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Searching For Miss Goodbar – Search Undaunted



Searching For Miss Goodbar: Quest Undaunted


Searching for Miss Goodbar: Quest undaunted;

(The latest edition from the ongoing Butterfly Chronicles)

Based in Pattaya, featuring Malibu Bar Show

Greetings fellow travelers; You may recall some time ago my visits to 'planet Thailand' throughout the December – January 05 period, and my last installment (12/02/05) which took me to the nearby pleasure moon of Pattaya… Using the Hotel's limo shuttle, thus escaping the strong gravitational pull and allure of Bangkok, – avoiding a multitude of space debris and radiation haze from pollution, finally reaching escape velocity, and I'm bound for the headier climbs and rarefied atmosphere of Pattaya-land….to see if the natives were as friendly as before… Of course, I would not be disappointed….

For anyone going to Thailand for the first time, it's normal to be bedazzled by the sheer glitz and mischievousness of the place, – limitless, endless shows in glitzy Technicolor, ultra theatrical 'campy' Lady boy shows are by now an integral part of Thailand, interwoven into its complex modernistic culture almost as much as anything else. Like it or not, or like them or not, Lady boys are a permanent fixture, and as much a part of the Thailand's naughty night life entertainment scene, as anything else, rubbing shoulders, if a little uncomfortably at times, with their 'genuine' feminine counterparts. It's Transvestitism on acid, out of control, – almost as much a pull for tourist's as an "eighth wonder" of the world would be to see and experience.

Shows generally go from dreadful to really good, – even 'professional' or simply well polished, only a few would stand alone against any NY or London West End show, (well maybe not!?) but might 'compare' at least! Thailand's eternal & irreverent love affair with high camp in low gear never ends, and some shows while unremittingly bad, can as yet, be so badly 'good' and engrossing in their own inimitable styles, that you are sometimes transfixed to the spot by the glitzy spectacle before you. Virtually 'rooted' to the spot by their bawdy rudeness, – captivated in stunned awe of the spectacle played out in front of you. Your senses & emotions are often played with, occasionally using watered down sex shows that are sometimes just awful. These are ordinary [if there is such a thing] Go-Go bars with special in-house shows and sex, or rather "sexy"-shows in between dancing, to capture, amaze and cajole an otherwise unsuspecting captive audience. Either way, they'll amaze you or shock you, – as indeed they are meant to. Some of the specialised sex-shows or upper-level shows and bars are unremittingly awful, expensive entrance fees, hidden outrageous cover charges, burly waiters moving sinisterly in darkened halls. Barely visible & faceless girls parade before you, *doing everything imaginable or conceivable with their Vagina's, – except that is, having babies….

(*A 'nod' towards book title; "Swimming to Cambodia" Author: Spalding Gray, Pub. 1987)

Human exploitation isn't pretty in any form, and after seeing one such show in BKK once in 1995, I failed thereafter to see any real pleasure in watching a series of girls sexually 'humiliating' themselves by turning tricks such as, opening beer bottles, firing banana's and ping-pong balls at surprised Japanese tourist's etc. Hell, I'm in no way biased, but these sex shows take human degradation down to new levels in my view, and they're strictly 'once-only' then best forgotten about. 'Newbies' to the LOS might enjoy them, but they bore me now.

A show like this would have any Human Rights or Gender affairs women quaking in their shabby frumpy Oxfam shoes and running into the Soi screaming as their hair changes into a shock of white, – faint hearted beware, within these walls be sirens….

