Nights like These
Lower Sukhumvit was its usual night time crowded chaos of sidewalk hawker’s stalls, street walkers, tuktuk touts, and chuck-wagons as we made our way up to our intended destination; the Indian Tailors situated up a side soi, half way along Soi 11. We got there just in time; it was a few minutes before ten and they were in the process of pulling the shutters down on the day. We entered and, once again, felt the instant relief of the air-conditioning. There was one of those ever smiling Indian salesman standing behind the shop's counter.
“Are you still open." I enquired.
“If you are going to buy, then yes we are." he said assuredly.
“Okay. We want to order four short sleeved shirts and two pairs of trousers. We want light material for the shirts. The best quality you’ve got."
“Something like this?" he said as he pulled out a roll of good quality material.
“Yeah, that’s looks like it might be what we’re looking for. By the way, can you have our order ready by tomorrow evening?"
“Twenty four hours is possible."
“I don’t want possible, I want definite. How much extra will I have to pay to make sure our order is ready by tomorrow evening?"
“Shit dude, do you think they can have it ready by then?" said Mark.
“If the price is right, just about anything is possible in this country. And besides, it’s not as though these buggers are going to be hunched over a hot sewing machine, is it. Truth be known most of the orders, from this area of town, probably get made at that sweatshop just down the road from your condo" I said flatly.
“I think we can come to some arrangement. What colour material do you want" said the Indian salesman.
“Light colours will be good. Want do you want mate?"
“That looks good dude. Man, how’s this Thai silk? This is quality stuff."
“Yeah, and to think, it’s all come about because of a fellow country man of yours."
“Well yeah. They terminated his ass though, didn’t they dude."
“The Thai’s man. They wanted it to themselves so they killed old Jimmy Thompson."
“Mate, that sounds like another of your conspiracy theories. The fact is that when he disappeared, back in sixty five, he wasn’t even in Thailand."
“Are you sure about that dude?"
“As sure as the sun rises in the East mate. Do a search on Wikipedia and you’ll find that he disappeared, after wandering off from his bungalow, up in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia."
“After wandering off?"
“Yeah. Left his pipe and tobacco on the table and was never seen again. Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, his disappearance was possibly due to falling into a native’s bear pit."
“Fuck dude, that’s a pretty unspectacular way to go out."
“Absolutely. I think I’d rather die in the saddle up at the Eden bar. Anyway, let’s get this sorted out and get down to the Q Bar."
We spent another twenty minutes getting measured up before we could get back out onto Soi 11 and grab a tuktuk down to Q Bar. As we walked towards the entrance I checked my watch; it was just after ten forty five.
“What time does this place shut?" I said as we handed over the six hundred baht entrance fee.
“It closes early dude; around one am. We better get in there and make the most of it."
“No shit" I said as we entered the lower bar area.
There was some fairly cool chill out type music playing as we looked for a place to position ourselves. A mixture of farang and Thai ladies were spread along an extended bar area to the right of the dance floor. We made our way to a couple of empty chairs, positioned midway along the bar, and ordered two Heinekens. A quick glance around confirmed my earlier assumptions about the reputation of this place; a poseurs joint. There were a number of attractive ladies scattered about all trying to give the impression that they weren’t really ‘that type of girl’ but if you measured up to their haughty expectations and were prepared to pay the overinflated price tag, that they assumed beyond question that they were worth, they might consider giving you a few hours of their time. The farangs were a mixture of the younger type of clubbing scene monger and the cashed up older expat business, or executive type, professional. The young clubbing mongers would be hoping that their good looks and studly athletic appearance would be enough to have one of the elite, of the Q-bar whoring fraternity, offer up their services free of charge – keep dreaming suckers. The cashed up older business professionals were biding their time on the sidelines knowing that, in the land of ‘pay for pleasure’ and the one eyed trouser snake, cash is king. Eventually the young studly mongers would tire of buying drinks for these ‘whores with attitude’ and move on to another venue where the pickings weren’t quite as haughty. The older cashed up business types, circling like hungry sharks, would then move in to negotiate the evening's price.
“Well mate, I think my chances of scoring in here are about nil to Buckleys" I said taking a long gulp of my Heineken.
