Readers' Submissions

East vs West, Nana Plaza vs Harvard

  • Written by Ozymandias
  • October 8th, 2003
  • 17 min read

East vs. West, Nana Plaza vs. Harvard (Battle Of The Stereotypes Part 1)



After reading Stickman's website and dreaming of visiting Thailand for a long, long time, I've finally made it, I jumped on a plane and visited the mythical land of smiles, and first of all, yes, I loved it: the people, the food, the scenery, it was awesome and I will be going back for more…

So, you might be asking, what did you think of the nightlife? Are those famous Bangkok angels really worth the heartache and the cash? Are they all a bunch of lying prostitutes or just fallen angels waiting for a knight in shining armor?

Ah, well, those are the questions people always ask, aren’t they….

Ok, let’s be serious, a lot has already been said about Bangkok’s nightlife, a lot more has been written about it, in fact Stickman's website alone is an endless treasure trove of information, opinions, contradictory statements (I mean the ones made by the several readers that contributed their own voice to the ongoing debate) tales of sorrow and tales of joy, words of wisdom, words of rage, the list could go on and on and on. Considering how much has already been said about the subject I really didn’t think, before I embarked on my own expedition, that I would be able to add anything worthwhile to the subject, but upon my return I had another look at some of the readers’ submissions on Stickman's site and I decided I could contribute my own two cents after all.

To begin with, yes, I did check the bar scene out, mainly in Bangkok (Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, a few beer bars around that area) and, well, yes, I did misbehave a bit, I didn’t fall in love and I’m certainly not sending any money to Thailand but I did have some fun and, more importantly, got to know some of the girls working the biz.

I’ll tell you more about it in a bit but right now I would like to tell you about what struck me the most when I read some readers’ submissions upon my return to North America, namely how grossly generalized, stereotyped and really just how colored by somebody’s own experience most of those comments really are. In fact, it seems like most of the guys that were somehow betrayed or lied to by a bargirl now tend to bundle up the whole scene into one sordid, meaningless affair (“don’t get involved with bargirls, they are all lying back-stabbing prostitutes that will do anything to get to your wallet, and possibly your bank account” etc.) Understandably their opinion has become stunningly similar to that of some of the “Moronic Preacher” types that from the height of their God given pulpit condemn all the whoremongers of Thailand to the flames of eternal damnation, the “intellectually superior” types that try to politely explain to the ignorant masses that duh! they’re prostitutes with little or no education and of course all they want is money (it’s part of the profession and why else would they want to marry a much older and unattractive guy?), the “Superior Farang” types that try to remind us that primitive creatures like the Thais only appreciate material goods like money and flashy cars and they would never understand the higher moral principles that guide the action of us Farangs, and let’s not forget the most entertaining of them all, the “anyone that has to pay a woman for sex is either so irredeemably geeky or such an horrifyingly ugly, bald, fat, aging loser that he could never get laid in his own country” types…. I guess those guys are pretty much self-explanatory after all.

Strangely enough, I’m not that much of a geek myself, I’m in my thirties, I’m not fat, bald or ugly in any way (well, ok, I’m not Brad Pitt either, but I've gotten plenty of action in North America too, thank you very much, some of that action with women making a lot more money than myself), and even more surprisingly I did notice that half of the people dating bargirls or anyways patronizing the nightlife establishments just didn’t fit that description at all, in fact plenty of them looked like they could have been male models. So, right there, I would abolish most of the stereotypes about the gogo bars’ customers, the reality, as unpleasant as it may be for lots of people out there, is just that lots of people simply like those Thai girls a lot more than they like those “uppity western women“* (*I’m quoting a character in a Jake Needham novel here, by the way), or anyways don’t mind paying for a bit of fun with those beautiful Thai women.

Now, while the guys that had bad experiences or the ones that just simply want to confirm the truth of their own convictions (namely that they are the best and feel sorry for all the pathetic little worms crawling in the mud at their feet) tend to write endless essays on the subject, the many guys that had a positive experience, successfully married a bargirl or anyways did enjoy their stay in Thailand seem to be content to just write a few lines to the effect that they are really happy and basically devote their time to enjoying their life. There is a lesson to be learned right there, but I don’t feel like spelling it out for you, figure it out for yourselves if you want.

Getting back to my own experience with bargirls, well, to begin with I went to a certain gogo bar that will remain nameless, the first thing I noticed, believe it or not, was that the music being played there was awesome, Pink Floyd, the Doors, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, AC DC, the next thing was the ten-twelve beautiful girls dancing on the stage (in a bikini, APEC is coming I guess) and lastly that they had a soccer game playing on a TV screen.

Had I died and gone to Heaven? OK, mystical visions aside, reality strikes back when you see cockroaches doing some table dancing of their own, but I’m digressing.