Perhaps the concept of a sex show is marginally & more tastefully performed in South Pattaya's "Baby-A-Gogo" [for example] off Walking St, whereby the dimming of lights and John Williams Star Wars' anthem heralds a 'sexy-show', as opposed to a full blown sex show…. Lovely near-naked flower-Boa'd slowly appear on stage bathed seductively in low ultraviolet light, and perform several 'tricks', like pulling strings of razor blades from their Vagina's and other objects. As if this isn't excruciating enough, they then begin slashing sheets of paper with insolent ease with them to the Scorpion's "Still loving you". 'Defining' their point with deft skilled downward slashing motions as blokes all around the bar nervously cross their legs in gut-reaction… It's pretty bearable though, mainly cause the girls are so gorgeous albeit very young, but enough to make any guy 'wince' at the thought of having sex with any of them, – in the event they should ever 'forget to remove' the razors one night after a show… Ouch!! I heard more than once and have been told this trick was derived for more sinister purposes during the Vietnam [or before] war with Viet Kong female agents, to deliberately seduce GI's into having sex with them with the subsequent serious injury involved, although I have never had this substantiated, – nor really ever wanted to delve into such an occurrence. during the Vietnam war, many GI's frequented BKK and there were U.S. ARMY intelligence bases there and in Laos, and some Thai girls, (even BG's) acted as part-time or covert intelligence sources against Viet Kong activities that had at times [possibly] infiltrated Thailand. If somebody has any more substantial information on this, do let me know? It's well documents how many GI's came to Thailand, and finding their sexual nirvana, simply never went home again…. As gorgeous as the girls are in "Baby-a-Go-Go", bar fines are still 500 THB and about 1,500 THB for the girls 'across the board' as one girl frankly and honestly explained to me, the system was needed, seemingly to avoid 'elitism' among the girls and any subsequent confusion with the customer base. Also too, so as not to 'price-out' the younger, lesser experienced girls. Baby A-Go-Gos a clean and nicely decorated bar by comparison to others, without the 'dinge' you see and feel in others, and the girls look pretty fit too, albeit very very young, only a few being in their 20's, of which generally speaking, some are quite shy. Similar policy in prices were noted at nearby "Carousel Bar" and others throughout Pattaya with slight variations or policies.

(Note: Prices may vary, and seasonal variations may influence price changes/bar-fines etc, such as at TQ II's)

Onward to "Malibu" Show….

Lady boy Shows are numerous in Thailand, – naming them all and their locations would take a dedicated publication resembling the thickness of a business directory, from the good to downright bad & ugly. My last article featured the 'infamous' or famous King's Corner Bar in Suriwong Rd's Patpong road, which to some, is a sort of pseudo lady-boy show-come Gogo bar, where there's a combination of Lady boys and real 'ladies'. Perhaps two of Pattaya's best Lady boy shows are the "Simon Show" in Soi Diamond's South Pattayaland, and "Tiffany's", – which I don't know where is…. Simon's Lady boy show's well featured in Pattaya and once featured in a TV documentary C1997. The documentary described human stories of some of the performers, their lives, distant families and boyfriends, and took a good in-depth look at the Thai-Farang phenomenon between lady boys and farang. Simon show's polished and glitzy by any standards, and some of the Lady boys on stage really 'look' the part, really quite feminine, – slinking around in Bikini's singing "The sun always shines in Patta-yah" coming down offstage amid the audience, to thrust their ample silicone bosoms into the faces of unsuspecting front-row tourist's! Afterwards, the Kai Toey performers will then 'wait' outside as the audience files past them to go home, bidding them good night and receiving tips or adoration from a grateful audience. Yes, – the Lady boy's too are looking for a "take-out"… – and I'm not talking about Chinese food….

Perhaps less well known than their bigger money-spinning counterparts, yet worth a look-in, is a tiny pin-prick of a show by comparison, called "Malibu" on Pattaya's 2nd Beach road….and featured later herein this article.

"Ol' Spooky" & the "Malibu" Show in Pattaya….

Nestling unobtrusively on the corner of Soi 13 on Pattaya's 2nd Beach Road, 'sandwiched' among perhaps some of the busiest, and more well established bars of that immediate area, Malibu Show belts out its nightly musical vigil and colourful dance routines. You could be forgiven for even missing it hurriedly walking past, amid the usual crowded & bubbling noisy mischief of that area. It's fairly easy to miss, – simply because of all the other myriad of distractions and kaleidoscope of activity and colours around it…. Malibu's situated about a long stone's throw away from the Royal Garden Plaza shopping centre, and Ripley's "Believe it or not", on Soi 13's corner, and is about 200m of a whiskey fueled staggering distance from there, – heading towards North Pattaya as the drunken crow flies. Does someone know the history about that Douglas C-47 [Civil DC-3 "Dakota"] 'stuck' into the Plaza's North facia? It was probably a "Spooky" – A Douglas C-47A Gun-ship leftover again from the Vietnam era, albeit repainted red overall in Ripley's garish red livery, but is a complete airframe all the same. There are two [other] derelict C-47A Gunships beside the approach road to Pattaya when driving from BKK, both in their original faded and weathered Green, Tan and Black camouflage schemes…

"Spooky's" or sometimes referred to as "Puff, the magic Dragon" [from the song] as was named, or in their more technical name; "C-47A's", – were used literally as flying gun platforms that could reign awesome firepower down on the enemy [hence "Puff the magic dragon" tag] and were used in "COIN" or in Counter Insurgency op's along borders throughout S.E. Asia's war, -for their slow rugged stability and firepower ability to literally 'blanket' dense jungle areas with awesome destructive firepower from a fuselage mounted battery of mini-guns poking through the Plexiglas windows… These C-47's were almost certainly based at U'tapao during the Vietnam war and left behind thereafter. Some saw service as re-engined & retrofitted PT-6 [Pratt & Whitney turboprop] powered versions with the Royal Thai Air Force and are still flying to this day!!

