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Addiction and the Darker Side of Paradise Found

  • Written by Ritchie
  • February 27th, 2010
  • 10 min read

In his prime my father bore a passing resemblance to Errol Flynn, aged about 30 years old. In later life, the combination of a desk job and good living, he ended up with a startling resemblance to Jack Warner who played Dixon of Dock Green (TV program in the UK). In my prime someone said I looked like Mickey Rourke, circa 1986, but later years and too much beer ended up looking like Elton John on a bad day. My father's father died when he was 35 and the faded photo in an old newspaper marking the death at sea suggested he was startlingly good looking, in a class beyond even Flynn. On the other hand, my grandfather on my mother's side was short, plump, bald and sported a rather odd moustache – almost a caricature of the types you find hanging out in Pattaya.

These thoughts weaving through my mind as I went through a collection of photos, a mixture of old family stuff and my own past misadventures in Thailand… the latter chronicling a certain amount of decline. On the face of it, as mentioned, too much beer but the only reason for that excessive alcohol intake the depreciations of life with a series of Thai woman. Possibly the height of irony, as I always thought that being in a relationship with a beautiful woman would be a transformational event for me, rather than ageing me before my time. When I first came to Bangkok – a long time ago – it was a sheer adrenalin rush in which anything seemed possible, the core of that ending up living with a nineteen year old Thai girl who put Kate Moss in the shade.

It would be a minor exaggeration to say that the only farang in a state of happiness with Thai woman would be those who have no real idea of the creature they are living with and take great delight in the superficial niceness. Those dallying with bars girls – a community in which all the really attractive women already have the love of their life in the form on Khun Somchai and even ninety percent plus of the rest are equally well sorted – either find comfort in the sheer numbers they can get through on what amounts to loose change, or – again – just enjoy the very superficial girlfriend experience. Either enjoying the moment (a very Thai thing to do) or are actually losing it and being completely conned into parting with all their worldly goods.

Khun Somchai, given enough monetary intake, would also allow marriage to a farang and even half-caste kids, who if it all turns to shit and the easy money runs out can be passed on to the nearest brothel (at least in his mind, mostly the Thai women end up ironically totally entranced by such kids). There seems no middle ground in this, if you are a farang who genuinely wants to get involved with an attractive Thai woman, two or three decades your junior, then the expectation in the lower levels of Thai society is that there will be a Thai husband in the background; otherwise too much loss of face!

One of the most depressing things I have found in my meanders through Thai society, Thai people who have absolutely nothing to do with the neon scene, who lead normal lives and work hard for their baht, will go out of their way to help Thai girls to keep their local husband a secret – offering him somewhere to stay and even work nearby to where the farang and Thai girl have set up home. You might well expect this back in their Isarn village but I have seen it go down in central Bangkok, Chiang Mai suburbs – just about everywhere! Again, all to do with face!

One of the strangest things I found whilst staying with a Thai girl – the inability to process the reality of the situation, even when that reality is laid out in front of you as easy as ABC. You also find this about internet surfers who are highly selective about what registers in their mind. Nearly every b-gal you will come into contact already has a Thai man who is the love of her life. Repeat that a hundred times, please, until it sinks in. The kind of madness and passion you feel for that particular Thai girl, she feels ten times as much passion for her Thai man! Repeat that a hundred times, please, until it sinks in. Such self-delusion extends to farang father's who can't get their head around the fact that their so-called son looks so Thai not because of some genetic twist but because he is the son of his wife's Thai man!

Given such amorality amongst the locals to talk about the morality of farang in Thailand seems as out of place as complaining at the results of swimming in a river obviously infested with crocodiles.

It gets worse when you observe the girls with their chosen local men who are usually physically – in a land full of attractive men – repulsive and bordering on retarded in their mentality. Even just hanging out with the girl and her friends who bring along their male cohorts, it is obvious that these guys are right at the bottom of Thai society armed with as much social skills as they have money making ability. Their accents guttural and their gestures almost primeval. When the going gets tough, the girls revert back to this basicness, the same kind of feral craziness and natural dumbness. To enlighten these women is rather like trying to get dogs to behave as cats!

It also seems incredibly difficult for farang to learn from experience. I know one guy who married a b-girl, got divorced and then kept on repeating the trick. Myself, I keep getting involved with b-gals, knowing full well that there is bound to be a Somchai lurking in the background and that the more effort (and occasionally finance) I put into the relationship the more likely I am to get kicked between the legs and left for dead with my heart pumping out unhappiness. The only thing keeping me going, a demented determination not to let the bastards win.

