Out Of The Formicary (12) – Swing Low Sweet…Lizards
This is essentially another ‘what I did on my holiday’ submission. My intention had been to submit once a week from Thailand. That did not happen. Each ‘episode’ was either fully written in the time period it is related to or written up from notes made in that period. To make full or any sense of the ‘episodes’ it is (I’m afraid) probably necessary to first read this.
The View from MY balcony where I sat and looked. Honest.
I spent more days sitting on ‘my’ balcony in Cha Am and doing what passes for thinking. I also did a lot of looking.
It has to be said that it certainly wasn’t a bad view. The view was only costing me 5,000 baht a month and had a (Spartan) room and electricity, TV and water thrown in.
Of course the view would not have improved had I been paying 50,000 baht a month nor would have the quality of the view diminished had I been paying 500 baht a month (or indeed visa versa). Money just ain’t that important! The view was the view. Not a bad view at that.
It also has to be said that I’d seen better views. Whether I wanted them to or not snap-shot, postcard memories appeared. Some were memories of places in ‘my’ homeland: a cove in Cornwall (don’t remember where) where the sky was looming and the sea boiling and the waves CRASHING; of somewhere in the New Forest when a walk in early evening, through ancient trees had unexpectedly led to a grassy clearing where the air was still and rabbits were coming out to play and stuff; or of the inside view of an empty Lord’s cricket stadium at night.
Look there are few occupations worthy of a real man: deep sea trawler fisherman, porno film star or professional cricketer MUST be THE choices of the REAL man. But for mere mortals simply walking on the grass at Lord’s is as near as one can get (note for club cricketers the outfield at Lord’s is better than the club strip YOU play-on on Saturday or Sunday – those sods have it easy. Also note there is no dog poo on the Lord’s outfield – those sods have it easy).
Travellers’ Tip # Number 16. Honest. If you share the same perversion as me and like looking at and walking on or around cricket pitches when there is no one playing, first don’t worry its legal (usually), second it does not make ‘us’ into ‘a community’ and third there’s a good ground somewhere on the road from Bangkok to Hau Hin (it’ll be on your left) – enjoy.
Look, YOU can conjure up snap-shot memories, indeed they be ‘video memories’ of views in YOUR homeland – even Luxembourg – which are better than the view from ‘my’ balcony in Cha Am. As an aside I met a guy (that’s pronounced ‘bloke’ – thank-you) from Luxembourg many years ago in a bar in Pattaya – amazing. He was a cook. Nice guy. If you look at Google images of Luxembourg it looks very scenic – nice. Of course the problem is Luxembourg foolishly has no coast line – Luxembourgers why don’t you invade Belgium and make a drive for the coast? The citizens of Belgium are used to it by now.
Frankly I’d rather that ‘my’ view had been of the sea somewhere on the Algarve or a ‘cove’ beach on a Greek island but I can’t afford those views. Ho hum. That’s that. But this was MY view and could be MY view for any conceivable future – that is until the (smiling) Thai government required me to leave their amazing country (taking with me my amazing farang spending power with me).
And a view like everything, except the speed of light (apparently), is relative.
View from my (our) Living Room in Kilburn London – note the evidence of Thai colonization, Honest.
Look again at the view from ‘my’ balcony – I’m not sure you’ve been paying attention – YES, YOU at the back. There are three major trees shown, two in the fore ground and one on the far bank (framed by a yellow bit). Look, you can check:
The view from ‘my’ balcony in Cha Am – check the land-marks
The three trees were vantage points for a pair of kingfishers (they had a forth tree, out of shot, to the right on the far bank). These highly territorial little carnivores would dart from one bank to the other – little fast moving blurs of iridescence (poetic huh?) – occasionally skimming the water to get a fish that the river was teeming with. Exotic? Amazing? Nah mate seen kingfishers before mate, back in Blighty.
The yellow bit on the far bank? It’s a totally barren field – with a volleyball net in the centre. Exotic? No. Amazing? Yes. I never once saw a person in that ‘field’ and certainly nobody ever played volleyball.
But as ‘high quality’ as my photo of ‘the’ view is, it fails to show a lot of ‘stuff’.
