A Call That Will Never Be Answered
I’ve had my heart broken by a Bangkok bargirl. Yes – I can hear you all saying, “so what, another typical story of Farang meets bargirl, Farang falls in love with bargirl, Farang spends loads of money on Bargirl, Bargirl fucks Farang
over.” Well no… Not quite.
I came to Thailand in February 2008 with two friends. They were hell bent on putting as many notches on their belts as possible in the three weeks they were to spend in Thailand. As for myself, I had never been with a prostitute in my own country and was sure as hell not flying thousands of miles to pay girls in Thailand for sex. Hell I was not even that keen on Asian girls – Latinas being more my thing – nice, big, round tits, voluptuous backsides, fiery temperaments and that sexy Spanish accent – none of which you tend to find in a woman of Asian descent. No, I was in Thailand to see the ruins, drink cheap beer, and find out a little bit about the history from the half of the world that my western education neglected to acknowledge except for a brief synopsis of the evils of the commies in the Vietnam war. Christ, I didn’t even know that the Sepo’s had bombed the crap out of Laos until I visited the museum in Vientiane! Either way, as my friends were determined to return to Australia with evacuated scrotums and fading memories of dozens of paid-for conquests, I was ultimately destined to spend the first three weeks of my two month trek through South-East Asia sitting in bars in Phuket, Ko Samui and Bangkok chatting with bargirls and punters alike whilst my friends disappeared for a few hours at a time with their latest “conquest”.
It was during my third week that I met Kop, a Patpong beer bar prostitute. My friend had barfined and disappeared into the night with her co-worker. I sat until dawn with Kop chatting about all sorts of things. We hit it off well – she seemed genuinely lovely and interested in me, having told her that I was not going to bar fine her and take her home, there was no pressure on that front from her, and as far as ‘lady drinks’ were concerned – she never asked for any, I had to ask her if she wanted one and I get the feeling I wouldn’t have bought any at all if I hadn’t offered; she just seemed genuinely interested in talking with me once I told her I wasn’t in Bangkok to “pay girls for sex”. After something like eight hours, it was time for Kop to finish her shift and go home. I told her “OK I get tuk tuk to my hotel now” and she replied “no darling, I get taxi for you and tell him put meter on – much cheaper for you baby”. With that she slipped off her chair and disappeared up Patpong Soi 2.
A few minutes later a taxi pulled up out the front of the bar and Kop jumped out and waved me over with a huge grin. As I walked to the taxi, she said to me “you come tomorrow, yes?” and then gave me a passionate kiss. I slipped her 2,000
baht for her time (I figured she would have got at least that if she had dumped me and gone with any of the customers in the bar), then jumped in the taxi and headed off to my hotel.
The next night, my friends and I headed back to the same bar – my friend keen to bar fine the same girl from the night before. I caught up with Kop as my friend chatted with the apple of his eye. Things went south between my friend and his girl (an issue I never cared to find out about) and he stormed up to Kop and I and said “I’ve had it with that bitch – I’m outta here, catch ya tomorrow”. I spent the rest of the night chatting with Kop. She introduced me to various Thai ‘delicacies’ and joked and played with me for a few hours until I said to her “you can earn money with these customers – I can go if you want”, but she insisted she wanted to stay with me. I paid her bar fine and said to her “this bar fine for you, now you free to do what you want – up to you”. I figured it was the least I could do. She then put her feet up on my lap and leaned back and chatted to me for the rest of the night as I intermittently massaged her feet and ankles – a pattern that was to repeat itself for the rest of the week whilst my friends trolled the bars for conquests.
Friday came and I had promised Kop I would take her out for som tam, papaya salad – a spicy salad she had introduced me to and that I had taken a liking to. My friends had flown back to Phuket that morning to get connecting flights to Australia and I was booked on a train the following day to Kanchanaburi to continue my travels alone. Upon arriving at the Patpong markets, I gave Kop a call, only to find out she was sick with the flu and would not be at the bar that night. I was not really surprised given that the night before I had to drag her to the pharmacy opposite Foodland and buy cold and flu medication for her due to her constant sniffling and coughing. I said I was sorry we never got to go for papaya and that I would call back into the bar in a few weeks after I had travelled through Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar on my way back south and we could go for dinner then.
