Sing A Song Girls, Disco Girls And Good Girls
Let’s start by setting the scene. Imagine a fair sized city (200,000+ population), Southern Thailand. Very, very few farangs (yep, they can pronounce their “r’s” down here), probably 30, maybe 50. Me and only one or two others who venture out at night time to sample the local “delights”.
Now, when I say “delights,” these are the choices. Within a two km radius of my apartment, there are about ten massage parlours, ten sing-a-song venues, twenty karaoke bars (massage parlours with microphones), five bars (without BG’s) five live music joints, three disco’s and one brothel.
This is where a baht buys a baht’s worth – a large bottle of Leo at a restaurant for B40-45, a small Heineken at the disco is B80. Internet cafés are B20-40/hr. At Lotus, they stare into your shopping trolley to see what foods they ought to buy to make their skin white, just like yours. The entertainment here is Thai entertainment, by the Thais, for the Thais. No farang adaptations or compromises, cos there ain’t no farangs.
I often venture out alone to one or more of these places. Not to the karaoke bars, don’t like them, or the massage parlours. If I was going to hit the real or disguised brothels, I would have done it at home. If I’m having a drought, I pack my lunch and overnight bag and head for Koh Samui or Phuket. Here, I go to the discos and the sing-a-songs.
This is a summary of the more colourful experiences I’ve had here over the last 15 months and of some of the characters who have contributed to them.
Sing-a-song – square peg, round hole.
I’ve got a lot of time for sings-a-song girls. They get up there, smile sometimes and when they have to, they try to sing. Demanding work. The theory has been put to me that they’re the ones who are too dumb or too lazy to work meaningfully.
Within a few weeks of arriving here, I checked some of the local scene out and at one of the sing-a-song venues, negotiated a contract with Wan, my first local. How easy was this, just like the bar scene I’d become familiar with during previous visits to the LOS.
Wan was mid 30’s, attractive but by no means a stunner. But the following night was a forerunner of what was to come. Phone call at about 11:00. "No, you can't come around, I'm going to Koh Samui in the morning. I'm tired etc." Then, some time later I was woken by knocking at the door, and knocking, "John, John….." Knocking. Door knob rattle. "John, John….". For about 10 minutes, then she got reception to ring for me. Still didn’t answer…..then…….peace and sleep. Over the next five months, she would call around about once a week and for the first month or so I would try to get through to her that she was a Friday / Saturday night girl, not a Monday, not a Thursday. I had to work and I couldn’t afford to be 50% awake during the day. After the first month, I would just not answer the door if it was a week night (with more than a few weak relapses if I was particularly “hungry”). Finally she got sick of it and decided she could do without my stipend, I was sick of it and thought that if I’m gonna pay for it, I should at least pay for a younger English speaking girl. I was naïve then.
You see, the problem is this. These girls get to work at about 7:00 pm, work until 2:00 am, eat and then sleep until about 1:00 pm. I get up for work at 5:30 – 6:00 am and get home around 5:00 pm. See what I mean – just like a BG really.
But these girls get you in. Let me explain their modus operandi down here. After you are settled in at the venue with your large Amstel, one or two of them will just float out of the air, give a wai and sit down beside you. If you’re with a mate, then the girls have predetermined who sits with who. As you would know, you can carry on some unreal conversations with nit noy Thai when the drink has relaxed your mind. So you start to enjoy yourself with this (usually) great bod snuggling up to you. Her hand innocently rests on your thigh in the normal Thai girl to girl way. But being a farang, you forget this, you think she’s being very friendly because she likes you (and sometimes they do, but let’s not spoil a good story.) Then comes the request for a drink. OK, what the heck, I’m here to enjoy myself, not cause waves. Then she has to sing -“you buy meelai (garland) for me?” The first time I did that cost me B200, but I soon learned that B100 was available. The girl gets half.
