South-East Asia Adventures
Inaugural Group Meeting at Bruxelles Bar 08 04 2015
I worked for County Council Social Services Department from 1971 to retirement in 2005. I am used to keeping records including holiday adventures. So it was not difficult to find details of my adventures in Thailand and elsewhere. I managed to get up to 7 weeks holiday per year including bank holidays and flexi tame for accrued days. My normal routine was to work in the morning until lunch time a quick run home garage the car then to St Margaret’s bus station for the 1:30 pm to Heathrow arriving in good time for the Thai Airways TG 917 9:30 pm direct flight to Bangkok. Sometimes I travelled four times per annum getting a Royal Orchid Plus gold car with added perks flight upgrades etc. I returned from Bangkok always flight TG 910 arriving Heathrow not later than 7:15 am. Then onto the coach back to Lancaster drop my bag then straight to work to arrive by 2:00 pm in core time. I always managed it. By so doing out and back precious half days are saved all within what I considered to be generous working conditions. In comparison to many people I had virtually no time off for illness. There was no reason for complaints against me.
My Report is on South East Asia only. It excludes in depth visits to North and South America and extensive visits to the former Soviet Union. My experiences in Brazil rival my experiences in South East Asia.
First visit to Thailand 1986
Last visit to Thailand 2011
Retired from Local Govt June 2005
41 visits were made during this period. These notes recall what I have done over 25 years. I retired in 2005 and within one month was in Thailand for four months. My last visit was in 2011
Opportunity for frequent long visits abroad around 90 days per visit. Total time spent in Thailand since 2005 around 840 days or two & quarter years. I booked package holidays per Kuoni World Wide Travel for many years. 1986 my first visit to Siam with two weeks Bangkok & Pattaya staying Asia Hotels. Made the normal tourist excursions temples, floating Market, Rose Garden etc.
Nightlife in both resorts covers every taste. At that time in Bangkok I went only to Pat Pong. I remember Kings Castle & Queens Castle and some very dubious bars. I was unaware of Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy.
1987 I stayed only in Pattaya. At that time Walking St did not exist. Marine Bar and Siren Bar were the places to go. There was a Bavarian Bierhaus with excellent German draught beer in what is now Walking St. Asia hotel in Pattaya on the cliff had a nice beach but a long way from the town.
1988 I booked a Thailand Discovery Tour per Kuoni. I wanted to visit the real Siam. The tour was by bus and train taking in the culture of former capitals Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. En route we stayed in a small town called Tak with overnight stay at Vieng Tak hotel. Evening entertainment included a dance hall in the hotel with a room in the corner. It was full of girls sitting on the floor acting as dance partners and more. This is a small town. I did not expect a small hotel to have entertainment. I took advantage what was on offer.
We travelled further north via Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai staying at the Rincome Hotel. Booking into the room the bell boy asked me if I wanted lady. This is the real Thailand. Even small towns have similar arrangements. It makes a pleasant break from the commercial Pattaya bars. The Discovery Tour had culture and entertainment.
South-East Asia Visits
1988 Same year per Kuoni I spent 10 days in Hong Kong staying Excelsior Hotel Causeway Bay. Great sightseeing and shopping. I did not find any affordable entertainment. Went to the Bottoms Up club in Wanchai shown on the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. Exciting place but mega expensive with girls going round kneeling on a turntable serving drinks. I leave the rest to imagination.
1989 Booked Malaysia Discovery per Kuoni. Tour starting and finishing in Singapore. This is a Muslim country so would expect to be different to Siam. I was on a group tour. I was friendly with the coach driver. He took me out at night visiting houses of ill repute in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kuantan. Entertainment is available and discrete. In K L had two farang with me. We were taken to a housing estate crammed in the small lift to floor nine taken into a room. Bought a bottle of whisky. Ladies were brought in for inspection and negotiation. I was expecting to be mugged or worse but nothing happened. My two farang companions did a lot of time wasting. Interesting with the right contacts what goes in Malaysia.
