Readers' Submissions

It Ain’t Just Thailand And The Philippines, Kiddo

  • Written by SeanB6
  • September 22nd, 2003
  • 5 min read

By Sean



I was going to do a piece on my (so far) one-and-only trip into Phnom Penh and all the insane-but-sanuk events that occurred there for a friend of mine and me but now that I have read that submission from Barbiere, there's a piece of Cambodia I'd like to bring to everyone's attention, particularly Herr Barbiere's:

I was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia back in January of 1998, bound and determined to see this bizarre but fascinating city. Hey, you've got to love a place that can make Bangkok look boring!

My first night in PP, my friend I left our well-priced hotel with honest, friendly moto-taxi drivers and went to the city's equivalent to the Thermae: Martini's. It's a strange bar with a large area for delicious Khmer, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai and barang food, an open-air table area where you are met by the freelancers (Khmer and Viet), a disco that's about the size of an impregnated phone booth (call box for you Pommies) and a drive-in-sized movie screen at the back of the establishment.

Once inside, my friend and I sat down at a table and were immediately "attacked" by bargirls, all lovely Vietnamese. A cutie sat down with me and was most amused that an American not old enough to go to Vietnam for the war could at least speak a little Vietnamese; she and I hit it off at once. She convinced my friend and I to get big bottles of Angkor Beer, the Cambodian beer that was offered along with Tiger (a brew I find as dreary as anything so pathetically made here in the States!) and we loved it. To me the Angkor is second in Best Asian Beer only to San Miguel from the Philippines…

Anyway, this girl and I were having sanuk together and while my friend couldn't speak Vietnamese and his "partner" couldn't speak much more than a word or two of English, the two of them were doing okay too. We were given reasonable price quotes and we took them back to our hotel. I had her stay with me a couple days and we got along quite well, teaching each other about her home in Vietnam (Mytho) and mine back in the States. When my friend and I decided to bail out of PP and go upcountry to Angkor Wat, I told her this and we parted under the best of terms, exchanging addresses and smiles in the lobby of the hotel.

Another "horrendous Evil-Round-Eye Sexhound incident with a Poor, Ignorant Asian Girl" was also in Phnom Penh on that trip and it happened after my friend and I had far too much immature fun at the gun range outside of PP where we fired AK-47s and M-60s; we went with our moto-taxis to Svay Pak which is essentially the Vietnamese "brothel village" eleven "klicks" outside of PP. Once there, lots of smiling, friendly Vietnamese bargirls poured out of the buildings to go after the only two Westerners in Svay Pak at that particular time.

We stepped into one of these places and a rather young-looking Vietnamese girl sat with me and I ordered a drink for her and myself. She couldn't have been any sweeter. By the way, "rather young-looking" means 16-18 years old, none of that 5-6-7 years old child sex bullshit that the true nasties of the human race seem so taken with. We had linguistic problems but we made arrangements and had fun upstairs. No one beat her, no one forced her to go with me and her situation appeared no different then anything else I saw in the brief time my friend and I were in Svay Pak. Yes, it was a sorry-looking village and sure, there were mama-sans but none of them showed any signs of being ready to beat the crap out of "bad girls" not turning in profit for the house.

My point to all of this?

Just this: Barbiere proclaims that the type of go-go bargirl / horny Western situation she seems to detest so greatly exists and expands only in Thailand and the Philippines. Bad news, my friend–it's also quite alive and well in Cambodia as well and on a more recent note, while I was making a visa run into Tachilek, Burma last Christmas Eve, a young, polite Burmese guy came up to me only a minute or two after I'd crossed the bridge from Mae Sai into Tachilek and very courteously asked me if I'd like some female Burmese "company". Being married to my lovely Thai wife in Chiang Mai, I turned him down with a mellow grin. Therefore, that which you verbally attack the Kingdom of Thailand and the Republic of the Philippines about just doesn't exist merely within their borders; hardly!

Furthermore, many of your comments were not just insulting but a grotesque generalization of a situation I get the strongest feeling you don't fully understand. My wife and I have been happily married almost five years now and I could never cheat on her, nor would I. Nonetheless, this status doesn't at all stop me from joining my single friends in go-go bars in Chiang Mai and down in Bangkok. She knows this and she doesn't care because she knows I'm more interested in drinking Mekhong and having sanuk with my mates than in having a mia noi. We often joke about it! Likewise, once I tell the Isaan girls in Nana or Cowboy I'm married and not interested in going short-time and then proceed to buy them Lady Drinks, som tam and joke with them in Thai, we usually become good friends and the mercenary-attitude is put away for other customers. I know this doesn't quite fit with the "Oh, It's Ugly" concept people have about the bars and yeah, I rarely visit them myself because it can be boring as hell but still, what I've just described above hardly applies merely to myself. Plenty of other expats and Regular-Returnees conduct business under the same terms and it can be done in many other places besides Bangkok and Manila.

I'll leave the rest of you in peace now but there are simply times when the commentary isn't acceptable morally because it's not true; Barbiere's words are a classic example.

Stickman says:

I have only been to Martini’s once, and I would never go again. The girls in there were extremely young, and a few admitted to myself and my traveling companion that they were 12. Almost everyone I know who has been there has been disgusted at how young these girls (yes, girls, not women) are.