The Temple Of Truth Is Under Construction
I’ve found Asshole Of The World to be a term liberally bandied about; in New York I’ve heard it bequeathed on both Trenton and Camden, Los Angelinos bestow the honors on Redondo Beach, and Asia way I’ve heard travelers nominate Phnom Penn (where everything I’m told—from cocaine to bazookas to five year old boys – can be bought for $15). But Thailand’s Pattaya is right up there, parsecs beyond all perhaps, some Sphincter of the Universe clenching furiously on a hideous sea, bounded by condom-encrusted beaches. Write the place off and I won’t fight you. If the town was nuked I don’t think any of the wrong people would die. But the lotus blooms in mud, and after rolling in it for a while, I found flowering truth in Pattaya which I did not plan to pluck.
I planned to fxxx. Pattaya is built for that. My hotel was near Walking Street, which is billed as “Street of Colourful and Passion” on a huge sign as you go in. It’s a boulevard of rental twat, basically, as is the entire metro area. You have never seen so many whores playing pool in your life. Not just one street, or two, or three, or even 50. Someone calculated roughly that there must be 20,000 whores in Pattaya. He did this scientifically, by matching gogo bar listings and triangulating them against pool halls, nightclubs, and listed brothels. He probably threw in an extra 500 to count for those who line the beach.
By the waves they shuck their wares. For ten blocks of palm trees they’re just there, saying: “where you go” or “handsome man” while you pass. The best is the pool bars, the really dead ones – no girl lets you go by without at least a “welcome”. It comes out like a dying squawk, reflex action from some whore hidden behind piles of beer boxes, under a half lit sign that says Sexey Grils. Pattaya is relentlessly welcoming. If the city was leveled with a light volley of sea-to-surface ballistics, tanks, and a perfunctory, mop up engagement of fire arms, the conquering troops would be met by some whore lying in the rubble letting out a dying “welcome”. They are wonderful, these women. They come from nothing. They’re bone lazy. They want things. So here they are, in gogo bars or playing pool, fxxxing around, laughing with their friends for the few good years their ass has some desirable mileage on it.
The men who fly here to rent them are routinely denounced by the femminazis and manginas of Momerica. I should too. But I won’t. Because I’ve seen them. Ugly and fat mostly, normal stiffs who never got Picked For The Team, or Starred In The Show, then spent their entire life getting shit on by some wife who now has the house after the divorce. Their kids probably call every once in a while for money. These men spend their entire life in middle levels of achievement, despite trying with everything. They don’t have the sociopathic drive to hurl themselves into upper management, the talent to be used by someone who does, or the connections to let them breeze through it all. So they just grind through life working their face off, frantic they’re going to get fired. One day they will. It will be a five minute meeting on a Monday morning. The lucky ones will get a wristwatch. Then sell blenders in a department store at age 79 for the health coverage it provides. Then die in a small room, all alone.
Men know this. And accept it. And that’s why there’s Pattaya.
In this brothel by the sea, shmos have found the one place in the world they can land and feel like a rock star, for the only time in their life. I say hats off to the fxxxers. Them and the women they ride. Both are trying to find something better. What did the girls leave behind? Some factory job in the north, feudal farms that will turn them into fatalistic dishrags, some polygamous lout who throws dice, drives a motorcycle and ploughs pussy on the side… At least in Pattaya they have access to knock-off Versace. It’s not paradise, it’s a pitfall, mostly, and it must be depressing as all hell to live there and see it happen in predictable patterns, but for the week I was in Pattaya, I was pretty fxxxing happy. I was fxxxing, too.
I arrived with Aoy from Bangkok, who came with me on the bus. The sweetest woman I have met in some time. She worked at this place called Livingstone's, which is for high-priced girls on “Soi Dead Artists”. The bars are all named after past masters like The Renoir, The Matisse, The Dali with décor according. Japanese mostly cater to these places due to exorbitant rates, but I pop in to play pool on the occasions I feel like being surrounded with women in evening wear. On Soi Dead Artists the girls waltz about in restrained silver jewelry and formal, ankle length dresses slit to the thigh. Fun stuff. I was on that night, having just cashed a fat check from some business in New York. That stuff glows on you and a girl got friendly with me. She was 25 or so, really sweet, nice girl, didn’t drink. She liked me. I told her I was going to Pattaya in the morning and she loved the idea of joining me; went home with me for free. Her name was Aoy.