The river moved slowly but the fish in it moved quickly – there are lots of fish. Many white birds of the heron family flew between the banks (strangely the ‘heron birds’ are more light brown than white when seen close up). Exotic? Amazing? Nah mate seen rivers with lots of fish and real herons before mate back in Blighty.
But what may be seen as exotic (because I have not and cannot see in my ’homeland’) might be the…LIZARDS. The river has many, many, many lizards. On first sight I was fooled again – they looked like crocodiles. But then they looked more familiar – seen them at Lumpini Park in Bangkok. But these were ‘free’ – just going about their lizard style business.
Travellers’ Tip # Number 17. Honest. If you happen to be in Bangkok, if only for a few days, a half day trip to Lumpini Park is in my view a MUST. It is a haven of sanity in what is (in my opinion) a monstrous and terrible city which has few saving graces. YOU can get there by ‘Sky Train’ or MTS. Your hotel is not near a BTS or MTS station? Oh dear, nothing I can say except perhaps, “Oh, dear. Never mind you’ll know better next time.” Once in the park why not hire a rowing boat? (Can’t row? Learn to row), or hire a ‘swan pedal thing’ (if you really want to look like a tosser) and you can get ‘close up and personal’ with the lizards. Some guy (that’s pronounced ‘geezer’ if you’re from London – but only if you ARE FROM London) has written something about Lumpini Park (worth a read in my opinion).
Although they are not as big as their city cousins in Lumpini Park, the Cha Am lizards are nonetheless BIG. The biggest I saw would have been maybe eight feet from head to tail – had it not lost most of its tail that is. ‘Stumpy’ as he came to be called (ahhh) was still about five foot from nose to end of stump.
I became interested. What is their lizard style business?
Stumpy and his mates patrolled the river at a leisurely pace but they were purposeful. They seemed to prefer straight lines – either up and then down the river or from bank to bank. They kept their distance from one another. They never seemed to dive for food. So, what do they eat?
I found out one day when I threw ‘the remains’ of a Thai ‘street meal’ onto the river bank – rice, bits of gristle, bones, bits of meat from unknown types of animal, glutinous globs of chicken – you know an average Thai street meal (in fact when I say ‘the remains’ of a Thai ‘street meal’, it was more like ‘the’ meal). My intention had been to feed the heron-like birds. Look it’s genetic, show a Brit a river and they have to feed ducks. Brits HAVE TO feed ducks. But the British are a hardy and adaptable lot – so in the absence of ducks one can make do with heron-like birds (at a push).
Travellers’ Tip # Number 18. Honest. This is perhaps THE most important tip that could possibly be passed on – should your Thai wife or Thai significant other say anything like, “Darling, sweetee you want come help me feed ducks?” , YOUR answer MUST be, “NO.” (Then go and get your passport and LEAVE – leave IMMEDIATELY. DON’T look back. RUN). This advice may be particularly difficult of us Brits to follow given our genetic programming to ‘feed ducks’ but ignoring it will lead to you soon joining the post-op ‘trannie community’ (OK, if that’s what you want it is a cheap route). Up to YOU.
The meal had attracted the lizards. They scoffed the lot (crunch, gulp) while the heron-likes resentfully looked on. OK! The lizards are carnivore scavengers!
After a while they seemed to expect a morning feed – the ‘Thai street meal’ purchased the evening before – and would hang around. One showed different behaviour. Half submerged and half on the bank it kept very still. A heron-like was picking at the remains of my meal. Then…the lizard struck. And missed. OK, the lizards are carnivore scavengers and carnivore opportunists (but need something slower moving than a heron-like as their target – so don’t let your dearest too near to them).
Then, one day I saw two lizards engaged in a tussle. The larger, from behind, had the smaller one’s throat in its jaws. They wrestled. So, the lizards are scavengers, opportunists and cannibals. No! I understood. They had been having lizard style fun! Mating.
‘Tussle’ over, the larger disengaged and swam off. The smaller remained where it was. Then…another that had been treading water a suitable distance away swam faster than I’d seen them swim before and joined the smaller. Same act – throat grab, wrestle.
Ah ha!!! Swinging lizards.
Is this boring? Yep. Is it self-indulgent? Yep. But this is what I did on my holidays in Cha Am – I looked at lizards.
This scene had made me think of…Nanthana.