1989 Later in the year took a one week package holiday to Manila. The Philippines airline flight was not good. No advance warning was given of approaching severe turbulence
On the day before we were due to leave Manila there was coup. Airport was closed. Had to stay 12 extra days. Accommodation was paid by Kuoni. It was scary at the time fighter jets screaming overhead. Man arrived in hotel. Said he had come from Makati district where there was fierce fighting. He had only his passport with him. He asked if a leader had been appointed in the event of hostage taking. He also suggested sleep in the bath in the event of ricochet bullets. A reassuring man one could say obviously had the required leadership qualities.
During the first week I went to the Ermita entertainment district with signs like" American sailors welcome". I had taken a girl from the bar name Teresa Porras. She stayed with me most of the time. We had to report to the bar regularly. There was supposed to be a curfew with Rambo types driving around in open jeeps. I did not find Manila an inspiring place not very nice food and not a lot to do. I was fortunate to have the girl with me. I went to her home. Her living space was incredibly small but no real surprise. After the coup the airport was returning to normal. We were evacuated over a period of days a few at a time. Kuoni were paying for the extended stay so nobody wanted to leave. We were all having fun but were not reimbursed for the extra spending money. On returning to work my boss told me to write a letter explaining the circumstances that I was unable to be repatriated to the UK. I was credited the extra leave days without loss of pay very generous. The downside was the extra money I had spent.
1990 Returned to Siam. I started in Bangkok then took a South Thailand Tour by train and bus to Krabi Resort continuing to Phang Na Bay Resort en route to Phuket staying at Kata Thani very luxurious hotel and beach but long way to Phuket Town. Nearest entertainment was Karon Beach where there is a bar complex. I took a girl from there who stayed with me throughout my one week stay. The boat trips around Phang Nga Bay and James Bond Island are good but I found Phuket expensive overall.
1991 I visited Bali. Very nice scenery and excursions. I rented a jeep and guide. The entertainment area is around Kuta very popular with Australian tourist. The resort is more suited to couples. You may remember the two terrorist attacks some years ago. A lot of people lost their lives.
1993 I visited Borneo staying in Sabah. A year later I returned staying in Sarawak. These are relaxing islands to visit but without entertainment districts. However I became friendly with local people and enjoyed the excursions.
1994 I made two visits to Pattaya spending a total of 33 days. At that time after the fall of the Soviet Union Pattaya was popular with Russian Package Holiday tourists. They stayed at Royal Cliff, Cosy Beach, Mountain View and Island View. I had studied Russian language some years earlier and had some interesting conversations and socialising. I am told with the current situation in Russia with the devaluation of the ruble few people would be able to afford to visit Thailand.
The coming years I returned frequently to Thailand staying in Pattaya taking girls from the bars long term returning with them to their homes mainly in Isaan. I have visited Isaan for more than 15 years.
1995 A further visit to Pattaya staying 16 days. At this time I had a regular girlfriend who originates from Ubon Ratchatani. My life changed for the worse.
1996 I with her visited North Thailand including Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Song, Golden Triangle and stayed in her district in Warin Chamrap Ubon Ratchatani Province.
1997 I spent 40 days in Pattaya, Ubon and the village of Ban Kok Sawang where her parents live between Korat and Chaiyapoon Her mother is married to a former U S G I. I imagine they met in the Vietnam war era. He spent most of his working life in the military. They live very well in a big house owning 12 rai of land about 5 acres.
1998 thru 2011 I spent little time in Pattaya visiting instead Isaan. Ubon is a one hour flight from Bangkok. I made the mistake of marrying the lady from Warin Chamrap a district of Ubon Rachathani Province. We visited many places including Laos staying in Pakse. Overall I was not inspired with Laos somewhat primitive and unhygienic
From 1996 to 2009 I made 26 visits to Ubon flying from Bangkok.
1999 I was alone in Bangkok. Took go go dancer from Nana Plaza to Hat Yai staying J B Hotel. Hat Yai is popular with Malaysian men seeking entertainment. At that time it was safe to visit Songkla. It turned out the dancer has a husband who wanted money from me. I was threatened in Bangkok but able to make my escape.
