A First Timer’s Tale
Before I throw myself into this, I would, due to the fact that I’m not a native speaker, like the honourable editor and gentle readers to please excuse my English. Presuming you will, I’d then like to say, that I really enjoyed reading Stickman’s site, which I more or less accidentally stumbled over in my search for information and “answers” on Thailand. The site truly contains a plethora of both and although I find it more than a little difficult to accept the more “uncritical” and “encouraging” tone it has to some of it, regarding prostitution, I wish I had read it before going to Thailand some 2 months ago. But then again, I might not´ve had quite the same experience, that I did. Yep, like all you others, I too have had an intimate experience with a girl of the night, which I've had some dilemmatic problems straightening out (the experience that is), morally and somewhat emotionally after returning to my home and “up north” country. My story is neither horrendous nor hilarious or meant to stand as yet another warning against those darn girls. It’s rather a report on how easily a man can found himself partaking in Thailand’s sex industry without any intention of doing just that and as such the story itself is a very common example of what awaits most male first timers, I think. And if anything, it can be taken as a warning against quite sad and contemptible parts of one’s own character and compromises with moral standards. I’d like to state, that I've never visited Thailand before and did not choose this as my holiday destination because of the infamous nightlife. In fact destination India was turned down just one week before departure due to a bad online weather report.
I therefore didn’t have any expectations whatsoever for this my first holiday in the land of (inscrutable) smiles, although my first vague thoughts were pretty similar to those described by Stickman in the introduction to Expat Living on his site. After staying in Bangkok for only a few days, my friend and I soon began to get a first impression of the nightlife’s presence and significance in this city. Naive and curious we went to Patpong to get a backpacker's look at a famous industry and was to say the least startled by what we saw. Once you’ve stopped laughing at the grotesqueness of this place, anyone with the slightest sense of decency will (should) find it all downright disgusting and totally degrading for all partakers; “performers” as well as “purchasers”. Actually we got so shocked and annoyed by all the obtrusive approaches, that we never went into any of the bars or to any shows, afraid of getting scammed and – though curious – not very keen about being a part of all this – let’s be frank and call it – depravation (and although some will regard this as a positive description, it isn’t). Following the beaten backpackers track for two weeks, we ended up – of all places – on Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, but planned to get out of there as soon as possible. We have nothing in particular against mass tourism and are in no way the stereotypical backpackers type, but still CB is not “aimed” at the likes of us.
The night before our planned escape we strolled by a bar with no intentions of entering that specific establishment or any similar for that matter. But out of a herd of females standing outside helloing every male passing by, two girls literally dragged us inside reassuring us, that we didn’t have to have anything but a drink. By then used to turning down avaricious sellers, chauffeurs, beggars, tailors, jewellers, touts and the likes, our skills at this had somehow, this certain moment, left the both of us. The girls sat down with us and as the polite guys we are, we offered them a drink and conversation. At this point we were not sure what kind of business the girls were in; “hello girls” are not necessarily for sale, at least not where I come from. But the girls seemed very nice and were actually quite fun to talk to. They weren’t exactly stunning, but rather cute looking with slim and firm bodies, dressed and made up remarkably discretely and decently without any of the “usual” giveaways. During our chit-chat we found out, that they “go with men”, which we already had figured out by ourselves due to their rather ehm.. seductive (but childishly innocent) behaviour. When first that was cleared out, they were surprisingly upfront about it and not the least unwilling to answer our curious and polite but-with-no-intentions questions to “the life of a prostitute”, price, size of income, amount of customers and general “conditions”. To play things straight, we told them from the very beginning, that we were not there to pick up girls and that we would be “bad business”, meaning no money. Let me stress, that I've never been with a prostitute, nor even met one (that I know of) and that to me the concept of paying for sex is really the saddest, most pathetic and degrading thing a man can do, no matter the girl’s desirability and one’s consumed amount of alcohol. (More thoughts on this, see later on). Anyway, I had never imagined that prostitutes could be this sweet and plainly open about being one; these girls somehow really managed to take all of the expected inferiority and tartyness out of the concept. It was quite like talking to any other girl in a bar….well, almost anyway. It definitely required quite a lot of self-control, but my friend and I eventually left the establishment, telling the sweet girls that chances were, we’d be back the next day, which of course they didn’t believe (“fucking farang always lies”) and, must I admit, really had no reason to.