I spent the next few weeks travelling through Cambodia (were I met my beautiful Asrey – but that’s a story for another Stickman entry), Laos and Myanmar, before heading back south through Thailand. Upon reaching Bangkok, I headed back up to Kop’s bar to meet up with her. I arrived a little earlier than normal and noticed she was not there yet. Upon taking a seat at the bar, three girls immediately descended upon me and began talking to me. One of the girls, Yek, was more outgoing and conversant than the others. I was having a good time chatting with the girls and bought them all lady drinks, whilst waiting for Kop to show up for work. About half an hour after her scheduled starting time, I decided to give her a call to find out what was keeping her. When she answered the phone, she told me she had gone back to Chiang Mai with a customer for a few days – it just seemed that destiny had decided that we were not to have that dinner together. “Oh well” I thought – “she’s a bargirl, she’s got to make her living”, so I resigned myself to having a few drinks and a bit of a chat with the girls at the bar and heading back to my hotel.
After chatting with the three girls for a while, one of them asked for another lady drink. At this point I suggested I would pay their bar fines and we could head to one of the snooker bars at the end of the soi – if they wanted. I paid the fine for them and told them, as I had told Kop previously, that I wouldn’t be paying them to sleep with me but if you want to come along, them come and we can have a fun night out. Only Yek followed, so at least at this point I knew who wanted the money and who was genuine about having a bit of fun.
I would not classify Yek as exceptionally beautiful nor as unattractive, just as a regular, average, non-Isaan, Thai woman. She was friendly and outgoing and had a reasonable grasp of English. Her and I headed to a bar at the end of the soi and played a few rounds of pool. We were having a great time, shooting pool and drinking beer. I was flirting with Yek a bit, but given that I knew she was a bargirl, I figured I could be somewhat more risqué as I assumed she copped this from Farangs all the time. After the fourth or fifth game of pool and many, many beers, she bent over to take a shot and I pinched her butt to throw her off her game. At this point she stood up and pointed at me and said “hey, you no play fair – you cheeky man” and walked towards me. When she reached me, she grabbed me and kissed me passionately and said “I want go home with you”. I reminded her that I didn’t come to Thailand to pay girls for sex and I only bar fined her so we could have a good time together and she simply said “You make me horny so much baby – I not want you pay me, I want you fuck me, understand?” Moral crisis time – here was a whore who wanted to fuck me – for fun… What the hell?
As stated earlier – I didn’t come to Thailand to pay prostitutes for sex. Not that I have anything against prostitutes, or a moral aversion to having sex with them, it is just the principle of paying a girl for sex when you can find many other girls that will have sex because they genuinely like you. Indeed during the previous six weeks I had been in Asia, I had slept with quite a few girls – none of whom were prostitutes. They included backpackers and other travellers in the guesthouses I stayed at or the bars I visited and the occasional local girl that I met. But this situation presented something of a paradox for me. Here I was with a prostitute who I found charming and sexy, who wanted to sleep with me for free out of lust. Not a situation I envisioned as being even remotely likely as I had assumed that as a prostitute, she would always want money for sex and as I refuse to “pay for it” had hence, just assumed sex was out of the question. Now here we were in a taxi heading back to my hotel.
