Readers' Submissions

A Different Type Of Bargirl, An Asian Perspective Part 1





Having been entertained and at times, humbled by the experiences and writings of the fine readers on this site, I decided to pen one myself. One that comes from a fellow traveler, holidayer and occasionally, monger. What might interest you in this article comes from the fact that I am a Singaporean who is just 2.5 hours away from the LOS and the ventures that I have taken in Bangkok are quite different from that of a farang. Please excuse my poor writing and grammar. The last time I sat down and tried to write an essay was almost 6 years ago, back in school.

Now, a little background story to ease you guys into this. I apologize if at any point of time I sound like an arrogant prick, please understand that I am trying to be as precise as possible. I am a 28-year old Singaporean with a Bachelor's Degree working in the financial sector. I graduated from a good school and make a decent amount of money by Singapore standards, about 1.6 million baht a year after 3 years on the job. Throughout the years I have dated plenty of local girls and even got into relationships that lasted years. I dress well, eat at fancy / nice restaurants and generally have no problem getting dates and phone numbers.

One interesting point you might find ridiculous is that the prices for flats in Singapore, think a 3-bedroom condo in Bangkapi, cost about 10 million baht. If you're thinking about getting married, you have to apply FOR the flat in order to be eligible for certain grants that would cover the cost partially, about 0.5 million baht to 1 million baht. You then pay a 5% downpayment, and take a loan from the bank to finance payment for the next 20 years. When do you get the flat? 3 – 5 years after you first ''ballot'' for it. This is a policy called build-to-order flats which is how the majority of Singaporeans bought their flats. I am not going to go into how our politicians sugarcoat this scheme but incidentally most engagements that broke off are often during this ''waiting for flat'' period. Oh, and the government who builds these flats don't give you a refund if you decide not to go on with it. Other things like a brand new Honda would set you back about 2 million baht and you gotta pay half of it upfront. The wedding banquet / celebration? 0.5 million baht. In short, it costs a bomb to start a family. The ladies here, however, usually contribute a portion and sin sot is a mere formality more than anything else. With that in mind, this on top of the finer things in life like restaurants and partying, allowance for parents (yeah, we do that too), 1.6 million baht a year can seem like a measly amount.

On to things LOS related, during a random class gathering recently something funny came up in one of our conversations. Out of 15 present, only 3 of the group were dating /married local girls. 4 were single, the rest of the 8 were dating / married to foreigners, Thais mostly. This isn't a group of 40-year old middle-aged men with low income, balding hair and a beer belly. This is a group of young men who followed the 'rules', studied hard and went on to the corporate world, mostly banking. Most of the group make far more than I do and by my reckoning, the only way for them from here on is up. If you’re thinking this might just be an isolated incident, you are welcome to travel here and witness for yourself how many men are holding hands with a foreign partner. Almost 30% of our population are foreigners, and the government looks set to introduce more.

Why do these eligible young men end up with foreigners? Most of them will give you a list of complaints about our country, our culture, and the girls. Which is ironic for the ones with Thai partners since my Thai colleagues tell me the exact same thing when we we're out drinking. With that said, there are some differences between the two neighbours for us. When we go out clubbing in Singapore, it’s considered quite a feat to get hold of a girl's number or ask her out for supper after clubbing. Getting a local girl that you met in a club to sleep with you is pretty bragworthy. The savvy investors in us will soon realise that the Return On Investment is simply too low in local clubs, and spending 200 – 500 dollars drinking and dancing with no female companionship is simply depressing. Unless you look a movie star, the chances are girls will stick to the group of friends they came to the club with.

This brings us to the next point, Thai discos. These are nightlife establishments which have a Thai-centric atmosphere. They employ Thai singers to perform on stage and like the KTVs in Thailand, you tip them by purchasing garlands and hanging it on the singers to show appreciation. Garlands range from 1,000 – 5,000 thousand baht, the price of each is displayed on the sashes that come with it. It’s not uncommon to see men purchasing up to 10,000 – 20,000 baht worth of garlands to charm the performers or boost their ego. The funniest I ever saw was when 2 dumbnuts got into a bidding war with each other, only to have the girl leave with a friend of mine for supper. These singers and performers are usually on 3 – 6 month work visa while some might just be here on a 30-day tourist visa. There is also another group of girls that you can hang garlands on and fraternise with, the coyotes. All of them are here on a 30-day tourist visa, except there is no actual traveling done. Well, there might be but we'll get to that. An "agent" pays their ticket with a one-week return ticket so as to convince Immigration officers that they are not here to work. (READ: ILLEGAL) Lodgings are also provided, usually near the establishment they work at. Their job? Fraternise with the male patrons and encourage them to buy more alcohol, mainly whisky bottles. Yeah, bottle culture here too. Lady drinks are around 400 – 500 baht per shot and 1,000 – 1,200 for the more expensive ones. Every hour they go up on stage and start dancing. Patrons who have been entertained by them will and indeed are expected to purchase garlands for them. If you don’t, they might still come back to your table. Most, however, move on to the next one.