She comes back, it’s midnight, you’re feeling good, she’s snuggling up more, you feel a twitch in your jeans. Sometimes, she’ll playfully touch your “twitch area,” and shyly giggle. Maybe you buy her another drink, she may even sit on your lap. At about 1:30 everything’s rosy, but she has to get up to sing for the finale and you buy another garland for your new girlfriend for the moment. She sings, she wais you when the garland is put over her head, you feel special. The finale finishes, you wait for her to return……and wait……and wait……and wait.
No, she never does. She’s snuck out the back way and met her boyfriend! She’s “cheated” you. The drunken brain thinks she’s a bitch, but the sober one later just thinks TIT and moves on….to the disco instead, knowing that any money spent is on you alone. Someone you have control over.
But after a while you think about those cuddles and think “OK I’ll go again but this time I’ll just accept it for what it is – a good time”. So once again you are recognised and treated warmly at the door and sat down. But number one chicky and her friends are entertaining a large group of Thais and your heart drops a fraction…..until another very attractive singer props beside you. You buy a meelai, – you are smart this time and only buy one at the end of the night. You’re enjoying it for what it is, Thai entertainment where you just happen to be the only farang. And this time you’re pleasantly surprised when she asks you to join her for a meal at the end of the night. Great, no more disappearing act at the end. She suggests the restaurant and you jump on the back of her bike. Soon after you both get there a few of her sing-a-song friends arrive, then a few more. You drink and be merry, not noticing that the friends slowly melt into the night. Your girl says she has to go, you checkbin and fucking hell, a bill for B1500. Trapped. Yep, you gotta pay it. You’re the person of status. It’s the Thai way.
At this stage, let me digress for a moment. I have been lumbered with Thai “hangers-on” on a small number of occasions, but on the other hand I’ve also been the recipient of some overwhelming Thai generosity. Now I just “go with the flow” while still being respectfully cautious about how I conduct myself and look after my money. So, on to the disco girls and good girls.
Disco girls and good girls – “I’m gonna getchya, getchya, getchya…..” Blondie.
I swear the first time I heard that song was over here. Love it, love it. And same-same (oops, the same with) the Ketchup Song. Well, once again lets set the scene. I’m 54 years old and I come from the big brown soiled land down south. And I love Thai discos. But not the discos in my home city. I went to one when I went home six months ago and what a bunch of losers they were. Urrrgh. But here, yep, I can put up with the noise, I can put up with the constant “hellooooo’s” from the drunken Thai boys. And I’m not homophobic, so the katoeys don’t bother me at all. Why do I love them so much. It’s the girls. Good girls, young good girls.
Because of the lack of farangs here (especially farangs who’ll put up with the techno crap that’s around these days), I usually go alone to these venues. And I’m the only farang in the place. And I make sure I enjoy myself. The first time I went, I even took a tumble.
Now, in Farangland, what would happen if, as a 54 year old, you went to one of these places, sat yourself down and drooled over the eye candy? She / they would go to the bouncer, say there’s a dirty old pervert being a nuisance, the bouncer would come over and kick you out. Am I right?
What happens in Thailand? She gives you the broadest smile, makes sure you can see her dancing, giggles to her girlfriends and clinks glasses / Heinekens with you and you feel great. Or else, you’re sitting there and happen to notice someone over the other side of the room, you look later and she’s looking in your direction, from miles away. You think she’s looking over your shoulder, but just in case she isn’t, you smile. The smile’s returned. “Fucking hell, what is it about Thailand?” you say to yourself.
Once again, these are local girls, not Isaan girls, Chiang Mai girls, but southern dark skinned girls who work locally – in normal jobs. Girls who don’t smoke or drink (except in discos), girls who don’t show affection to their male boyfriends (except in discos) and maybe even Muslim girls who don’t show their hair (except in discos).
