Takes All Sorts
‘Aoie.’ (Real name not supplied). Freelancer in a particular bar overlooking the water. She speaks almost no English and is delighted I can make some effort in conversational Thai.
“I’m on the better side of forty-up. Good shape for my age, though. It takes all sorts. I worked the bars for years but nowadays there’s a group of us. Great! I have more customers than ever before – mostly
I enquire if she’s got any serious sponsors.
“One or two; here and there – whatever. Sometimes they arrive at the same time.” (Laughs). “Had to get some guy to do a calendar for me which I keep in the room. Helps a lot.”
“You ever have money problems?” I ask.
“Always,’ she answers. Aoie produces a latest generation iPhone and starts scrolling through digital snaps – some three story mansion back in Roi Et. “House for mama; Papa…my brother’s pickup. Nothin’s
cheap in this world.”
(Bet she earns more than I do). I ask if she has any favorite nationalities.
“I never discriminate. England, Ireland; Scotland, Wales…I even went with five Indians once! Five thousand baht for forty minutes work!! Like teenage schoolboys; they finish in two minutes flat. But I had my friend wait outside
and make them pay first. They waste more time bargaining…think they wanna buy the farm or something.”
I could be tempted. I wink at her. “How much for me?”
She looks around the place…it’s getting on and ladies outnumber any available males. She holds up her hand and puts one finger in the air, she stares intently then two fingers. I assume the second gesture means ‘long-time’.
‘Nancy.’ (Real name not supplied). Gatekeeper in a popular beer-bar. Doesn’t miss a thing. A cut above the others in the place, she could easily get work in an a go-go. Very pretty lady.
“If you don’t mind I’d rather speak English,” she interrupts. Not hard to see why; she speaks it well…very well, in fact. “I have a Bachelor of Arts from _______ University and I taught English in
government schools for three years, in case you were wondering.”
I offer her a lady-drink. To my surprise she goes around the bar, picks a little jar of Brands Chicken Essence; she returns then clicks the beaker against my brew and sculls it like tequila shot.
“And I don’t drink any intoxicants or coffee and I strongly disapprove of smoking…disgusting habit,” she proclaims with a sense of righteousness.
“Ever had a broken heart?” I ask.
‘Nancy’ frowns and ponders this before replying in a very solemn tone. “One time with a Thai man and two times with Falangs. Now I’m very careful.”
“Why the name: Nancy?”
“After the famous American singer, of course,” she says. “Surely you know of her.”
I say nothing – I think of Nancy Sinatra but she would have been well before this one was even born.
“Busy this evening?” I ask.
She shakes her head. “Boyfriend coming in twenty minutes…” A pause. “But he’s flying back to Norway next Tuesday…”
She gives me a peck on the cheek. “Thanks for the drink. Lovely to meet you. See you again soon.”
‘Noi’. (Real name not supplied). She trolls Beach Road. Getting on in years and echoed by her name – one doesn’t encounter too many bearing that name in the younger crowd. She once lived in Sydney and speaks
rapidly in broken English.
“Takes all kinds,” she snaps. She’s distracted this evening; a motorcycle has been cruising down the road warning of police patrols.
“I had an Israel man one time. Good man. Gave me five hundred dollars for two weeks. Not so bad. Everybody tells me ‘Cheap-Charlie’ but him okay.”
She bums a smoke off me, inspects it carefully first. Usually she has menthol but she’s out. I go regular.
“I hate American man!” she snarls. One time I go hotel. Ten days…ten whole f**king days!! Guy no pay. All I want is one thousand per day and I take care him, everything.” She jerks a finger at a prominent hotel
overlooking where we stand.
“I smash the place. Guy pay ten thousand for room – one night — but no pay me. TV broken; windows broken. Mirror broken…I boxing him, I trap him. Him old man. Blood all over, I go crazy. Then he want to call security
and police…I tell him: ‘Go ahead, when they come I say you rape me’ and he afraid.”
I know Noi’s past. Oldest girl in a family with many younger brothers, followed by years with a cruel Thai husband, then more years with an unemployed Falang husband. She can take care of herself. Expensive lesson though.
Very late. A crowded popular discotheque and the crowd’s building quickly as it’s after 2 AM. Three women stand out above and beyond anything I’ve encountered. I pluck up the courage to approach and strike up a conversation.
They quickly pull me up as they don’t speak a word of Thai…not to worry as their English, whilst stilted, ain’t too bad. Considering they teach it to themselves…
‘Srei-Saa-Aart’, ‘Mak-Haraa’nah’ and ‘Sokh-S’K’lei’. (Their real names…and whatta mouthful).
The tallest one does most of the talking. Their mannerisms are down to earth and easy going, and…they’d stop traffic.
“We come twice a year. Even do Singapore sometimes. All sleep in one room; stay a week.” The accent she has is almost French, husky and oozing with sexuality. They smile and they’re engaging — the eye contact is
“Phnom Penh is home,” says the shorter one. “Better pickings here in Bangkok.”
(Now everyone can fly).
“Yeah.” The first one agrees. “Cambodia too many ladies; too little Barang. Difficult now.”
“You like Thailand?” I speak over the thuds of the monotonous techno.
“Not so bad,” replies the first. “But sometimes not safe. We have a plan…checkup constantly by cellphone and make sure the guy gives us the card from the hotel.”
“I think Thai people are a bit jealous of us,” giggles the third lady, the quiet one who makes up for it many times over with her demeanor.
None of them have dyed hair, no tattoos and they have classy outfits. Simple jewelry. Apparel and shoes they’ve scrimped and saved and picked up in a department store; not some street-cart. ‘Apsara’. The ancient and
beautiful stone-temple carvings — Khmer beauty at its finest. They need the dough. School uniforms and fees, medical expenses back home. Mosquito nets. Fertilizer and basic essentials. Transportation. Luxuries like cosmetic surgery and pickup
trucks seem unimaginable. These three are proud of their dark brown skin; they’re self-assured and their natural cleavage would rival any western swimsuit model.
The first one has moved in even closer and I feel a tingle up my spine. I notice two well-dressed and good-looking European types – possibly Scandinavians – have circled in and are chatting up the other two.
Didn’t take long, I think. “How much?” I whisper in her ear.
“Two thousand short-time and four for twenty-four hours. Take me a whole week and I’ll discount a quarter. You pay me daily, if you please. We eat cheap Lao food mostly but really up to you. I get to sleep no less than five
hours per shift.”
She faces me and pulls me in and grinds against me. Rubs her tongue around her lips and I’m hypnotized.
“I’ll make you feel like you’re the only man alive and you will never forget Srei-Saa-Aart in your whole life…mon cheri.”
Her breath is sweet and her skin is soft, the back of my neck prickling; my loins are on fire and I have no doubt in the world whatsoever…she’ll be every bit as good as her word.