The following day we had planned to check out the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan and my friend fostered this brilliant idea of inviting along those enchanting girls, we’d met the night before. They’d told us the price of their company would be the same, sex or not, so this would be more like “renting a date” or an escort rather than a prostitute, he agued. During our entire trip, we had found it a little bit difficult getting to talk to or know some natives (over than the stage of politeness), who could and provide us some quick inside information, show us some interesting places and general tricks, that an average tourist wouldn’t be able to figure out in just a 3 week holiday. At that moment I don’t know what the hell we were thinking; normally I would find the thought of paying for someone’s company outrageous, but it was something like: “Let’s treat these girls with respect and dignity and give them a nice time out away from their usual environment and depraved customers to see if we can get something “else” than the seller / buyer-relationship” out of them”, telling ourselves that we were merely hiring some local guides and besides we would have someone to party with rather than just ourselves. The fact that these guides were very sweet and of the opposite sex probably did a good deed in helping the idea along.
Anyway, all four of us had a great time at this legendary beach party and got much more acquainted, so it seemed only natural to take them back to our rented bungalow in the morning. There was absolutely no insisting from any of the sides; it was as if we could have thanked one another for a lovely night, paid the “guidance fee”, went our separate ways and all would have been fine and dandy. But the poor girls were exhausted from dancing all night and we were much closer to our residency than theirs, so… Still the thought of sex was not the first thing on my mind, although it would have seemed obvious, had the situation been with a decent (?) girl, that I’d met at a party back home. I’m sure some of the readers will find it hard to believe, but sex really wasn’t our goal with these girls and nothing such did happen; we all headed for the shower (separately), went to sleep and woke up late in the afternoon. When the girls were about to leave our bungalow, I thought I’d better pop the question about fee before they had to, thus avoiding any uncomfortable situations on their behalf. “We owe you some money, right?” I asked my “date”, to which she smiled and said straight out: “Yes!” On “how much?” she smiled again and replied: “How much you wanna give?” I then told her, it was up to her and she was a little hesitant and shy answering: ”One!” (Meaning thousand). Fine with me; the guidance had been top-notch. So the girls left for work and we promised them to come by the bar later on, which they this time found it somewhat easier to believe, but not at all convinced. My friend and I discussed the whole experience and agreed that it had been very pleasant and that the girls weren’t at all like what we’d ever imagined prostitutes to be like. Once again we reassured one another, that we were not the kinds, who fucked whores…
That day’s checkout time had passed hours ago, so we agreed on pushing our departure one single day and needless to say, we later that night went to the bar, but found that the girls weren’t there. Although we wouldn’t fully admit it to ourselves, this was of course a big disappointment to us, but some of the other girls made some phone calls and a few minutes later the two girls showed up surprised and very happy to see us. After a couple of drinks we went to a disco, where the girls met some friends of theirs (or “colleagues”). Instead of just hanging around the two of us, we encouraged them to go party with them also, to which they seemed a bit surprised, probably used to being more kept, afraid that some other girls would pick us up or just not sure whether we would vanish out the backdoor. Still the whole impression was quite similar to going to a disco with any other “regular” girl, which made it very pleasant and relaxed. Thus it seemed only natural that my “date” went home with me and my friend with “his”. And so there I was, alone with this, to say the least, charming cutie, all thoughts of her being a prostitute completely evaporated. After an obligatory shower and all, we ended up in bed and more or less unintended things started to get more than a little hot. But neither of us being in the possession of a condom, we mutually agreed on putting it all to a halt. Let’s just say, that I’d normally find a situation like that a bit frustrating, but this was somehow all right, not that I wasn’t keen, but (showing the first signs of becoming a sad fuck) I had the distinct feeling, that there was something “more” to our relationship than just sex vs. money, something pure, unsaid, uncomplicated and very pleasant, some sort of mutual agreement, understanding or something. The fact that she didn’t carry a condom backed up the thought, that this sweet and innocent thing couldn’t possibly be a prostitute, at least not a hardcore one.