The next morning Yek asked me “How long you stay Bangkok baby?” I told her that I was just passing through and had only called in to see Kop and told her the story surrounding her. I know bargirls can get possessive of a customer they perceive as “theirs” so I thought I had better let Yek know the story so there wouldn’t be any bitterness between her and Kop if word got back to Kop that I had barfined another girl. She then said to me “oh, so when you leave Bangkok?” I told her I didn’t really have a set timeline, as I was just heading down to Phuket now to catch my plane home in two weeks – the only definite date I had in mind now was to be at Koh Phangan on the 21st for the Full Moon Party. Yek asked me to stay in Bangkok for a few days hinting that she’d like to spend more time with me. I told her I was happy to stay around for a few days and spend time with her, provided she was not expecting me to pay her. She readily agreed and said “Baby, you sexy man for me, make me very horny. You no pay”. Being aware that she would probably try to extract money from me in other ways, I then told her that if we did hang out, I wasn’t going to take her shopping and buy her gifts and, if she started asking me for things (e.g.. jewellery, clothes, perfume etc.) or in any way treated me like an ATM, I would pack up and leave straight away. She happily agreed and said that was fine, the only thing was I had to pay her bar fine or she would have to go to work every night as she couldn’t afford to pay it or get her salary cut for not turning up. I thought that was fair enough so I agreed that I would pay that for her and as I understood she probably didn’t have a lot of money I agreed to pay for her fares if we went anywhere.
For the next 10 days, Yek and I had a great time together. We took in a movie and a game of bowling at the MBK centre, hired a car and went for a day trip out to the tiger temple at Kanchanaburi (I never got the chance to visit it when I was up there earlier in my trip – so I thought that it would make a nice day trip, especially now as I had someone who could read the street signs for me); went down to Pattaya for a trip, took in the sights around Bangkok and finally I decided that as I had enough money and as the room at the resort I had booked in Koh Phangan was a double anyway; it would be nice to have her as company on the trip down there, so I brought her along to the full moon party. The ten days I spent with Yek made me the happiest I had been in a very long time. Even at the time, Yek said to me “I sad now darling, tomorrow you go. Last ten day have been like dream – make me so happy and now must finish”. At first I was slightly cynical, assuming she was probably reciting a well rehearsed parting line to be delivered to any and every Farang; but now, looking back I know that she meant it from the bottom of her heart.
Our last day together was my birthday and Yek wanted to give me a special surprise. That morning, she gave me a birthday present that I will never forget. That afternoon we were holding each other tight on the wharf at Ko Phangan, her with her ferry ticket to Chumpon from where she would get the train back to Bangkok, whilst I had an onward ticket to Ko Samui, from where I would get an onward ferry to Surat Thani, bus to Krabi and ferry to Phuket. Before she left to board her ferry we talked about where I was going over the next two or three days, before I got my flight back to Australia on the weekend. I then asked her what her plans were and whether she would go straight back to the bar. She told me that she would take a day off before going back to the bar as she needed to go to the hospital. I asked her why and she said to me “I go every month to change blood, baby”.
“To change blood?” I asked.
“Yes”, she said “I bad blood, must go hospital every month for change”. She was so dismissive of it that, even though I thought it was strange I didn’t probe her any further, lest she had some embarrassing condition
that she had intentionally kept from me and would not feel too comfortable discussing on a public wharf full of strangers.
I called her from Phuket airport and had a long conversation with her, using up the last of the credit on my Thai SIM card. I had previously told her that I had plans to return one day as the place I work at is being closed down and relocated overseas (Thailand coincidentally) and I will receive a redundancy, with which I intend to backpack through SE Asia, Africa and of course South America (remember my penchant for Latinas) for a year or two. So we had exchanged email addresses and mobile numbers and I said I’d give her a call once I got back to Australia to let her know I’d arrived, and we could keep in touch and when I was back this way we could hook up again.
A couple of days after arriving back in Sydney, I called up Yek to see how she was doing. The cheap-rate phone-card that I used may give good rates but the voice quality is reduced. Couple that with the fact that she is on a mobile with (oftentimes) music blaring in the background, bargirls chatting to her in Thai (seemingly oblivious that she is on the phone), and the Farang negotiating whether the girl sitting beside Yek will smoke him as well as fuck him if he gives her 100 baht extra, all on top of Yek speaking in her best broken English and me not getting any visual cues and the conversation quickly degenerates to a point where I’m saying “sorry? I couldn’t make that out, say again,” more than anything else. I tell her I’ll call her back. Mental note to self, in future call her 2 hours before she begins work – she will either be at home watching TV or in the street somewhere, not at a noisy bar.