These girls are not your typical Isaan gogo bar working girls. Most of them are educated and have a degree, speak a fair amount of English and in my Asian eyes, are much prettier. Ever walk past a Heineken or Carlsberg beer event outside a mall with loud blaring music, big tents and gorgeous fair-skinned ladies who look like car models? Yeah, a lot of them look like that! Most agents don’t bother bringing in girls who they know won’t have much of a chance of earning money for him. Oh yeah, speaking of money, from what I understand through a mixture of English and minimal Thai, these girls are either paid for the entire duration of their visa with no off days, 50,000 – 75,000 baht. The hottest and smarter ones prefer a commission based scheme where a portion of the lady drinks and garlands, usually 70%, goes to her. A very hot young student / singer I had supper with a few months back told me she is getting on average 200,000 baht per month. That’s right – way more than I make! The best part is that they still get to enjoy their holiday because of the countless men who ask them out for dates in the day and pay for their shopping! A Thai singer friend joked with me once that she has been to almost every major attraction in Singapore, some of which I have not even heard of yet.

What about the men? What makes them frequent these establishments over clubs where even though the singers / coyotes are hot, the music and crowd are usually of a lower standard? My guess is, they KNOW what they are paying for. These coyotes provide the full GFE. Sweet goodnight messages, how are you? Tired mai? Mao Mai? The dancing, the grinding, hugs and kisses are not what you are going to get in a local upscale club even though you spend the same amount of money. Male patrons get value for money. And for the ladies, they make easily 4-5 times more than their daytime office/server jobs. Not only that, they get to avoid the stigma of working in the nightlife industry, I can only imagine what sort of lies they tell their family when they are working as coyotes in Singapore. Many of them are your middle class Thai, girls you see behind counters, office desk and receptions. Girls that you wished you can find in Soi Cowboy or Nana. A few of them even offered me their condos to stay in whilst visiting and drove me around in their brand new car, no doubts on where these came from. Granted, some of the girls later told me they work in G-clubs, but almost all of them give a look of shock and shout "Mai Dee!" "Mai Dai" when we expressed that we are interested in checking out gogo clubs! Oh, the irony.

I have been to Soi Cowboy and Nana, and frankly girls there are just not attractive. A wise men once told me, "Don’t let anyone teach you how to spend your money. If there is an outlet for you to purchase happiness, be it a product, place or person, you should always do it." I HAVE paid for sex, knowingly and unknowingly. P4P is not high on my moral ground but I am not against it either. I have also gone to clubs like RCA and picked up a girl who gave me the time of my life. When clubbing in Thailand, I can always at the very least manage to find a group of girls with my friends to party with. We dress well, we talk politely and we don’t mind paying for bottles which cost 1/4 of the price in Singapore. So far, most of the Thai girls are pretty receptive and a lot of them even insist on paying the bill. These are the same girls who are just having fun like the ones in Singapore clubs, except friendlier, funnier and for a lack of a better word, un-snobbish. I have never encountered a girl who tells me to piss off, even super hot ones, and there are so many every night in RCA and Thonglor!

But why do Singapore men still fly over to meet the girls who they met in Thai discos? Why even go down that path when you can meet these hot girls with decent day jobs in clubs? Remember how you met them and what formed the initial basis of your relationship with her, a friend once told me. I figured it’s because they pressed the right freaking buttons. And even though we hate to admit, Singapore men are literally walking ATMs. Book a ticket for 3-4 thousand baht and your ass is in Bangkok 3 hrs later. Waiting sweetly is your 20-year old fair-skinned beauty all prepared to spend a lovely weekend with you, and then another weekend next week with another teerak of hers. Some eventually married their Thai girlfriends and go through the long and difficult process of getting a spouse visa for her. Those who failed try to find work in Thailand.

Some of my friends are happily married with a Thai girl and I am genuinely happy for them. I was the best man for one the weddings and I witness the joy and pride in the newlyweds. Also at that wedding, the bride tried to set me up with some giggling Thai girls who no doubt think I earn as much as the groom does. Most of the time, however, these men who have coyote girlfriends end up heartbroken and broke, again remember the basis of your relationship. I have seen high-flying young men get their heart and family broken, lost their job and STILL pine for that girl. I got in fights with a buddy whilst trying to make him come to his senses. I have loaned a lot of money to friends just so they can keep frequenting Thai discos. Whilst tying and reading my own submission, it’s like a voice is telling me, they are in fact just another type of bargirl. And yet my friends, I too have fallen for one. But I guess that is another submission for another day.