We spent the following day in my bungalow, her sleeping until late afternoon and I reading a book on the bungalow veranda, feeling like an old married couple or something. In the evening we teamed up with my friend and his “date” and went out for dinner. Later we went to a bar, where a friend of theirs was tending and stayed there for a couple of hours despite us being the only customers. But as we saw it; this bar was poorly visited and our “dates” took us there for the two of us to spend some money. Fair enough; everyone helps each other out here (or gets a commission) and we were only happy to “help” some of the girls’ friends. Right next to the bar was some kind of pharmacy, where they sold almost nothing but condoms and this time I wanted to be prepared for any situation. My “date” made a beaming smile, when she saw me getting out of the convenient store, which surprised me, but made me feel a lot more comfortable with what I might have in mind. After a few nightcaps in their home bar I insinuated, that I was tired and wanted to go home, naively making it up to her whether or not she would like to join me. Luckily she wanted to (surprise!) and we headed towards “our” bungalow, which soon was to become a love nest. This time we made full-blown love and to say the least, it was extremely pleasant, in fact some of the best sex, I've ever had. Not in terms of fulfilment and pleasure or because she was all that experienced, but rather because she was the opposite, would say and do some funny things, which made it all surprisingly uncomplicated and harmonic. I had been quite anxious about this; the last thing I wanted was to press this innocence incarnated into something she wouldn’t fully like. But actually she ended up asking me to shut up my concerned questions to her comfort and up till this day I’m convinced, she got rather pleased herself (I know; I’m a sad fuck). It could be, that she was just pleased with the thought, that she could’ve done a lot worse, had she been with some fat old drunk and stinky fellow eager to please himself rather than to have a pleasant experience for both. Under all circumstances, after this she became practically insatiable and for the rest of our being together, she kept referring to my vital parts and her propensity for them. Perhaps just a trick to ease my concerns on her behalf and keep me hanging (paying) around for more, but if she was trying to push my buttons, she made a rather poor job. She should’ve sensed and heard me saying, that my buttons respond to something somewhat different than this slightly obscene although innocent behaviour.
All thoughts of leaving Chaweng Beach had now somehow vanished from my mind (and my friend’s too) and from that day on the girl and I stayed together day and night, only separated an hour or so every day, when she was away to tidy up, changing clothes and keeping in touch with her normal life. And yes, we had quite a lot of sanuk mak mak, but mostly we did some usual hanging around; talked about this and that, went out for walks, for eating, for swimming and so on. One day she insisted on giving me a mani- and pedicure and constantly she would pluck my eye brows, examine my skin and hair, squeeze out pimples and cleanse my ears (!), all of which I found rather peculiar. She would always sweep the floor when entering the bungalow and in spite of my protests she even insisted on doing some of my laundry. She wanted to “take care of me”, as she explained it and whether or not I’m wrong on this, the way I figured it, it had nothing to do with her “profession”; it was more likely part of the whole Thai culture package, a Thai female thing. It would somehow be offending not to let her, so I did, though I was rather uncomfortable with the whole concept. My friend and his date actually had quite an ongoing “lovers quarrel” over this care taken-business because he wouldn’t fully let her and to his big astonishment she at a point had started to cry, in public! But overall they’d also kicked along (although of personal reasons he did not want to have sex with her) and the four of us went on what seemed to be regular double dates and had lots of fun. Separated from their usual environment (the bar), they would dress like any other Thai girls; decent covering and loose fitting garments, flat sandals and no make-up at all (keep in mind that Samui isn’t Bangkok). The great thing about the whole thing was, that our “hidden agenda” of having some local guidance really worked out; we paid next to nothing for taxi rides (in fact, most of the time the girls insisted on paying, literally kicking us away), went to some very inexpensive local restaurants, got to learn a bit of the Thai language and got some very useful general information on Thai culture and the Thai mentality. We also went on a motorbike trip around the island and got to see some things we surely wouldn’t have seen by ourselves. I even visited my “date” a couple of times in her one-room apartment, which she shared with 2-3 other girls, who one day cooked a meal for me and treated me like (what I imagine) any other friend of their landlady. She showed me some pictures hanging on the wall of some of her “boyfriends”, as she referred to them; 3 or 4 nice and handsome looking Caucasian guys in their 20´s and early 30´s (like myself). She even proudly pointed out a love letter, which was half in Thai and half in English and although I never figured out the exact details, I was pretty sure, that this was from a Thai boyfriend, former or present. All in all my friend and I had a great time, though we were surprised and startled by what we had gotten ourselves into. “How the hell did we manage to squander one whole week of our precious 3 weeks holiday with two hookers? “And is that really what they are?” we kept asking one another, deep down knowing the answer to that.
