Stickman Readers' Submissions April 11th, 2003

We Were Worlds Apart

When I was in Malaysia working for a few years, it was one of those times when you really have a desire to venture to close border countries. Being of the younger less than 30-year old age groups, travelling was a priority every chance we got. On one particular occasion my colleague invited me to go with him and his friends to the largest southern town – Hat Yai. As I was new with the place and quite interested with the prospect of visiting another city and country for the first time, the usual ritual of researching and collecting as much info on that particular place ensued. We planned to spend a week there and if time permitted, would venture further west.

We took a flight to the Kedah State in Malaysia and took a taxi into Hat Yai, which only took an hour from the airport. Getting there on a weekday (a Thursday) did prove to be a much quieter affair where the hustle and bustle that the info stated were pretty much an overstatement. Maybe the following 2 days would prove to be a more eventful affair.

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Checking into a hotel was easy as the taxi drivers always left you with very few options to choose from since they always got commissions from certain hotels to bring customers into their establishments. Anyway, we checked into a nice hotel called Central Sukothai for 2500 baht a night. The price might have been a little on the high side but since getting a good place to settle down for a couple of days was paramount, we didn’t hesitate to get the best that money could buy. The place was pleasantly decorated with very good facilities which were superfluous to us anyway since we were never going to be really using it as any typical tourist would be busy going out every possible day.

The moment the bell boy led us to the room and we placed our bags into the rooms, we were out of there as soon as we got in. Roaming the streets at 9 AM in the morning at Hat Yai was great. We visited the morning market, dim sum restaurants, the smaller shops that sold the usual knock off items and the coffee shops. We must have stuffed ourselves with so much local food that morning that I had forgotten to eat till about 12 midnight. What I found disturbing about Hat Yai was that the electrical lines seemed to be everywhere lining up haphazardly overhead with junction boxes poorly maintained. It made the streets terribly messy and untidy.

The first and second day was passed quite quickly and we covered the whole of Hat Yai and Songkla (well known for its night market held from Thursdays till Sundays). The third day, we started to really contemplate hard on how we were going to spend the rest of the few remaining days in Hat Yai. We had a hired taxi to take us wherever we wanted to go for the duration we were there. He was more like our beck and call and was a friendly chap. Maybe it was how much we paid him (3000 baht) for just ferrying us in a small town. Heck, even I would have been anyone’s beck and call for that kind of money. Anyway, 4 bachelors in Hat Yai would have been a strange sight since the weekends was the time when many working girls would find prospective clients. It was a norm there with old men holding hands with young Thai women and they were definitely not daddy daughter relations. Our taxi guy suggested we got one ourselves but being absolutely against the idea of hiring someone to sleep with us through’ the night, we relented except for one of us that seemed to really enjoy the idea and was taken in by the suggestion. He persuaded us to follow him, which we finally did. Heck, we’re in Thailand, we’re single and each had a room to himself. Why not?

We decided only the best would do for us since it was our first time. The taxi guy was more than happy to suggest the most expensive place in Hat Yai to find some working girls. It was strange, though, as it wasn’t the pick up joints or bars but a hotel. The place was called SC Heritage Hotel where they managed to occupy 2 stories of it for their girls. Only a mamasan seemed to control the operations over there and what an operation it was. The place was like a high class brothel pick up center. They opened at 3 PM and about 30 – 40 girls stood into a tight hotel room while we sat at one end. The price was steep at around 5000 baht a night but I have to admit that the girls were a lot more attractive than your average Thai girl. They didn’t have that working girl look with heavily made up faces, which was what made me taken in by the idea as well with the rest of us that first relented. Were they beautiful? Yes, in a peasant way they were. The only thing that held me back was the money that it was gonna cost me for such company. Anyway, I did pay for a particular girl, whom I didn’t get a real good look at since we had such a spoilt choice of fine ladies. Once the money was handed over we headed back to our hotel to wait for their arrival at 5 PM (according to the mamasan the girls only arrived at 6 PM to the rooms but since it was our first time at this, she allowed a few exceptions…oh, yeah right). Anyway, we laid the rules of hiring some of these working girls after the night. First rule, never accept their contact numbers. Second, never give your own number back to compliment the number given and third and most important, no photographs. Somehow, those rules must have been forgotten the moment the girls came.

The girl who I chose was called Muk or something. Somehow the real Thai names are really hard to pronounce. Anyway, she was a pretty, petite lass with big, dark brown eyes that were kinda cute. She had a cuddly looking personality and had rather fair complexion but didn’t really have that Thai look but a Chinese look. Spent almost 3 hours just talking about herself, where she came from and other de-icing questions. It was nice to say the least. She taught me Thai while I tried to improve her English. This went on for some time till we got bored and waited for the rest to go out for dinner. Somehow, during that introduction stage I couldn’t help but notice the expensive watch she had on her wrist, the diamond studded platinum gold ring she had on her finger and the expensive handphone. Maybe, she wasn’t forced from option to enter this trade but by choice.