2002 Having previously met girl named Sai in Jinny Bar Soi 7 I arranged to meet her on a later visit at Dong Meuang airport Bangkok. We flew P B Air to Nakhom Phanom. We stayed at Grand View hotel before meeting family member in Pick Up truck to take us some 60 miles to the family home in Sri Som Kram in the top corner of Isaan between Nong Kai and Vientiane Laos. The district is very rural an eye-opener on my first real up country excursion. It was December and cold. The house was very primitive. I have some incredible photos for a future presentation.
The wife lived in the UK from 1995 to 1998. Made virtually no friends in the UK Thai community and to this day has few friends in Warin.
However every cloud has a silver lining. She refused to work saying what do I have husband for. She wanted only to make merit at Thai temples watching Thai TV at home via satellite. We made frequent visits to the Thai temple in Aston Birmingham. She was not liked there either. The Ajan head monk asked me if I could take her to another temple since she was causing problems with other devotees.
I noted the temple ran a free Thai language class run by monks. Although it is a 100 mile return journey to my home I decided to give the class a go visiting once sometimes twice weekly. The monks gave up teaching and asked Thai university students to teach us. They were good and we made better progress with this very difficult language. I continue the class for 6 years in spite of the distance and fuel cost. I made friends and enjoyed the learning experience. The class was operational until 2004. Since then to this day I have text books and study alone revising and speaking Thai when I get the opportunity. I am involved with the language now for 17 years. The reality is I can make myself understood but have limited vocabulary.
I advise anyone who wants to visit more than the standard tourist destinations with a positive interest in Thailand to study the language if they get the opportunity. The problem is where to find a teacher. I did not find a class in Lancaster. It is totally different to a European language. However with a text book and help from a teacher it can be done. I find most difficult to read the Thai characters based on Sanskrit but which when learnt make it easier for correct pronunciation. The language has five tones. words are joined together without punctuation & no capitals. This makes the learning process more difficult.
I am fortunate to have German as my second language which I have used from the age of 14 so I have some experience in other foreign languages making Thai a little easier to learn. However I revise often so not to lose what I have learnt. I recommend anyone with a positive interest in Thailand to give the language a go if they get the chance.
Entertainment in Isaan
During my time in Warin a suburb of Ubon wife encouraged me to entertain Thai men who wanted some fun. The wife liked to sleep at 8pm after an exhausting day watching TV and making merit at the temple. She wanted me to go out on the town. Evening public transport is virtually nonexistent. I was taken to Karaoke Bars by car. Warin a small town has I think five karaoke bars Geptawan, Runtawan and Sacrular come to mind with girls in abundance sitting outside to welcome and take care of customers. The normal practice is to buy a bottle of whisky beforehand and drink it on the premises. Bar staff serve ice and soda in abundance at inflated prices. A couple of sips whisky is poured in followed by ice and soda. It is like drinking water. However one is compensated by one's lady companion who costs about 100 baht per hour. A good tip is to note the time of arrival so not to let the time run over the hour. In any event the girls expect tips in addition to the 100 baht per hour fee.
The microphone is passed around for the girls to take turns to sing reading the words in Thai script on the TV screen. Customers are encouraged to sing also but if words are not Romanised will be excused. The girl's salary with two days per month off is about 2k baht per month.
The girls can be taken out of the bar similar to the Pattaya arrangement and certainly cheaper. Generally living up country they do not speak English unless they have previously worked in the tourist resorts. I personally would not choose an English speaking girl.
The Thai men also took me to Houses of Ill Repute. There are plenty of these even in small towns. Thai men play around all part of the culture. One place I was taken to I nicknamed the coral horseshoe in shape with maybe thirty rooms. Drive up and park outside the room like a motel. Costs for linen etc about 300 baht. Lady 1k baht upwards. They are not used to farang.
Most of the bar girls in Pattaya speaking English originate from Isaan. They are delighted to take a farang home. All is explained in the book money number one. Farangs will meet the family who will have high expectations money will be coming their way.
