Stickman Readers' Submissions February 14th, 2012

First Impressions – Bangkok, December 1989

The way I go about exploring strange new cities is simple. Walk around the hotel's city block once. Then one will have the advantage when you are getting close to 'base camp' in a taxi or tuktuk that you can recognize the lay of the land (well, memory and eyesight should be still reasonably up to par to do this…) and prevent the driver from taking large, unnecessary and costly(!) detours. Just stroll once around the block until your hotel re-surfaces as it must eventually. After that you are fortified with a solid one-block-link into your city map. Memorize prominent places like tall buildings, identify bus-stops and taxi hangouts. Two years later, I sort of stumbled into my wife of 20 years now on one such 'walking spree' but that is quite a different story altogether.

I had been walking round Bangkok for hours and there were probably a dozen little blazingly red telltales in my 40-year-old body screaming for WATER or any potable non-too-alcoholic liquid. Entered a bar, a beckoning oasis, got a Coke and realized that here there were many more services available than just a simple drink. OK not necessarily my line of things but the Coke hit its mark and reset all those red telltales back to green. Now he who marches and quenches his thirst needs to get rid of the – eh – bilge water, no problem. Yet on the way back from the facilities, in a narrow passage not particularly well-lit, I managed to 'run over' a petite bar girl – overlooking her was just too easy, she was two heads smaller (rightly called 'Lek', yes!), so I really had not noticed her and stomped her into the floor – true to my nickname 'Lukchang', the elephant child. Oops what a stupid, clumsy embarrassing thing to do.

He Clinic Bangkok

"I am very sorry" picking up the tiny lady, dusting her off, un-tangling her, reassuring her that it was all a stupid fault of mine. Got her a drink, started a conversation and found that her English was not half-bad. After a while she was smiling, apparently unharmed. Ten minutes later, her smile froze slightly – 'I have to DANCE now!' and off she was gyrating not very enthusiastically around a vertical bar. When she returned, I asked her 'What are you going to do tonight? Dance more (bleh!) or – perhaps go out with "Santa Claus"?' At the time, I was slightly rotund, full-bearded, quite possibly a close cousin of the good old redcoat! Sure she greatly preferred the latter…

A barfine and some time later found us in front of the bar's door when she got struck by the second big surprise of the evening, while probably expecting a dash for my hotel room, yet rather: "What would YOU really like to do now?" – There ARE new experiences even for an experienced Bangkok bargirl…

Well did we hit the town that night together! Picked up a lady friend of hers, we were talking, eating, playing, dancing, listening to live music – though I paid the bills it was all 'Thai price' and thus practically only about as expensive as it would have been for me alone, pretty fair deal. Just 'sanuk' and a truly great evening. Treated her just as if I had picked up a nice acquaintance in a pub or disco back in Germany, respectful, no pawing, yet sure showing interest and appreciation.

CBD Bangkok

Leaving a dancing place around 2:30, I asked her 'What would You like to do NOW, say bye bye to Santa and it will have been a memorable evening for me – or you come along and we can make it even more memorable?' Lek just sort of coiled herself around my arm and started purring like a kitten. We had found that we both were very partial to cats, and surely did we find ways for intensive 'purring' together…

Three very special days together. Lots of exploration, discovery, talking, laughing, eating, shopping. Bought her an outfit that made her stand out even among the stunning Bangkok ladies, yet simply styled absolutely sans the 'bar girl' impression. It was an intensive, beautiful time, full of many impressions and insights, like when she commented on European women in advertising that 'They may look very beautiful, but deep in their hearts they have all forgotten that they are women!'

Quite a time, wow. But I did not let myself get all bowled over. I come from a science background, and there is always a basic frame of rationality and reason about me. Like 'Get to know this lady with an open mind. Yet keep an open eye for what could be – and what can not.'

On the third evening Lek had probably one or two drinks too many with girl friends of hers that we had visited. She collapsed, broke up, cried that I was so nice and considerate, treating her like a princess, and that she just could not relate to that and had never had such an experience. No, she was no princess but a hard-boiled little whore, at her wits end because she did not know what to do with me and with herself…

'Lek, maybe you ARE a princess but do not know. Maybe you can BE a princess for me if you try!' – perhaps that was a touch too flippant in that situation. It did not really get through to her. And yes, she wanted to go back to the bar. Back onto safe ground…

wonderland clinic

Well, then that was the way that all the pieces fell into their respective places, finally.

I have never seen Lek again but I will never forget her either. She taught me a lot about Thailand, about Thai women and about myself. And when I met my wife 2 years later I could quickly see what was similar and what was very different. But that is another story.



Nice recount of your first visit. I always wonder where these girls are now. Hopefully life has been kind to them and they met price and have lived happily ever after…

nana plaza