Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 222
IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE WOMEN YOU MEET
It's not just about the women you meet. It's also about the men you meet. In Thailand I mean. Following are some personal examples. Maybe it will help you remember some of the great, or strange, or interesting, or really funny guys you have met in the Kingdom. It all counts.
Once in the lobby of the Nana I found myself sitting across from an urbane, cultured, educated man. How did I know this? By looking at him, that's how. Sometimes you can tell a book by its cover and I wasn't wrong this time. We got to talking. His name was Jim and he was from Chicago. Jim had been coming to Thailand for years. He also spent time in Angeles City, Philippines. In addition, he had a condo in Brazil in a racy part of the city. He was renting a house in Cambodia. He was on the road pretty much continually; rotating from house to condo to hotel. Sometimes he rented suites and set up photography studios and took pictures of the girls.
The next day we shared a bus trip to Pattaya. He was taking some photos he had taken to the artists on Walking Street. The paintings would then be shipped to his condo in Brazil. He explained that the girls of Thailand were sexy, the girls of the Philippines were cute, and the girls of Brazil were erotic. I felt like an amateur. When we got to Pattaya he did me a favor and helped me check into the AA Hotel. I asked him why he pursued this lifestyle. He said, "I had a 2 year marriage and then I had a 7 year divorce. I decided it was Me Time."
Another gentleman I met was from Nepal. Nepal for God's sake. Isn't that the dirt poor country where they are eating snowballs and cherry-sized potatoes? I mean who's got enough money in Nepal for the airfare to Bangkok? I was in Pattaya and I was on the way to the Diamond Beach Hotel to check it out. I was going to get the staff to give me a tour of the rooms and the facilities before I made a commitment; blah, blah, blah. Mr. Big Shot. On the way up the steps to the hotel I see this 30ish looking guy, kind of foreign; just standing there with a look of happiness on his face. I ask him if he is staying at the hotel. Yes he is, he says. I ask him what the level of service, security, etc is like. He replies that it doesn't matter.
Now the Diamond Beach Hotel is situated at the end of a soi that is packed with bars. The noise at night during high season is deafening. It looks like Sodom and Gommorah if you are a newbie. I ask him why the level of service and other important hotel selection criteria don't matter. "Watch this." he says. He takes his wallet out and waves it over his head. Instantly, three girls scream and run up to him. I go into the hotel and check in.
Once when I was a little green and new to the scene I went into the G-Spot Bar at the Nana a little too early. They had not really opened up yet. The door was just open to let the girls in who were coming to work. The place was mostly empty. There were a few girls on stage and some wait staff. The air-conditioning was on and blasting and without the compensating heat from a hundred customers it was as cold as a freezer. And there sitting all alone at the bar was one single guy. I sat next to him. I turned to say hello and was startled.
He looked wide eyed, disoriented, in shock: maybe sick. It turned out he was from Scotland and this was his first trip away from Mom and Dad's farm, and it was his second day in Bangkok. And there wasn't anything in Scotland that looked like what he'd seen in the last 40 hours. The guy was disoriented. He was in shock. Up until this trip to Thailand he had never been out of Scotland. In fact, he had never been out of his parents' basement where he lived. Two elderly parents and lots of cows. That was his life. And he was one of the funniest guys I've ever met. We spent the next hour having giggle fits comparing the women of our respective countries to the beauties of Thailand. Normally, I don't drink and normally I don't go into bars to male bond. But I miss this guy.
I took Noi on a beach and boating tour to Ko Lan off Pattaya. We looked and acted like a couple. People remarked on it. We used to get special and nice treatment. Even young male Thais were nice to us. You'd think there would be some resentment towards me because I had one of their women. But even the least likely candidates for civility were nice to us. Part of the tour is that you get lunch. There is a shed with tables and benches. I was stepping over the bench to sit down to lunch when one of the tour guides taps me on the shoulder and says, "Not here."
He had set up a special two place setting for Noi and me. We had our own waiter. We got treated special. He didn't have to do that. I got to talking to him later and found out he spoke 5 languages and had traveled to many parts of the world. He had also done 8 months in a monastery on Ko Lan (he pointed to the place up on the mountainside) when there was a 'problem' in his personal life. He had a keen sense of how the different cultural groups (Indians, Danes, Aussies, Koreans, etc.) responded and how they had to be catered to. He didn't make note of any of these international differences in a judgemental way, just an observational way. He was interesting, well spoken, intelligent. He was also wearing bare feet, shorts, and a T shirt. Normally, you wouldn't notice him or take notice of him. Just another generic invisible Thai. It made me wonder what other interesting Thais I was missing out on.
I have a friend in Boston who helps me with my letters to girlfriends and other Thai travel related issues. She is Thai and came here years ago as a Fulbright scholar. She now has two Masters degrees, a career, and an American husband. You can't imagine anything more the opposite of a Thai bar girl. One day she said that she had a good Thai friend in Pattaya and that I should look him up. She gave me his address and phone number and wrote out an introductory letter. It turns out he lives in one of the exclusive high rise enclaves in North Pattaya. I go to visit. Just like my friend in Boston; he is civilized, educated, interesting, cultured. He was educated in Perth, Australia and his son now lives in Ohio. We spend hours talking. It's a shame to come here and just meet touts and tuktuk drivers.
