The Lure 4
As I said in part one, even though this was just a short trip to Thailand, I had put considerable effort into learning some of the language and reading hundreds of stories just like this one, so I wouldn't be 'going in blind'. As I wandered around an off-season Patong, however, I wondered if it was all a waste of time. Taking the beer and bargirls out of the equation, you start to notice that Phuket is not cheap and certainly not unique. There are better beaches elsewhere in the world and they aren't full of people trying to sell you crap like a buffalo horn with a clock in it <quite beautifully said – Stick>. You probably won't get propositioned by a ladyboy on many of them either.
As for the bargirls, admittedly I was there off-season, but there weren't many stunners among them. I saw more pretty girls just walking down the street in Bangkok. Maybe I wasn't drinking enough beer for them all to look spectacular. I kept going to the bars (what else is there to do) but I can't say I was really into it. I certainly didn't find any reason to get take-away for the next couple of nights. There was more fun to be had just drinking and talking to the other tourists.
At one bar a young English guy was having his birthday. For some reason he allowed the bargirls to cover him in makeup, then he put on a pair of their shoes and stood at the front of the bar, trying to entice customers in with his sexy poses. I didn't stay long enough to see if he got lucky. The girls were having a lot of fun though, offering sexier clothes after each failed attempt.
At one stage I came up with a strategy of walking quickly through a soi, too quickly for anyone to stop me, straight to the toilet at the far end. If I hadn't seen anyone who got my attention, then when I was finished I would quickly walk up the other side and out. This saved me having to sit down and have one beer with someone who didn't interest me before making an excuse and scurrying away, as you see so many people doing.
Of course sometimes you just can't get past when a big enough group of girls drags you into a bar, so there I was one night, drinking with a woman who might have been older than me, when I spied the Cutey. Talk about exactly what I was looking for. I paid the tab as quickly as I could and marched straight over to her. I think it gave her a fright actually, as she was probably more used to dragging customers on to a stool.
She pointed out that she could only speak a tiny bit of English, so I pointed out that I also spoke a tiny bit of Thai. Sure enough, between the two languages there was sufficient conversation to keep us laughing for an hour or so before I paid the departure tax and we headed down the road to Banana Disco.
She seemed a bit nervous again when I paid for us to go in and she kept a firm grip. She was only about five feet, so I suppose it would have been easy to lose her in there. She was always looking around wide-eyed as if she had never seen anything like it. Suddenly she got a much better view as the lights all went on: police raid. I thought it was weird that they were raiding a disco when there were gogo bars down the road, but I took the advice of one of the staff who said I would get held up if I walked out with a Thai girl. I gestured to the Cutey that I'd meet her outside. Sure enough, as an unattached farang I sailed out the door without anyone even looking at me. It wasn't quite the same for her.
After waiting outside for half an hour, watching the band which was still playing outside, a familiar hand gripped me again. It was another uneasy moment for her as we paid the entry tax at my hotel, probably due to the previous grilling by the boys in brown, but once we were in the room she was happy again. Actually she was so happy she was just about bouncing off the walls. Straight away we had a shower together and let's just say she was anything but a starfish. Even so, I got the impression that she wasn't hugely experienced . . . I'll let you guess why. I went to sleep thinking that at least I'd found out what all the fuss was about, but things were going to get much more surprising in the morning.
At about 7 AM she literally dragged me out of bed. For some reason she really wanted to go to the beach. I really wanted to sleep in, but she wouldn't take no for an answer. Actually I'm glad we did go to the beach, because at this time of day Patong is really beautiful. For a start there's nobody trying to sell you anything, and everything just seems so much more calm. There's no traffic noise, so you can only hear the little waves and the occasional jogger blopping past. I sat on the sand cradling her and watched the sky change colour as she asked me all sorts of questions. I noted that she never asked me much about my job, or anything else financial, even in an oblique way. Here was the GFE at its best – I can't remember the last time I shared a moment this serene with a real girlfriend.
About all I had gathered about her was that she came to Patong from Korat a few months back, along with a couple of friends. She certainly seemed very close to a couple of the other girls in the bar. She had a cheeky sense of humour and a very cute smile. Actually the whole package was cute, though she had quite bad acne which may have put off some punters. She didn't want to be paid anything for the previous night, but she wanted to spend the day with me. Having zero plans this sounded just fine, so I let her go home and get changed while I caught up on some sleep.
I met her again a few hours later in front of my hotel, where she convinced me to share a moto-taxi with her up to the north end of the beach. Never thought I'd find myself on one of those, let alone with an extra passenger. Wandering along the beach road after lunch, we ran into five of the girls from the bar the night before. They were all sitting around on mats beside the road, playing cards. There's a beach and a park about twenty metres away, but they put their mats down next to the smelly, noisy road. Must be a Thai thing. While they were chatting rapidly, another of their friends turned up with her English boyfriend. I got the impression that they had known each other much longer than one night. He suggested that we all go to the beach, which was greeted with whoops of excitement (didn't they know it was right behind them?).
He rapidly paid for a bunch of shaded beach lounges and took off for a swim with his girl. I looked around and realised that suddenly I was surrounded by Thai girls in bikinis. This was really turning into a great day. Cutey lay beside me as I dozed in the shade. Our smiling attendant always made sure that the umbrella was in just the right place and for once I said yes to almost every person who came to sell us food. The reason was that Cutey would then feed it to me piece by piece. Thai pineapple is very sweet.
Of course the whole time they were all jabbering away in Thai, and I could tell they were all close friends by the way they made fun of each other constantly. When the other two came back from swimming, the girl leaned over and asked, "You like her? She is only new, not good at sex yet!" This got a huge laugh from all the girls, except the Cutey of course. We spent almost the whole afternoon on the beach, just lying there and sweating. Why didn't I think of this on the first day?
We went back to her bar when it was time for her to start work. I said we should stay for a couple of drinks, but it turned into seven or eight as we played games with her friends and the other customers. To see if it was true that she hadn't been in the bar for years, I challenged her to a game of connect-four. I was amazed when I beat her three times in a row (especially as I lost every other game I played in Patong that week). Finally I paid the tax again and we headed off for another very good evening.
In the morning I was packing for my plane (actually booked one for the trip back) and she still hadn't mentioned money. I brought the subject up as politely as I could, but she just shrugged and said "whatever you want." Hardly what you would call going for the jugular. I still had a lot of unnecessary baht in my pocket, so she got a pretty reasonable amount.
I turned to look at her as the taxi drove away. She wasn't watching the taxi, but just standing there staring into space, looking a bit lost.
I know you're probably thinking 'what a clever girl, she played him so well'. The fact is I haven't seen her since and nor has she ever asked for anything from me, but every month or so there is another plaintive email to the hotmail address I gave her (not one I normally use). "I hope you not forget me. When you come back to Thailand?" I won't forget her, but
I fear seeing her again would only spoil the memory.
As I said at the beginning, this is just the story of my first trip to Thailand, I hope not everyone found it tedious. I'm not aiming to make any sage observations or strong moral judgements (I'd need strong morals first). The only advice I'd like to leave for anyone about to go to Thailand is not to take anything too seriously, especially not the bargirls, and you'll have a great time.
Ahhh, the series is saved! The final part was a good read, with some interesting anecdotes. I like what you say about not getting in touch for fear of spoiling the memories. So true!