Stickman Readers' Submissions July 15th, 2008

Why Do So Many Older Men Come To Thailand?

The lost souls we see wandering into Thailand today seeking the warmth and solace of a woman, any woman, started out with the hippie movement back in the 1960’s. That was a euphoric time to be alive. I was lucky to be there when it started. I was involved in it up to my neck, or higher. I experimented, demonstrated, worked for change: I was there.

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But what really started it was DRUGS. Yes, you can shake your head now and say bullshit. Were you there? Maybe you were and didn’t do no drugs! Well, you are not qualified to judge then, are you? Let me tell you why drugs were so important to the social changes that started back then, and why drugs are still so important to what is happening today, and how drugs were and are essential to getting so many men to Thailand.

I was a young man in my late teens when I had my first toke on a joint. For those of you who don’t know what that is (where the hell have you been living?) a joint is a cannabis cigarette. Still don’t know what I am talking about? How about marijuana cigarette instead? Same, same OK? Ya got that? Good.

Let me tell you what changed my life and how it happened. Sit back, grab a beer, or better yet smoke a joint. This might take a while.

In 1967 I arrived back in Australia after serving with the RAAF in Ubon, Thailand. It wasn’t a particularly hard posting. We came under attack a couple of times. But the biggest danger was the constant stream of F4C Phantom jets taking off and landing right next door to our little RAAF base. We sat like a pimple on the outside fence of the USAF base, with the runway not more than about 300 yards away; maybe closer. Occasionally, one of those planes would land and explode, or, as happened one night, career into the rocket dump. It was a wonder the fallout killed none of us.

Despite this I arrived back home unscathed. I had no idea what I was walking into. I sure was not aware of the great social changes that had started. The demonstrations against the Vietnam war were just getting started. But since I was still in the military I just accepted things as they were.

All around me big changes were starting to take place. Demonstrations, demands for political and social change. It was all happening. And I was sucked into it before I knew what was happening.

None of this would have happened if Timothy Leary hadn't come on the scene. I remember one day on a train station reading about him and LSD in Playboy and being fascinated. It wasn't much later that I was introduced to this exciting new world. I was in Kings Cross, Sydney, one night and wandered into a small coffee shop full of hippies. There was even a guy singing Bob Dylan songs there. I sat down, amazed at this sub-culture I had never seen before. As I was drinking my coffee someone loomed over me. He had a longish beard, long hair and wild eyes. I looked up at him and his face lit in a big grin. He sat down beside me and introduced himself. It turned out that he was an old high school buddy and he had recognized me when I walked in. I still looked like that young clean-cut boy he knew from school. We started talking and he handed me a joint. I refused and said I had never touched it. He just said, You will one day. I left it at that, but we arranged to meet the next weekend when I had time to visit town again.

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It didn’t take long before I was toking on prime grass. Then I tried LSD. That was when my life turned upside down. A recent study concluded that the ‘spiritual’ and good feelings you get from LSD can last up to one year. What they didn’t understand is that these are only a very small effect of what happens when you start ingesting hallucinogens like LSD, Peyote, Mescaline, and Psilocybin. I tried them all.

When I said my life was turned upside down, what I really mean was that my mind was opened wide and I became much more aware of what was going on around me. And I wasn’t the only one. After taking these drugs I no longer looked at a piece of wood as an inanimate brown object. Instead, I saw the remnant of a once living thing that gave its life for us to use to improve our lives. You may laugh, but that is very likely where the environmental movement began.

Instead of listening to the news, politicians and all the other authority figures in our lives and accepting everything they told us, we drug taking hippies became much more analytical. We no longer swallowed everything unexamined. Instead, we questioned everything and in the process we forced others to question as well. Pretty soon, the politicians found they could no longer herd the sheep where they wanted. They had to justify their policies and if we didn’t like them we would damn well demonstrate, strike, march to get a reaction and a change.

At the same time, men’s attitudes to women changed. First came the ‘free love’ period where everyone was bonking each other’s brains out. That was wonderful, for a while. But just as you get tired of unromantic sex with hookers we also got bored with free sex. We wanted something more, especially the women. Then along came the women’s libbers and things started to go wrong from there.

If you haven’t already read my article, Women's Liberation? I Don't Think So then do it now. It will give you the background to the conclusions I have come to for this article.

With women’s lib came a lot of confusion over the role of the sexes. Women became more assertive. They began questioning why they should be so submissive to men. This unsettled the men. Not everyone was able to accept it and evolve with the new realities. Eventually, this put an unbearable strain on many marriages and they began to break down. What were the men to do? They were too old to reenter the dating game. Or if they did, they soon found that their choices were very limited. The women they were meeting were in their own age bracket, or worse, older divorcees and widows. Some guys were lucky enough to meet a woman they clicked with. But the majority just found the whole thing repulsed them. Who needed a woman similar to the old wife that had left them broken, broke and alienated from their kids? Most of those women carried enough baggage to make it almost impossible for any man to approach them openly.

Then one day the broken man hears about this mythical paradise called Thailand where there are hordes of young women available for unfettered sex. It didn’t take all these men long to jump on a plane and wing their way here. And the more that arrived the more that heard about it. Soon, the country began to be overrun by old men. Those that married bar girls soon found that their dream became a nightmare. Others got lucky and married ‘good’ girls who nurtured them and the families they produced.

However, that is not germane to this story. The fact is Thailand, and to a lesser extent the PI and Indonesia, is filled with these old men looking for a new lease on life. Even if they have never touched a drug in their life they still have marijuana and LSD to thank for the social changes that eventually made it possible to arrive in this little corner of the world where paradise can be found. So next time someone is having a toke nearby, have one for me. Without it, I wouldn’t be here – and nor would you!

Stickman's thoughts:

I am not sure what to make of this. It talks about things well before my time, things I am ignorant of – I enjoy alcohol but have never done any drugs, so I don't really feel I can make any comment.

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