I am in an overnight VIP bus. Although friends have said that this is not a rational thing to do in times of budget airlines, I still kind of like them. A wide seat, the actual physical feeling of travelling, the fact that you are in between: gone from
the one place, not yet in the next and no-one really knowing where you are.
As often, I am the only farang in the bus. Outside, Thailand is dark. The only occasional lights are white lights from small somewhere towns, and flashing lights to suggest that karaoke is available. At this moment, the only ones awake in the bus are me, and (hopefully) the driver. It is at these times that my mind is slowly starting to wander over the past days, going over memories and trying to put things into perspective.
I have been in the little pleasure town near the beach for some nights. You could call it Thai therapy, or having enough from the complexities of western dating, going to a place where all women find you handsome, when you enter a bar every woman wants to drink with you and most would not mind spending the night with you too. Or, walking into an afternoon bar, seeing some charming partially undressed ladies and within half an hour finding yourself in an upstairs room with the most beautiful one. Of course, I pay handsomely for the illusion.
In such cases, it is easy to lose your mind. You stop eating good food, sleep too little and slowly stop realizing how you usually interact with people in your day to day life. They do not seem so important anymore, given that you are living the illusion of the alpha male. But can I really keep my perspective, seeing the difference between this adult Disneyland and the reality of daily life in the normal world?
However, am I the only one?
Consider the service girl from a gogo bar. In the distance between the bar and the hotel room, often small presents jump off the shelves of the street vendors or 7 Elevens. This time, it was an Oil of Olaz skin whitening cream. Of course, we cannot blame a 22-year old Isaan girl for wanting the products we advertise on TV every day. From her handbag came a make-up set which would even make the model in the TV advertisement blush.
This was the third barfine in the career of this service lady. "I used to be shy, but now I like". So slowly, she will start to feel the wealth which is available in the bars. Will she stay sane? Or will she start to feel that craving for more? Likely, next year she is either married to a farang, or gogo dancing. Will she start to see that it is a job which requires professionalism to survive or get into a self destructive fortune hunt?
Meet the Finnish couple whom I shared a drink with. They were on their 2 week Pattaya holiday. First time Thailand and all. Of course, they were out at night. Not to Walking Street (too scary at night), but even around Second Road there were plenty of bars available with a good and exciting atmosphere.
What will they see? If they are Scandinavian politically correct, they might think of me as a sexist racist white male, who takes advantage of the differences in the global distribution of wealth by unfairly abusing the bodies of young innocent women from a developing country. Or they will start wondering about what is happening in these bars. Even though they have a good marriage, she already told me that she spends a large part of the evening watching her husband (and the goings in the bars). It is not difficult to deduce what he is watching these nights.
Of course, I could be nasty, and whisper to him how he can sneak out during the day time, and where to go. Or, I could advise her on how to hire an exotic beauty, and present her as a Thai treat to her husband. (I once walked the Amsterdam red light district. One of the rooms had a busty blond woman working. To my surprise, an Italian couple came out. The guy was so happy, which he showed by showering his wife with kindness and kisses.) Seeing young available women every day, what will this do to your marriage? Will you be able to keep your perspective, knowing the difference between the thing you have together long term and the short exotic illusion?
The biggest smile I got was from the guy who handed me my Coke in Happy a Gogo. The pin on his shirt indicated that he was a trainee. That made me wonder: carrying drinks is not extremely difficult, and the system with the bills doesn't require genius to figure out. Thus why the trainee part?
But then I really started looking: he is a good looking, healthy, strong young man in his early twenties. The place he chooses to work has young women, about his age, in various stages of undress. You can be reasonably sure that this is not available on the Thai market, and that he has not seen it before (and certainly not every night). My drinks bill ran to 400 baht. To estimate, this would be more than his salary for that day, almost casually spend. And this is definitely not the only bill that evening.
There we have a cocktail of big money flying around and young women. Add the sex to it: to everyone entering the bar it is clear that the ladies who work in his bar are not there just to dance and consume lady drinks. They are available. However, not to our trainee, but to men who are much older, less good looking, not speaking the language of the ladies or even understanding what these ladies would consider sanuk. For our new service guy, they are far from easily available. Or, if they would have an interest in him, the difference in earning power would give the ladies a big advantage. So how would you keep your perspective if this is your job? When would you start craving for a bit more of the money or the bodies which are available?
The rhythm of the bus slowly starts to put me to sleep. Creating more and more distance, my mind starts to see the illusion which I lived these days. I loved it. And I know it is now time to get out.
It is an illusion, of course, but if you can keep it in perspective it can be immense fun.