Rants, Raves and Ramblings
I didn’t know what else to write about so I just thought I would share some of the random experiences, observations, and anecdotes about my time in LOS. I was feeling pretty down about Thailand considering all of the shit that I am going through with my wife, but then I got sick of scraping ice off my windshield every morning. It is -5°F here in tropical Chicago and I resolved that wife or no wife I will spend my retirement in South-East Asia. Maybe not Thailand, but I will be “in theater” as they say. Maybe I am hypothermic but I have been thinking about all of the crazy incidents and adventures that I had in Thailand – and all of the crazy characters that I’ve met. I have been here as a sex tourist, a sexpat, and as a regular guy. My journeys have taken me around most of the country-with the exception of the South. I’ve been visiting / residing in LOS since 2001 so I’ve seen some changes. Anyways, don’t try and make sense of this submission it is merely the ramblings of a madman.
I have travelled on all manner of buses in LOS, from songtaews, to city buses, to the big gleaming, air-conditioned monsters. When I was teaching English I lived in Bangkok and taught at a public school just outside of the city proper. I had to take two buses to get there. To save money I took the public ones-the ones without air-conditioning. These are the red ones with the wooden floors. I took the same bus every day and the guy drove like a maniac; he would accelerate and brake at seemingly random intervals. I really felt bad for the ticket-taker lady. She was once attractive but now well-into middle age. Every day she was there is her blue skirt and pressed white shirt-that had to be hellish all day in that heat. She was there in the morning for the trip to work, and in the afternoon for the return trip. She would chant the mantra “song pratoo ka, song pratoo ka, cheurn alai ka” (2 doors, 2 doors, welcome); that has to be some level of hell. She would collect the fare from the passengers and give them their tickets while trying to balance her way down the aisle as the driver carried on jamming on the brakes and accelerating like a psycho. She had to have had quite a sense of balance because she never fell down.
Even the nice big air-conditioned buses, the ones used to herd Chinese and Korean tourists around Pattaya, have their issues. These buses are often brightly decorated with air-brushed cartoon characters, etc. Once the drivers get them out onto the highway they really get moving, and they pass smaller, slower, vehicles in a reckless manner. There is nothing to protect you (certainly not well-maintained brakes) other than a driver fortified with lao khao and a picture of a feeble old monk-maybe a garland of flowers if you’re lucky. Thankfully I survived all of the near-death experiences that I had on Thailand’s highways. In the provinces these buses never really stop, they just slow down and you jump off and people jump on-now I know why the airborne guys do that tuck-and-roll maneuver when landing!
That brings me to the “baht buses” that roam around Pattaya. There is always the “Thai price” versus “Farang price” controversy-gotta love double-pricing. Speaking of which, I have recently become obsessed with scamming Thais here in the US. I spend what little free time I have devising intricate schemes to “pay it forward”-I really need a hobby before I get arrested. The baht buses are great for people watching in the seaside freak show that is Pattaya. I mean what is better than cramming random foreigners and hookers (all drunk) into the back of a covered pick-up truck? I never recognized who the bearded farang was that adorns many baht buses (and trucks). There is some controversy about this and theories run the gamut from a member of the Bee-Gees, or Al Pacino as Serpico, to Bob Segar. When I first saw it I was hoping that it was Jesus-until I realized that the guy was rocking aviator sunglasses on his head. Then again I am not an expert in 1st century Judean eyewear. Don’t laugh at me! I thought the bearded guy with the halo in all of the pictures in the homes in Southern Iraq was Jesus too-it was really just Imam Hussain (or was it Ali?). Because of the Mexican in me I tend to see Jesus everywhere. I think that we should all paint a picture of a random Thai celebrity on our vehicles here in the US. I vote for that morbidly obese kid that seems to be in all of their comedy movies.
Speaking of random farangs, I have identified several archetypes that you dear reader may also have noticed. If you find that you fit into any of these categories don’t get your panties in a bunch, I myself fall into several of them.
