Ramblings of a Life Left Behind: Episode 4
Pattaya Balcony Swan Diving Updates
That’s right folks, the time is fast approaching. The 27th annual Pattaya Balcony Swan Dive Olympics are just around the corner. This season’s event will be held at multiple locations. For those who enjoy a quick drop and a sudden stop, amateur events will take place at the Natural Beach Hotel on Soi 11; a favorite of the local balcony swan diving set. For semi-professional jumpers, we have the Center Condotel located on South Pattaya road, noted for its height and popularity among aspiring professional jumpers, as well as the perfectly clean and geometrically flat landing surface behind the building. The Summer Spring hotel on Soi 1/ Beach Road will hold the regional finals where gold medalists will spar for the last balcony diving gold medal to be distributed in 2009.
Embassies and workers from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs are ready to tag and bag the winners. Length/distance ratios will be calculated, along with style. The fresh orange juice lady from Soi 13 will be on hand distributing discounted refreshments. Have you ever wondered why there are so many Indians, Pakistanis, Africans, Iranians and other brown skinned foreigners in Pattaya, but not a single one of them every takes a balcony dive? Food for thought.
Wasting away in the Pattaya Sun
So I’m staying in a condo in Pattaya this time. It’s the first time in my life that I have not stayed in the Soi 13 / Beach Road area. It belongs to a Japanese monger colleague who bought the condo back in 2001 as a place to escape from his wife and kids. It’s on the 14th floor of a large modern style building. In 2001 the unit cost almost 2 million baht. Fairly nice, and seldom used. Now I’m using it.
The balcony is laughably small. There is enough room for a small beer cooler, and a reclining chaislounge, leaving approximately four square feet of unoccupied space for standing. It also crosses my mind as I gaze out over the water that it wouldn’t be difficult at all to fall from such a balcony, as the guard rail reaches just below my waist, and if for example I had to stand on the chaislounge to change the balcony lamp bulb, the guard railing would conceivably reach to just my knees. Note to self; pay a Thai person to change the bulb.
The building is inhabited by foreigners. Perhaps more Japanese and Koreans than average, but also Swiss, German, French and others. Also occupying the building are flocks of former bar girls, presumably attached to the aforementioned farang population. Most of the building’s former bargirls have put on some pounds, likely due to the comfort of having married a farang or in some cases having located a suitable sponsor.
Not that I’m one to judge the body mass index of a former bargirl, just an observation as times passes, winds blow and the smell of Thai food whisks through the hallway of my life. So I’m laying on the chaislounge, staring into space. I’m borrowing a WiFi signal from my next door neighbor, who must have a powerful wireless router, as I’m getting full bars. Using the WiFi signal, I’m listening to an audio stream of a police scanner located in my hometown. Say what you might, but day time in Pattaya can drag at a painfully slow pace once you’ve made it your second home.
I’m listening intently. I haven’t been back to America in what must be twelve years now. Listening to the police scanner has become my latest day light time-killing hobby. There are usually seven or eight live police scanners streaming at once from my home town across the internet, so the entertainment rarely ceases. I listen intently as banks are robbed, prostitutes are picked up, car chases unfold and shootings occur. Much like checking the Pattaya Daily News website, I find a certain sense of satisfaction that everything bad is happening to someone else, somewhere else.
The wind blows and blows on the 14th floor balcony. I think of my colleague. He bought this place and has only used it two or three times in the last nine years. He had hopes of escaping his daily life, hope enough to keep this place, and not sell it
despite never using it. Perhaps just having a piece of his life permanently situated in Pattaya is enough to pull him through day in and day out of banal existence. I stand at the railing of the balcony and muse. Perhaps when he finally can no
longer stand his nagging wife, financially draining children and excruciatingly dull work life, this is where he will say goodbye to the world.
Bar Girl Brain, What’s there to Learn?
What goes on in the complex mind of a bargirl? Don’t ask me, I’m just an armchair scientist who makes observations and collects data. They say that short term memory is mostly created based on acoustic encoding. That is to say that if we hear something, we are more likely to remember it than if we read it. It’s like, if you (my reader) and I were sitting at Mcdonalds on beach road, and I were telling you this exact same story, you’d be more likely to remember it than if you went to Stick’s site and read it, you dig?
