The Journey From Innocence To Success
When I first laid eyes on her she had just arrived from Korat the day before and was waiting outside of a popular go-go in Soi Cowboy waiting to talk to the mama-san about a job. Her appearance was unremarkable in a well worn dress, her face had never seen the makeup that transforms simple farm girls into glamorous Thai woman that make their living from their appearance. It was clear in how she behaved she only knew the simple life that she was about to step out of that mostly involved rice farming, and the simple laid back village life. The utmost respect was given to the people around her as she gave a wai to just about everyone.
It was clear that she was both nervous and excited about the path that was ahead of her, and was doing her best to process the neon that was just starting to come on as the sun set. The sights and the sounds of soi Cowboy just starting to breath it’s first breath of the night filled her eyes. The smell of familiar food wafted through the air as bar girls lined up to eat before work, and the smell of foreign food mixed in to round out the experience. As she looked around she saw western men enjoying a beer and perhaps a meal as they casually eyed her but were clearly paying more attention to the entertainment that was walking about in various stages of readiness for work.
The mama-san came out and greeted her and asked her to come inside to talk about a job. She disappeared for 15 minutes and later emerged with the mama-san showing her how to operate the time clock. It was that 15 minutes that was the threshold of her new life as a bar girl. She had a smile on her face as she walked off into the evening knowing that the first taste of her new life was a mere 24 hours away.
The following night she arrived early and was fitted with her work clothes and assigned a number. The mama-san asked one of the other bar girls to assist her with putting on makeup and explaining the ropes. After 25 minutes she was transformed into an attractive young fresh bar girl who showed both beauty and innocence. As the lights went down and the music started she then climbed on stage and grabbed the chrome pole for the very first time and nervously started to dance. As the sound of club music started to pump through the bar, some signs of excitement were starting to show and a smile started to emerge on her face.
After dancing she got off stage and looked at me. It was obvious she recognized me from the night before as she was waiting and standing less than 2 meters away. It seemed I was a familiar face although she had never talked to me and we only exchanged smiles the night before. I motioned for her to come sit and join me and she did. She told me her name and that she had just turned 18 the week before. Her charm and innocense was delightful and intoxicating in such a place as Soi Cowboy. As we continued to talk I handed her my check and bought her a lady drink, it was her first one ever. She came back with cola and we talked more.
At this point it was clear to me that she would become a friend. I did not look at her as a sex object as I rarely if ever barfine a girl. For me just sitting back and watch the night unfold with friends is good enough. Sex is plentiful all across Thailand so there is little need to tap the commercial market.
As time went on she became comfortable with me and started talking about her life. It was unusual in that she had no children and only had sex one time before she came to Bangkok. She decided on this path out of love for her parents and wanted to make the most of it financially. To me that simple love and respect for her parents defined her inner self. She was full of love and caring and to be honest I was a bit concerned how she would stand up in such a very different environment where relationships last just a few hours at best. In many cases an innocent farm girl is transformed into a hardened bar girl inside a month once they get their first taste of money that is tens of times bigger than they had ever known before. But remarkably this was not the case with this girl.
Her innocence and charm endured and she was remarkable in that she could look the part of a bar girl, but still keep her innocent charm. I expect this was so because of the power of love and devotion to her parents, and that kept her firmly rooted in Isaan. It was this remarkable blend that proved to be her key to success. She could burn up the dance floor and set the benchmark that many other girls did their best to keep up with, and then sit with a customer and show her Isaan charm.
When she came off a dance set she was pouring with sweat and it took her a good 10 to 15 minutes to cool off. She later said she liked to dance and it was a way of keeping herself fit amongst all the calorie options in the soi. Standing just 152cm tall and all of 41kg her small body was appealing and to be frank comfortable to find in your arms as she frequently snuggled up to me in the bar. She never pushed me for a lady drink and she was just happy to see me as a friend. Once just out of curiosity I asked her if she would go with me, and she looked me straight in the eye and said to me, I see you as family and I would never sleep with my brother. She explained that there were so few men that came to Cowboy that were like me. She was comfortable in telling me her inner most thoughts and feelings, and I felt lucky to know her.
As time continued I saw her experiment with different looks. For about a month she wore fake eyelashes that were so long she could just about tickle your face if she kissed you. Also some of the simpler gifts customers gave her excited her. Many of the gifts that captured her interest showed she was still a young girl inside. They ranged from fuzzy stuffed animals to some down right sexy lingerie. It was clear she enjoyed all of this and her simple charm still showed. In fact I commented to a friend she seemed unchanged from day one.
It was clear other men liked her as well and she had at least 2 customers that would take her for a month at a time. She would enjoy the best Thailand had to offer from beautiful beaches to resorts. She would come back after disappearing for a month or more and come over and sit with me and tell me about all the wonderful experiences she had, and how far and different they were from her Isaan roots.
It was clear the men that took her for long periods were captured by her simple Isaan charm. They ranged from Japanese to American and all had expressed interest in making her a lifetime partner. But she had to break their hearts because she had never forgot why she became a bar girl, and her parents took center stage in her life. It was obvious the offers of marriage took serious consideration as once she was gone so long when she returned she had a different number. It was apparent she quit but later returned as she weighed the reality of the choices. She knew she could have her pick, and simply waited for the right man to come along.
By this time 2 years had gone by and she was slowly showing signs of change. Her young innocent look was slowly being replaced with the look of a young mature lady. Her body had changed some as well where her tiny frame was replaced with a more solid and healthy looking body. Her face had changed as well and she seemed to have settled into a life style that fit her needs.
At the moment she lives with what she calls a customer/boyfriend in a new high rise condo that I can actually see from my apartment window. Apparently she is content with the relationship as she still is in the bar and spends her nights with him. As she is a bit of a chameleon and can change her appearance, it appears her appearance now is to make her customer/boyfriend happy. The innocent look is gone, and her personality has changed to be more business in the bar. But she still comes over and says hi to me if she is not with a customer or if I pass her on the street. There is little doubt she could get a customer nearly every night if she put her mind to it, and could make well over 100,000 baht a month. That is so far from making 1000 baht last over a month in her village.
It is hard to say where she is at the moment in her mind, and I do not want to guess. She has become a part of my life in a way I never expected. I see her as a friend who has transformed from a sweet innocent farm girl into a top bar girl. I have never seen her sad but we have talked about things that concerned her and she often requested my guidance. She truly sees me as family and places trust in my guidance and I can see that she followed it. She knows I only have her best interest in mind.
I am happy about her success so far, but I also know her journey is not over. She has her entire life in front of her and what options she will have is not yet known. I do know that if she keeps herself rooted in her family and places them first without being self serving, her decisions will be sound and rewarding. I know that someday she will leave the bar forever and step into a new chapter of her life with a man at her side. I will no longer get to smile when I see her but I will be comforted with the thought she is happy and has successfully walked in places few can go and be unchanged.
It's always nice to hear the odd story when these ladies actually manage to make something of their life.