“Whose Buckley dude."
“Nobody I know mate. It’s just an old Australian expression that reinforces the idea of having next to no chance. And besides, coming in here wearing a faded pair of jeans and a sweaty ‘Hurricanes’ polo shirt isn’t exactly putting me up there in the fashion stakes is it?
“C’mon guy, be positive."
“The thing is though mate, I don’t really care."
“There’s some good looking pussy in here dude."
“Looks can be deceiving mate."
“I’ll let you in on a little secret."
“Will you have to kill me if you tell me dude."
We both laughed.
“Have you ever wondered why farang seem to prefer those little brown skinned Isaan girls over these lighter skinned Bangkok prima donnas?"
“I figured it was because they weren’t going to the right places or weren’t prepared to pay the higher prices."
“Possibly but the real reason is that, pound for pound, those little Isaan girls are a lot stronger."
“Well labouring, or working in rice fields, will tend to toughen you up dude. What’s your point?"
“My point is dude that those little Isaan girls have a lot more stamina and shag a lot better. These little fair skinned middle class, or hi-so, prima donnas have normally had the type of pampered upbringing that makes them soft and unable to put up with any type of hardship. Every time I see one of these pampered types, down at Paragon, the thought that always comes to mind is that they’d scream and jump up onto a table if they saw a mouse."
“The idea of some Khunying, the type you see on Thai soapies with the bouffant hairdo and the long painted nails, using a broom to chase down a rodent doesn’t readily come to mind does it dude?"
“That’d be a hell of a sight. But, no, that’s what the hired help is for. The bottom line for me is that the overinflated price you might pay for one these prima donnas doesn’t stack up when you get them naked and the time comes to perform. I guess that’s why they often prefer the Asian guys; more money for less output. Some muscular farang who’s hung like a rogue bull, and wants to make it an all night affair, is probably a less appealing option for them."
“The fact is dude it’s a completely different market. The Asian guys, and I’m talking predominantly about the Japanese and Koreans here, want girls that offer more of the GFE and who don’t necessarily look like hookers. They want babes that resemble office secretaries, are fair skinned and cute with an idiotic manner."
“Fair enough. What do farangs want then?"
“When it’s all said and done dude, our needs are fairly basic."
“Like the babe that can suck a golf ball up six feet of garden hose dude."
“Well, surveying what’s in here at the moment, I wouldn’t be holding my breath over that."
“I know dude. That’s why I was at Lolita’s earlier today."
“Hmm, I might have to make a visit there myself tomorrow. Jesus, have a look at what’s just come through the door" I said nodding towards a couple of decidedly very hot looking, fair skinned, Bangkok ladies who’d just made their entry into the bar area.
“Do you want to meet them dude?"
“Yeah right mate, no problems. What’s your pick up line then?"
“Nothing dude, I know them" said Mark as he casually waved to the pair of stunners.
They smiled and started to move towards us.
“Fuck, you’re fair dinkum then" I said.
“They’re uni graduates who’re getting started in the Thai movie scene. I met them a couple of months ago on the set of the last movie I worked on."
We turned from the bar to meet them as they walked up behind us. They were like peas out of a pod. Both were around five foot six with fair skin, curves and tits. They smiled and greeted us.
“Hi Mark. Are you partying tonight?" said the more assertive looking one of the two.
“Possibly, what have you got in mind?"
“Well, it’s early so we’re going to start with a few drinks here."
This one spoke very good English and looked highly intelligent.
“Sounds good. This is my friend Mike" said Mark gesturing towards me.
I smiled and said hello. Unlike bargirls, they didn’t put their hands out to be shaken.
The assertive one was named Nat and the other was Pam. No doubt it wasn’t their real names; just a chosen nickname or a shortened version of their real names. There were no spare seats available and for an instant I was going to be a farang and offer my seat but decided against it as I put on my chauvinist Thai male thinking cap. We sat there looking at them for a few seconds as Mark had noted that I hadn’t made a move and, therefore, neither had he. I smiled and broke the ice.
“What are you ladies drinking then?"
The assertive one, Nat, smiled, looked at me confidently and said “tequila and Spy ka."
