Searching For Miss Goodbar Part 5
Two weeks ago as you recall, our intrepid traveler was up the River Kwai with his girlfriend "Dan", enjoying the exotic beauty of the river landscapes, taking time out from the dirt and grime of Bangkok…. Amid the steamy jungles of Northern
Thailand, our traveler decides to reflect on some issues that perhaps every foreigner asks themselves at some time or other….
Perhaps the story so far, to those who have read it, (Searching for Miss Goodbar Parts 1,2,3,4) is indicative in its content of the somewhat typical ironies and idiosyncrasies that surround relationships with women in Thailand, most notably the farang-BG 'phenomenon' and its comparable absurdities. As lengthy as the story may be, I have little wish to go on indefinitely, and would like bring the story to some form of logical conclusion, whether in epilogue form or story form and make no apology if the story appears to jump from one theme to another in form. Anyway, Stickman doesn't seem to like an ongoing story scenario, and that each article should be able to stand alone, on its own merits.
I believe however, the story thus so far, [as testified too by several readers] does achieve its aim of getting 'inside' the heads of these girls, and then putting it down perhaps intelligibly on paper as it were, I hope, to the benefit of others, depending on how an individual may interpret the information within. The story is both true and correct, and subject to occasional lapses in memory, remains a true account of incidents and situations at that time indicated, and even the names remain the same. There's frankly little chance of anyone 'tracing' these girls anyway, as 'transience' is a part of the 'bar culture', and when I last checked, Pia and Dan had 'moved on'. Still friends or not, (?) I cannot divulge…perhaps later?
At the time of the story and when it took place, Pia and Dan were possibly at the 'peak' of their respective chosen careers, for want of a better expression, in their mid twenties + and without children or 'futures' in the proper sense of the word. If the story managed to lose some readers through its plot twists and turns, I make no apology for that, because that is simply how it was, and not simply added for dramatic content. Presented with Pia and Dan today, I would thank them for the adventure they took me on in my own self discovery, without any real great harm to myself except losing a few bucks in good honest fun, and if asked to sum up how I feel about our meetings, I would say 'privileged' nothing less, it was fun and very interesting. It was irrevocable proof to me yet again, that just when I think I had Thailand sussed, it humorously mugged me with reality yet again in the funniest and amusing of ways… Always keeping one foot firmly in reality helped me from 'slipping into the abyss' that so many farang seemingly do, and the BG's maturity aside, it often too depends on the man's level of maturity too, often lacking, – resulting in male tantrums when he doesn't get his way. This, even when brandishing money as if it were some moral weapon and a 'financial-antidote' against and all moral principals and responsibilities….
Sometimes there a strange 'cleanliness' paying for sex, it's emotionless, free, almost 'clinical' and void of any form of bonding or attachment, highly desirable for some males, and yes, even some women too. Fundamentally though, women who do this might yet be kidding themselves, as women by virtue of their very nature seek sex in order to find love or some physical form of bonding, whereby men use sex for what it is, just that.
I still do believe that bar girls do fall in love unwittingly, reluctantly or whatever, but they do, I've seen it and experienced it, money or no money. Show them respect, honesty and transparency and most of all security born out of that, and you will have any nice girl [I add] eating out of your hand. That pretty much goes in any society or culture.
It's essential entering Thailand to keep one's tongue firmly in the cheek, never, never, never take things too seriously, don't become another pathetic "Pete" from "Private Dancer" he was a sad case and prime capital loser the moment he got off the plane from wherever…. Attempting revenge tactics against errant partners in failed romances on these girls trickery is like handing out speeding tickets at Daytona…. It's often pointless and is the beginning of a downward spiral, and often tells as much about the 'avenger', – as the girl in question. I think too, along the way I have met a few "Pete's" who are seemingly becoming totally and unreasonably obsessed with their girl friends or BG's
I read far too many negative stories from farangs who have let things get totally out of control but I suspect far future generations will be having the same problems and discussions.