But all good things come to an end and my friend and I eventually had to go to Bangkok to catch a flight home to what seemed an utterly boring and sanukless everyday life in Farangland. Our last night on the island was spent in their home bar, then a nice restaurant and later at a disco and throughout the whole night the girls seemed sad and not at all party like. Later on in bed my “date” wanted this our last time together to be special and for us to make love real slow and gentle during which she kept looking me in the eyes with a longing and utmost fervent expression. Afterwards we talked all night about our respectively lives, jobs, countries and backgrounds, former girl- and boyfriends, first time, biggest love and such. She told me how her family, who lived up northeast would be very poor and how her mother didn’t like for her daughter to be working in a bar, but that she had come to see the indisputable necessity of it due to lack of employment back home. Her father would be driving a tuk tuk, her brother (if that’s what he was) going to some kind of university (“need many money“) and I never found out what her mother would be doing. She had had just 6 years of schooling and was sending almost all she made back home to support this family, which she told me was fairly good and one she missed very much. And her old friends back home too. She told me how she had first gone to Samui on holiday (?!) some 8 or 9 month ago, gotten herself a regular job in an upper mid-market restaurant (which we had earlier visited and she really did know the staff there) and spent a month deciding whether or not she should enter the bar scene. But she saw it as the only way to meet a farang and make some money at the same time. When asked why she didn’t just hook up with a Thai man, she would give me the classic story on how she didn’t like Thai men because of their “bad hearts”, unfaithfulness and brutality. It wasn’t as though she directly preferred farangs to Thais like some kind of “concept” or something, but most farangs treated her much nicer than a Thai man would ever do, and last but not least: a farang could provide the desired financial security that most of the Thai men she was likely to meet, couldn’t. Of course there would be a lot of decent Thai men, but not on Samui and by my overall judgement on the local guys, I had to agree on that; most of them seemed to have tattoos, long hair and bad attitudes. All the bargirls were actually afraid of the local young Thai men; it was not uncommon that a girl was molested or raped, were she to be caught alone in a back alley or on the beach late at night. She also told me about her first time with a customer and how afterwards she cried for days. “But she had a strong heart and now she was just missing farangs from all over the world”, as she said, although a whole lot had disappointed her. Her future plan would be to move abroad with a good-hearted farang husband, even though she was fully aware that it might be a problem with most western immigration authorities. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that this was the most utopian and despairing plan for someone’s future I've ever heard of and in some way, I knew she knew that herself and that I knew, she knew. I will never be certain whether or not she was just BSing me, but she seemed very sincere and utterly personal and at absolutely no point at all did I get the impression that she had a hidden agenda of me being that saving and paying farang.
And that’s where, I dare to think, that maybe, just maybe, had I something going with this girl, that wasn’t the usual bargirl / farang thing. Not passionate love or anything, but some sort of mutual sympathy and understanding, a “connection” of some kind. She knew, that I was not madly in love with her and vice versa, that my interest in her would be other than just sex, that I would go back to my home country and that as sadly as it seemed, we were likely never to see each other again. She never as much as indicated stronger feelings than likings and sympathy; on the contrary she seemed very self protective on this and careful with the use of more powerful expressions; never called me teerak (“only for husband”) or anything like that (and nor did I her), although she insinuated, that had I stayed somewhat longer, “something” might’ve happened. “Love takes time” as she so truthfully said. I got the genuine impression, that she didn’t bother to serve me the usual crap, because we both would know that’s what it would be and she did not want to either. I know to some of the more experienced readers, it may sound totally crazy and unlikely, but it was as if we both knew that, even though it might’ve been possible emotionally speaking, a love between us would never work given the multileveled circumstances and instead some kind of frail “friendship” grew out of it. (Yeah yeah, I’m a sad fuck).