When she arrived at my condo, she began neatening up the clothes I had lying around – folding things, rearranging shirts neatly on hangers, laughing good naturedly at my attempts to order my place. She loved the view of the city outside. We made love and she had wonderful, full breasts which is rare in Thailand. Sleeping, she didn’t snore or yank the blankets and I decided she would most likely be a pleasant consort. In the morning I invited her to Pattaya; expenses on me but I wasn’t paying for play. She was delighted, went home to pack. I put 30/70 odds down on her being at the bus station on time, but was surprised to find her there. We had a wonderful trip on a cheap bus. She brushed off crumbs that fell from my chili-squid potato chips, laughing, saying “oh, my little baby”. We joked; mostly physical comedy. Her English was limited like my Thai. Tough language, elusive to learn like smoke; fine, trailing stuff that seems to float on the air and vanish. I’ve done a lot of work to reach the level of a retarded five year old Thai who can only speak in the present tense. That’s just about enough for a trip to Pattaya with a date from Dead Artist street.
When we arrived, she was pleased as punch to be on the beach. Happy and interested to do whatever I wanted. Told me she wanted to be my girlfriend and put her arms around me and told me how cute I was, calling me Darling and Lover, laughing at knowing these English words. She wore tasteful dresses and sweaters and had berets in her hair, plus this little bag that had the Eiffel Tower on it. She was the Bridgit Bardot of Isaan, but the problem with saying that is anyone who knows where Isaan is has no fxxxing idea who Brigit Bardot is, and vice versa. Lets just say she was delightful and wonderful company: when we got rained out she didn’t bitch, never got bored. At the Honey Lodge when I wanted to sleep and she was watching TV, she just turned off the sound and watched it silently, so as not to disturb me. Whenever we entered the room she was straightening things up, putting things away, but not in a neurotic fork-up-the-ass way. We had lots of sex. She never said no – even after she had put on her makeup and had gotten dressed. She’d be there in the towel, and I wouldn’t feel like it. Then she’d slide on this cute little shirt and skirt and I would. It was really sweet sex, just nice stuff. She didn’t have a shaved vagina. Pussy hair is how you tell a “nice whore” here. They're polite and more presentable at the nice restaurants I bought her to in Pattaya; lobsters in candlelight over the water, some tuxedoed Thai malapropping his way through Karaoke “My Way”, nearby table of Japanese execs pouring through Johnny Walker blacks while their pretty pro babes check status updates on jewel encrusted mobiles… This is Pattaya. And that was me. Sometimes you find a nice break.
We caught sun on the second day and strolled up the beach. We found this place right on the sand set up with chairs, serving beers. You watch the waves and Russians flying by on jetskis, while Thai guys come by selling smoked squid, or buckets of crab pulled right out of the water, which they grill right there. I opted out on eating anything pulled from the syringe strewn shores of Pattaya. It’s not the best of beaches, and truth be told, embarrassing to mention to people in Bangkok. Many men living in Thailand twenty years plus take great pride in saying they never set foot in the place. Telling friends you’re zipping out to Pattaya for the weekend translates to “I’ll be fxxxing dirty prostitutes till Monday.” But I believe that on most beaches, even the worse, it’s just a matter of tilting your chair to the proper angle. Face the sun, forget the water, and it’s a piece of paradise for at least as long as it takes to down one beer. A day spent forgetting the city and looking out to forever just feels fxxxing good. And on those slimy shores of Pattaya, I had a Man Moment I will never forget.
There we are in beach chairs, Aoy with her soda, me with my Sing beer, and she’s rubbing my hand and notices I have a hangnail, just a minor one. All at once she roots around in her faux designer purse – cute stuffed animal on it, held by a golden chain loop on the zipper – and takes out this nail clipper. She gets the hangnail, then starts doing all my nails. This was no bullshit clip job. Aoy took this task very seriously, driven by that upcountry pride of a well looked-after man. Frowning with concentration, finishing with one hand, she takes the other, clips those then she’s got the file, rounding off the edges, doing it right, while the sun glows on us both. I have my feet in the sand, my hand in the lap of Bridget Bardot from Isaan, getting manicured while turning down smoked crab, watching Dimitir from St. Petersburg bite waves on the horizon. When the last lights leave my eyes I’ll remember this pleasure forever.
Later that night, while strolling down Street of Colourful and Passion, she asked if she could be my girlfriend. Which is very sweet, until you consider that she probably said the same thing to a Danish petroleum executive the Friday prior. Aoy is drop dead darling, but right now I’m not enough of a fabulist romantic to whisk a girl from whoredom, or laissez fair enough to shrug on Saturday nights while she’s blowing Saotome from Osaka. Maybe I won’t be so choosy months from now. Sweet souls are rare to find in this town. Paris is for lovers, but Bangkok is for fxxxers.
