Thai Barboys And An American Chick
Thailand is not a routine destination for Americans and I encountered few countrymen while I was there. To me, Thailand was exotic and new, fresh and undiscovered. I was 33 years old and still am an American woman.
I went to Koh Phangan in 2002 for the October version of the full moon party. Having heard much about the party (mostly since my arrival in Bangkok) I was anxious to view it for myself. While I was on Haad Rin beach, I was "on the pull"
as the Brits say. Recently divorced, I was ready to cut loose and party hardy. I got drunk, danced and pulled English, Australian, American, Israeli and, eventually, Thai.
Initially my attraction to Thai men was non-existent. Their skinny, sinewy bodies seemed too delicate for my taste. I preferred the taller, fuller men of European descent, with hair on their chests and muscles on their arms. However, by the
time of the November party, my attitude had come around to include the smiling brown men I saw every day. A short time on Phangan translates to a long time state of mind. My demeanor was such that I was now the old pro who lorded it over the newbie
travellers because I had a little more information than they. With one party behind me and another approaching I was beach royalty.
So many new farangs showed up unceasingly that I grew bored with having the same conversation every day. ("So, where are you from? How long have you been in Thailand?”) Rather than a change of scenery I decided to start teaching
myself Thai and talk to the "locals" (who I now know are no more "local" than myself.) Thais come from all over the countryside to work in the holiday hot spots of Thailand.
Thai men (bar boys) started looking better and better as I was looking at them in a new light. Now that I was ‘going local’ I felt the need to insinuate myself with the workers to set myself apart from the masses. I’m
embarrassed now, but at the time it seemed like the thing to do.
Did you know that the beach bar boys make only about 100 baht per night? That includes all the booze they can drink (all the booze they can steal from the proprietor of the bar, that is) but it’s hardly enough to have any fun with.
It's no wonder there are so many fights. Here are the bar boys, barely out of adolescence, working their asses off night and day for a pittance and here are the farang guys, same age, with money to burn and partying like crazy and the only
difference is by virtue of birthplace. Add in a few drinks on both sides and a dash of raging hormones and the next thing you have is a knife fight or a shooting.
Another insider tip, since I’m in the sharing mood, is that each bar siphons inferior booze into upscale bottles. One bar boy told me that sometimes a farang guy would ask for booze by name and then sip it appreciatively and all the
while the bar guy knew that
it was the same stupid rotgut whisky. Smiling serenely, as Thais do.
So I had my first encounter with a Thai guy in early November, 2002, between full moon parties. His nickname was “Top” and he worked construction at Paradise Bungalows. Top had multiple tattoos, a chin piercing, a shaggy purple
mohawk, a motorcycle, the works. I now know that rebellious young Thai men like Top are called “jii-khoh”, which is ‘an all-purpose Thai term that refers to the teenage playboy-hoodlum-cowboy who gets his kicks by violating
Thai cultural norms.” (Joe Cummings, Thailand – a travel survival kit) Top told me that the Thai mafia ran Paradise and to me, that was the scariest thing I ever heard of.
The Thai mafia is real. Around Haad Rin there are some guys that drive around in cars, as opposed to scooters or motorbikes like everyone else, and they just look mean as shit, like they wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire. Top
said that Paradise Bungalows is run by a mafia 'king pin', the ‘big boss’, but I don't know how much stock to put in that. I do know that the mafia on Haad Rin run the drugs, the guns, everything.
Top couldn’t have appealed to me more directly. I was traveling and trying to shed my workaday image, and make sense of my life. I was in the mood for an adventure. So…I invited him back to my bungalow, and over a few days I
thought we developed a 'relationship' but it really only entailed my giving him money (first just for food, later it became more) and him lying to me.
Bar boys, they creep into your bungalow at night and creep out at dawn to go back to work or go home to their girlfriends. Both of the Thai guys that eventually spent nights in my bungalow absolutely refused, put their little splayed toe-d
feet down, to be my guest in the bungalow operation’s restaurant. They further refused to be seen with me on the beach, eating in restaurants around town or anything other than out at night. They didn't want to hold hands in public.
But I was enamored. I thought farang girls on the back of Thai guys' motorcycles looked so COOL, so ‘gone native’.
Despite how this sounds, I'm not as dumb as a post. I mean, there were extenuating circumstances for a lot of my actions. For example, Top took me to his home in Tong Sala and I met his family. The next week, his mom died. So I knew
his family needed money. I went to the funeral (are you kidding me? THIS was REAL – I could claim bragging rights!) There I saw Top’s family, saw his mom in the casket as it was being carefully put into the furnace.