In the early days of visiting Isaan I met a very pretty girl age 23 working in the Warin Karaoke bar. She came from a village in Tat Phanom Province.
Gai became my mia noi in full knowledge of the wife who encouraged me to go away with her providing I paid the wife extra money. Over a period of nearly 3 years we went all over Thailand. Starting with Isaan we visited Phiboon Mangsahan, Kongjiam, Nakhon Phanom. Mukdahan, Yasothon, Roi Et, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Korat (Nakhon Ratesima), Nong Khai, Kalasin, Surin, Buriram. Hotel accommodation in these towns was medium priced. In Nakhom Phanom we stayed often at the River View hotel on the banks of the Mekong. Laos is on the other side of the river. In the dry season vehicles drive on the river bed. Twice I stayed at the Sofitel Hotel Khon Kaen a great hotel but expensive.
Gai was nice to look at but had violent mood swings suffered from epilepsy skin rash and other ailments. I was sometimes scratched threatened and more. Her village Nam Kham is perhaps 8 miles from That Phanom reached by red soil dirt track road. Staying at the family home £140 in sterling was stolen from my wallet. I did not make a scene since no farang knew where I was. Anything could happen to me. Farangs have been killed on several occasions in remote locations. The UK press ran the story of a man who predicted his own death.
We visited also Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. I had a blazing row with her at the Wiang Inn Chiang Rai where she was threatening police. I am nervous of police since they want money from farang and could charge me with some trumped up offence. We flew from Chiang Rai to Bangkok. She was in a hurry to get the bus back to Tat Phanom and the waiting boyfriend. I dumped her on this visit in 2006. She made many verbal threats. I was aware also she had a Thai boyfriend of many years living in the village. He like many others was happy to hire her out reaping the financial benefits while she was on tour with me. Fortunately nothing happened to me but it could have.
Later I found out from an Ubon Lady after I dumped Gai she went to work in farang bars in Phuket. She was then invited to work in Singapore presumably in the sex trade. Singapore has mixed ethnic cultures and is more discrete in entertainment venues. There is a place known as four floors of whores popular with ex City London traders in financial services. I knew a trader from the grubbier end of the stock market who spent two years in Singapore. The four floors of Whores is situated in a retail and entertainment complex which is raided by police on a regular basis. In a bid for respectability that seems to remain out of reach. The establishment houses a range of bars full of alluring women more than happy to be brought a drink. In comparison to Siam it is not cheap. Lady Boys operate from floor three. Singapore society is closely controlled. Everyone knows about but only discuss after they have left the country. I am told there are establishment frequented by Thai hookers dubbed the Thai Takeaways.
Post 2006 until 2011 I visited Pattaya staying at Sunview Place Soi Buakhao before the new adjacent noisy bar complex was finished.
I have German friends in Pattaya and Naklua who have no or very limited English. They asked me to interpret and negotiate with the bar girls reporting back in German. I enjoyed the experience.
I met often Isaan girls new to the bar scene with no English. I was staying long time in Pattaya. Some of the girls did not like the bar work and were very happy when I suggested going together to their native province. One lady named Jai 42 years old came from Korat province district Sung Ngern some 40 km from Korat. We stayed at her home which was not too bad. At her mother's house I was offered a mattress on the floor. We stayed also at her aunt's house sleeping without a mattress on the hard floor. Six weeks later back in the UK with intense itching I went to the doctor to find out I had caught scabies from the mattress. Scabies incubates for 6 weeks.
I have an American friend ex Tucson Arizona living for many years in a village in Roi Et Province. His Thai is fluent. He is not an academic and does not spell well. His Thai wife now more than 70 years of age was originally his maid when he lived in Tucson. He hates America and what it represents. He took me to the Mai Thai hotel in Roi Et with sexual activities on every floor similar to the Singapore establishment. This place is in a small rural town.