Think, step back and re-ascertain things and most of all 'roll with the punches' as best you can. When I hear or read of supposedly intelligent educated men taking out 'revenge' plots against these girls, it's frankly pathetic and arguably one could ask why or how they got themselves into the situation in the very first place. An amount of naivety or stupidity I'd wager, and yes, even my own intelligence has let me down from time to time, – I didn't always get it right, but have never come close to "Pete's desperate situation"!! [As in "Private Dancer"]
Things between Dan and me were going well, unexpectedly well, and our trip along the River Kwai Noi estuary and stay at Jungle Rafts. It was as much an exploration of each other as of anything else… I kept telling myself the relationship was possibly flawed in its very nature, in that it was after all said and done, with a BG no matter how good both our intentions were…. Subject to outside or exterior pressures ultimately from Dan's family or friends, should we form any lasting 'bonds' with each other. As much as Dan liked me, or would ever come to love me, her family would ultimately 'capitalise' on my developing involvement with her, but as yet, were unaware even of my existence. In the meantime, I was 'safe' from those external family pressures, and able to enjoy Dan at her possible best, and free-est, away from her usual environment. I would often find myself looking at Dan, wondering how it would be like should we become serious about each other, and how I could face the prospect of presenting her to my friends, as I'm sure she did too, in the back of her mind….
Originally, my job took me around the world, literally, with 'intense' traveling abroad often being away from home in England 6-8 months a year, and the money was good with excellent fringe benefits and great personal freedom, like being self-employed. Difficult to give up, even when contemplating living and working in the LOS, as every Farang who's been there, must have at some time or other. I too was no exception, Dan's company was far better than I had expected, and I wondered what would happen if things developed between us, or with any other girl for that matter, necessitating my living, [and working] in Thailand. Whilst my relationship with Dan was kept as a 'business' come friends basis, all the ingredients were there for something more substantial, and all it would take is a little 'courage' to go 'there', or take it further than we already had.
Many Farang come to Thailand in what is probably a tidal wave of sex-tourism, but some come with more genuine intentions no matter how foolhardy or naive, and honestly, inexplicably fall helplessly in love with the country, and its abundant natural resources, – women! The same could be said for some BG's too. Even before my first visits to the LOS I'd already been 'briefed' by friends and colleagues about the many pitfalls of entering into relationships with Thai women, not just BG's…. I was well forewarned before coming, but still the lull of a tropical country and such beautiful women was overwhelming, even to me. Escaping to the tranquil surroundings of the Kwai Noi estuary was like pure magic, and the outcome can be pretty inevitable if the girl you're with is beautiful, and of a good nature, – stronger feelings will follow naturally. I'd seen Dan 'at work' in the bar in PP, – I'd seen her more aggressive 'working facade', her sheer sexiness and feminine competitiveness when faced with other girls, notably her friend Pia, and how she dealt with that…. Now here she was in another environment, enjoying her new-found albeit temporary status as a tourist in her own land…
I always remember my first impressions of Thailand, and the unforgettable discovery that, the bar girls were making their own choices too regarding finding a mate. Funny, while all the guy's sit around looking for their next screw, the girls are looking down on those guy's looking for something a little more substantial….????? The discovery I made was that the girls too, had choices and were more than capable of making them, and I sometimes mused that Go-go bars were in fact bazaar dating agencies on acid.
The prospect of working and living in Thailand always attracted me, but finding the reality of this was infinitely harder and has so far eluded me, and short of just throwing everything away and uprooting to Thailand, was/is unrealistic. Seemingly the only way to secure a job in Thailand is through your own country of origin. To be recruited by a large corporate western company, and posted to Thailand…. Finding such a company, with those prospects that yet further suited your particular qualifications, was remote in the extreme as experience has told me, and being in the right place at the right time. You often hear foreigners and even Thai's speak to you, saying as a 'Farang', you can do almost anything, and in their eyes, perhaps we seemingly can…. Thailand is a land of opportunities, a kind of 'gold rush' town for all and sundry wishing to work there, but often the rewards are nothing short of embarrassing, a highly appropriate word too, not just plucked out of the air….