And you can have the time of your life here. The trick is to get a table or spot where you can watch the girls and have as few barriers between you and them for communication purposes and at the same time be far enough away from the drunken boys who’ll invariably throw their two words of English at you (“hey, you”), want to clink your bottle and shake your hand. It’s a necessity for good Thai / farang relations, but you can keep it to a minimum. But (as a 54 year old) don’t expect to pull any of the good girls. As I have realised over time, Thai “good” girls are anyone’s to look at, but touch? Uh, Uh. If you do, she’s a local massage girl, the local bike or a BG who’s come home for the weekend. They’re easily picked, usually it’s the English – it’s bar English, not tertiary education English. But what the heck, it’s still a bonus if it comes your way – saves you the B160 fare to Koh Samui. I did once, she was a hairdresser on Koh Samui – so she said.
But usually, you have to be content with the looks, the banter, the fun and go home alone. If you do exchange telephone numbers with one of them, all well and good, but with my very limited Thai the conversation usually goes like this:
Sai bia dee mai?
Sai bai dee ka.
Followed by a lot of “mai kow jai’s”. Sad isn’t it. But the other night I had an unusually good night, and for this I call on the diary:
Saturday, 26 July 2003
2:33:22 AM. A night at the disco.
So I decide after 3 bottles to head east to one of the discos. Hit there about 11:30 and sit myself down at a table (elevated small round thing with stools around it) which I think is pretty well placed – to check out the chicks around it. There are two at my table – by farang standards, not quite stunners, but pretty close to it.
Then the chick from last weekend – 48 year old comes over and says she's here with her "sister" who really isn't her sister, but close friend. Now the sister and I were checking each other out last week, but she was with hubby. So I say neung nartee – "one minute," wait 20 minutes, finish my grog, go to the toilet and come back to their table. 48 year old and I have a few dances – there's no dance floor in these places, so around the table it is.
Then I get wind from her that it's the "sister" – married who wants to get to know me better. I ask "sister" about her hubby and I get the idea that he "works too hard." While this is going on, I'm checking out a chick who looks 13, but she tells me she's 27. So the "sister" and I have few dances (at the table), but after a while I get a bit sick of her deaf and dumb male friend who is hanging around in the foreground – so I then give the 27 year old a big smile and go off to another table to get my distance.
Sit at the different table and check out a few good bods dancing, and head back to the original area. The "sister" and I have a few more dances and after a while, the bouncers notice that the deffy is a bit obnoxious (yes a deaf mute can be obnoxious) and kick him out.
I give the girls my card and I head off home, but on the way out, I'm stopped by one of the chikkies at the "different table" who wants my number for her friend "who loves me". I also give her my card also and head off.
2:53 AM Well, fuck me dead. I get a phone call and a visit from the chikky who asked me for my card (aged 20) at the "different table". She comes in, sits on my lap. But what do you do in these sort of circumstances. Do you pounce on them? I don't really have much experience with extremely attractive (but tarty) 20 year old strangers who you can't talk to walking into your bedroom. So I play it by ear, she gets off my lap, looking mildly panicky, saying something about my age (which hadn't changed drastically in the two hours since I saw her at the disco) – and then starts to make a few phone calls. I think to myself "I need some proof of this" and take a few pics. She says "goodbye" and leaves. I finish off this tale on the computer (the spelling mistakes can wait until tomorrow) and I go to sleep. It is now 3:39AM.
Sunday, 27 July 2003 11:31AM I should have pounced…or talked money.
So, what can I say to you in conclusion?
In the “non farang” Southern Thailand there is a race (in fact, several races) of the most uncomplaining and nationalistic people that you will come across anywhere. OK, you can’t trust their word as gospel, they have an attitude to life which is a bit “strange”, and they have their own way of doing things, but who are we (in the 200-300 year old new world) to tell them what’s right and wrong? OK so the world’s getting smaller, let them realise that. And, they are.
Sounds to me like you have a great attitude towards life in Southern Thailand – enjoy it as it is.