I think I only got to meet a girl the next day though, she was nice, very nice, very sweet actually, definitely knew how to make a man relax and feel good (I’m only talking about innocent stuff like holding hands, caressing etc) : I got to know her a lot more over the next few days. Now, let me tell you, she was very upfront about it, she did like me (the girls in the best bars can be pretty choosy, believe it or not) but I was a customer, not her boyfriend, and that’s the way it was gonna be. Also, no sick family in Isaan, well she did say that her family expected her to send them money but she also admitted that she spent most of it for her shopping. In other words no bullshit of any kind, so yes, she was a prostitute, yes she wanted to be paid, and yes when she made me feel good she was just trying to make me happy because I was a good customer…guilty as charged. Did that make her a bad person? Somebody despicable? Somebody we should feel superior to because we were born in countries that offered us a better education and much more opportunities to make something of our lives?

Now, I was also travelling around Thailand, so my misbehaving more or less ended there, but I did go to beer bars and gogos on several other occasions (Pattaya, Chiang Mai, back in Bangkok), except many times if a girl approached me I made it clear that I wasn’t gonna be a “customer” but I was certainly willing to have a chat with her..of course sometimes they were just not interested or their English wasn’t really good but I did get to know quite a few of them, and without sleeping with them. Call me crazy but I was really interested in talking to some of them and maybe try to learn a bit more about their way of thinking.

So No, I don’t really have any particular insight about what makes them tick, except for something so simple that so many people seem to have forgotten it, namely the fact that every living, thinking individual is in some ways entirely unique and unlike everybody else. Each of these girls, at the end of the day, has her own personality, her own character, her own karma…

Generalizations are always easy to make, they just lump so many different stories into one pliable ball of clay that can later be safely tucked away into a simple slot of consciousness, something already digested and disposed of, catalogued and tagged, poisonous but harmless if kept out of sight. Isn’t making generalizations such an easy way to dispose of all that’s unwanted or undesirable, or worst, something we might actually feel responsible for? Sure, they’re prostitutes, they don’t have an education, oh my lord they even lie to you, let’s just sweep them all under a rag and forget about it. After all, who wants to hear about the 38 year old woman who worked most of their life as an accountant and ended up working in a beer bar because she had so much seniority they would have had to pay her a pretty large salary and it was a lot cheaper to lay her off and hire a young girl instead. And of course hearing about the girl that worked making shirts since she was 13 and at the age of 28 was laid off because the company wasn’t getting enough orders wouldn’t be too pleasant either.

How about all the ones that couldn’t get an education because their own family made them work in the fields or help at home since they were ten or even younger, sure many of them have figured out that farang money is the most they can make of their situation, and if you wanna talk about the fact that they could choose to make less money and avoid being prostitutes, well, obviously many women do make that choice in Thailand too, but I mean, come on, in Europe and North America some professional athletes refuse to honor their contract because they are not paid enough millions of dollars, are you people really trying to say that greed is restricted to Thai prostitutes?

The stories I just mentioned, by the way, (the accountant, the shirtmaker, some of the greedy types), were told to me by women who didn’t ask me for a penny and didn’t pretend to love me or even like me, they’d seen my wallet was almost empty anyways : )
Many other readers contributed some other stories that were just as interesting and real, in fact many stories are a lot more interesting, what infuriates me is the amount of people that come in with their broom and try to sweep all that’s unpalatable to their fine sensibilities under the carpet of stereotypes and generalizations.

I certainly don’t intend to glorify bargirls or their profession, in fact I wouldn’t recommend trying to find the love of your life in a gogo bar, I think meeting a really nice girl there is far from impossible but the odds are against it, many of those girls of course are after our money, and even though I honestly don’t blame them for it that’s still not something I would base a long term relationship on, and because of language and cultural barriers it could be harder than usual to determine which girl really has feelings for you and which girl is just pretending.

By the way STDs do go around and some of those girls have had a fair number of customers. There is also some truth to the “education” argument, I graduated from a University myself and I could hardly have a long term relationship with a girl that’s only interested in shopping and watching TV, but having said that education has never given anyone a good heart and some uneducated girls could still make up for their lack of sophistication in other ways. In fact I would choose a girlfriend with little education but a warm loving heart over some hyper educated, selfish, know-it-all any day of the week..

Getting back to stereotypes, I would like to point out to many of the “us farangs belong to a superior culture” guys that western women can also be stereotyped in many ways.
Forget about Thailand for a minute, I met tons of guys, in Europe and North America, that shamelessly depict western women as a bunch of spoiled, selfish gold-diggers always willing to point out to you what you can do for them but not really giving a hoot about actually making you happy. Again, I don’t believe in stereotypes and generalizations, but I do find the “those Thai girls will never love you for who you are like our western women would” argument so laughable and self-deluded that I have to think that all this education people always yak about can’t really teach people how to actually think unless they already had a brain to begin with.