Another example of what I thought were special circumstances happened two days later as we were riding on his motorcycle (my favorite activity as it gave me a chance to show off.) We went over a bump and the bike’s shock absorber broke.
Top told me it was because of the extra weight (me) and since I already had a weight complex (I’m a little overweight and compared to Thai girls I think I look like a giant lump of white pudding) I gave him money to repair it. At that point
I didn't know that motorbike repairs don't cost 20,000 THB – but I found out what does cost that much when we broke up.
I suppose I should describe the reason we ‘broke up’. First, a little background. On full moon party night, Top was working at a beach bar in front of Paradise Bungalows. It was one of the hastily erected drink stands that go
up each month and come down the very next day. Apparently working in the bar was a bit of a promotion and it enabled Top to posture and preen and drink and give away free drinks to his friends. Power, you know?
Meanwhile, I was bored with the party, bored with the partiers. Having a Thai boyfriend during the parties sucks as they are super-jealous and you cannot so much as dance with another man, while your bar boy is working all night long and
you are left by yourself. So I was walking around Haad Rin town, checking out Chicken Corner and people watching and I wandered down the back way to Paradise to see Top. I couldn’t believe my eyes because I caught Top kissing another girl!
I immediately confronted him – probably embarrassing him as raised voices are frowned upon in Thai culture. Eventually I got tired of the scene and I walked away to cool down. Upon my return, half an hour later, he was again kissing the
Just then the skies opened and it started to pour rain on the party. Everyone in the vicinity, including Top and the girl, ran for cover at the Paradise restaurant. I found them in a corner and our ‘relationship’ ended when
I smacked him and stormed out into the driving rain.
A day or so later I dropped off some things he had left in my bungalow (like his bong). When I popped into his tiny room to put it on his bed, I saw… A GUN! Top took the 20,000 baht I gave him and bought a gun. Guns are outlawed in
Thailand, which means that only outlaws have them. This isn’t a case of ‘my roommates boyfriend’s brother’s hairdresser saw a gun’, I’m here to tell you that I actually SAW the gun.
Whatever, I was stupid. I saw Top working all day for pennies, and Thais work so hard for so little that I just wanted to help him out with some cash and I didn’t know how much was appropriate. It honestly didn’t occur to me
that he was milking the cow until later. I am used to relationships that move along quickly and I share what I have with my partner (and likewise.) But this was Thailand and I had more money than I usually do, having recently sold my house. Sometimes
you have to take a step back to see how ridiculous you look to others and I was nowhere near that point of self-reflection. Of course it would’ve been fairly obvious to anyone who saw this 33 year old, overweight pasty white woman with
a 20 year old (he lied about his age but I eventually found out) beautiful Thai boy
Following the November party I flew to Bangkok to meet my father, who had arrived in Thailand for a month’s visit. We returned to the island and I resumed partying. During my time on Haad Rin I had spent plenty of nights drinking at
the Drop Inn Bar, just down the beach from Paradise, and met a bar boy named Paow. He was handsome and friendly, he flirted with me constantly and told me he was a ‘goos man’. I thought I had come to know him a little bit from visits
to the bar. On my first night back from Bangkok, Paow gave me a rose. He didn't have a gun. I fell in luuuuv and after a night or two of special attention from him I agreed to accompany him ‘upstairs’.
I eventually got to know this routine. The way it worked was that Paow would charm me each night, then tell me to meet him in the upstairs part of the bar in five minutes. It took me a while to figure this one out, but this was a precaution
so he wouldn't be seen going upstairs with girls. It worked both ways. If we were going back to my bungalow, he would start walking and I was supposed to catch up to him. What made me so desperate as to put up with this crap? I don't
know. Lonely I guess. Bored. More money than brains at the time.
I thought I checked him out enough. I borrowed a pair of binoculars from my father and crept around to the boulders on the end of the beach one night. I spied on Paow to see if he was flirting with anyone. I could never catch him, but sometimes
I couldn’t find him in the bar. I would also show up at the bar at odd hours of the night, and creep around the outside of the crowd for a few minutes to see if he was chatting up other girls. He never was. So I thought I had found true
love. Later, I even asked around but only one person told me anything about him – that Paow had a baby. When I asked Paow about this, he immediately wanted to know “Who told you that!” and denied it vehemently. I conveniently
forgot this piece of information, thinking that the Thai informant was trying to pull my farang leg.