These two were not as innocent as they appeared. Hardcore liquor right from the get goes then. I ordered their drinks. We continued making small talk and eventually I ended up singling out Nat while Mark took off to the dance floor with Pam.
“Mark tells me you’re doing some movie work" I said.
“Sometimes but not much lately. I’ve been busy finishing my degree in fine arts" she said looking at me with just a hint of arrogance.
This was going to be fun.
“Are you on vacation Mike?"
“You could say that. I’m just chilling out until I have to go back to work again."
“What is your profession?"
“My profession? Nothing very spectacular really. I just try to make as much money as I possibly can by doing as little as I possibly can."
“You are a gangster then?" she said smiling.
At least she had a sense of humour. Imagine trying to enter into this type of conversation with a bargirl.
“No. Something similar though" I said smiling.
“Similar, like what?"
“Like a Thai Rak Thai politician."
“Hmm, I like your sense of humour."
“Just kidding. Sometimes the work I do helps contribute to the wealth and prosperity of Thailand."
“Are you bullshitting like most farang that come here?" she said with a wry smile.
“Do you want another Tequila?"
“Thank you. You know Mike there are so many farang who come here who just want to have sex with bar girls and are not interested in anything about the history or culture of our country" she said with that air of seriousness again.
At this point I should’ve just said jam it as the last thing I really needed to do was to enter into a debate about Thai history and culture with an educated hi-so type. But, fuck it, the reckless side of me wanted to see where this might lead to. Over the years of living in Thailand I’d come to realize that there were two cards the educated types threw around when they felt the need to defend the honour of Thailand; foreigners don’t understand Thai culture and Thailand has never been colonized. Perhaps most farang don’t understand exactly what Thai culture is but, from what I’ve seen over the many years of living here, neither do a lot of Thais. To your average man on the street Thai culture is something that neither needs defending, or explaining; it’s simply how, and what, you are. If you head up to some village, in the northeast of the country, and try telling some dirt poor rice farmer that his culture is the most important thing he’s got, after taking a swig of lao kao, he’ll laugh in your face and think you’re an idiot. To him, nothing is more important than three meals of rice a day, a roof over his head and a warm wife to create offspring with.
A discussion about never being colonized would take pages but, suffice to say, back in the thirteenth century the geographical area, of what is now Thailand, was part of the Angkorian Empire. Can colonization be strictly defined as something which is a relatively recent phenomenon; undertaken only in the last three to four hundred years by colonial powers such as England and France? Do we turn a blind eye to the Angkorian Kingdom because the narrowly focused nationalist sentiment in Thailand doesn’t like to accept, or acknowledge, the influence of the Khmer?
“Culture is an interesting concept. Aside from the visible things such as language, music, dance, architecture, art, and religion, how would you define Thai culture?" I said.
“Well, it’s the way in which we interact with each other and our polite manner. It’s the ways in which we respect our parents and elders. It’s our consideration of other’s feelings and, at all times, the way in which we try to avoid confrontation which may cause embarrassment. It’s our reverence for the royal family, our Buddhist beliefs, our land and ancestors" she said as a matter of fact.
“Okay, I can go along with some of that but what about the hierarchal system of society originating from a feudal background."
She looked at me non plussed.
“That’s not Thai culture."
“Well greng jai is, isn’t it?"
“Well yes, we respect our elders and people in positions of authority?"
“There’s more to it than that though, isn’t there?"
“What do you mean?"
“How about unquestioned obedience by subordinates to those in actual, or perceived, higher status positions even if decisions being made by those in higher status positions are clearly wrong, or incorrect, and are followed to the detriment of the business or organization."
“Well, sometimes we do have inefficiencies and poor decision making at leadership levels."
“I think you’re just being polite. The fact is that, so often in Thailand, people get promoted on length of service and not merit. It’s the kind of mentality that holds businesses, organizations and the whole country back. You can never realize your true potential because the older, more senior guy is always beyond reproach and criticism. The younger, more talented people have to bite their lips because they don’t want the guys, who are higher up the ladder, to lose face. And we know what that means in Thailand don’t we?"
“Perhaps. It’s just the way things are though. In our own way we get things done."
“Yeah, but there’s an opportunity cost isn’t there?"