Perhaps the most common form and easiest to achieve, is to become an English Teacher, preferably TEFL qualified, although this seemingly tertiary qualification doesn't assure you a job, let alone much respect as the teaching profession normally attracts. Quite the opposite, and English Teaching is perhaps better suited to travelers just passing through with some form of tertiary skill, able to function, and live on virtually nothing for a short while.Many have made the near fatal mistake of giving up all their worldly possessions in search of that job in the sun seemingly amid some of the world's most beautiful women, which often ultimately spell their eventual destruction…. English Teacher's who besiege the country with barely enough qualifications and certainly not the right motives for any real hope of longevity. Often they're in love, or in love with the prospects of being in love to some young beguiling Thai beauty, – a beauty they later find they can ill-afford on a Teacher's salary, often not more than 25,000 Thai baht per month, IF all their clients/students turn up. English Teaching must be one of the most 'frightening' job prospects in Thailand [to me anyway!] if you're seriously career-minded, there's simply no safety net when things go wrong. That girlfriend you supported when as a tourist, suddenly overnight become ill-affordable anymore, and off she goes to find some better financially equipped newbie tourists, possibly with a fair chunk of your time-invested money too.
When I examined the prospects of becoming a TEFL in the LOS, [yes I too explored the issue carefully for some time] I was too 'frightened' by what I saw, or envisaged, the numbers simply didn't add up to any appreciable, affordable form
or lifestyle. When on holiday in Thailand, like all farang I'm 'rich' compared to most, especially some of the poorer Farang Teacher's lurking in the poorer bars and clubs, barely able to finance a Friday night's drinking
& shagging binge…. You can see them sometimes, particularly in Soi Nana [Plaza] which seems to be their favorite haunt, seldom anywhere like PP which is perhaps reserved for the more 'affluent' tourist if you get my drift. I always
preferred PP as you could at least see what was going on and across the bar. Nana's bars were too dark on account the girls danced naked, but you could barely see anything it was so dark and gloomy! Patpong's bare were louder, more brash,
and the girls better and more shapely for me, better costumes, and wholly more sexier, and you could see them clearly!!
Talking to a few teaching agencies and universities who were quite enthusiastic upon meeting me, it seemed getting a job was in fact quite easy. American based "Text & Talk" more or less offered me a contract upon completion of a TEFL crash-course, in teaching Aviation related subjects to students. I was more than tempted at the interesting prospects, but the proposed salary of 25,000 Thai baht per month, paled my hopes and deterred me going further with it. Plus there was an initial outlay of 17,000 Thai baht for the TEFL course, not to mention books and invisibles, before you started earning…
I found the agencies and other entities often waiving any tertiary qualifications and wanting to recruit me almost there and then in at least three cases. It seemed as though getting a TEFL position was "as easy as falling off a log" as we say. Not quite so, – as the rewards are hard to find if any, and earnings are [often] related to the numbers of clients/students or classes you hold, and many part-time positions are offered, with resultant lesser earnings. As one TEFL person told me in a telephone inquiry, "You'll never get rich teaching English in Thailand!"… Never truer words I thought….
I often related Teaching English in Thailand to Roger Beaumont's funny anecdotal stories in his hilarious book, "What's your name? – I'm fine thank you" (aka Mugged by reality in Bangkok and beyond) Thai baht 385.00 Simply a must-read for any would-be ex-pat thinking of taking up this honorary profession in the LOS's… Roger Beaumont, formerly a Columnist with the Bangkok Post first serialised his humorous accounts and views of living and working in Thailand between 1994-1998, before publishing his book with some enhancements sometime in 1999. (?) Highly recommended by me, a real hoot. I am quite sure Roger's hilarious book is responsible for many a foreigner taking up teaching in Thailand !!??
Further inquiries I made about teaching and questions revealed an even more grim reality, and I wondered what in fact motivated so many foreigners to come and do this kind of work? To live on a mere 'pittance' in most cases, "to go from major league to minor league", with the possibility of not being able to 'go back'. It could turn out to be career-suicide if done at the wrong age, and dampen prospects with any other potential employers back in your country of origin, seeing that your salary expectations are so low along with your own personal expectations. Teaching English in Thailand is probably better suited to younger types, able and willing to live on a lesser salary and means, than their older counterparts.
You certainly would not generally be able to afford the kind of holiday-lifestyle that you so flamboyantly displayed when on holiday earlier, with veritable inexhaustible financial resources. An English Teacher's monthly income whether TEFL qualified or not, (?) would not sustain one whole week of your equivalent holiday spending generally speaking, and it would be a Friday night only beer-up probably in Nana Plaza's cheapest well-heeled bars with the 'cheapest' girls you can find.