But we’re not on Beach Road, and I’m not orally regurgitating this story to you over a greasy fist full of 540 calorie French fries. A few things occur to me as I sit on the roof of Starbucks on Beach Road opposite the palm trees, observing people.
1. I’ve now met at least four different bar girls who have had their own name (nick name that is) tattooed onto their body somewhere, but usually on their arms. It occurs to me that the location of the tattoo might be strategic, as if it were on
their backs, they themselves couldn’t read it without the use of a mirror, and then that would require the tattoo to be applied backwards so the bargirl could read it in the mirror. Head hurt too mutt! So they get it on their arm, and when
they wake up, they can glance at their arm, and see their nickname. Better yet, I can see their nickname tattooed on their arm, because likely I’ve forgotten it and it’s too embarrassing to ask. But if short term
memory is mostly based on acoustic encoding (hearing), and most bar girls work in places where the ambient noise level exceeds 110 decibels (this damages their hearing), then perhaps some of their behavior can be explained away based on their
diminished short term memory capacity. More research needed.
2. A bar girl that I barfined in Pattaya once showed me a paper covered in writing. On it contained a jumble of letters, dates, and what appeared like currency amounts. It was easy to guess what the information meant, and she was proud to brag about her
multiple sponsors who sent payments in various currencies from around the world. What I didn’t understand was the word “NO NAICE” written across the top of the paper. I suggested to her that perhaps what she meant to write
was “NOT NICE” or” NO NOISE”, but she laughed at me. NO NAICE was an acronym she had created to remember the first names of all her sponsors.
A History of Pattaya Jobs
Last month Stick was quite harsh on some poor bloke. If memory serves me, a starry eyed John Doe penned a letter to Stick with aspirations of working in Thailand, but the only qualification possessed by our hopeful was the ability to paint, and seemingly
to butcher his native language to the point where Stick basically told him to give up any dreams of teaching English in Thailand. Ouch. Well, fear not, Farang. There is hope beyond teaching English. What follows is my personal history of Thai
jobs in and around Pattaya.
Job # 1: Jack Booth Cherry Boy
I had arrived in Thailand full of hopes and dreams. Despite having a degree in Geophysics, and having published several papers on applied Geophysics as it relates to mineral speculation, I found myself jobless and soon baht-less. Thailand has a way of kicking you while you are down, and is no place to be if you are a broke farang. What luck had I when one day while wandering the streets of Pattaya I was approached by a short, round Thai woman of about 55 and offered my first job.
Being young at the time and in good physical condition I fit in naturally at Sunee Plaza. The bar in which I was first employed was called “Man-Hunt”, and the waiters and hosts were all dressed as police, but with skimpy, tight shorts. In the bar hierarchy, newcomers start at the bottom. My first job, as with all new recruits, was cleaning the “jack booths”. The customers and go-go boys conducted a brisk trade in the jack booth area, often behind thin curtains. After business had transpired in a jack-booth, I’d have to go in and clean whatever secretions were left behind using a spray bottle of anti-septic cleaner and a wet rag.
After being broken in or “turned out” as they called it, each jack-boy would eventually rise to the next level of “B-string Jack Attendant”. The time it took to advance was based on your popularity with the customers. If a boy worked the jack booths for a short time, and many farang customers requested him or bought drinks for him, he could advance to the next tier quickly. The so called “A-string Attendants” were the boys who demanded the highest prices and had the most farang sponsors, while b-stringers were usually just employed to jerk off foreign whales who were pinching pennies and wanted a quick hand job from a young hard-body.
As a b-stringer, or “back up boy” I met many farang clients from all over the world. Most of them were too cheap to pay for an A-String boy (1000 Baht), so they settled for a 300baht hand-job from a b-stringer, sometimes even trying to further negotiate the price from there (Indians)! I typically jerked twelve to fifteen men per night on a busy night, and sometimes just three or four on a slow night. I made 300baht for each hand-job, but had to give the mama-san half of my earnings. On an extremely good night, I’d clear 2000 baht after paying off the mama-san.
