The New Thailand
It's a real shame the way Thailand has gone, it used to be such a great place.
I remember my first trip back in 1994. It was Chinese New Year in Hong Kong so a group of us decided to go to Thailand for a few days. A couple of nights in Bangkok and a few days on Koh Samet. From the airport we headed to (you guessed it) Pat Pong and checked into the Rose Hotel. Went to a go-go bar and I literally froze when a bikini clad stunner sat down next to me. How life changes! Met a stunner outside a disco and one thing led to another. No payment was required the next day yet I found out a few months later she was a go-go dancer – yes I fell for her.
The nights in Bangkok were amazing and Koh Samet was an unspoilt paradise back then. I say paradise because I had never seen beaches like that before, incredible. Only one bar on the main beach and a few restaurants. I had my first experience of the old Thai style of service. The food order never came because they didn't have it, classic.
One of my mates had been to Pattaya on holiday with his wife (why do blokes take their wives to Pattaya?) before and he suggested hiring a couple of motorbikes and going up there for the night from Koh Samet. We got the ferry back to the mainland and for a hundred baht each we hired two bikes from the local motorcycle taxi guys. The journey was a bit too far for the small bikes and we had to turn back. At least we tried. Anyway that trip captivated me completely and I was obsessed with the place. I even bought a Linguaphone back in Hong Kong and began to learn to speak Thai and a bit of writing as well. Myself and another mate started to date Thai maids on their Sunday day off. Everything had to be Thai.
Next trip was a three week holiday, the main idea to hire a trail bike in Chiang Mai and tour the north. It was then that I found out that Mam (can still remember her name) was a go-go dancer on my first night of the trip. Better to know quickly and move on to better things. Shame really because she was a stunner. The tour of the north was amazing, as was Chiang Mai. Totally fell for a bar girl. I didn't even know they were hookers, that's how naive I was. Needless to say I was a gent and didn't try anything on – my naivety back then still shocks me today. We arranged to go and see the elephant show one day and she hinted that she could come to my hotel. I said there was no need and I would meet her near the bar. She must have thought I was either gay or a complete moron to refuse such an offer. Well it turns out that I made a wise move. On the next trip I found out she had AIDS and the signs were there for all to see. Not that I would have had unprotected sex with her but accidents can always happen can't they.
Anyway after a few trips I decided that I had to go and live and work in Thailand. At that stage I had a Thai girlfriend in Hong Kong. Every Saturday lunchtime after work I would go down to the Star Ferry pier where they sold foreign newspapers and would buy the Bangkok Post and the Nation and I would scan the classified pages for construction jobs. Nothing came out of that but I had to keep the dream alive.
Eventually I was transferred from Hong Kong to Malaysia and then after two years in Kuala Lumpur I got transferred to Bangkok. Superb, here we go!
The job started in January 1998 and I remember sitting in a bar in Nana Plaza one night and thinking "Wow, I really am living the dream now, I've made it". One thing I regret is wasting the early years in the bar scene. I never fell for any of the girls but just enjoyed touring the bars. I suppose it is good to get it out your system. Let's face it, coming from a village in England I was sure to be drawn towards the bars.
Over the years my interest in the bars diminished to the extent where I would probably only go to one every 2-3 months unless there was a group of us as there are always one or two guys who insist on it. Eventually the Bangkok lifestyle got to me and
I quite honestly felt run down, tired and bored. The work started to bore me as well. Nothing was done professionally and everything I tried to do was blocked and hindered with walls of bullshit and nonsense and lies. I could see how the economy
was going and made the decision to leave. Eleven years after my first trip to Thailand I am now happily settled in Singapore with the Thai fiancé and don't miss a thing. Hopefully early retirement is coming. The fiancé is going
to get such a shock when I tell her that I don't want to live in Thailand when I retire.
OK Thailand is not what it used to be but there are much worse places to be, aren't there?
I can really relate to all that you say. It's an interesting story, and I bet a common one, of how Thailand gets under your skin, how you feel the desire to move there and then how, eventually, you get over it!