My Time In Thailand So Far, Part 1
Late October ’03. Unemployed, and sitting on a sizeable payoff, I have endured months of haranguing in the local bar by my associates E. and A., both LOS veterans, and I, to join them on a 5 week trip to Thailand. I had decided at 40+ to kick corporate life into touch, take stock and relax before kicking off on something new career-wise. I held the stereotypical view of Scots who have not yet been to LOS that it was full of perverts and pedophiles and, during their latest coercion session I pressed them…
“Why, when you rant about Thailand, do your eyes glaze over and give me the ‘It’s just amazing, you have to go there’ line? What can be so special about a few islands and a bit of scenic countryside? We’ve got that here, minus the humidity and the dirty raincoat brigade!”
“If we tried to tell you everything now you simply wouldn’t believe us. Just trust what we say and you will have the time of your life.” Yeah, right.
OK, the guys knew that I was a work hard, play hard type of guy, liked a drink and a game of pool, and hadn’t had a shag for a while (I had ran out of cellulite laden, baggage carrying old hags reluctant to put up with no commitment whatsoever
some time ago). I considered my worldliness to be, well, considerable, having spent the best part of 20 years travelling to around 25 different countries across the world through work and vacation, Kuala Lumpur being my only brief Asian experience
so far. The decisive scale tipper towards Thailand was that since I had knocked the two front teeth from a heroin junkie’s mouth the day before (long story), and I was being hunted with knives and swords by 5 of them in my local, so I thought:
Fuck it. Take a leap of faith. Go for it, son. The junkies will be banged up for something or other by the time you get back. They weren’t: later.
Don Muang, 3 days later and A. was pacing up and down the arrivals lounge with his mobile phone stuck to his ear looking a bit frantic. His Thai girlfriend was supposed to meet him off the plane but had stood him up. What to do? Never mind, 2 hours to Rich Bar in Soi Buakhao, Pattaya and as we got the cases from the taxi, the cheers from the ladies sat outside rang out as if we were arriving at our own Hollywood premiere. Mmm? This is different. I look around but Brad Pitt definitely hadn’t followed us.
450 baht a night with breakfast? Can’t be bad, I thought, having been used around $120+ elsewhere in the world. Dump the bags, quick shower and back to the bar. We proceed to top up our weariness and lower our standards regarding the ladies with multiple Vodka nam soms. The ’10 pinters’ started looking more and more attractive. Definition of a ‘10 pinter’ – a girl you would not normally go anywhere near, even with a very long barge pole, unless you had drunk a minimum of 10 pints of strong beer. Ordering ‘Dos cerveza’ or ’Deux bieres’ seemed like falling off a log compared to learning ‘Song vodka nam som kap’. It didn’t take too long, maybe 3 days, before the staff knew what to start pouring as soon as they saw us approaching from across the road but it didn’t stop them taking great pleasure in making us recite the order anyway, at least until we started getting it right first time, about two weeks into the trip.
Too knackered to venture further afield on the first night we stay put and listen to a 3 piece band featuring who turned out over the piece to be one of the most talented and versatile guitarists I have ever heard. My buddies quickly team off with the Rich Bar ‘talent’ and the perseverance of Tuk (lady’s name not taxi) took advantage of my yet-to-be-learned ability to say ‘Mai ow kap’ meant I had a completely average first night’s sleep.
Bright and early next morning, Tuk suggested going to the beach. A couple of beers, some tiger prawns, rented sun loungers, melon, coconut milk in a shell, a henna tattoo of a butterfly (I chose it) for her tit, ice cream and an excruciating foot massage, pedicure, manicure, etc. and soon came to realise that there wasn’t much that you couldn’t buy right there flopped on your sun lounger, short of a remortgage. Flicking through my tiny new phrase book I found ‘Mai ow kap’, easily the single most important beach phrase in the book which, after repetitive overuse, quickly became second nature. I must remember to bring a T-shirt emblazoned with these words spelt out in Thai the next time I’m on the sands.
The same book also had an amusing explanation in the ‘Feelings of the heart’ section describing the phrase ‘jep jai’, meaning emotionally hurt – “Your wife finds out that you have a minor wife. Your wife will feel ‘jep jai’. Be careful.” A little understated, perhaps.
Tuk got her own back on me for my inadvertent ‘butterfly’ faux-pas (I had yet to learn the connotations) by taking a ‘shortcut’ through Mike’s Mall on the way back and picking up two sets of their finest bras and knickers. I pay. A spot of henna had ‘broken’ the bra she was wearing. I’m down about $70 already and it’s only midday, seems more expensive than I had expected. We sit down for more beer back in Soi Buakhao.
It’s been only a couple of months since I discovered your site. Thank You all, Stick and the contributors, superb. Therefore my degree of preparation for the next few minutes of conversation was lacking to say the least. We covered her reverence for Mr. Thaksin and my disdain for Mr. Blair and Mr.Bush and got round to what would make her happy in life. Then she came with it out of the blue.
“Can you buy me 7-11?”
“How much do you need?” I asked, thinking she needed some toiletries or Lipo from across the road.
“150,000 Baht for 7-11 shop in village me.”
Yes, I’d known her for only 16 hours and she was looking for venture capital to fund a franchise already! Cheeky cunt. Still having had only minimal guidance from my veteran companions on the local etiquette, it was time to seek advice on how to get shot of her. The advice was, and I knew from recent experience in the UK, that on termination of employment, the employer will issue the former employee what is called a P45, basically a document detailing salary earned, tax paid, etc. for the period of employment.
