy for 2000? I think I'd prefer some vaseline and the knothole in a tree to the 8 guy mattress back…
Could we have had a 'future' together? I sincerely doubt it : she was simply doing her job, and I was a lonely guy who misinterpreted things like hand holding and deep and meaningful talk into the wee hours as meaning that we 'connected'. Assuming that she did emigrate to Australia, the sight of a 43 year old man with a twenty something beauty evokes all the 'mail order bride' stigma that Vietnamese and Filipina women have had to endure for the last twenty or so years. Even cleaning jobs are hard to find for someone with, by Australian standards, zero education. Combine that with the transition from the constant nightlife of a bar girl to the tedium of everyday life as a housewife and I think we can all see what a challenge it would be. She really is a stunner, though, and would attract the attentions of more than one BMW driving, slick talking yuppie if she did frequent the bars of this fair city. Back to square one : at least the terms are clearcut in Pattaya.
On a more sobering note, I'd urge my fellow westerners to read Louise Brown's 'Sex Slaves'. It turns the notion that we are responsible for the wholesale trafficking of young girls (and boys) from remote parts of Asia into the hot spots of Thailand, India and Japan on its head, relating tales of absolute horror inflicted on these girls by their fellow Asians (including family members). You've pointed out before that the vast majority of the girls Westerners are 'allowed' to see are freelancers : voluntary sex workers who make enough money to choose when and where they will work. It's also documented that we account for a very small (<3%) fraction of the demand for prostitutes in Asia. Reading Louise's book is not pleasant, and I was initially ashamed of my own participation in the industry (it wouldn't exist without demand), but it is Asian attitudes toward women in general, and women from ethnic minorities in particular, that ensures the perpetuation of this abhorrent trade in human beings. I sincerely hope that the current slowdown in Pattaya and Bangkok does not allow the industry to start forcing the freelancers to adopt the indentured slave model : unlimited hours / clients in pitiful surrounds for little money. The 'open' Thai sex industry survives by perpetuating the image of happy, smiling women who just want to meet a nice guy for the night – lets hope it stays that way.
Finally, given all that I've raved on about, would I return to Thailand? At this point, I'd have to say 'No'. My Pattaya girl made me realise that I need to realign my priorities if I'm to avoid being one of the 60 year old guys shambling around the dance floor at the Bamboo Club. Failing that, Cebu City in the Philippines is closer to BrizVegas, and many of the girls have great English skills. To those of you who are addicted to Thailand, I completely understand : just don't look into those eyes :}
"I had read all the warnings, but still I fell for a bargirl…" It's an old cliche, but if I had $10 for everyone that emailed me saying that….well, let's just say that I wouldn't have to work too hard. Keeping it all in perspective is what its about and sometimes it takes removing ourselves from the craziness before we get that perspective…