We had dinner at a very nice restaurant with an array of food to appease our appetites. All along I couldn’t help but notice how nicely featured Muk was. How her dimples appeared when she smiled and how mesmerized I was with her eyes that seemed to hide a certain innocence. I could have looked into them the whole day and not batted an eyelid. She was a beautiful lass. And, somehow the Thai culture must be closely linked with the Japanese lady where the ladies are so docile in the presence of men. Oh yes, it definitely made our ego inflate for that time. How they ushered and served us was unimaginably money well worth. We then proceeded to go to a bar nearby where live bands performed. During that time, Muk tried to impress her other friends with her newfound vocabulary, which I had taught her earlier. She sat close to me and kept putting her hands on my hand which was quite unusual as I’ve heard that most of this girls would be all over you and would even ‘do it’ there and then if requested. Muk and me were like newfound partners and were just spending an evening together. It was nice. No overclinging girl around you, no sexual gestures, nothing. Just a nice feeling like I had just called her out on a date. At that moment I thought to myself that I could really fall for her over and over again.

We went back to the hotel room like 2 teenage couples hurrying back to the house before our parents came back and rushed right into bed. I couldn’t keep my hands of her and my lips searched her neck and face like she was the sweetest candy I had ever tasted. We made love over and over again till we collapsed into each other arms from exhaustion. That night, I did not get any sleep. All through the night I just looked at her and thought to myself what if we really had something going here but brushed it aside for realistically we couldn’t. The feeling of just embracing her and selfishly taking her away from a life that she led with such nonchalance and not seeing the negative aspects of its trade repeated itself in my head. And why was this happening to me. The thought of actually harboring such feelings for a working girl was ridiculous. But the thought that it was real frightened me.

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Morning came and she opened her big, dark brown eyes and gave me a morning kiss. Beauty came in many forms of one person’s life but at that moment, without any form of cosmetic aid, she looked captivating. Her hair covering part of her face to reveal a cheeky smile to say good morning. I slowly held her up to see her under the light that cascaded through the curtains that kept the morning sun from greeting us too harshly from our beds. As she looked at me curiously, I tried to utter a simple Thai word that I had learned just last night. ‘Khun sa bai’, I muttered out and she giggled. Thais don’t usually say that in the morning as a sign of a formal greeting but she was impressed, nonetheless. After a peck on the cheek she jumped out of bed and into the bathroom. She came out draped in a bath towel and jumped over into my arms. We progressed to embracing and the inevitable sexual progression ensued. As we held each other, the more attached I felt for her.

She stayed till her ‘colleagues’ who were with my mates beckoned her to go. Before she left, she left me her contact number and asked for mine, which I readily gave. The 3 rules of conduct were broken. She said goodbye accompanied with a hug and a kiss and closed the door to the room. The moment the door shut closed, my heart sank knowing that it ended. My friends came over to my room and shared notes of the activities that took place in their rooms but I kept quiet throughout the process of experience swapping. My mind was just filled with Muk’s image.

We stayed and roamed Hat Yai’s streets till the evening for we took the last flight out and we didn’t see any point choosing to move any earlier. Somehow, Hat Yai seemed to be so much smaller then I had thought from the earlier arrival. Everything and everywhere was the same as before but we went on roaming the streets to kill time off. We walked right into the evening and stopped by the local eatery near our hotel for some food before heading off the border. While sipping my coffee, one of my friends let out a small laugh. We looked at him and asked what he found so funny which he pointed out to a few girls standing with a couple of guys outside a money changer. Nothing unusual I thought till a girl standing behind some tall bloke much, much older than her took my attention. It was Muk. The same Muk that had shared by bedside and had been in my mind the whole day. Frustration and bitterness took over me. How could she? Why would she? And then it dawned on me that it was her trade. Her livelihood to have to share this sort of circumstances with another man. To be that part time wife or girlfriend that men look for in Thailand. But how can she be so accommodating with me? So intimate with me? Was that part of her skills? Skills that are a pre-requisite before entering an industry of body bargaining? She didn’t see us and maybe it was better that she didn’t for I knew that if she did, I would have rushed up to her and taken her away without any hesitation. Or paid her to spend another night or maybe, forever with me. The unrealistic ideas seemed to pop into my head as if some jealous boyfriend had just found out his girlfriend had befriended someone else. As I saw her moving her away from my sight, my friend said, ’nice gal, pity about the life’. How true it was. How true, indeed.

She called me a couple of times and I was happy to hear her voice but never gave that notion of going to see her again in those conversations we had. And then it just ended. She never called back and I didn’t try to call her knowing that it might have been for the better. We were worlds apart in life and in understanding. I will never be able to understand what form of monetary rewards could replace a feeling and I could never comprehend a life she had in that brief moment we had together. As much I would love being with her again, practicality seemed to overcome those notions.

Stickman says:

It sounds like you enjoyed the situation for what it is, and with a little time were able keep it all in perspective.

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