It's hard to say how long Malibu's been in business, [1984 was mentioned to me] but it's Lady-Boy boss who stands in as pop diva Tina Turner would indicate 'years', maybe even decades… Perhaps his renditions of the dark diva from Nutbush City Limits are the shows' best, albeit unlicensed attraction. He, erm sorry, she, can be seen nightly strutting 'her' stuff on the small, slightly cramped looking stage. Simply the Best? – hardly, but a damn good try and highly entertaining, and was one of my first enduring [or is that endearing?] images of Thailand at it's camp-ish best or worst in 1994. Stopping for my very first ever beer perhaps in Pattaya that fateful May 1994, I happened upon the "Malibu" Show in all its glory almost by accident, seeing "Tina Turner" going through her paces with camp panache' second to none. Overall the show is above average, even highly entertaining in a 'kitsch' sort of way, and judging by the smiling expressions of the audience's faces, thoroughly enjoyable Thai hokum!

Somehow, in January this year, I found myself alone once again in Pattaya, a sort of throw-back to that first 1994 adventure, and the first thing that struck me was how little anything had changed… It' was as if I'd stepped through some time portal in 2005 back to 1994, it looked all exactly the same, and even the show and its performances looked identical!! On taking up my usual position at the bar as I did back in 1994, I noticed the worn bar still had the same chunks missing from it, wobbly stools and cracks in the cement pavement, surely, I'd been transported back to 1994!!? Ordering my Beer, I gazed upwards at the stage, half expecting to see the same faces I'd seen back then, yes, I could still remember one or two of the girls that danced there before, really pretty things that gave support to the lady boys…. Even the audience looked the same, changed over many thousands of times, every nationality, but were lapping up all the camp as if never seen before, and with a high incidence of British tourists, gave it an almost "Jellied Eel's" feel or Thailand's answer to Blackpool… reddened heads and

overdone suntans, it's all there…. We're in the post-tsunami period now, and spirits seemingly haven't been dampened by recent events as the Pattaya's human fun-machine grinds on unrelentingly in its pursuit of pleasing legions of crowds while pulling in that much-needed Thai Baht. An unstoppable machine, fun filled, – yet with a money-making and more cynical side, but you can't deny the Thai's ability to be able to laugh amiably at themselves too…. I wonder sometimes who the joke's on really, – the Thais for their seemingly endless irreverence and fun poking at their own culture and dignity, – or us for paying endlessly for such. It is probably undoubtedly the latter, but it's all good fun, we know we're in a kind of human 'game', – so it's best to just play along and have fun, – "go with the flow"….

There's a totally different 'feel' in Malibu's show than in any Gogo bar, it's the same in ways, yet not so, – more open, more of a 'show' and a night-out feel as its meant to be, but wait a minute…. Let's look more closely….

So, had Malibu been 'preserved in time' somehow? – had the content of the show undergone some form of suspended animation? After all, my stool still wobbled precariously like I remember in 94/5, the bar's edge was still frayed like before, – my drinks even took a long time, had I tripped through some magical time portal back in time, – overcome with a feeling of "Deja Vu" I took my seat and gazed…. Even the acts and costumes looked exactly the same, word for word, mime for mime… There's no real singing here, only miming to originals, and it reminded me of the pantomimes that originally earned the term, whereby gaudy & raucous 1900's acts were played out before a discerning and gentile Victorian audience with pure shock-value in mind, miming in period slapstick, much as was going on here today, amid Pattayaland….What an appropriate expression that; "Pattaya-land" which conjures up images of something almost magical and innocently child-like whereby Peter Pan would've been happy in this never-never land of unlimited entertainment. Slightly surreal, even slightly unreal where nobody seems to get really hurt physically. Or so it might seem.

Gazing up from my usual tried and trusted viewpoint at the bar, much as I did a decade or so before, with strategic view of the stage and back entrance, I ordered my usual Beer. { I'd like some wine but it seems a little incongruous sipping a glass of wine in a bar like this!} So, I kick back [well, not too far!] gazing at the ladyboys and girls going through their nightly paces. As before, it seems the girls and ladyboys are enjoying themselves as much as the audience, breaking into hails of girlish giggles after any mistakes, reminding me of a school play at times. Malibu seemed identical to what it was like in 1994…. There had been no change of their routines, and maybe even some of the older dancers were the same from back then? I looked and pondered, – suddenly a beautiful young girl caught my eye, nooo, it couldn't be could it? No, that was impossible, but she looked like a dead-ringer or even a 'doppelganger' [double] for a girl who danced there previously in 94, – I thought I was seeing things, – hallucinating? Yet this was before I'd had much to drink!

