Readers' Submissions

Journey Of Hope And Despair

  • Written by Rahiri
  • October 18th, 2006
  • 7 min read


I met her in a gogo bar in Pattaya. I’m not a “monger”. I’d unexpectedly renewed an old friendship with a guy I used to know in Sydney who’d bought a couple of condos in Jomtien. I was working in Singapore on a temporary contract, he invited me to visit for a weekend on my way home to NZ, and I accepted his offer. I’d been to Bangkok on business before – just in and out, and to Phuket for a conference. I knew about the sex industry in Thailand by reputation but had no personal acquaintance. I knew nothing about Pattaya.

It was not a happy time in my life. My second marriage was not going well and my job was about to end with few prospects for new employment in sight. I was a little angry, and a little depressed….

I caught a budget airline flight from Singapore to Bangkok on a Saturday morning, and found myself at the baggage carousel at Don Muang with another Kiwi, who was also en route to Pattaya. We shared a limo together which dropped him at his hotel and then took me to Jomtien to meet my friend. After exchanging pleasantries and dropping my bags, we headed to Pattaya on the baht bus. After coffee at Starbucks, we went for a walk along Beach Road, and then to satisfy my curiosity wandered into a gogo bar which was already open in the late afternoon.

The bar was frankly, disappointing. The girls to be sure were mainly pretty, but I found the “school uniforms” a bit predictable, the drinks seemed expensive and we were being hit up to buy “lucky dip?” tickets we had no interest in. We sat back in a booth, watched the girls bounce up and down on stage (you could hardly call it “dancing”) and sipped our beer. Somehow I ended up in a conversation with her, and bought her a drink before she had to go on stage. She was pretty, not sensational, but she had a lovely sweet smile that hinted at a kind and generous disposition (and if that makes you experienced cynics wince – well you’re right, but also wrong…). I got the standard questions including “Are you married?”, and answered them all truthfully. I asked a few of my own and ascertained she had only been working at the bar for three weeks (it was true).

Meanwhile my mate was buying a drink for one of the serving staff – not a dancer – who looked young and pretty but to me, somehow, not quite right, nothing I could put my finger on. My mate was well and truly smitten by “her” beauty – yes you know what’s coming, but enlightenment was slow.

My girl returned and after consulting with my mate I barfined her and agreed a price for the whole night, he doing the same with his companion. To this day I don’t quite know why I did it – it was the first time, and I’m sure the last. I think it was partly my anger with my wife, partly just the contrast – my marriage was unhappy, a poor excuse yes, I know, but she was different in every way, dark, petite, and smiling, oh that smile. I guess just wanted to be with someone who was happy to be with me for a while.

Well the four of us went for a Thai meal and my mate couldn’t stop pointing out to me the amazing beauty of his companion. Amazing it was! But I still had a feeling something wasn’t right, and at the table I noticed her fingers seemed a little bigger than my own companion’s, and as the evening went on the timbre of her voice changed, and her manner of speech, more coarse. The lights came on and I quietly asked my own companion “Is ‘she’ a ladyboy?”.

“Yes, didn’t you know?”

I don’t think my mate knows”.

By now my mate was also getting the “something’s not right feeling” and after I told him, began to consider what was necessary to extricate himself. Eventually he put his cards on the table and after dropping my companion and I at one of his condos, returned “her” to the gogo bar with 1,500 baht.

I had an intoxicating evening with my girl. The sex wasn’t star quality, it was good, but the tenderness, being held all night, the “girlfriend experience” made it unforgettable. Next morning we met my mate for breakfast and then I went to the room she shared with another dancer before exchanging mobile and email details and saying goodbye.

My home visit was miserable, and I found myself thinking of the girl I’d met in Thailand. I wasn’t “in love” and I wasn’t completely naïve but I still found myself wondering if she had the chance to leave the bar, would she?

Job possibilities in SE Asia soon beckoned, so I decided to take the opportunity to see her again. I sent her an SMS and asked if she would meet me at the airport. She agreed. When I entered the public side of the arrivals area she saw me and ran into my arms. My heart leapt. I spent a few days with her and began to ask about her life.

She came from Nakhon Phanom, had finished High School and worked in Bangkok for several years. She’d had a Thai common law husband but his recent unfaithfulness with one of her friends combined with a family debt crisis motivated her break up with him and come to Pattaya to work in the bar, at the urging her room-mate, an ex work colleague who’d made the same journey some months earlier.

“Are you happy doing this?” I asked.

“No, but I must” she replied, her face clouding.

“If you could have your own business and earn enough money for your family, what would you like to do?” I asked.

“I would like to do hairdressing and beauty”, she replied.

“If you studied hairdressing instead of working in the bar, how much money would you need every month for you and your family?”

She thought for a while, and then replied “20,000 baht”.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. The average pay is about 5,000 baht, I’d thought 10,000 would easily be enough. I asked her to explain, but she did not have the English. “We go internet café, someone explain you” she said. That evening she wrote a list of her expenses in Thai, and next morning we went to an internet café, where the proprietor translated everything. The bottom line – she was supporting her family to the tune of 9,000 baht a month. The internet café owner when hearing of my intention to support her studying hairdressing in Bangkok, spoke up “there is a good hairdressing and beauty school here in Pattaya”.


I should have shut my ears. But I didn’t. By the end of the morning I’d visited the school, ascertained that it was equipped as a school and had students, and signed up for a 9 month program which would cost me 45,000 baht in three instalments (like this story) which I agreed to pay directly to the school. A nice room was available for rent in the school building so we agreed to take that on as well, and so began the roller coaster ride that exposed my stupidity, brought me to tears and despair on several occasions, broke every rule of common sense, almost emptied my bank account and yet, despite it all, has not ended ultimately in disaster but in hope. But before we get to the latter you must weather the horror story that is my second instalment.

Stickman's thoughts:

Aaaargh! I want part 2!!! A very god start indeed. The roller coaster ride is my favourite genre of submission (Dana's breakfasts habits are a close second).