“Hansum Man, Hansum Man!!!”
I look in the mirror. What do I see? A 50 year-old man. A little too grey. A little bald. A little paunch. (The Thais call it "Pum Pui"). A little shorter than I was in my 20's or 30's. Larger bags under my eyes. A double or triple chin. Yellowish teeth, and they're a little more crooked than they use to be. Old age spots on my hands. Varicose veins on my legs. Balls of hair growing out of my ears and my nose. Middle age in a nut shell. Not a pretty picture. And I'm OK with that. Hey, it's life. I'll never get a face lift, or a tummy tuck, or dye my hair, or buy new teeth. I'm not vain. I spend a little more time in the washroom after I wake up in the morning, grooming myself, but if that's the price I have to pay to be presentable, then so be it.
And yet, walk down any soi in Thailand, past any bar or club or massage parlor, and you will undoubtedly hear "Hansum Man, Hansum Man". I don't give a rat's ass if I do look like a rat's ass. I love it. I don't need it, but I like it. I know that the girls just want me to sit at their bar and spend my money. I don't care. I still like it. Makes me feel good. I walk down the street in my West Coast USA city, and I don't hear anything. Even if I get bumped into by a pedestrian by accident, I don't even hear a "sorry" or "excuse me" or "pardon me". Sometimes I might hear "Get the fxxk out of the way, AXXHOLE". And certainly if I go into a club, and sit at a bar, not one woman between 20 and 40 would chat me up, nor even look at me. God, I love Thailand!
Just the fact that the girls look at you is exciting enough for me. I used to travel all over the world, and I've never been anywhere where the girls look directly into your eyes. In Thailand they do. And not just bar girls. Shop girls look at you. Female doctors and nurses in the Thai hospitals look at you. Girls waiting in line at the movies with their boyfriends look at you. Hi-so girls shopping at the Emporium look at you. Old ladies and little girls look at you. Girls in the clubs, and in the go-go bars and in the massage parlors actually devour you with their eyes. I love it. Devour me any day.
When I pull up to the clubhouse before my round of golf, ALL ten or twenty caddies waiting for a customer smile at me. And some giggle and blush. When I play golf, I usually get a young beautiful smiling caddie to carry my golf bag for 18 holes. And when I don't get a young beautiful one, I get an older lady, who is also smiling. Carrying my bag is only one of their duties. They wash my clubs, and clean my shoes, and tee up my ball, and mark my ball on the green, and read my putts, and guide me expertly around the hazardous golf course, all while smiling and laughing, and giggling. Many times my caddie has gone to the refreshment stand to get me some sliced watermelon, or sliced pineapple. Or drinks, or an ice cold towel. I have had many neck massages, and leg massages and back massages by my smiling caddies. Without even asking. One time, my caddie picked longan for me from a tree near the fairway, opened the fruit for me to chew on, and popped it into my mouth. Yummy! And another brought food and snacks for me from her home as a present on my last day of golf that week. Another caddie rolled a golf ball in the palm of her hand into the small of my back. How sublime is that! Many times on the golf course you will see tens of older women in groups repairing the golf course. Sitting in the hot sun, with large rimmed hats over their heads, protecting them from the sun, and pulling up grass, or replanting flowers near the green, or off a fairway. And every single time, I stop to say "Thank you" or "Kop Khun Krap" for the beautiful golf course, ALL of them smile at me. Christ, I had two ex-wives who never smiled that much.
One day, while playing golf in Northern Thailand, one Japanese member of my foursome said to me "Where in the world can you play golf with a caddie that looks better than your wife?"!!! Only in Thailand. In my next life, I'll marry a caddie.
I know a lot of Stickmanites lately have been complaining about Thailand whether it's the corruption, or the bar girls, or the prices, or the drivers, or the pollution, or the education, or the police, or the political scene. GIVE ME THAILAND OVER THE WEST ANY DAY OF THE WEEK!!! To me the West is just one giant "starfish" experience. You know the girl who you take out of the go-go bar, and comes back to your hotel, just to lie motionless besides you. That describes "FarangVille" to me. Motionless. Nothing here excites me. I walk down the street. Rarely do I see anyone smile. The service is horrible, whether you're shopping, or in a restaurant, or at the movies. A world full of lifeless zombies. And there are no caddies at all. We have to rent a cart. And most of the carts I've rented, have bad attitudes. I don't know if I'm like the rest of you, but I like people who smile. It just makes me feel good.
I could re-title this submission "How Much is a Smile Worth?" or "The Man who Would be King, Thai Style" or a new title for the Thai Tourism Authority "Thailand, The Land of 'Hansum Man, Hansum Man'". All of them would be appropriate. God I love Thailand. Always have, and always will.
Thanks for reminding us why we stay in Thailand. Sometimes we can't see the wood for the trees.