Eventually a rich Thai-Chinese jewelry store owner from Bangkok made me his regular boy, or “temporary wife” as he liked to say. Though he was approaching 70 years old, and confined to a wheel chair, he made regular visits and through his supplementing of my regular income, I was able to move out of a guest house, and into a normal apartment. I was also afforded the luxuries that every jack-boy requires to stay in the profession; namely skin whitening cream (Farang and Thai-Chinese guys love light skinned boys), a gym membership, anal bleaching and waxing, and body hair removal.
After some time my Thai-Chinese sponsor stopped coming to Man-Hunt and wouldn’t answer his cell phone when I called him. I thought he must have found a younger hard-body, with lighter skin or stronger hands. My monthly support was gone. I later found out that my sponsor had been cruising Pattaya in his wheel chair one night when he was surrounded by a gang of Iranians, who subsequently dragged him out of his wheel chair, raped him, and then pushed him and the chair down a hill. He didn’t survive to see the next day.
Soon thereafter, I went back to working at Man-Hunt full time. Sometimes I’d dance in the window and western tourists would take pictures of me. They must have thought it strange to see a young farang hard-body dancing in a go-go bar. Often times bar girls would visit Man-Hunt after their shifts had finished, and they would either bar-fine boys, or just get drunk with us. Sometimes rich Thai women would come from Bangkok in groups and visit our bar.
During one such occasion, I met my future wife, Noi. I’d been dancing up a storm with the other boys in Man-Hunt on one Friday night when a group of skinny, light skinned Bangkok ladies entered the bar. They quickly grabbed the most attractive boys, and I was among them. Noi was a little shorter than her tall Bangkok friends, and her skin was a little darker. She was classy. Noi wore a black Chanel slip dress with a sequined clutch and black high heels. She spoke English fairly well and Japanese fluently, having lived abroad and worked as a translator at a large Japanese company in Tokyo.
She had money, and she had class. Noi’s friends enjoyed making us boys do humiliating things like drinking champagne from their shoes, and walking around on all fours like a dog. I exchanged numbers with Noi, and eventually we started talking regularly and she become a fixture at Man-Hunt, though she would only ever barfine me, and wouldn’t talk to any of the other boys.
I loved Noi, and Noi loved me. Eventually we arrived at a cross-roads where choices had to be made. Noi told me; “I love you, you no work bar anymore.” So I told her “I don’t want to work bar, but need money maak maak”.
To which she replied “I pay rent you, pay shopping you, you not work bar anymore”. We had struck a deal, and soon I stopped working at the bar (or at least, that’s what I told Noi).
Job # 2: How Toon lost his Eyebrows
When I first arrived in Pattaya, I had a deadbeat kathoey weed dealer friend who let me crash on his sofa because he felt sorry for me. Toon and I eventually became best friends and business partners. During the day time, Toon middled weed for some ranking Pattaya police official, and bummed around on beach road, prancing, primping, and generally doing what kathtoeys do best. Being a middle-man, Toon didn’t make much profit selling weed to Israeli soldiers on beach road. In fact, he barely made enough to purchase the birth control pills he was taking in order to grow tits at the time.
When I finally married a Thai woman, I moved out of Toon’s place, but we kept in contact, as I had a surplus of free time. My Thai wife was supporting me financially, because she didn’t want me to “work bar” anymore. I grew tired of relying on Noi for money and ended up sneaking back to work at the Man-Hunt boy bar at times. Noi caught me a few times, and I felt bad. I promised to never ‘work bar’ again, and told her that I was lonely maak maak and bored staying in the house all day, while she was in Bangkok and I was in Pattaya. Noi increased my allowance and I finally stopped working in the bar all together.
One day Toon showed up at my house with a bag of ice (methamphetamine), and we proceeded to smoke half a gram of ice in one sitting. During the epiphany that followed, I told Toon to stop selling weed on beach road, and that together, we could surely cook enough ice to support a much better life style than the both of us currently enjoyed. I had previously downloaded a .PDF file on how to cook crystal methamphetamine from the internet, and made a list of all required chemical precursors. In Thailand, obtaining the chemicals was easy, lots of farmers (anhydrous ammonia), and lots of pharmacies (everything else) were within easy reach.