. 2009 I took a girl from B & M bar Soi 7. We flew to Chiang Mai to meet a UK friend living there then moved on to Chiang Rai and Mae Hon Son. She was unappreciative ,family constantly ringing asking for money. I went to her home in Chantaburi near Rayong. She has 2 children and is a temple Freak bowing to every Buddha image she sees. Does she have no shame for her trade? Husband had dumped her and gone off with a 15 year old. She also had a habit of whispering on the phone. I told her not to whisper and if she did not wish me to hear to leave the room. I heard her on the phone referring to me as" kon gear " old person. Back in Pattaya she could not wait to get back to the bar. I then dumped her. One can take the girl from the bar but not the bar from the girl.
2010 I met a girl named Dargee on her first night in the Soi LK Metro bar next door to Devil's Den. She quit the bar. We went to Bangkok then to Phuket and Krabi. We had a great time. This girl had a serious illness eventually went home to Somdet between Udon Thani and Kalasin. I was pleased she got out of Pattaya.
2010/2011 still in Pattaya. I met newly arrived lady named Sao later dubbed surly Sao from Roi Et province in the bar on her first night. Bought her out of the bar. She stayed with me over New Year for one month at Sun View Place Soi Buakhao. We then went to Roi Et Province by overnight bus from Krungthep. Her district is Porn Tong 30 km outside Roi Et. We stayed in a motel for two months with reasonable accommodation @ 400 baht. Went to the family home daily. I on the back of a motor bike. I enjoyed the rural location. I paid her 1k baht per day. We frequently ate at the house chicken killed in front of my eyes. I always had to buy a litre bottle of scotch whisky with soda water. They do not use a bottle opener teeth use two bottle caps pressed together. It cost me about £10 per bottle. One occasion I bought a cheaper brand. I was told not high enough standard. Forget do not look a gift horse in the mouth!
The family made good use of my money building a concrete wall round the house to prevent flooding from adjacent properties. Marriage was discussed with a suggested dowry of 200,000 baht. I made my escape in Bangkok 7th March 2011 and have not returned to Thailand.
My friend Danny on holiday in Pattaya about one year ago saw her in a baht bus. So at the age of 37 she is back in Pattaya trying her luck. She has previously worked in factories. Her mother about my age has back bent at say 40 degree due to a lifetime of non mechanised farming. Isaan girls career prospects can be farming, factory or fu—-. One can be sympathetic but not our problem
Little Thailand in Berlin
My family has had social and business connections in Berlin since the sixties. Since 1964 I have visited Berlin 46 times. A few years ago I was made aware of a large Thai community in Berlin with around 30 K living there. They take over a park at weekends known as Thai park. They have festivals with Thai Global Network in attendance sometimes. Food is cooked. Goods are sold just like in Thailand. They have a monthly magazine known as Farang published in German and Thai. There used to be bars with German owners and Thai staff but most have closed down only one remains.
I am in contact with Thai business people. I am made welcome I am there again this year 2015 and will enjoy the Thai scene in Berlin. It is helpful for me speaking German and Thai. I can get the best of both worlds.
There are many Thai restaurants and I am told around 400 non erotic massage establishments costing about £40 per one hour session too expensive for me. Prior to German unity in 1989 when the country was divided into East and West the former East German regime invited in immigrants from communist countries i.e. Vietnam, Cuba, Mozambique and Angola. These people remain in the now united Germany. I find the Vietnamese restaurants and markets reasonably priced. Some Thai restaurants are expensive as they are here.
Berlin is a multi cultural city. I do not know why so many Thais live there. I have a new contact ex Udon Thani province to meet on my next visit so perhaps I will learn more. She tells me she has lived in Germany 20 years.
German men over many years have brought Thai girls back to Germany. Visas are relatively easy to obtain. Most of the ladies I know have lived in Berlin for many years. I would expect them to have an EU passport but most of them retain their Thai passport requiring a visa to travel outside Germany. However many marriages fail as they do in the UK.
Conclusion on 25 years visiting Thailand
For this report I have extracted information from my records and what I remember. I will keep on file as a record.
I have made many mistakes, spent far too much but like many other farangs still returned. The problem with retirement one has unlimited time but not unlimited finance. It is very easy to be carried away buying property in the girlfriend's name unaware of Thai husbands or boyfriends in the background.