The next morning I wanted to pay her and this was something, that I’d been a little worried or rather curious about. This would be the moment of truth that would reveal the “nature” of the relationship we have had. I told her, that I wanted to give her some money and simply put it in the palm of her hand, curious on whether she would start counting it right away to check if the amount would be satisfactory (we’d never talked about a price). Instead she just smiled thankfully and put it away without even looking at it. With her poor background, situation and lack of perspectives in mind, I naturally couldn’t help feeling sorry for this misfortuned girl and so this was really like donating money to a dear friend in need, rather than paying a whore for some smutty services. I may be a sad fuck, but it doesn’t change the way I felt about it and still do. And yes, I overpaid her and I really don’t give a hoot about the “price level”. In my eyes, these girls deserve every little fucking satang they can get out of the farangs. I mean; I’m in no way a wealthy man, but still I make more money in my 7h a day job, than what I gave this girl for one 24h a day week and although the price for prostituting oneself in no way can be settled in money, this was the only way I could ease my guilty conscious and show my appreciation. Anyway, I checked out of the bungalow and we headed for her apartment to store my belongings until my departure. Then we went for something to eat and this time, though insisting, I wasn’t allowed to pay. She must have told her roommates to get out of her apartment, because no one was there when we got back. She gave me one of those saying smiles, I had become unable to resist: obviously she had planned for us to have some last sanuk mak mak. Being a sad fuck an' all, I like to think that she arranged this only because she wanted to. I mean; I’d already paid her and strictly speaking she’d “fulfilled her expected obligations”. Both the girls took us to the bus station in a port town some 45 minutes taxi ride away and would not accept any money for their ride home. It came to a rather sad and heartbreaking goodbye (no tears, thank God, Buddha or whoever’s in charge) and this was far more difficult than what I've ever expected it to be. I will have the image of this loveable but futureless and yet brave adolescent waving from the sidewalk forever stamped on my memory.
So where do I want to go with all this? Well, it’s hard to summon up in a few sentences and I’m really not quite sure myself. Perhaps I just want to give a report with a somewhat different perspective to it than the usual she-was-only-in-it-for-the-money-all-bargirls-are-evil”. I've been back in my home country for some 5 months now and must admit I've given the whole incident a lot of (second) thoughts. I've ploughed my way through numerous more or less obscene message boards and read practically every online thing there is on the subject, including Stephen Leather’s novel Private Dancer, which is quite recommendable. Hell; it’s turned into some sort of ethnographic research or something. It’s been enlightening, terrifying and somewhat amusing at the same time to read other men’s advice and stories on how things really are with these girls and how to deal with them. A whole lot seems so similar and familiar now, that I've had to revalue most of my experience. I realise that my friend and I did not a few no-nos and to some we may have been acting as truly sad fucks. Let it be so. As far as I’m concerned, the big issue here really isn’t about me. Nor should it be about any sad fuck farang, who has fallen head over heels in love with the first fairly looking barfineable girl that comes along offering sex in exchange for money. We, the farangs, are not the poor and innocent ones here. In fact the thing that strikes me first, is that we’re actually quite some sorry bastards in this. Let me try to explain.