“Like the fact that Vietnam and Malaysia will slowly but surely move past Thailand in terms of economic development."
“Maybe. That’s really more to do with economics though and not the influence of Thai culture."
“Sorry but it’s got everything to do with it."
“Because the whole greng jai thing has its roots in the ages old hierarchal system of allegiance to the patron, or Nai. The vestiges of which are still clearly evident today, at the most basic level, in most villages and communities in Thailand."
“You mean the kamnan?"
“Yes, the village chief."
“Well that’s our Thai system. Why do you think that’s so wrong anyway?"
“Because one man can hold sway over the thoughts and motivations of an entire group, that’s why. His unchallenged word can influence the village into making decisions which may not necessarily be to the benefit, or liking, of the group but they go along with it because no one dare challenge the nai. It’s a feudal mentality that affords the opportunity for cronyism, inefficiency and corruption to exist."
“Well Mike, if you think there are so many things wrong with Thailand, and Thai people, why do you come here. Is it just for the cheap and easy sex?"
“Probably just the cheap and easy sex" I said wryly.
Cue the disgusted look on her face.
“Look, if you’re going to adopt that defensive ostrich position then we’re wasting our time continuing this little discussion" I said.
“Why is it an Ostrich position?"
“Head in the sand. Knowing what’s really going on around you but not wanting to acknowledge it and, by doing so, hoping that it all just goes away."
No answer. Cue pouting and pissed off look. I think I may have ruined my chances for a bit of leg over later in the evening. Time for an olive branch.
“There are a lot of things that I like about Thailand; the climate, the food, the beaches and, most importantly, the friendliness and general decency of most Thais. Over the years that I’ve been here I’ve worked with a lot of ordinary Thais, particularly tradespeople, and I’ve found them to be some of the best in their chosen skills. It’s just the old ruling elitist system that I don’t have much regard for. It’s seems as though anyone that gets into position where they can put on a uniform, particularly government employees and public servants, immediately get the idea that the masses are there to cater to them and not, as it is in most other parts of the world, the other way round. It seems to be an old world mentality that places position and face above accountability."
“Who are you criticizing?"
“I’m not criticizing anyone Nat. I’m saying that it’s a huge pity that this nation is not able to realize its full potential simply because of an underlying mentality which has people convinced that, as soon as they achieve a position of influence and power, being held accountable is a lower priority to maintenance of position and face."
“I think I understand what you’re saying Mike but, the fact is, we Thai just accept that’s how things are. Thailand, in reality, is a very class conscious society. Much as we don’t like to admit it, we’ve been brainwashed since birth into accepting that hi-so and low-so are realities of life here."
“You mean brown skinned field hands are unpalatable to the fair skinned elite of Bangkok?"
“Yes, we have trouble coming to terms with the idea that farangs like being with bargirls from Isaan."
“Sorry to disappoint you Nat but most farangs don’t see a problem with it. Anyway, why is it such a big deal?"
“It’s just that Hi-so people often regard Isaan people simply as a supply of cheap labour for doing menial tasks such as serving and cleaning up."
“So, what we see on Thai soapies is, in reality, a mirror image of real life?"
“Unfortunately so Mike. It’s just not politically correct to say so."
“Well I guess most farang in Thailand are simply living in blissful ignorance then. The thing is that, once you’ve been here for a while, the idea that being white skinned and wealthy is the only thing that counts isn’t an image that’s hard to notice. It’s a troubling little fantasy land image that’s seen in all the media. Hell, it’s even shoved in your face constantly on the sky train advertising."
“Why do you say it’s a fantasy land image?"
“Because ninety percent of the population doesn’t live like that, that’s why. It’s a completely unrealistic representation of the social strata of Thailand. The message that’s being delivered amounts to little more than; if you’re white skinned and wealthy you’ve achieved a status rivalling a deity. If you’re brown skinned and poor, well, you’re professionally pathetic and you don’t count."
“Oh, so you think that Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza are a more realistic representation of life in Thailand, do you Mike?"
“Well let’s just say that farang that spend their money down there are probably adding to the Thai economy, in a more effective way, than the ‘rice fields are so picturesque at sunset’ crowd."
“Who are they?" she said with a puzzled look.