Over the next few months we continue to keep in touch and she keeps me informed of the goings on in her world (going to parties, watching TV, going to the internet café, eating food at the market and “go work bar”). One night she tells me she had trouble with her sister’s husband and tomorrow she’s going to the police. After a substantial amount of coaxing and probing, she finally spills the entire story of how one night, the sister went out for a while leaving Yek and Yek’s sister’s husband at home together. He made sexual advances toward Yek, who at first politely declined, then not so politely declined when the advances continued and finally declined with extreme prejudice when the sleazy bastard tried to get physical anyway (i.e. an iron bar across the hand that was attempting to grope her). Next night, the prick waits outside Yek’s house and as she gets home he attempts to rape her – breaking her hand in the process (sort of payback for her hitting his) before she got away. As I understand it, right now the arsehole is sitting in jail and will be for the next three years, however the fallout from this was that the sister sided with her husband and didn’t believe Yek and this has caused a bit of a rift in the family. Other times she tells me of a weekend trip she intends to take to see her daughter (who lives with Yek’s aunt, because her own mother died when she was young) for her first day of school, stories of the goings on in Bangkok and the monthly trips to the hospital to change blood. Eventually our phone calls go from fortnightly to weekly to now, daily.
She tells me she wants to wait for me and doesn’t go with customers now (for the record – I don’t believe her), that she can wait for me to come in October (I had already planned to go back for a few weeks prior to the redundancy to use up my remaining annual leave) and wants me to go meet her daughter in her home province. She started saying “I love you and miss you so much” to which I initially replied “How can you love me, you only spent ten days with me?” though now I find myself replying “love you too baby” and even starting to believe it. What the hell is going on here – I’m getting emotionally attached to a hooker? How can this be happening? In the entire time we have been speaking, she has not once asked for any money, even when I know at times she must have been doing it pretty tough (evidently getting her broken hand x-rayed and set cost a fair bit) and in fact she seems more concerned with me saving money. She pretty much insisted that I stay at the apartment that her and a friend share on my October trip rather than waste money on a hotel. She keeps telling me “Baby, I have room for shower, room for sleeping, room for watch TV and room for cook food. When you come, you not stay hotel, you stay me and I can cook for you too – cheaper for you”. <This "locks" you in with her and doesn't allow you the chance to meet someone else. She is doing things completely to the bargirl handbook – Stick> I guess it’s because she seems genuinely interested in me rather than my wallet and the fact that her actions are consistent (aside from the not going with customers thing – I don’t believe she’s getting by on the 8,000 baht salary at the bar without some supplement somewhere), that have let me lower my guard with her.
A few weeks back, I tried calling a few times and couldn’t get through to her as her phone was switched off – figured she was with a ‘customer’. Oh well that’s her job. I sent off a text message lightly teasing her about being with a customer and I’d call her the next day. Before I got a chance to call the next day I get a text message from her “Hi sexy man, how r u? I not go with buffalo I in hotpatal. I need 4 cemo. I talk u later ok, luv an miss u.” Of course this doesn’t sound good so as soon as I get the chance I call her back to find out what’s happened. I ask her “what did you go to hospital for?” and she replied “you know how I tell you I go change blood every month?”
“Yeah” I reply.
“Well doctor say I can no change blood any more, I need Keemoh.”
“As in chemotherapy?” I ask.
“Yes baby” she replies “keemohterrap.”
Ok, this doesn’t sound real good so I push on. I ask her “what is wrong that you need chemo for?”
She replies “Leukaemia Baby.”
So at this point I ask what seemed obvious – “Well why don’t you get the chemo rather than getting continual blood transfusions?”
“Because I can not work for six months, and no have anyone to look after me”.