Soon Toon and I had acquired all chemicals required to cook our first few batches of ice. Toon had gathered most of the supplies, but being a dumb-ass, Toon bought some light colored coffee filters instead of the dark brown colored filters I requested. I explained to Toon that using light colored coffee filters in the meth cooking process would change the color of the ice from almost crystal clear, to yellow-brown, and thus affect the salability of our product, as most ice smokers prefer a nice clear product. Whatever the case may be, our first batch was yellow-brown, and so ugly we couldn’t even give it away. We ended up throwing it to the soi dogs.
On the next batch, we used light colored coffee filters. The smell of anhydrous ammonia was beginning to attract the suspicion of my Thai neighbors. At that time, we were still young and stupid, and we were cooking in my garage with minimal ventilation. We had just checked on a curing batch in the garage, and I was headed back into the house to get a box of small plastic baggies to package our product. I can’t remember how many times I’ve told Toon that he should wrap the head of the hammer in plastic before smashing the large bricks of methamphetamine into smaller smokable rocks for sale. Toon didn’t listen, and on that fateful day he took a ball peen hammer and began smashing the large chunks of ice into smaller rocks.
It only took the slightest spark generated from the hammering to ignite our entire lab and blow the garage door off its hinges. We lost all of our beakers, distilling vats, tubes, tables, chemicals along with about 3kg of finished product and about 600
grams of smashed rock. Toon lost all of the hair on his arms and his eye brows permanently. Now Toon has to draw his eyebrows on each morning. If you ever see a ladyboy with a flat chest, and no eyebrows selling weed on walking street, then you’ve
just met Toon.
Job # 3: Baht Bus Bandit
Last year I happened upon a garage that was selling refurbished baht busses and tuktuks. Temptation was drawing me heavily towards the purchase of a metallic green fully restored vintage tuktuk, but my kathoey friend/business partner Toon talked me out of it, and instead, we purchased a restored baht bus (songtaew) with full chrome bed and rails, a new paint job, and a giant Carabao sticker in the rear windshield. As the proud owner of a newly restored and unlicensed baht bus, a new business idea quickly began to form.
The process transpired as follows: Toon would pilot the baht bus to the bus terminal on North Pattaya Road. In the back of the baht bus would be Toon’s two younger sisters, aged 17 and 18. Toon’s sisters, Nong and Pam would be dressed in the skimpiest attire possible, the shortest skirts and tightest tops, showing as much skin as possible. I had previously schooled Toon’s sisters in English phrases that would be essential to our plans, including but not limited to:
“You so hansum, what hotel you stay?”
“Today I 18 year old, it my first time to pattaya, what hotel you stay?”
“Today I break up boyfriend, so lonely now, you want drink with me?”
“You look like kind heart man, Thai man so bad.”
So Friday night around six o’clock, Toon and his two sisters would head to the Pattaya Bus Terminal and wait for the monger express to arrive from Bangkok. When mongers got off the Bangkok bus, they had a selection of baht busses to choose from, but Toon’s baht bus already had in the back two young, lithe bargirl princesses who looked like they were aching to take off their clothes on the spot. Gullible mongers would flock to Toon’s baht bus and as soon as it reached maximum capacity, Toon would head out into the night.
Before reaching Beach Road, the baht bus would make an unexpected left turn down a side street and soon come to stop at a stop sign away from visible traffic. At this point armed Thai bandits would spring out and “rob” the driver (Toon), the two girls (Toon’s sisters) would begin to cry hysterically, and the robbers would then point their guns at the mongers, who of course would empty their pockets. The bandits would then “steal” the baht bus, leaving all victims on the street.
Later all involved parties would meet again to split the proceeds, recover the bus, and start again. The baht bus robbery scheme worked well until some enterprising Pattaya police caught on, and started demanding payments. Now the baht bus sits in my partially destroyed garage. Toon went back to selling weed and picking pockets on Beach road. Myself, four years older and 10 kg heavier, I have no choice but to stay at home and wait for my monthly allowance payments from my Bangkok wife.
Very nicely put together indeed, well done!