I thought of Nanthana on ‘my’ balcony in Cha Am. Honest
Look, this is sensitive stuff – but as Magnus Magnusson (12 October 1929 – 7 January 2007) host of a popular TV show ‘Mastermind’, inspired by Gestapo interrogation techniques, (honest!) would say, “I’ve started so I’ll finish.”
Let us ease into this gently.
The free on-line encyclopedia is (as usual but not always) helpful, “Swinging, also known as wife swapping or partner swapping, is a non-monogamous behavior, in which both singles and partners in a committed relationship engage in sexual activities with others as a recreational or social activity”.
Nanthana and I had ‘attended’ several ‘swingers’ parties’ (I HATE that phrase) in Bangkok and Pattaya (“Swinging: a bunch of folks get together then have sex with one another”).
I’m shy about writing this! But I am in no way shy or ashamed that we went to several ‘swingers’ parties’ (I HATE that phrase) – after all it’s not as if I’m owning up to being a secret fan of Manchester United, or something equally bestial (is it?)
I like sex. I like sex a lot.
It is that which probably bonded Nanthana and me – WE liked sex, we liked sex a lot.
But, “…swinging will never be deemed completely normal and respectable. It will always provoke anger and resentment from some group or another. But despite such resistance it is likely to continue growing in popularity for some time yet…”, to quote Robert McGrath who is an Aussie blogger (apparently) who writes about dating and relationships (never met Mr McGrath and never will – amazing thing the internet).
Robert McGrath comments that a,“…recent example occurred in Thailand. A Briton named Christian Richards was arrested for organizing swingers parties in Bangkok. Although Thailand has a reputation for being very tolerant of sex – with a huge sex industry – prostitution is illegal in that country. It seems that this was one of the few times that the authorities didn't turn a blind eye to such activities. While there were no prostitutes at the swingers party that was raided, Richards was charged for placing commercial sex advertising and procuring sex.”
Nanthana and I had not been there …but had been to one two weeks previously.
There is no point in changing names to protect the innocent (and I do mean innocent) – the raid and the arrests were a ‘minor big’ news item at the time.
So, metrowebukmetro Thursday 5 Feb 2009 11:46 am, under the headline “Briton arrested at ‘swingers sex tour’” reported, “A British man and his Thai wife have been arrested in Bangkok taking part in a ‘swingers sex tour’,…Chris Richards, 54, and his Thai wife, were charged with conducting an illegal commercial sex operation”, according to The Sun (That is the UK Sun ‘Newspaper’ some say).
“The couple were arrested at an up-market Bangkok hotel. Thai police raided a hotel room and arrested 13 men and ten women, including others from Australia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, they said were taking part in a British organised ‘swingers party’.”
While the PattayaNews (on-line) reported, “Once again, a Brit is in the news after taking advantage of the lax morals of folk in Thailand. The man in question was arrested in a Bangkok hotel on Thursday, 5 February, 2009, for organizing ‘swingers‘ parties in both Bangkok and Pattaya among consenting adults, none of whom were prostitutes. The offence, namely acting as a procurer and advertising sexual services for gain, carries a 10 year jail term and a fine of up to Bt20,000.
The accused, Christian Arthur Richards, 54, was arrested, in the company of 23 participants, including his wife. Police burst into their room at Elizabeth Hotel, Chatuchak, Bangkok, just after 12 am, whilst the party was in full swing. The hotel has been their favourite exclusive venue, where they organizing 42 similar parties last month alone. When they raided the party, police found several couples in flagrante delicto (actually engaged in sex), while the other party-goers were drinking and dancing. Evidence in the form of condoms, lubricant gels, porno books, sex DVDs and 30 Viagra pills was confiscated.
The cosmopolitan ‘swingers’ from the USA, Australia, France, China, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, namely 13 foreign men, three foreign women and seven Thai females, got off lightly, only having to pay Bt 500-1000 each for the inconvenience for the foreigners, while the Thai ladies paid a mere Bt200.”
What happened to Mr Richards or his wife Duang? I have no idea. But I do know that they probably had a solid marriage NOT mangled by the ‘4 S’s’ that curse many farang/Thai relationships. The ‘4 S’s’? Sex, Suspicion, Surveillance and Supervision. Come on!
Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) who was a German-born theoretical physicist and philosopher of science and possessor of a strange hair-cut, may have argued that the speed of light is the only constant in the universe but it is possibly arguable that the presence of the ‘4 S’s in a Thai/farang relationship runs it a close second. Is YOUR behavior not viewed with suspicion, are YOUR moves not the subject of surveillance and are YOU not constantly supervised? No? OK, your wife/significant other is not Thai. What is the suspicion, surveillance and supervision all about? It is about the fact that YOU might have engaged in or be about to engage in SEX with another. (I do suspect that the ‘4 S’s’ also exist in Thai/Thai relationships – with more cause). This may in fact become a self fulfilling prophecy – I know it did for me!!! The ‘4 S’s’ are destructive. With Mr Richards and his wife none of this perforce could be an issue!
Much of what I’ve written is a cop out – because ‘I’ haven’t written it. I’ve used quotes as a shield.
So what goes on a party YOU ask? I’ll do it again – I’ll cop out again! I’ll use a quote,Andrew Drummond reported, “Bangkok Posters known as a 'Brit_Thaicpl' frequently advertise swinging parties on the internet through a Yahoo group known as 'ThailandCentralSwingers'. A promotion statement for the event states: 'The evening starts normally like a cocktail party with people casually dressed to attract the opposite sex (no jeans or wellington boots) .People eat from the great buffet and help themselves to drinks from the wide selection with no limits and play slowly unfolds at each person's own pace. 'It's a great night and well worth coming to, you will see all styles of play.'”
Yep, the promotional statement is a fair description.
I sat and thought of the many, many, many…many reason that I dislike Thailand so very much!
One of those reasons is the level of hypocrisy contained within the culture. Yes. yea, yep, there is hypocrisy in all societies, but of the small number of cultures that I know anything about it seems that Thailand elevates hypocrisy to an art form! As with other issues (such as corruption) when comparing hypocrisy in my own society to that of amazing Thailand I feel that I am comparing the average living-room pussy cat to a Bengal tiger. Yep, both are cats. Yea both are feline. That is that. After that there is no further comparison!
Let’s look at the ‘evidence’ presented in the extracts.
“Evidence in the form of condoms, lubricant gels, porno books, sex DVDs and 30 Viagra pills was confiscated.”
You know what I remember from the parties we went to? The availability of bottles of mouth wash available in the bathrooms! Shopping at Tesco and seeing a bottle of ‘Listerine’ can never be the same again! The bottles of mouth wash were apparently not confiscated. The 30 Viagra pills may perhaps have been confiscated because they were NOT fake.
“…While there were no prostitutes at the swingers party that was raided, Richards was charged for placing commercial sex advertising and procuring sex.”
I can only comment – come on! Amazing!
All has to been seen in its geo-social context. These parties were held in Bangkok and Pattaya for god sake!!!!
I can all too well understand Thai citizens objecting to the characterisation of ‘their motherland’ as being a/the destination for sex-tourists. But what of Pat Pong, Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza? They exist! On Sukhumvit “porno books, sex DVDs” are openly for sale. As for “condoms, lubricant gels” – any 7/11.
Pattaya? Apart from being (in my opinion) a cess-pit, it is one big sex party.
At the party raided, “there were no prostitutes”. Hmmm? OK, perhaps if true, that was the problem. The cash nexus was absent. Is it really the case that the culturally valid and sole reason for doing ANYTHING in Thailand is money? I have almost come to think so! Only in the example of Hong Kong have I experience a culture more OBSESED with money. However, in Thailand few seem know how to make it and more importantly hang on to it if made.
Oh dear this is becoming a rant! Time to fetch the Taser.
OK, more calmly, what to say about ‘swingers parties’? 'It's a great night and well worth coming to, you will see all styles of play,' seems to sum it up.
I continued to sit and do what passes for thinking on ‘my’ balcony and increasingly too much time in the attached room watching TV (but never, Ok almost never, the channel devoted to cock fighting).
Sometimes after sitting on ‘my’ balcony and thinking and looking I felt… NOT lonely but utterly alone.
BUT maybe THE ‘thing’ about Thailand (perhaps for many a very important ‘thing’) is that I did not have to be alone…
(Sorry but…) That’s not all folks.