I had learned that the others had negotiated a barfine of 400B plus 1000B/day for long time (none of them were Charmane Star lookalikes) so, up to the room to give her a P45. Was she having it? Was she fuck! Tears, tantrums…
“My friends in bar will laugh me. I can not go tonight”
I gave her 2000B (more tantrums) and told her to be out by the morning (I guess I was hoping that by the time I had returned that Tuk took tuk-tuk to Tuk’s room), and lifted some gear with me and checked into the Opey de Place on Soi Lengkee. By this time, A.’s missing teerak Ya had turned up and we headed to Soi 8 to meet her friend and Chaiyaphum co-villager.
Now, I had just gotten rid of a 35 year old bunny boiler extortionist, checked into much better accommodation for only 100B more a night and had started to see parts of Pattaya which looked a lot more promising than I had seen so far. My first stroll down Soi 8 was bizarre. Bars on both side of the street for 200 yards were blasting out 120 beats per minute techno with countless tartily ‘dressed’ lovelies dancing, posing, pouting, smiling, grabbing your arm shouting ‘Hello sexy man, come inside, one drink’, ‘I want to fuck you tonight’ and ‘Poochai roob law’. No idea what that meant at the time but further into the trip it seemed to become inseparable from other catch phrases like ‘Pak wan’ and ‘Jao choo’. Someone had flipped up the top of my cranium and stuck a food mixer in for a few seconds. I like this place. We run the gauntlet until we reach Sexy Bar and take a seat.
“Hello, my name is Porn”
Despite holding back my hoots of derision (can you imagine introducing your folks to a hooker from Thailand called Porn before Sunday lunch?) I knew that things were on the up. Her radiant smile and bubbly personality hit me straight away. She was great company and, although she may have benefited from a dental brace a few years earlier, before long we were back at the Opey having settled on the fee, that being ‘Up to you’, then back out to Bamboo near Walking Street. After three days of high intensity fun, laughter and non-stop bar and go-go hopping, she, albeit it prematurely I thought, suggested we travel with A. and his intended, Ya, to her village near Chaiyaphum in the North East for a few days.
No problem, a welcome chance to see more of the country but I wasn’t too keen on meeting the family, she can do that herself. Turns out that A. had omitted to tell us that he was here to get married and start the ball rolling with visas, etc. so he had pretty much planned to go to Isaan anyway. Our rental car was stopped twice on the 12 hour drive by the police. First time the boys in brown were looking for a gunman and waved us on. Second time I was driving, too fast through a checkpoint, with no driver’s license and half a bottle of vodka inside me. Fuck! Stay cool and open the windows, all of them.
A polite discourse between the girls and the cop ensued (lots of ‘ka’, ‘ka’, ‘ka’) and he needed to see the license. A. handed me his (luckily a no photograph version of the license) from the back seat with a 500B note tucked inside and again we were miraculously waved on our way. How easy was that? Lesson learned, try not to break the law but when you get caught don’t forget the power that a purple back has when attempting to induce that blindingly magical Stevie Wonder effect. “You haven’t done nothin’” – 1974 springs to mind.
I didn’t stop shaking for half an hour before we stopped around 3AM at the tiniest roadside food place and the owner guy thoughtfully tells us to leave the sidelights of the car on so that the 120km/h coach drivers wouldn’t flatten it. 30
minutes later, fed and watered, it’s time to leave and the car was fine but the battery was flattened. 200B more in the proprietor’s tail and the considerate gentleman instantly wheels out a battery on a trolley and we were off.
Wonder how much that random act of kindness makes him in a month?
Next morning I remain at the hotel in the middle of nowhere while the others go and do their visiting. My guess is that the girls had picked the hotel’s location so that there would be no chance of me having a short time encounter while Porn was gone. Little did they know that it would be a fair while yet before I would discover short time and the madness that is Soi 6 Pattaya.
I lay back on the bed in the wilderness hotel, alone, to digest a wonderful fish and chicken dish with a couple of Singhas and drift off to sleep enjoying the remoteness my situation and dreaming of how far away the rigours of Farangland are. I hear a knock on the door.
Porn appears without a word of warning and tells me I have to get dressed and come to the hotel restaurant right away. Papa, Uncle, Daughter, 2 nephews and 2 anonymous hangers-on are waiting for me as I appear as the entertainment for the evening. Everyone has a great time scoffing the whole menu and swallowing copious amounts of Thai whisky. I pay, of course. Papa insists via our interpreter, Porn, that I visit the family home the next day and I oblige. At the risk of being dismissive of their lifestyle I am singularly unimpressed with anything other than the hospitality. No apologies here but how the hell can you live like that? Sorry, I am an ignorant foreigner used to proper flushing sit down toilets, refrigeration and TV!
Back to Pattaya and during a variety of discussions around her life as a good time girl it becomes apparent that she has a man ‘Yer-a-man’ coming to see her shortly. I’m not here to fall in love so the convenient opportunity to say ‘cheerio’ had presented itself so out came the P45 and I was free to get on with the rest of the trip.
Saturday afternoon meant a birthday party for our new friend J. from Seattle. Hi J. I had decided that I was going to get a stunner this time so throughout our all day session I was scanning every cutie that came close to meeting my perhaps unrealistic criteria. 19 years old, gorgeous, no babies and tall enough to reach my earlobe with no shoes. Talk about admirable failure!
Sitting in the corner of the Amazon a go-go on Walking Street with far too many beers in me she appeared on the stage and I knew I had to spend some time with this girl. I paid one night’s barfine there and then and had J write out my hotel address
so she could visit me next morning, too drunk to handle any amour that night. I was in for a few surprises.
Psychopathic personalities are much more common than most of us realise. http://www.oregoncounseling.org/Handouts/PsychopathicPersonality.htm Recognize anyone?