Sexpats: Sexpats usually hold the job of English teacher – hell, who am I joking? Sexpats always hold the job of English teacher. When you are ruled by your dick you aren’t going to be Chief of the UN Mission in Thailand. No harm, no foul. I have had some great adventures with sexpats because they had no delusions about why they were in Thailand. I worked with two British guys, one older guy, and one younger guy. They were masters of the game; it was all smiles and wais when dealing with the Thai teachers and administrators. And then it was off to Nana Plaza on Fridays after work-while still a shirt and tie! In the mornings it was very important for us farangs to show our faces while the parents dropped their kids off, and it was very important for us to be there when the parents came to pick them up. What we did between drop-off and pick-up was irrelevant. As long as the kids didn’t burn the joint down the administrators didn’t care. Some of the farang teachers hadn’t even completed university-let alone majored in English or Education. One guy was from Norway and despite speaking English well, he wasn’t a native-speaker. But he looked like uber-farang so the Thai bosses loved him. His accent wasn’t too bad either. Another guy that I worked with was born and raised in the UK, a native English speaker (as native as it gets), but because he was Indian the bosses had it out for him. The poor guy was a good teacher too, he really cared. But when they’d have their stupid shows and the parents were there he was always “out of sight, out of mind”.
More Thai than Thai: These are the guys who will side with the Thais in any dispute with a farang-even when the Thai is clearly wrong. No matter how minor the issue is they will moan about how “farangs just don’t get the culture” as if he was a Thai. Maybe it is some kind of sycophantic survival strategy that they’ve adopted. They go out of their way to be Thai and it is comical to the point of absurdity. These idiots will strut around in an embroidered gold polo shirt pledging their undying loyalty to a foreign monarch-despite the fact that they don’t understand the language and will always be foreigners here. I have nothing against the monarch, I am aware that he has done much to improve the lot of his subjects-after all he a product of an elite US university. I guess what irks me is that these farangs are so eager to abandon their identity and adopt a foreign one-the irony is that the Thais will never accept them. While there are many things that Western nations should be ashamed of, there are a lot more things that they should be proud of. Sometimes these guys will rock a gaudy Buddha amulet around their neck, yet I doubt that they understand the first thing about Thai Buddhism. I have nothing against Buddhism by the way. No matter how hard you try, even if you are one of the few that attains Thai citizenship (saan chaat), you will never be accepted. I wonder how the Sikhs and other persons of Indian origin acquire Thai citizenship? The irony is that many Thais drop the slur “kek” without a second thought, yet their idolatry has its origins in India. I always snicker when I think that the Buddha images in Thailand tend to have Thai facial features; I guess it is kind of how Jesus in the West is often portrayed with blonde hair. I know that the Chinese have been in Thailand for a long time, but eventually they were accepted. Here in the US there were many racist laws against Asian immigration, hell they didn’t even want Southern and Eastern Europeans to come over, so I won’t be too hard on the Siamese. Maybe as the country develops and globalization continues restrictions and attitudes against farangs will change. Eventually all of these loo kreungs will start demanding that their father’s get some rights. If we don’t see any movement on that in the next 10 years we should start thinking about regime change.
The Backpacker: ‘Nuff said-please shower, wash your clothes and use deodorant.
The Scandinavian Family Robinson: These folks really scare me. I don’t have anything against the Scandinavians-hell the Vikings were probably the coolest thing to have ever come out of Europe. But why do they insist on taking their family (kids in tow) around the mongering hotspots? Is it a cautionary tale? “Look over there little Sven, don’t grow up to be a bald, fat, sex tourist”. Or do they think it is Disneyland Asia? “Go over there Helga and stand next to the 6ft ladyboy with DD breasts while I take your picture.”. Minnie Mouse with a dick and giant boobs-that is something that even I’d tune in for! They are so polite and well-mannered but what the hell are they thinking?! One time my grandparents got free passes to Cancun and it happened to be Spring Break, they were freaked out by the debauchery they saw; it certainly wasn’t “take a picture of the passed out skank getting railed by the drunken frat boy”. It is probably a good thing that Thailand is so far from the US, nobody really wants idiot Spring Break kids showing up-the backpacker/hippies are bad enough. But what is with these Euro tourists? Has Europe just degenerated to this level? I shouldn’t complain we’re going in that direction too. I mean hookers are legal everywhere over there right (and subsidized with tax revenues)? Free healthcare and BJs for everybody? I am moving. These are the same folks that also enjoy touring Bang Kwang. What is so fascinating about seeing incarcerated farangs in a foreign country? They have jail in Scandinavia. But they are more like “Club Fed” minimum security places right? No need to travel across the world to see idiots behind bars, hell come to the US that is the one sector of our economy that is still experiencing growth!
