I've come to the conclusion, reluctantly and after an awful lot of research, that b-gals, go-go gals and their like, are basically criminals. I write this from the security of my hilltop retreat in Southern England, where neither climate change nor disgruntled minor league Thai Mafioso are likely to take me out. I have not exactly retired from the great game but I am pondering my options and Thailand is not in my future.
Yes, I am another one of those chaps who has done twenty-odd years in Thailand and has done a runner back to Farangland. The night before I left, I was sitting in a Patpong Soi 2 go-go bar, almost next to the entrance, minding my own business when this undoubtedly sensual but elderly local lady sat between me and the exit. There is no way on earth I would've poked her for free but I played along, being something of a gentleman on the quiet and it was always amusing to find out just how much dosh she expected to do the deed…
I glanced out on the street to find some Thai clown on the back of a motorcycle waving a gun in my direction – the guy looked like he had just clawed his way out of a coffin, all skin and bones, but his weapon appeared pristine. If the hooker hadn't taken up the end of the seat and interposed her luckily large body between us I would've had my head blown off.
Blink, and the assassin was down the road awhile. Disparate Asians on the pavement in front of the bar all sported long faces, scowls instead of smiles. Drawn weapons in the heart of tourist Bangkok, whatever was the world coming to. This attempt on my life was not the direct cause of my fast exit from the heart of the Orient, the ticket out already booked, but I was neither surprised nor particularly worried by this manifestation of Thai reality.
The only worry I had, had I been traced to Patpong from my mere presence there or had money changed hands at Immigration and I'd been followed from my hotel, making it a no-go area – it didn't take a great intellect to figure that planting heroin in the room and banging me up in the Thai prison system was a kinda fun idea if you had spent the last four years waiting for the big pay-off from allowing your Thai wife to stay with a farang.
It all depended on how deep the paranoia ran and how much you trusted instinct. I'd got away with four years of almost-free sex with an ex-Cowboy go-go gal who ended up completely exasperated at the relentless correctness of my reading of the clues – she was never actually caught in the act and therefore considered herself completely innocent. If I had turned really nasty and tied her down with barbed wire and tickled her with an electric cattle-prod she would've still maintained her innocence – almost admirable except that you don't admire gals who have local men who would f..k dogs if there are no women available – literally, she would've rather died than admit the truth to a mere farang!
Most of the time I survived in Thailand rather like the Roman emperor Claudius. I played the idiot (whilst unfortunately, like Claudius, naturally looking a bit of an idiot physically – skinny almost to the point of emaciation, jug-ears and a jowly face despite being only 55) whilst noting all the clues, the tells, that show you what is actually going down. Most girls I could suss quickly but some got under the radar and into my heart – for a while.
Yes, I know the bars are not a good place for long-term relationships but I had no interest in marriage, having seen little evidence that Thai girls repaid such devotion with either excessive loyalty or much gratitude or, indeed, anything much more than total retribution once armed with the power of a marriage certificate. Given that I was still entranced with twenty-something Oriental beauties, getting involved with an educated so-called Good Thai Girl was most likely to result in a fiscal assault on the large amount of dosh and assets I had safely stashed back in Farangland. Nah, I was kinda happy taking on an Isaan farmer's daughter half my age, with all their sexual heat and barely repressed fury at their lot in life.
But I had reversed the usual farang theology of not causing offence to the locals nor making them lose face. I had an elaborate construct that ensured any girl with a local man who moved in with me would end up causing her husband such a loss of face that he would all but be bursting out of his skin in fury (basically neither sex nor money would be available to him) but the point of survival being that he would lose even more face if he actually revealed who he was by beating me to a pulp!
A bar-girl plied with money and given the freedom to come and go as she pleases, it is highly unlikely that any sign of her Thai husband will be visible, Sombat grinning from ear to ear with all the easy money and free sex he is getting. However, cut off the money and spend a hundred percent of your time with Ms Isaan, suddenly the Thai husband has moved in next door and might as well have a flashing neon light atop his scowling often simian visage. It's as easy as that. Job done.
Well, okay, not quite that easy as the flaw in the game was that the sheer madness and edginess of not knowing quite when the locals are going to turn or even if the slanderous nonsense Sombat will be churning out to all and sundry to justify their attempt at complete spiritual destruction of Khun farang will churn up community retribution, is fun in a wacky kinda way. I woke up each morning exhilarated at still being alive after enjoying the best sex I'd ever had with a stunning Oriental gal half my age – at a cost so small that I was actually saving huge sums of money back in Farangland. There was a certain Thainess in this living in the moment and not worrying about the consequences.