That night we do seafood with the Karaoke Sinatra, catch a movie, make some love, and play some pool. In the morning we have coffee at the café, and I sent Aoy back to the city with a hug and a kiss. Then I started drinking. Not mind numbing kamikaze stuff, just a steady splash of ongoing pour throughout the day that trickled into the night, tilting me sideways by nine, blurry by midnight, and gone by one.
There’s this bar down this one angled street I found, stuck in some jackknifed back alley, right in the middle of the brick stone street. I wasn’t really a bar, just a slowly spinning, rotating Lazy Susan – although maybe in Thailand it’s a Lazy Pritchipon. You sit on the outside ring and there’s girls in the middle who bring you drinks while you rotate in circles, while the night blasts around you. It’s a loud place, Pattaya, each bar with it’s own sound system, most open to the street, everybody trying to out pump the other. The only way to handle it is by becoming plastered. So I did. Soused as I was, I did not overlook the fact that I had found my way into a metaphoric literary device. There I was, drunk and going in circles. I paid and left and wandered. This leads to only one thing in a place like Pattaya.
I found myself in a makeshift labyrinth of pool halls, a smoky subcontinent of billiards, stretching far and wide, piled with boxes in places, strewn with chairs, some offering hookahs, others food, three step stairways thrown in the middle for no reason, making you trip into ripped recliners, past mirrors for the girls to check their hair, and every one of these minor fiefdoms blasting their own heinously loud tragically American music. Only very late at night in the hard to find places will they blast the upcountry Thai jams, which are fun as fxxx to dance to. Thai girls really throw down when these songs come on. You should see it. Picture being at a club in the Bronx filled with black chicks where the management has to play Korean pop music. Then imagine what happens if somebody throws on some hip hop. Faces light up and asses shake. This is their music, made by their people. Shit goes deep. I’ve been in places where a jam comes up and twenty girls stand up, all over the barroom. While the white guys watch, they move as drunken one in some memorized group dance that probably goes back to the stone age, all of them doing that wavy hand thing, traditional Thai style, fingers arrayed like cascades, each of them smiling, heads tilting one way then the other, sisters in it together, a fun drunken ocean of bright happy faces, shining black hair and slinky outfits, raising shots high and loving life. These are peak moments of bar girl fun. People don’t understand it’s just a place to party, even if you’re not shopping. But you have to poke around to find places that play Isaan music. Most spots blast stuff by assholes from America, singing about how rich they are.
So this music is roaring in my face, from five foot high amps placed right next to each other, or back to back, each broadcasting different songs, from separate sound systems, as loud as they possibly can, which literally shakes the teeth in your head and jars your vision while you drift drunken through low lit places, establishments with no walls, fumbling amidst Arabs and Koreans, Germans and Chinese, finding women who fairly blur within the sonic stew.
Somewhere late that night, deep in that denizen I found a small postage stamp bar where a fun looking Thai girl, tall, with long, rope thick black hair looked like she was shooting decent pool. Most whores rock at pool. They sit around all night in a bar. The table is there. They play. Some become tremendous. I try to find them. There’s nothing better than taking a razor close game from a dead serious, damn fine Bangkok whore. I’ve picked up a bit of billiards in Bangkok; my game is nothing to bet on, but I don’t leave feeling like a butt-wipe. I learned from the whores. There are pricey pool halls on Sukhumvit with ambience and decent tables, exceptionally smooth felt, tasseled pockets, girls in tasteful matching outfits leaping to rack the balls every game. Fun enough, and filled with some damn decent players – Brits who say snooker, Japanese who say nothing—but you don’t need all that, really. If you want to sharpen up, find some half lit dump on Patpong with a been-there/blown-that whore of 40. You’ll play with mismatched sticks on flat felt and she’ll hand you your ass. You’ll feel like shit and want to beat her. You won’t. She doesn’t even leave the place to fxxx anymore, just plays pool all night. So you’ll improve through sheer frustration and humiliation. There’s something particular about being slain by someone four foot eight named Plook. It inspires improvement.
Of course, some whores play a subpar game, usually the better looking ones who never have time on their hands, due to the ongoing succession of gentleman that are on them. I don’t like playing these women. It’s frustrating when you’re down to one ball and someone still has five on the felt. The table is crowded, you’re blocked, end up boinking shit around and get so bored that you lose half the time. With that, she smiles and claps and laughs in that universally puke-inspiring female tendency to be totally insufferable in victory, and you have to buy her a drink. Thanks, but no. So I watch the tables at places before I lay down my wages and play.
