A 5 Baht Dance
Where: Thailand, Phuket Island, Patong
When: end of winter 2007
It is 10 pm now. Disorientated, dog-tired, overwhelmed by the suffocating humid heat that hit us in the face like the breath of a furious beast and with dry mouths from too much crappy airline food with coppery aftertaste, we are cruising Bangla Road with bewildered eyes : touts for the sexy shows warming up their voice and their wrists for the next flow of punters, free-lancers in small groups chatting together, screaming ladyboys fighting with tall drunk German women, holidaying regular couples both fat and pot-bellied bitching at each other, a Farang-Thai-luk kreung threesome – he, white as snow and towering his partner by two or three heads, she, dark as sin – strolling hand in hand with a lovely sleepy child in tow, lads with tattoos and flip-flops partying loudly, flashing gogo-bar neon signs in a tangle, loudspeakers at full blast advertising for kickboxing shows, cartons spread on each manholes shutting away whatever crouches there …
We arrived just a few hours ago. At first I felt so good at the airport; in the buzz made by all these people speaking foreign languages I don’t understand at last my mind started to set free. Their yack didn’t reach me anymore, I was flying again. Here I’m not using my mother language anymore but different words, different grammar, thus I’m even thinking differently, I’m an other man, and everything is possible. Come to that, why being only one different man when I can be multiple? I could be the characters of a novel I would write, experimental egos that would explore the enigmas of life for my own sake and finally for my readers. But am I really a writer? I urged on, I’m encouraged to, but do I really have something interesting to say that hasn’t been already said and in a better way? All I’m going to tell you is true; I have to be sincere even if I have to expose my side to any horned animals that I may come across. But please do not believe a single word.
But now, I’m overpowered; we shouldn’t be there, instead we should be in our respective hotel rooms trying to recover. Why hurry? The show is on every night, no? Anyway, I’m not here really for holiday, not really for work neither, I’m with someone that needs to somehow be escorted. Tonight I’m not open minded. It is not that I have bad vibes, but I just can’t get rid of this nagging feeling at the back of my head, something unpleasant may happen tonight.
I wear a casual sportswear shirt and pants. The sweat starts to drench my back and it is only ten minutes I’m outside. I would rather wear a sleeveless T-shirt but too much flesh will be on display. I would face the risk of either ending up with ladyboys all over me, or some jerk would invite me on some kickboxing challenge. It already happened. Fighting is the last thing I want to do here; I can see only two alternatives that both lead to serious trouble. I want to be anonymous; I want to be just another farang on a night out and nothing more.
We try our luck in the soi Gonzo which looks quiet. Approximately in the middle we are intercepted by beaming girls who wear black tank tops; they zigzag between our legs, grab our arms, purr some sweet words and pat some stools. No way not to stop, no way not to sit. Here or elsewhere, it is just another bar with beers and girls, no? Even the music is the same as everywhere…
Hum, why coming from so far away to come across quite the same inedible soup that is at home? I’m baffled. I was expecting Thai music; they have so many different styles, rock, jazz, pop, Mor lam, Luk thung, and good musicians too. It is difficult for me to guess whether the bar owners anticipate the expectations of the customers or it is a kind of fashion to have western music. Upon arrival at the hotel, I went to their in-house bar to have a lemon juice. When I entered the place the air was filled with a Mor lam tune joined in a chorus by the waitress. Who said that Phuket is not typical Thailand? Then at exactly 6 pm, and to my dismay I will verify it will repeat similarly every day, the waitress switched off the local radio to start broadcasting a pre-recorded western music program. However, a few days later, late in the night while I was falling in love in the Easy Bar, the DJ of soi Lion switched to Thai tunes. The girls went wild, sang and danced in a frenzy of excitement, letting off the steam.
We decide to play the game. And then it starts. First round is a beer for me and a cocktail for my client. No request for lady drinks at this time. Wise play. It turns me off to be pushed for a drink upfront; they must be patient and deserve it. A girl brings the drinks while I’m busy looking around for the possibilities. Then I pour my beer in the strange exotic wooden tumbler the waitress has brought along with the beer bottle. Where I come from we drink beer in a glass, not straight from the bottle like a bricklayer on a building site. My customer bursts into laugh, the girls too, and he waves in front of me a small piece of paper with handwritings. Until now, I have drunk only fruit juices and even before taking a sip at my Singha I’m already acting like a fool. This place is intoxicating. Really I excel myself; the night may be a long one. I have to pull myself together. Tonight I have a mission.