Thai girls in general are most certainly different from western girls in numerous ways that can only be fully understood by those who have experienced it for themselves, like my fellow readers. I have nothing in particular against western girls (except my ex-), but my trip sure made me understand why so apparently many farangs will fall for a Thai girl, bar worker or not. Whether or not the girls´ agenda would be of more or less financial character, they appeal to some basic manly things in all of us, primitive and less admirable as some of them may be. But I think, that the vast majority of the heart stricken farangs tend to mix up sympathy and compassion with love and affection. Perhaps it’s just in our nature to become Knights In Shiny Armour when among distressed princesses, but as I see it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; it only shows a bit of humanity. And humanity is what’s at stake here and along with understanding seemingly missing. Of course it’s not funny to find, that all one’s heartfelt feelings and concerns are returned only with ditto in one’s bank account, but I really can’t find it in myself to blame the girls. It seems to me that a whole lot of the farangs miss out that these girls, in spite of all their picked up western (expensive) manners and behaviours, come from very poor backgrounds. When we think about it, we may be vaguely aware, but we don’t really GET, that these girls come from a different culture and social “level” with all its consequences. We see and meet the girls in some kind of “westernised” environment (the bars), which is so familiar to us, that we don’t even consider that this is not the girls´ natural social and cultural heritage. Most of them are farmer girls and have only watched this whole kind of western behaviour and social amusement on TV and while they may seem to like it a lot, they weren’t born and bread with this “promised” style. No wonder they can’t control it, once they get a little sniff of it. We meet them as smiling, friendly, obliging, considerate, seductive, beautiful, cute, sexy, willing etc. etc. etc. creatures with a good sense of humour, a natural and surprisingly uncomplicated joy for life and all the other things that we like and may miss in a western girl and in the West itself. What we don’t see is the rest of the girls´ heritage and background and in which the Thais apparently are masters of disguise. It’s just very likely, that the little angel sitting on your lap, has been raped by her father, uncle, brother and the entire village since her juvenile years. In the West we wouldn’t hesitate to characterize every single one of these girls as social cases and personal tragedies on downward paths. On the other hand the girls don’t see much else than the farang spending more money on a single cocktail than what their whole family need to survive on for one week. It is not a misconception on the girls´ side; compared to them, we DO have money for shit, so to speak. This is the “common” ground on which we meet them and which, when you think (just a little) about it, is rather too thin and imbalanced to “build” anything upon. I’d like to see the lad who would walk into one of those slum villages up northeast and without scruples pick out a girl to copulate with instead of calling the Red Cross or Unicef. – On second thoughts; I’d rather not. I guess what I’m trying to say here, is that no matter how much the girls appear to be on our “level” (whether higher or lower), they are not. They simply cannot be expected to fall in on the same level of life-priorities as westerners. Sure, we may have been poor in terms of having used the last dime on booze, too much sanuk, too high payments on a car loan or other luxuries and “oh no, there is one whole week until next payday”, but we have never struggled for life in a family, which for generations have done nothing but that and with no perspectives of ever doing otherwise in a country with no social security whatsoever. We are too “spoiled”, culturally, economically, educationally and socially well off to even begin to imagine, what that would be like. I have asked myself over and over again how the hell those girls can endure their lifestyle and STILL seem happy and how the parents, or the whole nation for that matter, can live with the thoughts of what their children have to put up with every day. I have wanted (along with many other fellow readers) so much to grasp this part of their mentality and especially the girls’ “motives” (over than the obvious), but the deeper I get down in it, the less I understand and the more confused and puzzled I have gotten. When confused it’s easy to jump to conclusions and nothing would be easier than to claim, that all bargirls by nature are evil, deceitful gold diggers with double standards and no conscience, hell; the entire Thai population is! But that wouldn’t really be an understanding, would it?
So what is it, that makes the better part of a million (!) girls in SE Asia seem to be the above mentioned? The point I’m struggling to make is, that they are NOT. They simply have some basic requirements in life that needs covering before the more luxurious ones as love and affection. One of them is the need for taking care of and supporting the family, which, from a westerner’s point of view, is a concept that may seem unfair and parasitic. But in Asia this concept is of much greater importance than what we are used to and able to fully comprehend. There’s a long and firm tradition for the progeny to support the progenitor and it’s really the backbone of any underdeveloped and poor society, as the Thai in many ways is. Our western culture has “passed” that level ages ago. What pisses me off, is when the hard earned donation is thrown out the window by the often crapulous and lazy male members of the families. But that’s not the girls´ fault, I’m sure they don’t find it very nice either, but what are they to do? Really, wouldn’t the girls be pure smocks, if they didn’t use every given chance they have to make the most possible money? We, the farangs are that chance. And besides, they are most likely brought up with prostitution; their sisters and the girls next door do it, their mothers probably did it, their fathers, brothers and even boyfriends demand it and the entire village back home will think of them as good girls, and so will, are they told, Buddha himself. And I think, that Buddhism somehow plays a quit big part in this. I don’t know exactly how it works, but it’s something like; every single Thai has a place or fate to fulfil and meet and within that must do what’s in their hands in order to survive. The individual as such is “dissolved” and put aside in favour of a “higher purpose”, which makes a lot of unendurable things much more endurable. I may be wrong on this, but that would be the only way, I can begin to grasp how the poor crippled guy on the street selling something dead, indefinable and barbequed can manage to put up a smile and seem content and how the rest with absolutely no apparent reasons, here among the girls, can. Especially in countries like Thailand it seems like a nice (and imperative) concept, that everyone gets a second and better chance in the next life as long as they do what’s required in this. And supporting the family is very much that. Personally I think, that, if this means, it’s OK to fuck up the present life on the account, Buddhism can go to hell. And then there is this face-gaining issue that involves money, class and status and makes things even more complicated and hopeless. Whether or not we think of this as yet another load of crap, this is just the way it works for this culture. It’s not exactly Buddhist as I see it, but so many things in Thailand are not what they seem to be from a westerner’s point of view. What we consider the “truth”, as something objective and absolute, is somewhat more subjective and bendable in whole Asia and is of course more distinct in this seedier end of the culture, we are dealing with here.
