The Boys in Brown, Back in the Day
I was in Bangkok during one of the military coups of the late 70's with a bunch of mates with whom I worked in the Sultanate of Oman for Airwork Services Ltd who were tasked with operating the Sultan of Oman's Air Force (SOAF) until such times as their Omani trainees were ready to take over.
Many of us took all our holidays in Thailand and most of my friends stayed in Bangkok for a short time (pun intended!) before moving on to their preferred resort of Pattaya, but I preferred the hustle and bustle of good old Bangkok myself and although I visited Pattaya a couple of times I wasn't very impressed with its open-air lifestyle and lack of air-conditioning. Another thing I didn't particularly enjoy was the attention of all the ladyboys who strolled or parked themselves along the inland side of the main drag (there was really only one main road along the beach in those days) but at least we knew which were which – the genuine females were the only ones in the bars and on the street on the beachfront side of the road and they wouldn't let any trannies come across to their side of the strip, thankfully. I believe it's changed considerably since then! The ladyboys' side of the road, however, was less cluttered and easier to navigate, so if you knew which bar to head for it tended to be the quickest and easiest route towards it. We just had to ward off the occasional groping hand along the way. We were polite to them and they were reasonable towards us and we reached an amicable agreement to leave each other alone.
Anyway, back to Bangkok: the students arranged for the military to take over the country from the politicians. This didn't make a whole lot of difference to the way the country was run, but the students were appeased and stopped burning shit in Bangkok. The farang tourist was little affected by the coup, except in regard to the curfew. All the bars had to close before 22:00 or the boys both in brown and blue would cause grief for the bar owners and the girls. Any girls who remained on the street later than the allotted time would be whisked off to the monkey house in paddy wagons to spend the night repenting the error of their ways. This treatment was also supposedly imposed on tourists, as the Army and Police figured if you couldn't pull a bird in Bangkok before 22:00 hours and get yourself tucked up in bed you weren't much use except as a source of revenue.
My mates and I went around the bars starting at about 10:00 in the morning, had a few beers in various bars whilst trying to make a mental note of where your favourite bird was perched. This was often not as easy as it sounds – for one thing the increasing rate of alcohol in the bloodstream made judgment tricky, and for another it was often the case that your fave had been pulled by another tourist in your absence, so you had to try to remember second or third best. On this particular occasion we had arranged a bit of a party back in the Honey Hotel that night and almost everybody had pulled a bargirl during the afternoon or evening and got safely back with their chosen escort before curfew hour. Except for Kenny. He had loaded up a little too much on the beer Singha and Mekhong during the afternoon and got back to the hotel with his girl and then proceeded to pass out on her, so she legged it back to the bar to find another true love while there was still time. When Kenny came around he still had that well-known yearning for female company and was pissed off looking around at the rest of us who were fixed up and having a good time! He announced to all in the vicinity that he was going foraging for pussy. "No" we all said. "It's after curfew, you'll be in the shit!" Kenny wasn't in the mood to listen, of course. Ignoring our warnings he snuck out of the Honey and started making his way up soi 19 towards Sukhumvit to do the rounds of any bars which were still open and had pussy. Surprisingly there was the odd bar or two which managed to pay off their local plod in order to stay open after the start of curfew, so there was some theoretical method in Kenny's madness.
However, almost as soon as he emerged into soi 19 a pair of headlights appeared from Sukhumvit heading towards him, so naturally he jumped into the klong. He meant to hide in the reeds along the klong on the left side of the soi but instead of a dry-ish bank he found the reeds were growing in a couple of feet of black mud. He crouched down and waited for the car to pass his hiding place, knowing that any vehicles on the road at that time of night would be Military or Police cars.
Fortunately enough this one was the Police, but of course they had spotted Kenny crossing the road and jumping into 'cover' and they pulled up alongside him, calling for him in English to come out and be seen. Realising the game was up Kenny emerged, rather muddy but basically sound, although it was widely rumoured back in those days that the klong was crawling with crocodiles which had escaped from the Crocodile Farm during a flood which swept them over the boundary to freedom in the klong network.
"What you doing outside hotel?" inquired the plod. "Is curfew."
Kenny came clean (figuratively speaking) and explained his predicament to the Policemen.
"Get in car" he was ordered and duly complied.
We were watching these events unfold, of course, from within the legitimate safety of the hotel and we were quite concerned when Kenny was driven away. We spent a few minutes discussing who among us would be dispatched down to Lumpini Police Station in the morning to bail him out, before getting back to the party in hand.
A couple of hours later we were amazed to see Kenny arriving back at the hotel in the company of two hookers! He strolled in and rejoined the party full of bravado and told us the story of what had occurred – apparently when the boys in brown heard Kenny's tale of woe they decided they might make a few baht by helping him out.
They took him down to the cells (Kenny admitted that at this stage he was more than a little concerned for his continuing freedom) and walked him past several cells full of curfew-breaking bargirls, towards an empty cell at the end. On the way down the aisle the Policemen told Kenny "pick out girl you rike".
Not believing his ears he asked the two cops what they meant.
"You want girl – girl here plenty – you want or not?"
So Kenny chose not one but two of the best lookers and indicated them to his captors. They opened the cell and got the 2 lovelies out for him and then proceeded to ask Kenny if he also needed whisky. Kenny said that was very kind and the nice men drove him to a convenience shop where he bought two bottles of Mekhong paying in cash through the law officers, after which they gave him a lift back to the hotel.
I think Kenny was as amazed as the rest of us that his little adventure had gone so well and naturally he gave the two policemen a gift to show his appreciation. In those days 200 baht got you a long way – unlike now!
I hope you enjoyed my story, which is fundamentally true as far as I can remember across the intervening 40 years or so.