Come on, people, look around, have your nagging wives and feminist friends brainwashed you so completely that you actually believe in fairy-tales now? How about the fact that in North America most marriages end in divorce, how about going to University and seeing most of the hottest chicks date the guys with flashy cars and a rich family, how about all the girls in clubs that won’t even talk to you until you show them a business card and a detailed income statement, how about all the ex-wives that have happily fleeced their former husband of everything he’s ever had, how about all the cases of adultery etc

You want some funny stories about the West, I’ll give you some: How about a friend of mine from eastern Europe; 7 or 8 years ago, in his country, he met this Canadian woman, fell in love, got married, moved to Canada with her to make her happy. He worked hard and 2 years ago he had a kid, a house (still paying a mortgage), thousands of dollars in his bank account and what he thought was the best family in the world. He comes back home from work one day and guess what, his wife gave him the good news that she was leaving him for another guy she met at work, ultimately she got the kid, the house, the furniture and every penny he had in his bank account. After mentioning that the guy didn’t gamble, drink, abused her in any way etc I’ll add that before the proceedings started she told him “you know, Bill (not his real name of course), I loved you, I’m not gonna screw you.”
After the divorce, when he was penniless and heartbroken, he asked her “Well, J, if you did want to screw me what would you have done that you haven’t done already?” (did I mention that the lady in question had a masters in Education?)

Next, I have another friend who met this hot chick through some other friends, again fell in love etc, except complications ensued because she still had feelings for an ex boyfriend, that already made for six months he spent in Hell, breaking up, getting together again etc, finally, after her declaration that she loved him and wanted to have kids with him, she ends up moving out of town, my friend meets her ex-boyfriend and another girl, her roommate, and they figure out that throughout those six months she’d been sleeping with both of them, sometimes on the same day, not only that but she’d also been picking up other guys in bars, and, even though she had Herpes she never used protection when having sex and had never told them that she had any disease… How is that for a person guided by higher moral standards….and coincidentally this wonderful example of feminine grace was not only University educated but also a devout Christian of some kind that went to church every week..

One story even more recent, in August I was invited to play some soccer tournament on the beach with a team of guys studying in a local university, another guy that doesn’t study in that University was also playing. Now it was a tournament for mixed teams and so we also had a girl playing with us, and she was a student like most of the guys on the team. She was also an attractive blonde and she was walking around with a fairly common, stuck-up, “I’m hot and smart and I’m God’s ultimate reward for members of the male species, unless you have a six figure income and drive a BMW don’t even dare talking to me”. Well, fair enough, personally I have more respect for a real prostitute than I would have for a high-class whore-in-denial like her and I was more than happy to keep my distance, the other guy from outside their circle, on the other hand, seemed to like her (and I should mention that he is in his late twenties, was born in South America and looks like a taller version of Tom Cruise) and at some point he accosted her with some rather innocent remark and flirtingly caressed her arm or shoulder, nothing sleazy about it. Since she had figured that the two of us were either some mature students or some losers our friends had met in a bar her immediate reaction was “f*** off and get your paws off of me you freak!” Educated people can be so classy, can they not? He backed off scared by such a reaction and after the tournament was over he left a bit earlier than the rest of the team, now you should have seen the blonde’s face when my friends informed her that the guy was actually a doctor, a very popular surgeon as a matter of fact, she’d been trying to meet a rich professional for a while and when she got the news she was crushed, she almost started pulling out her hair in desperation. I hear that later on she tried to approach him but of course now it was his turn to tell her to fuck off.

I could go on telling you stories like the previous ones for hours, days, months, centuries. If I were to generalize, according to my friends’ experiences and stuff I've observed myself, I should be warning people to stay away from educated farang women, because they are all heartless, vain, pitiful gold-digging sluts that are only out to use you and will never have any real feelings for you.

So, at the end of the day, whatever, bargirls may have made choices or live in a way that make them less than ideal companions, they have their own imperfections, like all of us, and their motivations might not be what we would like to find in our own hearts, or by our side, but f*** your stereotypes, educated or not they are still human beings and can be complex, seductively unique individuals. They have their own story and it’s a story with it’s own place among all the other stories that make our times just what they are….

And did I mention that they really know how to make a man happy? ; )

Ozymandias

PS (if the Stickman likes this piece and decides to post it I have an idea for another one, also based on events from my trip to Thailand, tentatively titled “Karol the K*** -battle of the stereotypes part 2”, to tell you guys just what some of the farang women I met in Thailand thought about the scene, bye for now)

Stickman says:

Finding a good woman isn't easy…