Lek is in charge. No butt, no breasts, very slim but not skinny, quite small – she could be very young – shoulder length hair, but very sexy when she walks in her grey plaid miniskirt and her high heels, starts working us with the usual “where do you come from?” while scanning around for any better bargain. She is easygoing and cheerful and she’s got such a strong aura of femininity that I’m sure she has the right equipment to give birth one day. Her skin is quite fair but from not being exposed very often to the sun, her shoes seem a little bit too big for her, her miniskirt is a tad too short revealing in some fleeting glimpses very simple panties that a twelve year old girl would contemptibly refuse to wear in my country. In the looks department, everything could be better in her. But still, this girl is captivating. Thai girls definitely have something special that can be described, compared, written, read or ranted about but never fully understood. This failure in desperately attempting to reveal this mystery, isn't it the essence of the mystery that make them so attractive, and most of all, isn't it better to keep it alive and fascinating?
I’m not really in a good mood, I’m like a coin, I have only two faces and tonight the reverse side won. I may already be fed up by too many Indian touts wanting me to go inside their tailor shop. There are experienced, can’t they see that I’m not the kind of guy who will buy from them? When I reply to them that I’m coming from Hong Kong, I get a sceptical look and then a “ni hao ma?” after a very short pause. Sorry guys, in Hong Kong people speak Cantonese, not Mandarin, you have to do better. Giving the same answer to the same question, I get quite the same look from Lek and from Joy who just came back from behind the bar with a decent glass for me. Chit tumbler or not, I have already started to drink and having an idiotic farang from Hong Kong drinking in the chit tumbler in the view of everybody may be not good etiquette. At the same time my companion pays the bill. He fumbles through wads of brown notes. This did not go unnoticed by Lek.
It’s toast time. Lek and my companion clink glasses and she says “à ta santé mon amour” quite perfectly. This girl found out very quickly where we are coming from. At the second attempt I found out that she is from Kkon Kaen. I get a knowing smirk from her.
Next, another round of drinks offered by my patient who proposes also the girls’ lady drinks. Vodka & orange for Joy, a bottle of Lemon Baccardi Breezer for Lek. Hey these girls can really drink! I skip the offer as I have drunk only half of my beer. Joy starts trying to coax me. She is wearing jeans and a blouse, could be a mother with stretch marks, and she has the look of a girl next door, not the Thai stunner type that makes you forget you are married. She says “I 29, I old lady”; by Thai standards may be, by farang standards she is still marriage material. However, after having spent the last decade working farangs in the bars, who wouldn’t feel old and tired? Joy tries some arm and shoulder massage. I tell her that I have just spent one week in China and that I have had already two body massages there. “Ah! Massage and boom-boom” she adds gleefully. I think she got the message; face is preserved on each side. Now that she knows that I may not be too horny and in the need of immediate female companionship this night, she shares her time with another table, coming back and forth for a sip at her vodka & orange, a smile, but nothing more. This is OK for me. Lek is now in high gear, clinking glasses, shortening the distance between her wonderful small body and my pal. I’m a little bit jealous, I also fancy this girl, but tonight I have something else in mind.
My customer agreed to come in Thailand, because he “likes the scenery, the relaxed lifestyle and the great food, not for the women”. Until now he always told me that he is not attracted by Asian women. For him Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc are all gooks with expressionless faces, chaotic gait, narrow hips and bucked teeth. I want him to get even with me. I want to open his eyes, I want him to have the time of his life and this place is strongly indicated to transform a forty year old zombie into a testosterone driven teenager. It will be for him the ultimate tourist experience as he will travel back in time towards his lost youth. He will forget everything and lose his mind. Also, I don’t want to spend our stay here just hoping from bar to bar with him and getting drunk every night. I need my fix of Thai girlfriend experience, I need my mind to be in turmoil, and I need to be in danger. But I can see he is already moved by Lek’s seductive attitude. But he needs a stronger nudge to lose control.