High Camp, – in low gear….

I was astounded to see a particular young girl on the stage, – who looked the double of a former girl I recalled well from 1994, [no names here] – yet it's just that it was impossible for her to be the same girl as she hadn't aged! I pondered the possibility that the boss might actively audition or recruit dancers of a certain physical ilk or similar appearance to 'maintain' a certain familiar and signatory "look" for the show, and that there were probably no shortage of look-alike recruits who could dance? Even so, the odds must be very high, or maybe it was an accident? Hmmm, that could be a matter of much conjecture, but I 'suspect' my theory, far fetched as it sounds, might be right, she was probably recruited for her apparently more-than-eye-catching resemblance to her look-alike predecessor, ["Pin"] although probably unknown to her… Sure, some tourist's watching proceedings at Malibu's might cringe having seen a West End show, at the occasionally amateurish appearance of the show, yet lap-up its exported "Jellied-eels" seaside slapstick appeal, – harking back to those naughty bawdy seaside post cards of fat rosy-cheeked ladies & boozy red-nosed 'hubbies' eying up impossibly scantily clad damsels in barely-fitting bikini's… British tourists laughed and cheered as the dancers went through their routines with gusto. True Brit's, – raising their glasses in tribute, the only thing missing were those knotted handkerchief's on their sun burnt heads!!

This is Thailand, "high camp in low gear" – you either love it or hate it, and the Thai's seem to have the ability to laugh at themselves, and lady-boys are seemingly natural comediennes and fall-guys when it comes to slap stick and sending themselves up comically. They actively 'thrive' on the attention and mock adoration of the masses that gather to watch them, and see themselves as 'artistes' or performers, almost similarly to clowns in their individual identities and styles.

"We are the Cheeky Girls"…. (Touch my bum!)

Perhaps the world of Euro-pop had no idea what they were unleashing on the unsuspecting pop world when releasing this single. An annoying, 'catchy' contagious and brainwashing tune to beat even Black Lace's "Agadoo" or the more recent "Ketchup song". British born Romanian Twins Gabriela & Monica Irimia (Cheeky Girls) shot to notorious musical fame with their 'We are the Cheeky Girls" monster hit in March of 2003, spawning a new breed of pop-teenies to rival "Bardot" – "Salt'n Peppa" and most 2-3 girlie bands in the kitsch one-hit industry….

At Malibu's show after some tentative discussions with the boss lady-boy of Malibu, {aka Tina Turner!} two [real] female newcomers to the Malibu show wanted to do something different, and the two new arrival sisters; "Poo" & "Lek" were asked to do some rehearsals incorporating their own [choice] original song "Cheeky Girls", – danced and mimed to by Poo & Lek. Dan tutored Pu in their dance routine, apparently choreographed and worked out in their own apartment in North Pattaya, and fine-tuned, Dan utilising her former experiences as an accomplished disco-dancer and physical education teacher. The Katoey boss and other girls/lady-boy's liked what they saw, and hence a new musical routine was born and drafted into the Malibu's otherwise tired repertoire, brightening up an otherwise aging show.

"Lek" being the elder sister, was formerly a physical education teacher at Chiang Mai University, who changed her job, – and her life, for the bright night lights of Pattaya, incorporating her dancing and physical prowess at Malibu's show where she was quickly recruited for her amateur, yet impressive dancing and performing skills. Broken hearted, after breaking off a 3 year romance with a Thai Policeman, her younger sister Poo followed and fled to Pattaya also on the advice of her elder sister and mentor, and so it was at Malibu's they themselves 'introduced' "Cheeky Girls" as a nightly routine. In discussion, Poo revealed she was formerly a Computer and Administration clerk in Chiang Mai, but ran way after her relationships with her Police boyfriend failed when he went "butterfly" or "Chou-Joo" – exchanging her 'steady' office job and life too for the bright lurid lights of Pattaya's night life at the Malibu show. Poo's reticent about her past, cautious yet determined as young as she is, and struck me as a serious young lady away from all the glitz and neon lights, yet changes in personality on stage quite miraculously….almost as if a Butterfly emerging from a Chrysalis… It was as though she had a stage persona, and an off-stage persona that was more down to earth, more real.