The Bottom Dweller: The best place to spot these guys is along the side sois (side streets) around Soi Buakhao in Pattaya. That little bar/restaurant kitty korner from the weekend market on Soi Buakhao seems to be their rally point. You know they don’t have the money to drink in any of the “up market” establishments off of Beach Road. Allow me to descend from my ivory tower for a moment. This place is where all of the stereotypes come true. The guys are all old, fat, and bald. One can’t control age and baldness, however once can control weight so old bald guys get a pass-but not fat fxxks (glandular problem right?). The guys there tend to wear a standard uniform: tank top (with or without Beer Chang logo), cut off shorts-sometimes even jean shorts (the last time those were acceptable Bush Sr. was president), and standard-issue flip-flops. Oh and how can I forget a gaudy golden Buddha amulet? There are also some shitty tattoos to accentuate the look. As for their tee raks they tend to be a bit “long in the tooth”. Dark and wiry Isaan girls (grandmothers more like it) attired in halter tops and flowing skirts-let’s not forget the chunky “ghetto gold” accoutrements! Having slummed it in Pattaya during my undergraduate days I know that these folks reside in the 5,000 Baht per month apartments and spend their days drinking big bottles of Beer Chang and complaining about the heat, the whores, etc. Why does Chang come in large bottles but not 40oz?
The Big Shot: This is the guy that turns up in the bars in designer jeans, a long-sleeve collared shirt, and leather shoes-on a 95°F day. Like the whores care? You are clearly a high-roller but the only leather they care about is your wallet. I’m not saying go into the bar like the “bottom dwellers” but be comfortable. I monger in casual summer attire; I am presentable and comfortable, yet not sweating to death. I may start a blog, something along the lines of “The Discerning Monger”.
The Operator: You will hear this “Secret Squirrel” shooting his mouth off about all of the “ops” that he pulled in Indochina. I touched on this in a previous submission and I thought that it was exclusive to the American expat community, but based on the feedback that I received it is a problem for the Aussies and the Brits too! If you really singlehandedly eliminated an entire NVA regiment with just your canteen cup and bootlaces then Hollywood, not a bar in LOS, is the appropriate venue to tell your story. In a way I can relate. After Iraq I had a hard time readjusting to civilian life so I lived as a drifter in the Pacific Northwest, there I had an altercation with a small town Sheriff. I wound up singlehandedly decimating the entire police department and hiding in the wilderness. Thankfully my former commander got me out of that mess. I was then inserted into Vietnam to determine whether or not Americans were still being held prisoner there; the op went tits up and I wound up in Thailand. While in LOS I helped Buddhist monks rebuild a monastery and I funded the project by fighting in underground death matches. Following additional adventures in Afghanistan-and Burma (where I rescued some missionaries) I wound up where I am today. By the way I bear an uncanny resemblance to Sylvester Stallone.
The Build-a-Bitch Foundation
This was an idea that some buddies and I came up with after a few (OK many) Mekong and sodas. The concept is to “adopt” a new-model BG and then turn her into the ultimate sex toy. The idea was to upgrade her the way one would a car and to get her to become more and more sexually “adventurous”. It would be a contest to see who could get their BG to become the ultimate slut. The first step is of course installing silicone and slapping some tattoos on-think of some of the Thai girls that made a name for themselves in German bukkake films. The idea is to do a sort of perverse Cinderella on a BG; make your ho into a super ho. Back home when a chick becomes a hooker they say that she has been “turned out”; the idea is to turn out one that is already out there. As you guys know from previous submissions, I am a big fan of Asian-themed porn. That played a major role into turning me into the monger that I am today. But somehow sex with BGs and go-go girls never matches what they do in the movies. Even the true professionals from Eden and the Devil’s Den fail to perform up to porn standards. You know you watch too much porn when you start to recognize the houses that they film in-if the furniture holds more interest than the sex it is probably time to cut back. The Build-a-Bitch foundation is about making fantasy a reality. Some of you may recall a Thai porn chick that was big in Europe and then came to the US; her career ended too soon (I was a big fan). Maybe US immigration figured out what was up? This chick was available as a “porn star escort” for like $4,000 long-time. Fxxk that! Why not build your own?