That night, after drinking in circles and drifting, I found this little wedge of a bar with this chick who had a rocket show of a game. She wore a red polka dot dress. We went through ten matches, maybe fifteen, and I bested her only once of every three. But all were pretty close, and I bought her drinks, some for her friends, and we all had fun. For a fee she came home with me and we fxxxed solidly. She was lanky with small, lean breasts, which I prefer, and those gloriously erect brown nipples. She had long, cascading locks of black thick hair and that mask of a face, eyes closed, just lines of darkness beneath dark bangs while I banged. Her pussy was hot, wet, and slick and tight. Those thighs were so long. I came and she might have, or at least made some great noises, this kind of hyper accelerated whimpering that sounded like something. The next morning we were up and at it again; a nice steady, solid bang in the morning. I paid her then. If you do it the night before, they usually split fast. After that, she was gone, whisking out the door in that red polka dot dress. If you’re upset I paid for sex in Thailand, let me poke around here for a minute; I might be able to dig up 1/8th of a thinly sliced fxxx, which is about what I care for your thoughts on the subject.
The next day or two I chilled. I read LA Confidential by James Elroy, which is a terrific book. I walked on the beach and watched Russians rent jet skis. I watched old Germans in flip flops pedal past on bicycles, chasing down their beloved 20year old whores. It rained a lot; I stayed in, flipped through the television. There’s enough Russians in Pattaya that they get five of their own stations. The weather cleared later and I caught a sunny stretch of two days, which I filled with booze. I basically drank for two days and nights straight before dawdling down a metaphorical and very real Perdition Road.
It was to be my last stop in Pattaya, well, second to last, but my last stop of the inebriated nature. This place I found was out in Venus. I mean, you take this soi all the way from the beach, and keep walking, and keep going past pool bar after pool bar, till the torrent of “welcomes” and “handsome mans” becomes a drizzle, and miraculously actually stops when you reach this zone, ill defined, filled with very few customers. You figure out after a few drinks it’s where the girls party when they don’t really feel like fxxxing for money. There were no customers at the place I found, just these girls from Isaan with a hookah and a bottle of Johnny Walker Black on top of a refrigerator which was for some reason on the other side of the bar. These are outdoor places, roofs and floors but few walls. Some singer had a makeshift stage set up in the street, hooked up to an amp and a microphone and a rotating disco light. She was karaoking the fxxx out of some of that Isaan country dance music, bunches of people would dance right in the street, scooters would shoot through or round past them, whores in shorts on the back, legs splayed, gorgeous. A few white guys, too, who at some point in their journey upon this planet made the decision to reside permanently in Pattaya.
I drank. Poor people with no legs pulled themselves past me, begging for money. Ladyboys who looked more boy then lady were hitting that hookah. A little girl came by, maybe ten, selling neon bracelets and I bought ten for the gang, so we were all lit up. The little girl kissed my cheek, she was so happy to have money. What poor world sends a girl to work in whore bars at 1 in the morning selling neon bracelets? I wouldn’t say that just the deck is stacked against that little darling. I’d say the entire casino, city it’s based in, and the surrounding suburbs are all out to beat her. What are the odds? This was followed later by an old woman, deaf, selling Hello Kitty’s that slowly light up and change colors from pink to blue and back. Of course I bought this too; makes a wonderful nightlight, I would later find.
We were all laughing, drinking. The cutest girl I saw, had to be 22, face of sunshine, with those squiggled Thai tattoos all down her back played me pool, wearing white short shorts. We had a blast. But there was this one bitch, real fat ass, who proceeded to get ugly, whiskey drunk. She was prancing around, dancing to those Isaan grooves, motorcycles flying by weaving around this scene, and I’m trying to play some half ass pool with the one in short shorts. But this bitch with the fat ass keeps pulling pool balls off the table whenever she walks by. Everyone sees but no one is messing with this girl so I realize she’s probably not one to tangle with. I take the cue, drop my cue and leave. When I do, she does one of the most casually violent things I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’m saying my goodbyes to the girls, taking no one home that night since I was so drunk and feeling pretty well pounded out from my previous engagements, and this fat-ass Isaan trash can chick walks up to me, smiling, and very nonchalantly runs her finger nails right down my face. Then laughing, she disappears.
I was stunned, felt burning traces on my face and wondered if she had drawn blood. I was powerless to retaliate- this was woman at her worst. Maybe I deserve it for being man at his worst for a few days, but there was nothing I could do. Men you can punch in the face. Women just laugh and dance away. She did, joining the others, all of them slumping, drifting, laughing, collapsing, music blasting, drinks pouring in total annihilating decadence. It felt to me like some Isaan version of the last scene in La Dolce Vita, where Marcello goes mad in that Roman orgy party, all the society people falling all over the place drunk, tearing pillows up, throwing feathers in the air. This was a place that barely makes sense in drunkenness, and would surely frighten one in daylight. I just left. They laughed and poured more.
