Readers' Submissions

Reflecting On My First 10 Years In Bangkok Part 4

  • Written by Khun James
  • March 20th, 2006
  • 8 min read

Rich Girl? Poor Girl? Middle Class Girl?

I came back to Bangkok the Summer of 1996 to work at a large, international office. They provided me with a decent salary and some good perks, including a serviced apartment with all the amenities. I was also drawing a salary for doing research for my employer in the U.S. Everything was going great and this was the Summer I was introduced to the naughty nightlife.

An Englishman at the office had been in Bangkok a long time. Although he was younger than me, he took me under his wing. He told me this tale and I have no way to verify it, but I have no reason to doubt it either. Anything can happen in Bangkok and, this guy does not have a reputation for stretching the truth. I have told and re-told this story many times. Call it an urban myth if you will, but here goes:

The summer before, a young man from an Ivy League university came to Bangkok for a summer internship with one of the largest international accounting firms. He came to Bangkok to have some fun and get some international experience before graduation. For lack of a better name, let’s just call him Ivy. So, Ivy is from a very wealthy and politically well connected American family. Unlike me, he does not have to worry about money. He rents an 80,000 baht a month apartment with a panoramic view of the Chaopraya River and leases a new Benz for the summer. Mind you, this is was back in the days of 25 baht to US$1.

So Ivy is hanging out where any handsome young man with a lot of dough would hang out; the very best and most expensive and exclusive nightclubs and discos. He is not hanging out in Patpong, Nana or Cowboy. After a week or so in town, he is hanging out at Spasso's and meets a very beautiful, well-educated, young Thai woman with perfect English, perfect attire, sophisticated tastes, etc. This is the kind of girl Ivy would have dated in the US, except for the Thai factor.

So things take the usual course and Rich Girl agrees to go home with him. Over the next couple of weeks, they are seen dining and dancing in all the right places. Then, she stops returning the messages he leaves on her machine. Remember, some folks in 96 still did not have mobiles and voice mail. Three days later she calls him back, apologizes profusely and asks him to meet her at Spasso’s where she will explain everything. Late night at Spasso’s, he is sipping a drink and she comes in. Dressed to kill, as usual, but with puffy red eyes. Not only that but she has two gorillas trailing a respectable distance behind her, checking every move in the club. I am not talking about the guys with bad skin in cheap safari suits and patent leather shoes. These guys were much bigger than the average Thai and looked like they spent a lot of time in the gym. Everything from the perfectly cut hair down to the Italian leather shoes was, you know, perfect. Tailor made suits with just a little extra room for the shoulder holsters. So Rich Girl orders a drink and, between sobs, explains that she has been on her hands and knees for the last three days begging Daddy not to have Ivy whacked. Daddy does not like farang, any farang. Rich Girl says she can’t see Ivy anymore and Ivy enthusiastically agrees. Ivy pays the tab, mumbles a confused goodbye, passes the stares of the gorillas and, gets his Benz. He stops at a red light on the way home and another Benz, this one with blacker than black windows, pulls up alongside. The passenger window goes down and a young guy wearing mirror sunglasses and a business suit waves a pistol at Ivy and just laughs. By now Ivy is shaking so badly he can barely hold the steering wheel. The light changes and the other Benz peals off and the window goes back up. Ivy gets home to the safety (?) of his apartment and says to no-one but the ceiling “That’s it. No more rich girls. I’m going to find a poor girl.”

So, Ivy goes to Patpong with one thing on his mind. Grab a poor girl and keep her for the rest of the rapidly disappearing summer. Sure enough, he finds one. (Who’d have thought it?). Now this is your typical Patpong a-go-go girl from back then; an uneducated, bug-eating, twenty year old Isaan girl with red dyed hair and teeth that stick out towards all four points of the compass. Nevertheless, perfect figure, perfect skin and, a very cheerful attitude. Ivy takes her for a test drive and finds no stretch marks and no signs of gender reassignment. Best of all, no farang-hating millionaire father with an army of goons. So, Ivy is thrilled.