My wife hails from a village in Nakorn Rachasima (Korat), it is in a rural area along Highway 226 heading towards Buriram. I think the people there are a little different than other Isaan types in that they are more Khmer than Lao. Korat has some cool old ruins that are definitely Khmer, a lot like Angkor Wat. Most of the people are rice farmers and they are very ingenious; I am particularly fascinated with the little trucks that they rig. Some look like they have a rice-tiller at the front for an engine and then they stack the hay (rice stalks?) precariously high in the back. These things are lucky to get up to 5mph, yet they share the road with buses and trucks that blaze past them. I already ranted about the lack of road safety, but 226 near us is particularly nasty for dogs. My father-in-law is this old, rough-looking guy, I guess he used to be quite abusive and a drunk but he has mellowed with age. Now he is but a shell, but he is still mean-looking with lots of tattoos so he is good to have around as a deterrent. One day he came back from the temple with a stray puppy and gave it to me.
I named my dog Squidward (after the Spongebob character), much to the consternation of the locals who are unable to call his name! When he does something to piss off the village residents (almost every day) they call out “Ai ‘ward” (fxxkin’ ‘ward) since they can’t say Squidward. He takes after me in that he is handsome, always hungry, and loves to hump-that dog must have had his way with every bitch in the amphur. His offspring are all over the village. My wife took one of his pups in and called him Boo, she also got a Golden Retriever called Angie. Sure enough they both got run over by trucks on 226. But not Squidward, like me, he has a great instinct for self-preservation.
There is another BG in the village that works out of Phuket. Unlike my “honorable” BG who built a house and got a car, this one has not made any major purchases. Apparently the real shame is that she has brought multiple farangs back to the village: Germans, Englishmen, and even a Spaniard! There is a lot of gossip about her in the town and my wife considers her a rival. It further goes to illustrate the mentality. The people are very nice and don’t hit me or my wife up for money. Once in a while I get a bottle for my father-in-law and his buddies and they are very appreciative. When there, my routine is to get up at around 9am, eat breakfast, go for a run and wash-up. Then we will either go into the main town to shop in the market or convenience store, use the internet, or rent VCDs. Other times we will go to Korat City to shop, eat, or catch a movie. Around dusk I like to go have tea and read on my porch. All the people have stopped work and visit with each other; sometimes I’ll have a few beers and just take it all in. It is so different from what I grew up with. By 8pm the place is dead-eerie quiet. But it is a rice-farming community so it is “early to bed, early to rise”. They get up with the rooster and make offerings to the monks around 6am.
The toothless old crones like to come and look at me. Their mouths are ravaged form decades of chewing beetle nut, and they are permanently hunched over from a lifetime spent working in the rice fields-serious they have humps on their backs like Quasimodo. But they are nice-just think that the little spinner in the go-go will someday morph into one of these crones. The people don’t live as long as Westerners tend to. Hard work, getting drunk, eating fried and crazy hot food, then waking up and do it all over again can’t be good. All of the ladies like to joke and ask for me to hook them up with other farangs, or my relatives; again farang = concrete house, car, and a bit of gold. My father-in-law takes me to go watch Muay Thai, apparently this area has produced some renowned fighters. He also takes me to the festivals that always have light-skinned, scantily clad ladies dancing on stage. Great view, but ear-splitting Isaan music!
I am a rational Westerner and I understand that scientifically this shit cannot be real. That does not mean that one’s senses can’t be fooled though. I have had some weird shit happen to me in the US, but it seems like every time I have an extended stay in LOS something eerie happens. The first time I was sleeping in my shitty 5,000 Baht a month Pattaya room next to my BG and I felt that something was on my chest. In my dream (it had to be a dream) a gray formless entity with small black orbs for eyes and no real facial features was over me. This dream/hallucination freaked me out and after I told my BG she flipped out as Thais are prone to do. She claimed that she had seen ghosts in that apartment building, etc. A trip to Wat Chaimongkron, some lucky string on the wrists, and some holy water fixed it all up. On another extended stay in LOS I had a similar experience with a different entity-maybe something in the environment is driving these dreams/hallucinations?
I understand why Thais are so superstitious and I am tolerant of it. I come from a rather ethnic background and despite several generations of our family living in the “rational” US we haven’t forgotten our folklore. Of course nobody believes it but it is still part of our culture and worth keeping alive, especially around Halloween. Back to the Thais. A steady stream of scary movies can’t be good for their collective subconscious, but the environment that many of them come from certainly plays a role. When I lived in my wife’s village I was shocked at just how dead (and quiet) the place was at night. After 8pm there is NO activity there. And when it is dark, it is dark! There is only one street light in the whole town. As one walks down the street at night there is the sound of palm trees rustling and the skeletons of old wood-plank houses on either side of the street. It is eerie in the town-I hate to think of how scary it can get out in the rice fields!