“The pseudo lovers of Thai culture and history that prattle on about the evils of prostitution; who are firmly convinced that all girls, on the game, have been forced into it and that all single males, coming to Thailand, are nefarious sex tourists taking advantage of these poor maidens but, at the same time, they’re telling you that the slums are so quaint. The very same slums that most of those girls come from."
“So you like bargirls do you Mike?"
“No, and I don’t dislike them either. As much as you don’t want to believe it, they aren’t the manifestation of evil in this country, they’re just a group of ladies from a financially disadvantaged background trying to make their way in this world."
“Maybe so Mike but they create a poor external image for Thailand. When people overseas start talking about Thailand, the first thing they think of is girls and sex."
“Well that’s a hell of a lot better than talking about war and killing, isn’t it?"
“Like I said to begin with, you don’t take our country seriously."
“Okay then, how would you go about changing that image?"
“I don’t know. Maybe we could start closing some of the seedy bar areas like Cowboy and Nana."
“Well that’s going to do Thailand more harm than good."
“Two reasons. The first is that it’s going to affect the tourism income because, let’s be honest, most inbound tourism into Thailand is to do with nightlife and sex, isn’t it?"
“Possibly. What’s the second reason?"
“The government will have to build more jails to cope with the increase in crime."
“Why do you say that?" she said looking slightly perplexed.
“Because all those dodgy bastards that make a living on the periphery of the sex industry; the yaba dealers, the pimps, the hustlers and the lazy Thai boyfriends, who are leaching off their prostitute girlfriends, are going to have get money from somewhere. The easiest option for them is more crime. And, besides all of that, what about the ancillary support businesses – the beauty salons, sexy clothing retailers, coffee shops, som tam carts, alcohol retailers, hotels, etc., – that ride to success on the back of the sex industry?"
“Okay, I get your point; it’s not a realistic idea."
“No it’s not. It would cause an enormous social upheaval. That’s why, even though prostitution in Thailand is officially illegal, the authorities turn a blind eye to it. The ruling class may not like it but they tolerate it because they know what the ramifications would be if they tried to put a stop to it."
“Yes but that doesn’t make it right."
“Look, this whole issue of the farang based prostitution industry is complete bloody hypocrisy anyway."
“Because the Thai based prostitution industry is far larger, that’s why. Besides that, I wonder how many Thai male government ministers have got mia nois."
“Probably quite a few I expect." she said with an air of resignation.
“Hey dude, what’s shakin’?
Mark and Pam were back from the dance floor.
“Not a hell of a lot. Nat and I were just discussing the meaning of life here in the LOS."
“You mean there’s a meaning to life here? I thought most of us were just here to get as many notches on the belt as possible" said Mark.
Nat smiled and shook her head “You two really talk quite a lot of bullshit don’t you?"
I took another pull on my Heineken.
“Well, I’ve had a lot worse said about me. Mark’s got a point though about the notches on the belt. Ten years down the track you wake up one day and think ‘what was all that about’. I’ve done the notches on the belt thing and, lately, I find myself thinking I’d really like to do something different than hanging out in Bangkok nightclubs talking to beautiful ladies."
“Give it some more time dude, you’ll get over it" said Mark.
“Well, what is it that you’d really like to do Mike" said Nat.
“You really want to know" I said looking her in the eye.
“Okay. How about you and I running naked through the jungle then jumping into a cool freshwater pool and having animal-like sex" I said.
“You’ve got a dirty mind" she said looking a bit embarrassed.
“You’re not saying you wouldn’t though."
“I’ll think about it" she said with a cheeky smile.
I guarantee if I offered her the right amount she’d be up for it in a heartbeat.
“Anyone want another drink" asked Mark.
“We’re thinking about heading down to the Bed Club" said Pam.
“What’s the Bed Club?" I said.
“She means the Bed Supper Club dude. It’s just back down Soi 11."
“Any good?" I said.
“It’s okay. It’s something similar to this but a bit more of a trendy night club" said Mark.
“Oh, another bloody poseur’s joint. This, I need to have a look at. Any objections to us joining you girls?"
“Are you paying for the drinks Mike?" said Nat.
“Is the Pope a catholic?" I said laconically.