While he may not have had a baby, Paow did NOT tell me that he had a 7-months pregnant girlfriend (!!!!!) that I never saw because she would only come around during the early evenings and I would only show up later at night. I'm sure he planned his
escapades that way because he ostensibly stayed with her but he had use of a room on the upper floor of the bar where he later told me that he took many, many, many Farang girls to have five-minute sex with them. I’m certain he did it the
whole time he knew me. Oh yes, the sex wasn't even that good.
Paow later admitted to being the father of the child, but professed his undying love for ME (of course!) and said that, though he was being pressured, he didn't want to marry her and just wanted to be a 'good dad' and not a
'bad guy'. He was lying to me. To my face. Being honest myself I just assume that other people are being honest too. I was stupid. I know!
Just before Christmas Paow’s girlfriend left the island to return to her family to have the baby. After obtaining my assurances that I would follow him to his family’s home in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Paow left as well, stating
that his contract with the Drop Inn Bar was up and that he wanted to go home now.
Three days prior to Christmas, Paow called to say that I was to come to Krabi right away and meet him there. I told my friends and the bungalow proprietors that I was in luuuuv and I had to pack and run to my ‘Thai man’. They
shook their heads at me and clucked their tongues, but they let me do my thing.
So I hopped on the first bus to Krabi where I was alone and feeling lonely in a new town, no one to talk to and it was Christmas by the time Paow finally showed up (after excuses why he couldn’t come immediately – boy was I
on a string.) We went to dinner and it turns out that all of the places that were going to do a Christmas dinner for the farang crowd had done their dinners on Christmas Eve. I had effectively missed Christmas for this guy. I was so lonely that
when we got back to the hotel room I didn’t insist on using a condom and in fact, he pressured me not to. I reasoned to myself that I didn’t need to since my big plan was to live in Thailand, marry Paow and teach English, having
a baby seemed like the thing to do. Diseases? Didn’t even cross my mind, he was ‘innocent’ and told me that he had never had a farang girlfriend before. So… I didn’t realize it at the time but I got pregnant
Well, after Christmas we stocked up on food and booze and we went to visit his family for New Year. They were a very nice family, but poor, living in the Thai countryside in a house without running water.
Following the family visit Paow and I went to Nakhon. It was then that Paow told me that we couldn’t go back to Koh Phangan because his girlfriend had lots of brothers and ‘big men’ who were angry with him for not wanting
to marry her, and they were looking for him. He said he had to stay away from the resort towns and beaches. It scared me.
It was around this time that I discovered I was pregnant. We began to search for more permanent housing, finally finding a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house for 5000 THB/month. I spent 400,000 THB on furnishing the house in Nakhon, purchasing everything
from a refrigerator and a washer to sofas and air conditioners, TVs, a kitchen counter, sink, phones, beds, everything! For a month I was Tesco/Lotus’ best customer. For transportation I bought us a brand new motorcycle, because Paow said
that used weren’t reliable. What he really wanted was the prestige of riding a new bike. Duh.
I was preparing to spend my life in Thailand and have a baby and before a month had passed Paow started spending his nights drinking with friends and family either in our home or at bars. I had quit cold-turkey, both drinking and smoking
as soon as I discovered the pregnancy so I no longer had any part of that lifestyle. One night, he didn’t come home and didn’t call, and his excuse was that he’d been pulled over by the police and detained all night because
he was driving a new motorcycle without paperwork. I bought his story hook, line and sinker. Paow’s ex-girlfriend continued to call, every other day. He always acted angry when she did this but his next night away was based on an even flimsier
excuse. I was getting very leery of the whole situation as I had no one to talk to, no access to other farangs, no job, no life! When Paow took the motorcycle I was never sure if he was going to come back in an hour or the next day! It was our
only vehicle and I was out in the sticks, not near any kind of infrastructure. If I wanted to go into town I had to hike out to the road and flag down a songtaew. Let me tell you, the heat is fierce standing on the pavement and I was nauseated
a lot of the time, so I didn’t consider this a real option very often. I would be so lonely sitting in this big house, all by myself, nothing to read, nothing to watch, nothing to do, nowhere to go.
I was very depressed and went on a crying jag and after a lot of thinking (nothing else to do!) I decided to return to Bangkok and from there it was a quick decision to return to the States and terminate the pregnancy. I left all the furnishings
in the house for Paow’s family. By this time Paow’s ex-girlfriend had given birth to a baby girl and I figured somehow that the belongings would make life easier for him, his family, his baby.