No Tacos, No Pizza
As a red-blooded American I can’t go long periods without quality ethnic food. The only real ethnic food that I’ve encountered in LOS has been Thai (duh) and Indian. I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed the few Italian restaurants that I’ve tried because they were “real” Italian restaurants and not the “red sauce” neighborhood Italian joints that I grew up with. There is some pathetic attempt at Mexican (actually Tex-Mex or “South-western”) located near Patpong; the other offender is on Soi 7 in Pattaya. Even the commercial for the place is hilarious, it sounds like some guy from Ohio talking. Stop putting all this crap on the tacos and do it right: meat, tortilla, maybe some cilantro and onion and then the salsa. Cheddar cheese, sour cream, and the kitchen sink do not make for a taco. Thailand is perfect for Mexican food too-most of the ingredients are the same save the beans, queso, and corn tortillas! How can you screw this up? There is meat, garlic, onions, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, etc. And it is cheap as hell.
The pizza there sucks too! Pizza Hut is like eating ass. I hail from the great pizza center of Chicago so my standards may be unreasonably high. No, we don’t eat that deep dish nonsense all of the time-just when we have out-of-town guests coming over. And don’t get me started on how the Thais mangle pizza. Here in the US my wife only eats the toppings, she won’t touch the crust. Sometimes she won’t even touch the cheese! If you just wanted sausage and mushroom, why the hell didn’t you just buy a sausage and some mushrooms, why did we fool with cheese, sauce, and crust?! At least they have Japanese and Korean in LOS; I haven’t found any Polish places so when I want kielbasa and kapusta I have to make do with the German restaurants. They need to do real BBQ in LOS too, at least I haven’t found anything good yet.
The Best Day Ever
In the Movie Groundhog Day Bill Murray’s character is stuck in a time-loop. He relives the same day over and over again. My Groundhog Day would be in the summer of 2003. I met “Y” on Soi 7. She was very light-skinned and had these big round eyes. She did not look Thai at all, she looked like a Latina and she had an ample backside and solid thighs to boot. She had brownish-red hair and dressed so as to show off her “assets”. I was enamored and quickly dubbed her “mini J-Lo”. Not only was she a beauty, but she was an energetic performer in the bedroom, and not averse to making some “home movies”. She was from Trat, who knows maybe that is how they grow ‘em out in Trat.
We spent the summer together and travelled around Thailand-we even did a week in Cambodia where we visited Angkor Wat and Pnom Penh. I can barely remember Cambodia due to the “happy pizza” we got at Happy Herb’s. The highlight of our time together was when we went to Ko Samet. The few days we had on the island were spent drinking frosty Singhas on the beach and swimming and playing in the clear water-unlike most Thais she didn’t have a vampire-like aversion to the sun. The nights were great, seafood dinners and intense sex. At the end of my three months in LOS we tried to stay in touch but lost contact. I hope she is doing well-that was the most perfect period of time that I’ve ever experienced.
It must have been late May of 2004, on one of my tax-payer funded jaunts to LOS. My usual pattern was to stay in Bangkok for a few days and then head to Pattaya for three months; I would have Pattaya as my base and explore other parts of the country. True to my modus operandi I checked into the Nana Hotel-that grand dame of mongering! After collecting my free drink and breakfast coupon I made my way into the elevator. In the elevator I noticed this poorly-written advertisement that the hotel’s management must have put up. It was proudly proclaiming the hotel’s renovation into a “high class” establishment. Ah the best-laid plans of mice and men! On that glossy advertisement some monger had scrawled “when pigs fly”. And that was it-my moment of Zen; my epiphany. Perfect clarity and insight-albeit fleeting. That simple jibe summed up the whole place, the whole damn country, in just three words. When pigs fly. It describes all of their grandiose plans, and how sex tourism will always sully whatever they try to do.
There are too many points here to comment on, so I will choose just one. Teachers making up the sexpat populace? Once upon a time, sure, but not now. Teaching salaries don't go far and those teachers who are on good money often have clauses in their contracts that if they are seen in red light areas their job could be on the line.