“I think so" she said with a puzzled look.
Mark and I had a chuckle as we started to make our way to the exit.
A few minutes later we were looking up at a rather strange looking building that looked not too dissimilar to an elongated, corrugated iron, water storage tank laying on its side. There was a long, inclined ramp leading up to the midpoint of the structure. Pam and Nat began to make their way up. We followed and, in doing so, I noticed a couple of katoeys leaning against the ramp's handrail.
“Looks as though these buggers are getting in everywhere these days."
“It’s just part of life over here dude. Heck, they’ve even got toilets for the third sex in some high schools here now."
“TIT mate." I countered.
At the top of the ramp we turned into an alcove which formed the entrance to the nightclub. There were actually two nightclubs to choose from as the building was divided in half. We paid the six hundred baht entrance fee and the girls led the way to the door on the left.
“What’s over that side?" I said to Nat as we pushed through the crowd around the door.
“That’s techno, this is hip hop."
I gathered she preferred hip hop then. From the little I’d heard, and seen, there seemed to be no difference; it was all loud.
“Let’s go up to the balcony. We can check things out from up there." she said.
The main dance floor / lounge area was fairly small and already congested with the crowd that was now in there. The balcony level above seemed like a good idea. As we moved towards the stairway, which went up to the balcony level, I was getting a good close-up look at the babes that were milling about. Some were in the hot category but there was also a lot of mutton done up as lamb; ladies that were dressed very well but a close look at their faces revealed the tell tale signs of maturity. A maturity that was disguised by plenty of caked on ‘war paint’.
We took up a position about half way along the length of the nightclub. A waiter set upon us, almost immediately, and we ordered a round. Nat and Pam were into the groove already and were gyrating around. The volume coming from the sound system was so loud that a conversation was only possible by yelling at each other. I looked down and took in the surroundings. The place was packed and the seething masses below were into the groove from the sounds coming from the DJ’s turntable. A new song came on and the crowd cheered. There were lots of young clubbing mongers below doing their best to impress the ladies with their slick moves.
A couple of white skinned, hi-so types pushed past us with their noses in the air; more of the ‘my shit doesn’t stink’ crowd. Mark looked at them and laughed.
“What was it you were saying about mice earlier dude?"
“One of those fake rubber snakes would come in handy now" I said with a laugh.
The music boomed out and with each new song the crowd let out a ‘woohoo’. Most of them seemed to be gyrating in their own little world. Maybe on some kind of chemical mood enhancer, who knows? There seemed to be some kind of preoccupation with a hand in the air as part of their dance moves.
“What’s the deal with the hand thing" I said to Mark.
“They’re just into the groove dude."
“Well it’s certainly not very original is it?"
“What do you mean?"
“John Travolta started that back in seventy six mate."
“Yeah, Saturday Night Fever. Everything else that follows is just poor imitation. Travolta was the man; he had all these moves and more. He was the epitome of slick on the dance floor."
“Dude, you need to move with the times; we’ve gone beyond wide collars and flares?"
“Yeah, sadly it seems."
The drinks arrived and I decided I’d just get blasted on Jack and cokes. Mark was right, I was an anachronism. The world had moved on and, to put it bluntly, I wasn’t too impressed. Most young guys I saw these days were soft. Oh, they looked the part with their impressive muscles and slick moves on the dance floor but put them outside under the sun with some hard graft, and some sweat on their brows, and it wouldn’t take long for them to start whining. These days it’s all about computer games and PSPs; don’t waste your time asking them to tie a knot or use an adjustable spanner.