Lek & Poo's stage performances are 'polished' compared to some, and heightens the overall professionalism at Malibu's. They move in a well-choreographed dance routine to the "We are the Cheeky Girls" one-hit wonder quite evocatively and effectively. Both girls are more than attractive and curvaceous enough to titillate the audiences to the max…. It has to be remarked that given their different backgrounds, as to how incredibly well they've adapted like 'Ducks to Water' to their new 'performing' environment and careers as dancers. Not to mention that they both must've wowed people at their local discotheque's in their earlier incarnations…

Bar fining a Malibu Girl?….

Hmm, I don't know whether to admit to this or not, but you 'can' bar-fine a Malibu show girl, it just costs more… Yet it's very much up to the girl in question, and the rapport you develop beforehand with any one of them. Simply breezing in and approaching one won't work, and the girls seem much more wary about their male audience and customers than any of the Gogo bars. A bar fine for a Malibu girl will set you back a hefty 1,000 THB, as you're are essentially paying for any 'lost' revenue, or her night's equivalent salary. She, or 'he' has to pay the bar for their unscheduled absence, but generally speaking, the girl's will remain at the show until closing time of 2am until making any outside rendezvous's. {Closing time was 2am in 1994 too}

Taking along customers for a joint party & slap-up Thai meal afterwards seems to be standard practice, as we all did one night, and which gave me some useful insight into the workings of the show, – and the girls. Another reason for going out in a group with customers is obviously as the customers will invariably pay for the meal, – and the 'privilege' of such attractive company en masse… It's also an occasion for any would-be admirers to 'state their case' over the meal or make their move, and to be taken up or summarily dismissed in a friendly & amenable fashion! The girls and ladyboys too, feel more secure in this group gathering scenario which enable them to make any choices, which seems quite fair.

It took time to finally get Poo's undivided attention, but finally after some gentle coaxing, she came over and said hello in between routines, and I ordered her an Orange juice. Her English wasn't very good but she tried, and had obviously not had much exposure to foreigners, so this also could be attributable to some shyness. So, I just relaxed, kicked back and took whatever would come, not pushing things, even going out of my way to relax Poo. Indubitably, Poo had had numerous former advances from various beau's fancying their chances, so I'd assumed that this was not new to her, yet it was up-to-her, and not me in this instance, a policy I always adhere to.

Slowly, Poo came around, and I showed her that it really didn't matter to me what happened, only that I liked her, a fact picked up on by her ever-observant older sister, Lek…. Eager to ward off the advances of another guy, Lek approached me and asked me in perfect English to 'tip' Poo when she did her next number, – to 'show' my appreciation, – not for money's sake, but to let Poo 'know' my appreciation of her, and it's this that seems to have then tipped the balance. [No pun intended!]

Love, in a cold, cold climate….

During my subsequent visits to Malibu over a course of days, chatting with and getting to know Poo & Lek, I met "Sven" – Lek's would-be Husband who was in the process of getting her VISA for her imminent return to Finland with him, as man & wife. Sven was a nice enough guy or newbie, but way too tightly wrapped sort of guy, obviously swept away by the allure and oriental mystique of Thailand, or "Thai-lund" as he would say. He eyed me suspiciously too one night at the bar, assessing me as a threat or not, – quite unnecessary I thought, but this was 'him' I suppose. His straight shock of whitish hair and pallid complexion denoted his race as Icelandic or Norwegian, but Finland is from where he came, and was about to return, with Lek his new, and seemingly enthusiastic younger bride in hand…. Lek just didn't seem to get that I wasn't interested in his would-be bride, and was overly suspicious beneath his somewhat false and clumsy approaches at being friendly, but felt he was just pumping and fishing for information from me. In a private conversation, Lek told him the girls thought "I knew too much" – characterised by Sven as he told me as being a "distinctly unfair advantage"… "It's not fair you know, to these girls, that you know too much about Thailand" he said to me one night…. I laughed, and told him he shouldn't, and needn't be so guarded or suspicious, and detected some instability or insecurity in his relationship with Lek, – not a good start if you're sincerely taking someone out of the country. Lek was a beautiful, no doubt about it, curvy, athletic, even a somewhat charismatic girl on stage at least, but a 'player' all the same, and she was 'playing Sven' right now. Being January, and knowing about Sven & Lek's imminent departure to Finland, I asked Sven what the temperatures might be now, at this time of year in Helsinki? "Minus 20 about now!" he beamed unabashed, the moment Lek appeared from backstage, looking quite stunning, and scantily clad in her next dance number's desired costume… It was about +28 degrees in Pattaya this night…. Lek had a small cardigan draped around her shoulders, – this is 'cool' an evening for any local girl, although it may have been designed to hide her modesty? I doubt that though, seeing her perform on and off stage with customers previously. When Sven wasn't there, had her share of 'admirers' that she didn't exactly ward off…. Sven's apparent naivety reminded me of why it's often best to 'avoid' other tourist's in the LOS, and distance yourself from them.

