Heading For Home
I have decided on this as the title for this submission as I am going to attempt to cover a few bases and get home without boring the reader too much and covering as much ground as humanly possible. Next week I have to leave as the offshore has dried up at home and I am about to overstay my 90 days and with the way things are going maybe not even being married will save me, so next week look to my report on Angeles City (don't worry, I won't be playing up, but I will be out and about).
The first base I would like to cover is Stick's op-ed piece and Steve's follow up sub "The Independent Westerner".
I would like to give a strictly Northern (that is Isaan) view on the subject. As Steve so correctly states, there are a variety of foreign sub-groups here not all savoury and not all looking out for your best interest. This is tempered somewhat
in the more touristy zones Bangkok, Pattaya, Patong and I would also include the likes of Samui, Phi Phi, Samet in this equation. If you have the time and inclination you will find an abundance of farang that are more than happy to chew your ear
off and piss in your pocket all day. Some good, some bad, some untrustworthy but generally you will find someone that is happy to share a barstool, buy you a drink and talk shit for a few hours. There are also a lot more gyms, clubs and activities
where you can find people with similar interests. In my experience the lads from the North are a far more insular bunch. There is nothing I have found that is particularly helpful to expats, there are many forums filled with grudging, whingeing
advice though. It could be said that I am not the most social or indeed by my appearance the most approachable looking guy on the planet but in my first few years I really made an effort to meet the local white fellas. Now I am out fairly wide
so there is only a few farang in my village none are that inviting and none bar one even went out of their way to come and say hello. If I go down the road a ways to the nearest "town" (that is, has a 7-11 and a Lotus) there are a lot
more but I have found that they do their best to ignore you. I always try and catch their eyes, raise the eyebrows or give a good nod of the head but for the most part, 90 odd per cent, it seems they are doing their best to not notice you. In
this respect I am not even talking about having a conversation or striking up a friendship. I mean you are flat out even getting most of them to acknowledge your existence. Which I find strange as you are far more chance of having something in
common than not. Even if I travel into Udon, it is all "ships in the night" stuff – you see each other but there is no conscious acknowledgement of the other party. Again this could have something to do with my appearance but I think
the people that have made the decision to move to Isaan did so deliberately and have no real interest in meeting the foreigners up their way or have had enough of the foreigners they have met in Thailand already. My best mate locally is an Italian
guy my own age who lives 50 km down the road, a genuine bloke but one of my only true friends I have met in over 3 years of living in Isaan. Most of my friends are guys I knew in Oz before I came here so that involves lengthy trips to Chiang Mai,
Chiang Rai, Buriram, Korat for those that live here and Bangkok and Pattaya for my mates that visit frequently.
Second base is a quick steal but concerns Bangkok Barry's sub on Nakhon Nowhere. His first 2 paragraphs are crackers and not only give good insight into life in the North but his whole sub helps to cover many misconceptions about those who have made the decision to "get out" as it were and come up here. For those only purely interested in the "scene", I will freely admit that a few days in Isaan will probably pull you up. The rest of us though that have a life outside of copious drinking and chrome poles find that there is plenty to do up here. The self-motivated find lots of things to occupy their time. Having said that though you will, as I said, probably be doing them alone. Outside of that the air is clean, it is quiet without being boring and besides not being close to the ocean I really can't complain about anything in Isaan. It reminds me more of the Thailand I knew 20 years ago particularly in respect to the kindness and generosity of the locals and I find it funny that the kids that have met me a thousand times already still every day automatically break into a grin and run down the street doing the "farang, farang" thing when I take the dogs for a walk.
Third base isn't based on Tomasso's recent sub but it got me to thinking about something else entirely. I find it funny now how a lot of the younger heads look down on what remains of the "scene" and I guess rightly so but having grown up in this era they really don't know how easy they have got it. I wasn't around in the hippie "free love" era nor was I born in the drug fuelled disco years that followed so I can't really comment on them. I was born in the latter half of the seventies which meant my formative years were spent growing up in what was possibly the daggiest era of all time, the 80's. Now Australia back then was a pretty quiet joint. You had to make plans to meet people or your only chance to speak to them was if they were home and answered the phone. So for me the only chance to meet girls were at school or at functions like surf club dances and the like. To be honest I did pretty well with the girls and regret nothing but the world was a much larger place then and more difficult to get around. I was also lucky enough to be the first generation to have the massive spectre and following hysteria that came with the advent of AIDS hanging over my head. Let me tell you that really put a massive damper on things for quite a few years. I am not saying the threat wasn't real but in the early days it was blown all out of proportion in my opinion. In fact in all the proceeding years I have only ever met or known 1 person who has ever met or known someone who had been infected but he was an IV drug user so it wasn't even sex related. Again I am not trying to make light of it but in all this time, in all these years, doing what I have done I must have been REALLY lucky or things just aren't as bad as they used to imply they were. To complicate matters further I became a merchant seaman… so there were no girls I could meet at work, there were no computers or phones on board (except for a sat phone you could use in emergencies) and you were lucky if you got some newspapers and a couple of people mags every time you were in port. So for me and most of my friends it was far easier to jump on a plane and get involved in P4P than it was to go through all that time and effort at home and possibly still not get a result. It wasn't that we were losers or struggled with women or disliked the girls at home. We all had good jobs so were fairly cashed up and none of us were too hard on the eye. It just made more sense to enjoy the sun and the sand and the oh so easy to acquire extra-curricular activities that places like Thailand had to offer.
Now on to the young bucks that are so quick to judge. If I had grown up in this modern age I imagine I would be looking down on guys that "played" as well. They have always had mobile phones and computers. Texting and sexting are the norm as is the ability to stream photos and videos instantly. Then you have all the social media. Facebook and Twitter and Line and all that self absorbed BS that young blokes are involved in now. On a side note, if you have more than 10 "selfies" posted on any of your social media pages you really have a serious ego / vanity problem that needs addressing. Next you have the proliferation of dating sites both locally and globally that you could fill a sub with, again with plenty of willing and able girls only a keystroke away. Now you even have your redhotpie and apps like Tinder that run off the GPS of your phone and will instantly produce a list of girls locally wherever you are in the world that are looking for a lot more than dating. For free! Right here! Right now! as soon as you can get to their house. It boggles the mind. The amount of girls out there now worldwide that are actively seeking and looking for casual sex is astounding. So yeah, sure, these days why would anyone want to P4P? It makes no sense whatsoever. It is, I guess, only the domain of the young. I hate social media but I imagine there aren't too many 40+ year old guys killing it on Tinder. As so many have said, including myself, it is those very things I have just mentioned that sounded the death knell on what were for most of us the best years of our lives. Everything changes of course and I only wish this generation the best of luck you have far more opportunities than I ever did but when you look at the bar industry as it is today, realise that it wasn't always like that and we too were once young and eager just sans the banquet of options you have to yourselves.
Have fun out there.