When I got home I found the woman who scratched me hadn’t drawn blood. But in a metaphorical way, she had. What the fxxx was I doing? It seemed the Universe was trying to warn me, by etching a stop sign right in my face. So I skipped the bars on my last day in Pattaya and spent my last day at the Temple of Truth. This is a wooden temple far down the beach, built by a Thai magnate from the 80s. It was under renovation during my visit, which I found funny. I guess the Truth is always a work in progress, and never finished. Anyways, the place had all these wonderful wooden carvings of women and Buddhas and Ganeshas. Simple signs set throughout talked of virtue, and how the pleasures of the flesh leave us and we eventually turn to dust, and how the only way is the middle path. Face scratched, feeling like a dirty sock in a jammed toilet after three days in Pattaya, I did not argue otherwise.
On shaky legs, I strolled out to the sea and looked back at that temple, all curving up in extravagant cornices and utopian vaulting deities. I saw all the Thai reconstruction people working on it; many laughing, all chatting with each other on these huge scaffolds. They were chipping at the wood with their traditional wooden tools – ancient craft techniques being part of the rules of the place. Their tapping filled the air. They were getting paid and they were chilled out having some fun on the job. I thought of all the women taking tickets and leading tours, and how they were earning without selling their bodies. I thought of all the cab drivers hanging around getting a buck ferrying tourists around, and on the way up to the road passed all these school kids, playing on the toys in the gardens there, and I thought to myself: the man who made this place made all these jobs for so many people. He made something that really helps his countrymen and women. It endures. He did this on his own, fighting however many inroads through the notoriously corrupt Thai infrastructure to do this. He bankrolled the thing himself. Sure, he was a rich industrialist, but he could have much more delightfully spent that time and coin chasing twenty year old twat. He didn’t. He made something beautiful for the world to still enjoy.
It made me think of something I read in a temple in Bangkok, which impacted me enough to write down and memorize: “What good are all the words of wisdom and virtue one reads, if one does not live in this way?” Wasted from debauch, seeing what was possible if a man trades cheap fxxxs for enduring labor, I was profoundly humbled. A realization hit me: you can’t bang whores and build temples. There is a choice to be made. Future generations benefit of lose from what every man chooses when faced with both possibilities.
Admittedly, I have yet to cast my vote. I'm not living in the Temple of Truth, but I do manage to visit when I’m being decent. Then I forget about it and get all scratched up. But I always return, like I did that morning in Pattaya, hung over and humbled, embarrassed to show my face. But at least I showed up. You have to show up to read the signs. They’re all over the Temple of Truth, carved by hand into wood. I wrote them down that day in a notebook with bears and frogs on the front, bought at a 7-11:
“This work indicates that humans are only dust in the universe and will ultimately become one with it.
Physical beings deteriorate, ravaged by the time, but truth and goodness are immortal.
Materialist pleasure is a superficial physical and external joy. True happiness is found in intrinsic spiritual pleasure.
Ideals make human life more meaningful. Determination to go to the ideal world is something desired by all men.
Every belief, every religion, every philosophy leads there by different paths.
To ponder the great questions of heaven and earth, and yet live for humanity, to study and teach the sublime knowledge of scholar of the past, and to create eternal peace for all mankind, this is the true goal and the knowledge great men strive to achieve.”
I rode the bus back from Pattaya alone. While Bangkok formed hazy in the distant smog, I thought about those words of truth. In that cheap 7-11 notebook, I translated them into language that made more sense to myself. While we pushed through traffic, I washed off that lotus of truth I had pulled from the mud of Pattaya, in the Temple of Truth. This is what I learned:
You’re not much in this world. And some day your balls will be hanging to the floor. Or your tits. (Or both, if you’re a ladyboy in Pattaya.) Time will work you over. That’s what it does. The only thing outside of time’s hammer is what you do while you’re being pounded by it.
If that’s pounding 20 year olds, have fun. But then it’s done. The really good stuff has to happen within your heart, because that never, ever walks out the door with a little wave and a smile you want to die for. It just stays with you, all the time, silently wonderful.
There are different ways to find The Temple of Truth. All are valid. Find it before time takes you away. It will.
Before it does, you might realize beautiful things. Friendships of deep understanding, buildings of triumph, books of wonder, songs of joy, paintings of magnitude, feats of athletic daring, stupendous dramas of love, or the quiet nobility of honored duties, and hard won wisdom.
Making that or being a part of that is what everybody wants. That is precisely what the best are doing and have been doing since that first spark was lit in the dark.
Gentlemen, the decision is ours.