Hell, this kind of salary income wouldn't even sustain 3-4 night's of spending for me, I know that much!!! Even if you found your "Miss Goodbar", ask yourself if she would stick around with you on such meager terms and earnings?? You have to ask yourself that, you have to evaluate what life would really be like, living and working on a Thai's equivalent salary scale, because that's what it's like. It would be doubly so should a child come along, but don't tell Dana that…
As time goes by, you might find yourself 'going native' and squatting in a seedy house on the side of some Bangkok Klong, no Air Con, cold running Typhoid, to come home and find you've been 'evicted' or the GF's done a runner. Don't kid yourself you're living and becoming like a Thai, the truth is you're going loco, becoming 'ferile'.
Even if she accepts you on these terms, [Miss Goodbar?] it wouldn't be long before unseen financial pressures inexorably build up, and a job-loss could spell catastrophe without any governmental assistance or help, i.e. no safety net, the same as for the Thai's themselves…. Your situation could go from embarrassing to desperate in a heartbeat or a Bangkok moment, and you might find yourself in a similar position to those BG's you dated previously, desperate for money at whatever means….
Once walking through Pat Pong once in 2000, I was amazed to see a European guy standing outside "Super Girls" 'touting' with a placard in hand looking slightly awkward, as his Thai colleagues meted out the usual patter, and wondered what in heck's name he was doing there???? Was this some kind of joke?? Maybe, but he 'stayed' as I saw him later, so he was after all 'legitimately' employed as a tout outside this Go-Go bar, – I could scarcely believe it and wondered what situation brought him in turn to this situation of greater embarrassment. Possibly a woman? It was all I could do to actually go up and ask him what he was doing there, wondering what brought him to this sort of conclusion.
So desperate are the motives for some foreigners to live and work in the LOS, they sacrifice everything, including pride and self standing, such is the 'want' to be near their girl, – or BG's collectively.
There's a popular misconception by some, that there's practically limitless jobs for foreigners in Thailand, and judging by the sheer number of ex-pats working in Thailand, you could be forgiven for thinking that's true, but look closer. There are Ex-Pats and 'E-Pats' living and working in Thailand, and the Thai's themselves would be the first to judge real ex-pats in the true definition of the word. i.e. Someone on a full paid salary with all the benefits of medical and dental allowances, hardship allowances, and school fees and educations grants, and to the other kind….
Forgive me here, but then you have the Sex-Pats, foreigners who have repatriated themselves in pursuit of their insatiable desires at all costs, and unfortunately, some of these become English Teachers. Worse still, some indulge in sex with their students they're entrusted with teaching, but sadly this 'incentive' is what attracts some in the first to this kind of profession, a trait that carries a jail term in any civilised country. Of course this is a minority, but don't tell me it doesn't happen, it does.
Mulling over my situation with Dan, I certainly didn't want to become just another 'marooned' ex-pat, but anyway, the situation wasn't serious enough to warrant that anyway, but for future reference, it was worth evaluating. I conceded though that the working situation was near impossible unless the above fully paid ex-patriot conditions could be found, and didn't want to become thought of as a Sex-Patriot. Nor did I really want to put myself in an impossibly embarrassing situation with my friends or family doing this, and possibly committing a form of "career suicide" in the process.
Finally it's not my aim to 'offend' any English Teacher's out there, I know there are some good ones, but sadly I haven't met any yet, only jaundiced versions propping up bars lamenting about their lot in the LOS while slagging off the Thai's. [Ho hum] Using their language skills to further their pursuit of their real quarry, BG's, and to think these 'men' are teaching and are exposed to children is worrying. Not that I'm pias, no way, but jeez, the ramifications in this scenario are enormous….
Going back momentarily to my trip on the River Kwai with Dan, the story didn't end there of course, there was more after that, but the above is perhaps typical of the thoughts that may pass through your head, when engaging in any form of relationship. In fact the relationship with Dan did continue, as with Pia too although in a less physical sense, but the river Kwai trip always remains close to my memories and thoughts of those time, now seemingly long ago…. As I mentioned there's more to the story, and I'm toying with the idea of "Searching for Miss Goodbar Part 6" (Pia strikes back….) TBA…..