After a few dates, Ivy tells her that his father’s Thai friend has a condo in Cha-Am and invites her for the weekend, just the two of them. Poor Girl is thrilled that he will bar fine her for three consecutive days. However, she has one reservation. She explains that she does not have the proper attire for such a nice resort. Ivy says “No problem” and takes her to the Peninsula, after all, that’s where he and Rich Girl would’ve shopped. Why bother with Mahboonkrong or some other plebian mall, when Peninsula has all the designer brand names you can shake a stick at?

So, Ivy and Poor Girl are off to the Peninsula and about 100,000 baht later, Poor Girl has a bathing suit, sexy lingerie, a handbag, some new shoes and, a new dress. (100,000 baht does not last long at the Peninsula.) Thursday night rolls around and Ivy stops by Patpong to meet his girl and pay the bar for Friday-Sunday in advance like they had agreed, but she is not at the club. The mamasan says she called in sick. Fearing the worst, Ivy hops in the Benz and races to the no-name, sub-sub-sub-soi in the Klong Toey slum where he has taken Poor Girl home several times. He bounds up the stairs to her hovel and finds an old lady mopping an empty room. Poor Girl has flown the coop! I guess you can imagine that she did not leave a forwarding address either.

Friday morning, Ivy skips work and goes back to the Peninsula. Sure enough, as he suspected, Poor Girl returned all of the merchandise she was allowed to return (Maybe they wouldn’t take back the lingerie or the swimsuit. You know, Pub(l)ic Health Regulations.) That’s right. Ivy made the crucial mistake of letting her keep the receipts!

But Ivy isn’t out for revenge or anything. He just figures she’s a poor girl who needs the money more than he does and cannot blame her for what he says was akin to “Taking a gift back to the store to exchange for something else more desirable.” (Unlike me, who would have traced the scheming, conniving wench back to Nakhon Nowhere and let her, shall we say, work it off. That would have taken the rest of the summer and then some.) So by now Ivy is starting to drink a little more than when he first arrived. Bangkok is taking its toll on the lad. A couple of months ago, this was a handsome, self-confident young man who thought he had the world on a string. Now he has moods and is sometimes jumpy, irritable, shy, depressed. He confides in the same friend he confided about the episode with Rich Girl, “No more poor girls. I am going to find a nice, middle class girl.”

As more than a few of you know, there are big visual benefits working in a large office building in Silom, Sathorn or, Sukhumvit. Most of them are chock a block with pretty office workers. In my building right now, there are 3 absolute heart-stoppers, a half-dozen or so knock-outs and legion of cuties. Whether you decide to hit on one or not, lunchtime viewing is a true pleasure.

So, Ivy has seen this one real cutie in the elevator and they have exchanged smiles and a “Good Morning” or two. At least Ivy has the good sense not to hit on a girl in the same company as his. He chooses a girl from another company and floor. So Ivy takes his chance one day when the two of them are alone in the elevator. He introduces himself and invites her to lunch. She happily accepts. Now, given his previous disappointments, Ivy is keeping things in perspective and not getting overly excited.

Lunch in the office canteen goes splendidly! She is bright, a recent college graduate, very good English and fun to talk with. Her bullet-proof polyester suits have Middle Class written all over them. Ivy and Middle Class Girl have a few more lunches together, enjoying each other’s company.

Ivy is starting to feel like his old self again and gets up the nerve to ask her out for a date. Her reply:

“Oh, sure! I would love to go out on a date with you! But if you want to fxxk me, it’s 2000 baht!”

Ivy spent the rest of what was left of the summer alone, drinking in his 80,000 baht a month apartment, while dust collected on the Benz in the car park.

Khun James

Stickman's thoughts:

This is an outstanding story, I loved it! The difficulties of finding love in Thailand, true love – all so true!