At this point I suggested that she had an aunt and uncle who were looking after her daughter, as well as a brother and sisters, so surely she could stay with any of them for a few months while she underwent treatment, however I never really got a straight
reply out of her (the Thais really are very good at talking around uncomfortable issues without actually answering you, aren’t they).
For the last few weeks, Yek and I have spoken pretty much every day. She has been back to hospital a few times telling me that “I have body feel too weak” and she went for some scans and to get medicine. Yesterday she was back in hospital again because she was felling weak. I called her last night for a chat and asked her how she was going. She said “I ok baby, how are you?” I told her I was fine, but it was her I was concerned about, so don’t change the subject. I asked her about what had happened and she said they had done some more tests.
So I said to her “Okay – what was the result of the tests?”
She said “I have stones in my body.”
Not exactly understanding, I said “What, like kidney stones or gall stones?”
“No” she said “in liver.”
I have never heard of liver stones so I queried a bit more “What, so you have stones in your liver?”
She came back with “Well not stones Baby?”
“Then what, honey?” and then after a delay, she finally softly muttered the word as if saying it too loud would bring life to it and cause it to ravage her body – “cancer”. The best I can deduce from talking about it
with her is that the Leukemia has caused the cancer to spread and there are now cancerous growths on the liver.
I now enquired whether or not she would get the chemotherapy now but she replied with “I cannot darling, too late – my body too weak now”.
So I said to her “What do you mean – cannot? What do you do then?” as if I really had to ask, in my mind I ultimately knew what the future held having lost two grandparents to cancer.
Her reply was “I have not long time left baby.”
“What do you mean not long? How long” I asked, still not wanting to believe this could be true.
“Maybe one year, maybe a litten bit longer” she said. “Is ok Baby, I can wait you see me in October, I Thai girl, I strong Baby.”
So this is where the story ends. I will return to Bangkok in October to look into those almond shaped, brown eyes for two more weeks, for what may very well be the last time. Could this be some elaborate scam she has cooked up to try to get me to blow a heap of money on her? Well realistically yes, as I am not there to see if she physically is in the hospital with a drip in her arm, but it does sound like a hospital on the phone. Either way, if it is a scam, it will be revealed as such as soon as I see her, claiming to have a fatal disease is not something you can really expect to fib about and not get caught out and I don’t believe that Yek is stupid so I find it hard to believe she is lying to me about all this.
What I do know is that I have fallen in love with a Bangkok prostitute and now she is going to break my heart. Not because she played me for a fool and took all my money. She has taken nothing. But because I have fallen in love with her and know that (whether she is still on the game or not) she genuinely loves me and, because I know this love; this connection of two souls has a ‘used by’ date stamped on it in big, red letters. I have two weeks with her in October, and Buddha willing (though not likely), some more time with her after I am made redundant around April next year. But in all reality I already know our future and it is this very knowledge that breaks my heart.
Our future is thus, I will see her for two weeks in October and we will have the most amazing time together, making the most of every second. I will then reluctantly return to Australia, fighting back tears as we kiss each other goodbye in the airport, promising to get back to her as soon as I can. For one last time I will look deep into her eyes, trying to burn into my memory a mental image of her, before I turn and head through to the departure lounge. From Australia, I will call her and speak to her every evening, hearing in her voice as she grows weaker and weaker. We will sometimes laugh and joke and at other times I will hear her pain in her voice and probably be silently in tears as I listen to her speak. I will call her and from time to time she will call me. And then, one night I will make that call…
A call that will never be answered.
This is a really tough situation. Assuming that everything she has told you is true, this is going to be hugely difficult for you I should imagine. I admire you or sticking in there with her…
I am no expert on medical matters but I wonder if it is somehow worth getting her to go to one of the bigger "international" hospitals for a medical opinion. It might not be the easiest thing to arrange from Australia but I can't help but feel that hunting for a cancer specialist at Bumrungrad or one of the other top hospitals is worth doing. I imagine that she has probably been going to a government hospital. Some are very good, but others…not so. An opinion from a specialist at a top hospital might be worth pursuing…