Enough of this sickening over-well-meaning-have-I-figured-it-all-out-or-what-hypocritical-political correctness, let’s take it to a more personal level. (Somebody stop this farang!) I won’t begin to even insinuate, that my little misalliance wasn’t all about finances on the girl’s side (I’m not that sad a fuck), but I don’t fully buy this whole “every single bargirl has just figured out what the foolish farangs want and by rote have learnt how to behave and lie in any kind of way in order to get the possible most money out of us”. Anyone by his senses will immediately see through that and especially if more than a short time is spend with the girl. I also find it hard to believe in the concept of “all males who visit Thailand leave their brains in the airports storage”. Well, those who seem to do, can’t have any to leave in the first place. And I’m not claiming that “this bargirl was any different from all the others” (I haven’t met them), but according to my personal experience, limited as it may be, it’s my firm belief, that if you treat these girls with respect, decency, consideration and sympathy and if you let them know in a polite, very discreet and non-offending way, that they shouldn’t bother to try to make you believe in any crap, they most likely will treat you the same way out of the same intentions. Bargirls may very well differ from the common Thai, but (due to that?) I definitely (dare to) think it’s possible to meet them as human beings and persons instead of lying, deceiving whores. In spite of cultural and social differences and as inscrutable as the Thais as such may seem and be, there are still some human basics that tie us together as fellow creatures. We all have hopes, dreams, feelings, sympathies, integrity, likes and dislikes and so do these girls of course. They just aren’t given that many opportunities in life to choose from, which in my eyes, makes them deserve to be treated even better than the ones who are. Some might say that these girls have taken the easy way out (sure the money is easy, but I’m more than sure, the rest isn’t) and that they are in the business out of their own free will and on the face of it, this seems to be the case. But can you really say that one who’s been brought up to be the major contributor to the family’s (loose) living, let alone surviving; forced to fulfil every desire of the surrounding men; one who at the most has had six years of schooling and never been taught integrity, self-esteem and any other than her only assets and expedient would be her gender and body, is acting by free will? In my opinion you can’t and anyone, who claims differently and takes advantages of it, is depraved or just plain stupid. They would be the same ones claiming that, “prostitution is the oldest profession in the world”, like it’s some sort of natural force existing transversely to, and independent of, cultural influences and that “it will be around forever”. So has and most likely will misery, poverty, distress, degradation and exploitation (and all the rest of the Worlds inhumanities for that matter), but that’s no reason to accept it, let alone justify and endorse it. The bare fact, as I see it, is that one part (the customer) is taking advantage of another part’s (the girl) misfortune and most of us have been brought up to believe that, that’s about the worst thing you can do to any human being. On a big scale this takes place every minute all around the globe and “that’s just the way the World is working, Buddy”. Maybe so, but in the case of prostitution the exploitation takes place on the streets by us, you and me, and for the bloody fun of it. And ONLY therefore and because its so ridiculously inexpensive that “one feels like a kid in a candy shop”.