Dhoom Dhoom….

Love in a cold climate indeed I mused to myself, as Poo sat beside me for her drink, funny too the girls were talking about me that way backstage too, that I was a farang that "knew too much" – as they put it! It polarised for me Thai women's particularly BG's suspicions about farang's, – they don't like it when you have, or seem to have an upper hand or advantage, as Sven clearly didn't…. Sadly, I thought Lek & Sven's marriage would be doomed to failure, like so many before it, when culture-shock takes over as Lek succumbs to Finland's bitterly cold climate, and squeaky-cleanness, and the fact she'll be waiting alone on her husband 8-10 hours a day, longer if he commutes. Not a good basis for any relationship, and adding a Thai girl into the equation? – marital disaster in the making I felt. Lek seemed a nice enough girl, older more streetwise, but obviously to me, very experienced with men, and more than capable to manipulate them. An earlier, unguarded conversation with me, might have prompted her backstage remarks to her fellow girls and then later to Sven during some pillow-talk, and my apparent interest in her younger, beautiful sister Poo….

Girl on a Motorbike….

Poo was no doubt under Lek's watchful eye and care, and perhaps sometimes cynical mentoring amid Pattaya's dog-eat-dog underworld of Pattaya's lurid entertainment industry, and was herself wary of me in the beginning. No doubt Poo was eying me when I wasn't looking, mindful of her elder sister's earlier comments on me, but no doubt Poo assessed me and then decided in her own time when to approach. Young as she was, Poo was a singular minded young lady, – had a mind of her own, and she was gonna find out for herself. I played it 'openly' with transparency, giving Poo an honest account of my experiences in Thailand, – I did it as a sign, a sign I wasn't to be messed around in the usual way and knew the ropes myself, – yet in a friendly and transparent manner in the nicest possible way I could. I also let her know I wasn't playing one of those funny-games some Farang like to play to show their 'superiority' – there are some real smart-arses out there.

One night, or 'morning' at about 2am when Malibu's finished, about January 10th, myself, Sven and some other British guy's decided to tag along for an after-show dinner and slap-up meal of prawns and Thai food, at some restaurant in North Pattaya, frequented by the Malibu girls and Lady boys after their shows. Setting off from Malibu's, Poo actually made a point to invite me to accompany her, on her Motor-sai, a 'Honda' parked alongside the Bar on Soi 13. Poo was dressed for dinner, and dressed to kill too, – short skirt, high pointed heels and figure-hugging pink tank-top, she looked as stunning off, as on stage… I rode pillion, holding onto her body as we rode, Poo deliberately speeding along and laughing aloud as we bounced along Pattaya's uneven back roads… (- I was scared shit-less frankly) Roaring off in a convoy of bikes and Baht buses, we [all] somehow met later at the desired restaurant, but more by accident it seemed than plan. (!) Poo sat aside her Katoey friend and another mentor of sorts, called "June" – 'Thai to the core' but had adopted an English sounding nickname, spoke virtually fluent English too, translating and filling-in for Poo's linguistic inadequacies or even shyness, of which I was quite grateful for. Sven sat opposite but not beside Lek who was chatting furiously in usual song-like fashion to another girl further along the row, and an attractive looking Katoey called "Wendy". I thought Sven looked slightly 'lost' and out-of-his-depth and even seemed isolated for being newly married to Lek, – I couldn't help but feel some sympathy for him. His earlier restrained efforts yet polite form of 'hostility' & suspicion toward me was no doubt his only defense tactic as he thought, but I could see where his marriage was headed 'eons' before he could, or would, – oddly enough, I felt sorry for him in ways, – not Lek though, she knew what she was doing. His attitude towards me had, no doubt too, been 'tempered' by Lek regarding my savvy in the LOS. Not something I'm proud or, let alone would ever boast, – but it has saved me from getting into serious trouble so many times before…. At least it proved there was some modicum of 'communication' and confidentiality between Lek and Sven.