I ask Lek if she can do the pole dancing stuff; the way she walks I have great expectation on her. She said “OK, 5 Baht”. I hand her a 500 Baht note, and then she runs to the small platform just back in the bar under red spotlights. Dancing slowly first, she get synchronized to the beat of the music with feline swaying moves. She glides down the pole gyrating slowly; encircling tightly the chromed pole between her closed legs she crouches, her hands higher than her head, her back is slightly arched. Then she goes up effortlessly. Under the spotlight her skin looks very silky and smooth, her eyes are shining, her smile is beaming. She starts to play with her legs, stroking the pole with her inner thighs, raising them alternately to the side up to a right angle, still following the rhythm of the music which is unexpectedly slow paced. Then while crouching again, her back turned to us, she lowers her hands along the pole, opens her legs in as sudden move and presses her sex on the pole as she tilts her body and her head backwards in an unrestrained ecstatic pose. From our place we can’t see … well what we can’t see is setting fire to our imagination thus igniting our desire. She goes up again as if by magic. Now she faces us, beaming. Everybody in soi Gonzo can see her dancing, but she makes believe she dances only for you. She adapts her moves accordingly to the feedback she gets from her prey and she also uses her eyes to hypnotize him. She is still gyrating but now she is working us with her behind. Now we can see only her ass, her spinning, swaying, wiggling, inviting ass, the same ass that seemed so small at the first look, now it is a world of its own to be conquered. Suddenly with her legs straight she arches her back making her miniskirt raise; our heart misses a beat. Now my client is bewildered, his mouth is gaping. He is muttering something where I understand only the word “danger” and he tries to recover a respectable bearing by lighting a cigarette. This is the right moment to stop this; he has to be left unsatisfied. Inside his head it must whirl like a tornado with Lek standing at the narrow end of the funnel, and a cloud of debris from all the contradictory thoughts and feelings that have been torn down from his shattered mind swirling around her. I wave back Lek.
I can see that in his head he is evaluating the possibilities: barfine Lek, not barfine Lek? I know that he has to be strong to resist, because he is not the kind of guy who goes with hookers even if they look like genuine girls in love. He is a man of principles. He believes he never paid for sex before, and that he will never have to. He doesn’t have to date, dine, wine, get to know or coax this girl, it is too easy, it can’t be true. Also, he feels guilty and ashamed for the raw desire that arose so quickly. He is wondering what kind of man he is to behave like this.
I know because I have been through the same dilemma and I’m still beating myself for having said "no" two years ago to the first Thai bargirl I met. Why, why did I say "no" when every cell in my body was saying “yes”? Her beautiful face has haunted my mind during many sleepless nights, her very simple words “I want to make you happy” echoing endlessly in my head.
Lek is cute, young and most of all willing. Where is the problem?
We are tired; the alcohol in our veins is dealing the deathblow to our weary bodies. But he orders another round of drinks including lady drinks. Lek starts to hug him, to rest her head on his shoulder. If her searching hand finds his hand, he is for it. Still no news of the 495 Baht change money. There is a giant flat panel TV in front of us. We don’t know what they aired before, may be soccer or news, but now we can’t ignore the program on display: close-up of ugly children faces that have huge malformations such as hare lip and the corresponding plastic surgery that can be done. It is a full report, and as nobody switched it off in the first few minutes, it is probably going to last. Nobody seems to care, maybe already too drunk to notice. You have to be a father or a mother to be deeply moved by such images, because the fear of breeding a monster has inevitably crossed your mind one day. My patient comes back to reality as if he has been punched in the stomach, the spell is broken, sorry Lek, he will not barfine you tonight.
It is only my second beer and my mood is not going to improve as I’m consistently asked for a new one by Joy. Can’t she see I’m not a heavy drinker? My stomach is flat, my eyes are not bleary, I can speak without stuttering and I don’t mistake a not overweight Thai woman with a world class model. It’s midnight and tomorrow we will go to Phi Phi Island. We leave promising we will come back. I forget about the 495 Baht. We want to escape from the monstrous images.
Oh did I mention that the name of the bar is the Black Cat, just in front of the Lucky Bar, I should have paid attention.
I hope that dance was worth 500 baht! Man, Chiang Mai Kelly could get you a lot more for our purple!