It's afternoon and I am sitting at the bar at the Nana Hotel. Two seats down from me is an American expat who is about 65 years old. He has been in Thailand for 40 years! I am so not in this guy's league it is not even funny. The TV is on and the news is eliciting comments from him about the Thai personalities, and Thai politics, and Thai current events. This is really his country. But no one will give him the key because he doesn't look right. I would love to slide down two seats and introduce myself. I would like to listen and to learn. I'd like to be taken into his world. I'd like to hear the stories. But I'm not qualified. I'm just a sex tourist. A short time adventurer. I don't have any social currency. Not even with this farang.
So, do I travel to the Kingdom to meet men? No, I do not travel to the Kingdom to meet men. But I do wish I had a kept a journal of the interesting men I had met in between starring at, grabbing at, dreaming about, and holding in my arms beautiful Thai women.
I like and I respect men. Look out your window wherever you are. Everything you see was built by men. Men are funny, and smart, and wise, and social risk takers. They can take a hit and come right back at you with a smile on their face. The only time I see a smile on a bargirl's face is when I open my wallet.
And some men are guarantees for me. Australians! Australian men in a bar with one beer down and another beer in hand are the brightest funniest guys I have ever met. At least I think they are the brightest funniest guys I have ever met. I've never understood a word they've said.
So here is my recommendation. Keep an eye out for the men in Thailand as well as the women. You'll be rewarded. Heading to Walking Street? Before you go under the sign take a minute to go left up South Pattaya Road for a bit. On the right you will see an open bar front with a bunch of bird cages hanging outside. Stand and look at the cages and talk to the birds. You will attract the expat owner. This guy is a human rooster and a piece of work. I guarantee you will enjoy ten minutes talking to this guy and he should be in your Thailand experience rolodex. Remember, it is not just about the women you meet, it is also about the men you meet.
Not convinced? Try this. Take some time off from the women. If you are an expat take a couple of days off just because you are bored. If you are a sex tourist take two days off because otherwise you might have a heart attack. Spend the next two days just meeting some of the guys in Thailand. How?
Well, the easiest source of interesting men are the lounge lizards in hotels. Hotels that have long term residents always have these guys hanging out in the lobby chairs. Sort of their own private club. An excellent example of this is at the Mothership in Bangkok. Last time I was sitting with these guys one of the guys had been coming to Thailand for forty years, one guy could remember when the klong water was clean, one guy had managed bars, and then there was 500 Baht Walt. He only pays 500 baht. What are you paying? The secret with the lounge lizards is to mostly just sit and listen.
Another category worth investigating are the farangs that look as if they have lost the plot. You see examples of them everywhere. Sure, in your own life back in your own country you would not interact with these guys but you are in Thailand. Whatever happens in Thailand stays in Thailand. In Bangkok there is always a farang hanging out near Soi 11 and Sukhumvit. All he wears is a sarong and he looks as if he is rolled in dirt every day. But wait a minute: he is there almost every day, he is erect and ambulatory, he is not starving, and he is making it somehow in a city that mostly terrifies you. Maybe speaking to this train wreck would be interesting. Similarly in Pattaya there is almost always a comatose farang laying in the trash just a little south of the rear entrance to Big Mike's department store on Second Road. Do what I have done. Poke him with a stick until he comes to and then talk to him.
When is the last time you talked to the expats who do good deeds in the Kingdom: the expats who belong to clubs and organizations that donate to the blind, and find computers for schools, and raise money for wheelchairs for the crippled, and sponsor toy drives? Find out when they are having their next meeting and go and sit and listen. Tell them you are a four year old Thai orphan and see what kind of a response you get.
Only on vacation in the Kingdom and not really into good deeds? Ok, no problem. Drop on down to Pattaya. Your mission? Track down Chiang Mai Kelly, shoot him with a tranquilizer dart, and load him into the back of a truck with one of those rhino nets they use in Africa. Take him to a secret location. Now let the questioning begin. Believe me, you will learn stuff. Example? Mr. Kelly is an expert on the after 3 a.m. scene in Pattaya. After 3 a.m.? I didn't even know such a thing existed. I usually call that R.E.M. sleep.
So next time you are in the Kingdom or the next time your heart tells you it would be a good idea to give the whole girl/Viagra thing a rest consider the men of Thailand. It is all part of the equation. There are one hundred and eighty-eight countries sending men to the Kingdom with different languages, and different cultures, and different stories to tell, and different accents. Do what I do. Open up your mind to any man thing that comes along.
Except for the New Zealanders. Can't understand one word. And the Australians after two beers. Again, can't understand one word. With the Aussies I always put the incomprehensible gibberish speech syndrome (IGSS) down to too many Foster's Beers (either at the time or in the past), but with the North and South Islanders I finally decided that New Zealand must be Maori for white people with speech defect (WPWSD).
Anyway, open yourself up to the whole man thing in Thailand. You'll be glad you did. Ok, except for the French. And the Muslims. Look, make your own list. And if you are going down Second Road in Pattaya and you see me poking a dead guy with a stick just relax. He ain't dead and we are male bonding.