I took another slug of my JD and looked along the balcony. One of the white skinned, Hi-so’s had collared some young farang and was now in the process of dry rooting him on one of the beds up here on the balcony; she was sitting on top of him and bouncing up and down like there was no tomorrow. So much for the prim and proper ladies of the Bangkok Hi-so fraternity. At the end of the day, once they’ve got a few drinks under their belts, they aren’t that much different to their low-so sisters down on Soi cowboy in that they like a good shagging as well. I looked at my watch; it was one thirty am. The planned early night and the disciplined approach to alcohol consumption was now history. The drinks waiter came by again and Nat ordered another round. The DJ put on what sounded like a familiar tune; an up tempo version of Michael Jackson's ‘Thriller’. Is nothing sacred these days? The crowd went woohoo again and there were more hands waving in the air. The white skinned Hi-so that was, moments ago, bouncing away on top of the young farang, tried to push past me without saying excuse me. I stood my ground as she tried to squeeze past. Our thighs touched and she gave me a supercilious, offended look. I smiled, stuck my tongue out, and imitated giving her a licking. Nat and Pam turned to see what was going on and the offended, white skinned, Hi-so gave them an earful in Thai and stormed off. Nat and Pam gave me a disapproving look and I decided I’d better, for the sake of improving my chances later in the evening, pull my horns in. I took another large slug of JD. The last time I’d gone on a JD fuelled bender I’d been in a bar in Baku chewing on the ‘norks’ of some blonde, Russian hooker, at three am in the morning. It was time to dial it down a bit.
The DJ was in the groove and the crowd was getting amped up as the clocked ticked down towards stumps. According to Mark stumps, in here, was at two thirty am. I checked my watch; it was just after two. There was some frenetic activity starting to take place in the ‘line up the squeeze for the night stakes’. A collision of diametrically opposed wants and needs. Ladies who had been holding out for a higher price versus the young clubbing monger waiting, for the end of the night, to pay a lower price. But not waiting too long as, to do so, would invite competition from others who were eyeing up the same piece of pussy. At two fifteen, the manoeuvring for positions was in full swing. Same shit, different venue; the only difference was probably the going rate. Groups of girls who’d, earlier on, looked aloof and unapproachable were now enthusiastically welcoming prospective clients. Some, not getting the price they figured they were worth, were going to the pussy hotline; cell phones must be worth their weight in gold to some of these girls. Somehow, Nat had entwined herself around me and was using her, more than ample, charms to line me up for the night. No doubt the alcohol, and the mood of the moment, had relegated our earlier differences of opinion, over the meaning of life here in the LOS, to her scrap bin of lower priorities.
The music stopped, the lights came on and we started to make our way towards the exit. The inclined ramp up to the entrance was now the inclined ramp down to the road. As the bodies spilled out from both halves of the building it reminded me of a line from an old Johnny Cash song; we rolled out into the mud, the blood and the beer. The ramp was now a congested mass of bodies, lined up along the length of both handrails, as we ran the gauntlet down to the road. The thought that this wasn’t any different to any of the other P4P venues, in Bangkok, came to mind. At this very moment the same little ‘Peyton Place’ theatrics were being replicated, at exactly the same time, at Nana car park, Cowboy and the Thermae, etc – earnest negotiating about pussy and price. We stood on Soi 11.
“Do you want to go somewhere else?" said Nat.
I looked at Mark. He shrugged and looked undecided.
“To be honest Nat, I think I’d like to go home" I said.
“Where are you staying?"
“I’m staying at Mark's condo down on Soi 4. We’ve got a couple of bottles there; do you want to come with us?"
Nat and Pam got together and started a private little conversation in Thai. I’d seen this routine so often before and knew where it was going to. It was either one of two things; they were both agreeing on the minimum price they would accept from us or they weren’t that keen, due to one reason or another, and were deciding what to do. They came back towards us, linked their arms through ours, and then moved us apart. It was the minimum price routine then; highly skilled operators these two.
“You know Mike, I don’t want you to think badly of me but I have a few expenses I need to pay at the end of this month."
“And you’d like me to help you in paying those expenses."
“Yes" she said with a confident look in her eyes.
“How much are we talking about then?"
“Ha pun baht ka?" she said with an impish grin.
Thai women; you can’t live without them and you can’t kill them.
“Hmmm" I said.
“It’s not much Mike. I know you have a good job and get paid well."
“Really; how do you know that?"
“Pam told me."
I looked at Mark, who was in earnest negotiation with Pam. So much for not revealing any personal details about each other. I’ll need to give him a reminder prior to venturing out next time.
“What do you think Mike?" she said looking into my eyes again.
“What do I think Nat? There’s only one thing I need to know on nights like these."
“What?" she said expectedly.
“For Ha Pun baht."
“Before coming out tonight, did you shave?"
Very nice indeed.