Throughout dinner, Poo was chatty, highly attentive, not overly-affectionate which was good, serving me food as she went, generally I felt I was really getting the royal treatment & well looked after. A fact not overlooked or observed by June also, with her arm around Poo, who gave me a broad 'wink' of one of her big eyes in 'approval' behind Poo's back – and more than a nod that I had indeed won Poo's favor and affections…. Sven sat opposite, quiet, and seemingly subdued, perhaps contemplating his imminent return to Finland, – with Lek in tow, his new bride, and realisation may have been slowly dawning on him as to the possible difficulties that lay ahead in his kingdom of ice and snow…. Attempting to further break the ice, I started to chat with Sven who was looking a little solitary by now, making some general remarks about Thailand, as we sweat-ed in open shirts amid the Chilli and steaming food on what was an otherwise hot evening/early morning. I thought that beneath the suspicions, naive approach and starched long-sleeved nylon shirt, he was a nice guy….

June and Poo chatted intimately laughing, Poo looking at me sideways shyly, – no doubt being 'briefed' by a 'naughtier' far more experienced "June" on what to do and 'how to please me'… I was feeling reticent however, willing and able to take anything that would come, yet decided tonight at least, I would sleep alone… Poo somehow wasn't a fast sort of girl and seemed much more deliberate about her actions, – I decided that time was the best option, to see what transpired later or tomorrow. Events would later prove Poo's intentions, and it would be later in Bangkok that I would discover this….

Poo comes to Bangkok….

About mid January, I repositioned to Bangkok again from Pattaya, as my ex-wife was herself coming to Bangkok with the intention of us meeting for an impromptu shopping expedition with our daughter, now 4 yrs old. Leaving Bangkok, I wasn't sure at all if Poo would visit me in Bangkok, nor even call, but call she did on about my 2nd day back in BKK. Getting straight to the point, Lek called, asking me if I wanted to see Poo, obviously with Poo standing beside her as she made the call, and with tongue firmly in cheek, I said 'yes, of course' not really knowing what I was possibly getting into, – Poo just didn't seem a fly-by-night girl, perhaps that would have been 'safer' (?) Sure enough, the following evening, Poo set off from the shores of Pattaya to Bangkok, and initially to her relatives house somewhere on the outskirts of BKK, then into BKK, to our agreed meeting place at BKK's Mahboonkrong Shopping Centre, inside McDonald's on the Tokyu department store end. Poo was somehow delayed, as I waited and waited, anxiously watching my watch in a Patpong Cafe as the minutes & half-hours ticked away till very late, – Hmmm, she didn't seem to be coming… Finally my phone hummed its distinct signal to herald Poo's arrival supposedly in BKK's city limits and I was soon in a Taxi Meter on my way to MBK, – at about 00:45am! McDonald's was closing but even so the waitresses cheerily let me in sayin "Nooo, no lady here!" – where was she….?? Wandering around MBK majestic exterior walls I wondered if somehow our meeting had fallen victim to some language misunderstanding, – just as I saw a lone figure in the distance looking at me now walking towards her, it was Poo… Unsmiling Poo looked at me saying she'd been waiting a long time and had traveled far, quoting about 80Kms from her in-laws house in outer BKK!! "I serious" she kept saying as I offered my apologies too for being late, – I didn't actually think she was coming and had clearly underestimated her, – I was sorry yet angry with myself, mugged once again by reality, fooled into being too cynical again…. Poo wasn't well though and had genuinely caught some stomach bug, but hey, that didn't matter, she was here and instead of a GF I had a patient for the night, taking care of her. This wasn't so bad, I really wasn't sure and wasn't feeling my usual gung-ho self and preferred a relaxing evening in front of a carefully chosen Thai movie. (Ong Bak) Sometime at about 03:30am I took a mercy dash out for some stomach medicines from a nearby 24hr Pharmacy, and by morning Poo was fixed up and looking much fitter. Taking care of her that night, I had the odd feeling that rather than anything physical, I had forged a friend for life, something wholly more satisfying than some fling. Poo rang me that same night from Malibu to thank me for all my help, but sadly my days in BKK were by now numbered, so with some regret had to leave things where they were, until next time….

"Ong Bak" – Muay Thai Vs Kung Fu….

I'm not a great fan of Muay Thai, – it's pretty violent and brutal and I don't really enjoy the Muay Thai bouts played out nightly among Pattaya's Bar Bier Sois, – it seems as soon as you go anywhere near them, you're cajoled into parting with some money, and it's not my cup-of-tea watching them beat the showers of sweat off of each other's painfully contorted faces. Sporting a camera even near a Muay-Thai ring often invites calls for a photo-shoot, poses, and yes, tips for the fighters…As happened to me when roaming with camera in-hand around Walking St one night. (!)