The Happy Hooker – as I thought of the Thai gal as she would actually orgasm on the back of getting paid for sex – towards the end she began each day with a nasty scowl and total denial (when asked) that she had any love for me. As I had the only key to the house and could lock everything down, there was no chance she could sneak Sombat in whilst I was in the toilet (a trick I am pretty sure she managed a few times in the past) causing the asshole (in overheard telephone conversations) to threaten everything from murder to a vicious beating for the two of us.
At one point, his mafia mate had volunteered to take me out for free – the personal affront of Sombat's loss of face such an attack on the Thai nation that it could not go unpunished but the love of my life persuaded them that it was a much better idea to raid my UK bank accounts, not realising that my artfully crafted statements to get the babe a visitor's visa were about as kosher as Sombat's ultimate intentions – I caught a glimpse of him once doing his new girlfriend in next door's garden. Sombat doing to the girlfriend what she was doing to me – and I suppose if I ended up running away with Sombat's new woman it would have completed the circle.
Some time back, when we had been staying in a Bangkok apartment, Sombat had set up his stall outside drinking whisky with other reprobates and was something of a laughing stock with his tramp's clothes, no money from the gal, not even any sex and having to do menial chores like cleaning out the septic tank for the apartment's owner. Word soon got around and he was set up with some minor chores from mafia friends who no doubt had the contacts to fiscally ruin any farang who crossed their path if they could only get hold of the financial details – luckily all my bank statements went to my sister's house in the UK and I used a GPRS internet connection for checking stuff on the internet which would be very difficult for them to intercept but paranoia being what it is I did keep changing the passwords.
The only time they got close when someone in the UK used my credit card which I had with me so was therefore available to copy. Fortunately, it was a dead end account with no links to the real money and only about a hundred quid's credit available which I got back – it must have cost them more than that to get the details and work the card.
Things could easily get out of hand, with Sombat mouthing off and getting everyone all riled up – all it would take, the complicity of the gal but I had somehow wormed my way a little into her heart. She well impressed when I actually looked after her when she was ill instead of going out alone on a bar spree which is what her previous farang had done (who caught her f..king Sombat when he came back from Farangland unexpectedly and found he had taken over their apartment – they were absolutely desperate to make sure farang had no face).
On a few visits to the UK, she was visibly relieved to get away from Sombat and her extended family – one aunt had bought a new car on the expectation that I would take care of the payments (almost as much as we spent in a month, no chance) – but her main interest was in getting a visa through marriage that would let her work and send money back to Thailand which I had repeatedly ruled out as a possibility, saying I could cash in my personal pension and we could comfortably live off that. I had no belief that she would shape up if we got married and tell Sombat bye-bye – god knows what she told the Thai guy to let her actually escape Thailand.
Handsome young men will no doubt be laughing their socks off at some old duffer taking all this abuse – and I must admit I did lose it completely on a couple of occasions and threw a total fit – but it was almost free sex (food, clothes and birthday/Xmas presents the only cost) with a stunner. She confused addiction for love and apparent idiocy as a basis for future marriage and escape to Farangland. And, oh yes, I do miss the sex and the company (she was a pleasant soul in general despite her own most unfortunate addiction to Sombat). But I am not bitter, having learnt that these kind of people completely destroy themselves without any need for external retribution.
The end was an exchange of SMSs whilst I was safely in Farangland. She had finally run out of patience and poor old Sombat – who had aged about twenty years in the four years we were together – was no doubt threatening, ranting and raving. When I came back to Thailand, I bought new SIMs for the mobile phones and headed somewhere new, where we had no history and there was no-one to phone to tell her what was going down. I spent a couple of nights in Bangkok, the second evening saw Sombat hugely dominating his usual Yamaha step-thru, giving me a lovely scowl in the soi where the hotel was located!
Fast exit to Hua Hin the next day… a month and a modicum of sex with b-gals later, I found myself back in Bangkok and on the way to the UK when the Patpong incident went down. I ran with my luck and didn't change the hotel (a different one to where I'd seen Sombat) and made it to the airport. This was before the airport scam was revealed. I'd always thought that getting through immigration it was a safe zone but finding out that it is anything but has left me convinced that I will not be coming to Thailand again. It was the final straw!
It dawns on me that if someone were to construct a modern hell it would be exactly as Thailand is now – wonderful on the surface, absolutely enticing and beautiful women who smile whilst they try to surreptitiously tear your heart out, where farang come to graze thinking they are in paradise but are actually being spiritually, mentally and even physically destroyed – bit by bit! By the same token, somewhere like the Philippines actually looks like hell on earth, so maybe the gals are much more genuine. Maybe… looks like I am about to find out!
Wonderfully put together. For someone who understands things so well, I think a part of you likes the excitement of living on the edge!