Apparently there are a lot of things that makes prostitution in Thailand seem “special” and different from prostitution elsewhere (hey, I’m only assuming here) and I can be persuaded into believing, that in some cases there is more to it than what meets the eye (my own incident bears some signs, I should think). But nevertheless this business IS the same one that throughout the World provides child-prostitution, slavery, degradation, wide- and wildly spreading deadly diseases, drug addictions, social, cultural and personal disasters, crimes, murders and other horrible (in-) human “relations”. And very much and especially in Thailand too. Bear with me here, but I don’t think it’s too hazardous to claim, that the girls don’t just get “hardened” and “skilled in separating us from our money” by this business. It causes them irreparable harm, both physically and psychically and most often they go to waste in this business, before they’ve had the chance. No matter how you twist and turn it, prostitution in SE Asia is wrong on every level and if one can’t see that, one is either brought up wrong or has been ”in it” for too long, or most likely both. Prostitution is very much a market and considered as such, it functions as such; supplies and demands. My own case indicates that it somehow works somewhat the other way around too, but when it comes down to it, it’s really as simple as this: no demand – no supply; no buyers – no sellers. We, the men and our libido, are the bloody reasons to why the girls are out there hooking, ruining and jeopardizing their life and health and others’ too. If we weren’t there, the girls wouldn’t be there either. And by “we” I mean our money, the girls sure as hell aren’t there because they like it and to do us a favour. Don’t get me wrong here; this should not be taken as if I solely blame the customers for the very existence of prostitution. But I really think, that we men (considered well educated, -informed and -off westerners) have the predominant responsibility for it. Of course the parents of the girls play a part in the first place, in sense of laying firm pressure on the girls in entering the business, if not literally selling them into it. But as we know, the parents are more often than not simple peasants with simple minds and means. So, to be a little cynical, this would be like blaming the buffalo for taking a dump. To get rid of it (considered as exploitation), you will have to eradicate poverty and distress and start giving those girls and their families some opportunities and means in life. This would be pretty difficult for the tourist, the man on the street and the (depraved) expat, but we sure as hell don’t help things by “purchasing any goods” and thereby personally endorse and the market.
And that is exactly, what I did on that damned temptation island. I've spent a lot of time and efforts convincing myself otherwise and in taken a broadminded approach towards it all. But still I’m having trouble accepting the fact, that I was a prostitute’s client, as I’m sure that many others with similar first time experiences to mine have. Partly because it didn’t “feel” like it, at least not according to the western perception and other such lousy excuses. But in the end there really is no other way around it, it still is prostitution. Some would characterize my little indiscretion as rather harmless and claim that “the girl actually benefited (financially) from it” and “there should be nothing wrong in a man having a little fun”. Sure enough, but when it’s at the expense of another person’s integrity and well-being, I personally cannot justify it and in my eyes prostitution will always be that, no matter how much the girl is paid. I simply can’t stand the thought of having exploited, deliberately or not, an innocent girl’s misfortune, lack of perspectives and opportunities. No matter how much this girl seemed to voluntarily enjoy my company, not to mention me hers (and boy, is that a dilemma?) and in spite of all my efforts in being maximumly nice to her and making her feel ditto comfortable (as I’m sure (hoping) we all do), the thought of her having even the remotest dislikes about ANY of it, and the fact that I’m on a long-term level in fact was one of the contributors to her decline, still torments me and makes me feel ashamed of myself. Believe me or not, I’m no moralist, puritan or crusader in any way. On the contrary I am a sworn believer in hedonism understood as unrestrained, unforced, equal and mutual enjoyment and sensuality, and not mistakenly as depravation and decadence. But this business isn’t exactly the best place to find it and I’d rather go without than for the second best. It’s so hard to acknowledge that I’m really no better than the average-pathetic-horny-depraved-overweight-bad-dressed-bald-headed-dick-for-brain-
sad-fuck-exploiting-chauvinist-sex-tourist-pig-who’s-left-his-brain-in-the-airportstorage. Thailand is truly an amazing country, which really makes an impact on the individual and in spite of distinct physical differences; that is what Thailand made me.
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Powerful stuff. Unfortunately, as long as Thailand struggles economically, this will not end. And even if Thailand is to thrive economically, the distribution of wealth in the country is not in any way even, meaning that those at the end of the food chain, these girls and their families, will probably not gain that much from such economic prosperity anyway. Its here to stay, and yeah, that is sad. Personally, I feel you are a little hard on both yourself and others. I too fell into it like you did – and as so many others have. And even people who intended to partake, are they *really* that bad? They may not be saints, but they aren't the devil either!