Filmed at Thailand's Sahamongkoi Film International Co. Ltd studio's and causing something of a cinematic stir throughout Thailand recently, has been young & upcoming Tony Jaa's exploits under some sterling direction from an otherwise mousy, unassuming, Prachaya Prinkaew.. Entitled "Ong-Bak", (Literal; "Born to Fight") Prinkeaw's Muay Thai martial-arts release on an otherwise unsuspecting cinema audience, possibly heralds Thailand's visceral answer to 70's legend Bruce Lee, in this Thailand-Summer 2005 knock-out cinema outing.

Jaa plays "Kam" – a young'n 'traditionally' flawed, almost anti-hero cum-village-boy & Muay-Thai exponent, battling an evil Thai mafia, who initially upset Kam by stealing then selling his father's prized Elephants to Australia. Also, the same mafia boss is hell bent on disfiguring and selling Thailand's treasured ancient Buddhist statues and effigies to further finance his burgeoning kingdom of crime. In fight sequences not seen for some time, comparable and reminiscent to Bruce Lee's in the 70's, Jaa, cast as country bumpkin boy "Kam", battles some pretty stereotypical unsavory mafia-like foes against a bleak and present-day Bangkok backstreet backdrop.

Slightly puerile acting at times, "Ong Bak" is elevated by the sheer electrical brutality of the fight sequences, – stunts [some unedited] actually done by Jaa himself, show-casing the more authentic and traditional ways of Muay Thai, not previously seen. Set mainly in Bangkok, "Kam" is the lonely muscle-bound yet diminutive young, flawed 'anti-hero' – reluctantly 'sucked' into an unwanted mafia confrontation, aided by an equally reluctant side-kick. [No pun intended!] Kam unwillingly at first, reverts to his hard-learned traditional Muay-Thai skills [9 body weapons] to save his and his colleagues skins against a ruthless mafia boss who'd obviously smoked too may cigarettes, – losing his entire larynx to throat cancer. "Kam's" arch villain speaks his venom through a small electronic throat microphone, making him sound rather like an old 60's BBC TV Dalek. His favorite party trick is to smoke yet more fags through a hole in his throat… yuk!

The movie's a noir tragi-comedy of sorts, – one scene of ensuing carnage involving Tuk-Tuk's displays the Thai's signature irreverence for sending themselves and their culture up at times, and might be the cinema's first [real] "car"-chase sequence involving tuktuks, – so dramatically and explosively! If you're harboring bad thoughts towards money-grabbing Tuk-Tuk drivers, then this movie is for you!

"Man Pong's" DVD store in BKK's Mahboonkrong showed this movie repetitively to passing bustling crowds of otherwise preoccupied shoppers, and it is here I noticed it and bought a copy, (359 THB) amid the loud soundtrack and overly-set bass of the multiple kicks and blows rained down on Jaa's assailants. Some pumped-up, huge violent, animalistic-like Farang also take Kam (Jaa) on, succumbing quickly to skull fractured grief after a violent bar brawl with Jaa. Funny, but these villainous white-trash-like Farang remind me suspiciously of some Farang I've actually see roaming around Pattaya!!? I can't help but wonder if this is somehow the Thai's cinema's subtle way of stabbing-back at certain horrible farang we both know and abhor? A must-see Thai movie by any standard, head & shoulders above the usual overly-violent & melodramatic Asian movie fare. Good down-to-earth & justifiable brute force, no unlikely mystical 'flying Chinamen' or other far-fetched and laughable gravity-defying aerodynamic fighting sequences as had ruined the highly lauded "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"'s credibility. [for me anyway]

Bloodiest bit: Tony Jaa finishing off two farang-imals in the mother of all bar room brawls…

Horrible bit: Pretty prostitute being force-fed masses of Heroine until foaming at the mouth….

Funniest bit: Sheer Tuk-Tuk carnage in the BKK chase sequence to destruction amid those many annoying infamous unfinished highways byways and flyovers….

Sexiest bit: Er.. none that I can think of….there's no love-interest either per-se'….

Cor-blimey bits: Jaa's skull-crushing elbow blows & use of bamboo implements to do same…

"Oooh – that's gonna hurt" bit: Jaa's drop and knee-crush blow, sending baddie crashing through several layers of wooden scaffolding in clouds of dust….

Can you spot bits: Film Director's hints & 'invitations' scrawled on walls & Garage doors like Graffiti amid action sequences aimed at Steven Spielberg and Luc Besson!!

Stickman's thoughts:

More magic from Simon Templar.