Back in the States, I had the abortion. Following that, I went about renting a new apartment and getting my furniture and other belongings out of storage. I dragged myself through the cold, grey days, missing the beach, missing the heat,
missing the liveliness of travel. Paow was emailing constantly, and he called me, crying, wanted me back, begged me to come back. So after a scant two weeks back in the States, I flew back to Thailand for another go round. I was in luuuuuv. He
was out of money.
Paow met me at the airport. Within a day or two, his (supposedly ex) girlfriend called (on the mobile phone that I had bought, of course) and he actually handed me the phone. Her English was quite good and she said, "HE'S LYING
TO YOU. HE’S WITH ME.” I just shrugged, thinking ‘she’s obviously lying’ and handed the phone back to Paow.
I decided that we were going to go traveling in Thailand. I wanted to see other parts of the beautiful country and Paow was vehement in his refusal to allow us to go back to Koh Phangan so we went to places like Koh Samet, Koh Phi Phi and
Koh Lanta. Paow continued to receive phone calls from his ex, and he continued to warn me about the ‘bad men’ who were coming to find him (and me) wherever we went.
While we were traveling, many many items were "lost" and I replaced them. A necklace (16,000 THB), digital camera (7000 THB), a mobile phone (4000 THB), etc. I think that he was pawning them because I found a pawn slip for a ring
that he said he had 'left at home'. (He had pawned it to pay for his trip to come meet me on my return to Thailand, even though I had wired him over 12000 THB to do just that.) I put my foot down and told him in no uncertain terms that
if he ever lied to me again I would leave. I was starting to become independent.
My father also came back to Thailand for a month. He wanted to go back to Haad Rin, not during party time, just to stay in the lodge there and enjoy the beach. So I met him there and cut Paow loose for about 10 days. While I was in Haad Rin
Paow would call me to "warn" me about "guys" on the beach. He kept saying that it wasn't safe for me anywhere on the beach because I had 'stolen' him from his pregnant girlfriend and she had powerful friends
who wanted to get at him through me. Or just get me. It was very scary as I soon saw the people he was describing. I even talked to one of their girlfriends, a woman who was pregnant with another Thai guy's baby. She was from Scandinavia
somewhere and she was Paow’s ex-girlfriend's friend.
She laid it out straight for me – that Paow was just with me for the money. Plain & simple. She didn't like me, and didn't want to be talking to me but it was a conversation that I needed to hear. SHE (the Scandinavian woman)
told me that Paow was lying to me – that he really loved his girlfriend and that they were going to be married (until I came along). This was the opposite of what Paow had told me; that he didn't want to marry his "baby's mother".
Paow’s supposedly ex-girlfriend looked at it quite differently of course because Paow was telling HER that he was with me for the money for their baby. Apparently she had tired of sharing him and wanted me gone, money or no. The whole situation
started to feel like a soap opera.
The final straw came one night when Paow left me at his family's house to go drinking and I had finally learned enough Thai to talk to his mother. I found out he had lied to me about his age. Of course, by then I knew that he had lied
about some things but when he came back I asked him about his age. I reminded him that if he lied to me I would leave. I told him that his mom had said he was 22. Paow again said that he was 24. I pulled his ID from his wallet and it said he was
22. Despite being faced with the evidence he still insisted that he was 24. Being an American, I wouldn’t let him save face. I pulled his mom out of bed and I asked him, in Thai, to tell me how old he was. Paow said “22” and
when I looked at his mother she just nodded and said, “Oh, 22, I forgot.” Well, mothers don’t forget! There was a scene – a big no-no in Thai culture. That's when I finally knew that he could lie to my face and
I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I would never be able to trust him. I would never understand Thai culture or language enough to trust him (or his family!) because he was inherently un-trustable to me.
So I left. I caught a minibus to Surat Thani and flew back to Bangkok, stopping only for one night before I returned to the States. That was the end. I was out of money and time and had no further inclination to continue my adventures in
When I got back I ignored Paow’s many plaintive emails and calls. I am poorer, wiser and sadder for the experience. Much wiser. While I was in the throes of the thrilling affair I did make an effort to search the internet for information
about bar boys in Thailand, and found nothing of interest. I hope that someone sees this and that it helps them.
Whoa, heavy stuff and it goes to show that even the odd Western woman gets sucked in. Stories from other Western women are VERY welcome!