Four years ago March 2011 returning from Up Country amphur Porn Tong in Roi Et province to Bangkok aware of the money I had spent over the years I decided to put Thailand on the back burner. I am compensated by spending five weeks in Berlin every year enjoying the experiences in "little Thailand" meeting with Thai people resident in Berlin and without bar fines. I am aware also of my age. The ladies I now meet are about 20 years younger than me. Europe is totally different to Thailand. I am aware of my age and try to behave responsibly
Farang visiting Thailand need to know what they are looking for and act responsibly but easier said than done.
Pattaya has enough entertainment venues to cater for every taste. However it does not represent the real Thailand and is becoming more and more expensive.
Phuket I have visited three times and would not go again. There are many boat excursions including James Bond island and Pi Pi island but expensive overall.
Krabi is a nice relaxing place to visit with beautiful beaches but few bars. I would recommend taking a companion. The same applies to Hua Hin and Cha Am. Koh Samui I have never visited. I have not heard good reports. Myself I much preferred the 26 visits to Isaan away from farang.
Thai Attitude and Mood Swings
Many of the men I know over the years through the Thai Community are divorced. Starting with my own experience my wife had violent mood swings going into a tantrum. I had plates thrown at the door, car kicked. I was trapped in the bathroom holding a meat cleaver to my head, shouting in the street, police at my house. She was very rude to neighbours and friends. Refusing also to do any work. Took great delight in pinching me and shouting abuse eventually ending in divorce. She could cause acute embarrassment in front of people using foul language. She would not clean the house, has no conception of the value of money. At Heathrow Airport returning to Thailand for a holiday sees a monk and gave him £20 of my money. Back at the house in Warin on Buddha ays in a part wooden house she would light candles and burn incense with newspaper underneath the "shrine". This was a rented house. Can you imagine what would happen if it caught fire. The owner would not be insured and would expect me to pay She went to the temple 6. 30 am leaving me with the burning candles and incense. I went ballistic aware of the fire risk. It made no difference she continued to light candles. She had inspirations to drive a car. Driving a friend's car on an unadopted road she drove straight into a ditch. The car owner managed to get the brake on preventing the pickup truck rolling into the bottom of the ditch. Help was at hand. We were towed out. She then ordered me to pay the helpers. Later taking driving lessons with music playing she refused to go into forth gear. The nightmare ended when she returned to Thailand. She herself wanted divorce in a hurry to get back to Thailand. The divorce was finalised one year later. I had bought a house in Warin on mortgage ,It was where she wanted it in the wrong location frequently flooding water 2 feet deep. A Thai spiv got friendly with her persuading her to sell the house and lend him the money for a business venture. She never saw the money again. It let me off the hook. When sleeping I was told "do not make sound noise" If I did I would be elbowed or punched. I moved into another room. In the UK few Thai people wanted anything to do with her. She was a control freak and temple freak. Always wanted to go to temples bone idle refused to work.
Two other friends had bigger problems. One was hit so hard the Thai wife ex masseur was issued with a restraining order. The man had done nothing wrong but marriage ended in an expensive divorce. She gambled was frequently drunk and went with other men.
The other friend was hit on the head and knocked unconscious. On another occasion his wife called the police saying he had threatened her. He spent a night in a police cell although he was entirely innocent. He had a responsible job. When relations were really bad she came to his office with a suitcase throwing his clothes on the floor shouting and screaming using foul language. It is remarkable with a little knowledge of English these people learn such foul language. He has a record of numerous "incidents" The lady in question was a clubber often drunk leaving the husband with child while she goes out on the town sometimes did not return for several days. This marriage ended in divorce.
Fortunately other farang have had more rewarding experiences. I wish them well. Thailand over the 25 years has cost me a lot of money. It would have been better spent elsewhere. However most of my friends who I have known over many years have a Thai connection. We keep in contact. The alternative is the mundane traditional family life.
I hope my experiences will not dampen for others enthusiasm to visit Thailand. It seems not the best place with a strong baht and high prices. After 4 years I am not in a hurry to return.