Changes in the neon scene have been mentioned quite a lot over the last month. Groups running go-go bars (rather than having lots of independent bar owners) have been an unmitigated disaster but perhaps just a reflection of the plane-loads of various nationalities who treat the go-gos merely as take-your-pick brothels. Some of the go-go girls – no idea of the actual percentage – are definitely ex-brothel although the unlucky ones carrying some serious diseases can be found hanging out on the streets around Sukhumvit Soi 6. A frightening number of Thai men are stacked in the unused rooms above the bars on Cowboy whilst their women work below, neither trusting the other for long out of their sight. If you own or manage a go-go bar, it makes perfect sense to have girls with local boyfriends as they will be a lot less inclined to finish work and run off with a farang. Long gone are the days when (small) bars were run by farang who tried to make sure that the girls didn't have local men.

Mamasans in the bars are usually quite nice to the farang customers but many of them are into the old trick of lending money to the girl's parents and then taking the girl to Bangkok and expecting her to pay off the debt several times over. Others recruit directly from the Thai brothels, usefully the eighteen year-old minimum age coincides with when the women are thought too old to work in the local brothels, so the girls have a useful career path regardless of the fact that the pretty ones have already been done by thousands of Somchais, most often without a condom in sight. I have no idea whether the farang bar owners know what is really going down or if they are just as conned by the mamasan as most of the punters. A couple, who test nearly all the girls who come to work in their bars, obviously have not got a clue to their provenance.

Some bars allow girls (usually the high earners) to bring along their Thai husbands to work as toilet attendants, bar staff or bouncers on the doors – although many, many more are secreted around the area. Those with long memories will recall when Patpong was not a market and the Thai lads use to roar up and down on the motorbikes their women had bought for them (you sometimes get the same thing in Soi Cowboy). Packs of these disgruntled guys sometimes attack farang just because they can, especially if one of their number is enraged by one of the women doing a runner or not coming up with any money.

Now all this is bad enough but somewhere along the line both corrupt cops and the actual mafia are making money out of this scene. Mostly in the background their dark presence does ensure a certain amount of restraint amongst the locals but there are any number of scenarios in which their full force can come crashing down on a farang (underage girl scam, planted drugs, etc) if they cross a certain line and piss off the wrong person – who could be anyone from the toilet attendant to a go-go girl with a police boyfriend. The only time I was nearly done when a b-gal in Stick's favourite go-go in Cowboy (a long time ago and under different management) tried to put some drugs in my pocket! I sussed her from the way her hand was clenched around something and got her to show me what was in there. She just shrugged and walked off!

First-timers in Bangkok are a special commodity, farang just off the plane who think they are armed with answers from reading the internet forums and sites but not quite realising just how clever Thais can be when it comes to romancing money out of the gullible. The combination of good sex and a smiling face fit to burst with apparent happiness goes a long way with a first-timer; farang treated like rather large children who need to be tenderly chastised into handing over all their worldly goods – and the girls will play the game for years if that is what it takes. Amazingly, guys actually marry girls – b-gals or straight women – after a total acquaintance that adds up to not much more than a couple of weeks, clueless that the attention and apparent passion lavished on them has little to do with them personally – as in, they are infinitely replaceable by any other farang who turns up! I reckon six months of 24/7 is the minimum needed to get a real handle on a Thai girl.

More usually, a couple of weeks reveal that no way are they marriage material but the sex is so good I can't quite stop myself from indulging – only have myself to blame, I suppose! These days, it has to be said, most b-gals give me nasty scowls rather than exclamations of undying love whilst straight women give me all the smiles, especially, for some strange reason, those sweet young ladies in 7 Elevens!

Anyway, my body is still in reasonable shape and I have been inspired by those old family photos to put on a lot of weight, grow a moustache and shave all my hair off just so I can be like granddad… no, no got that the wrong way round, I want to be like my other grandfather – I am booked into one of Europe's leading hair transplant surgeons and will have also have a little under-chin neck-lift to tighten up my cheekbones. The things we do for love! But I will be back, soon, and try very hard to stay away from the bars, as horrible and strangely addictive as they are!

Stickman's thoughts:

You just put the fear of God into many!