Every year, as part of my holiday I do a tour through Nana Plaza. I peek into every bar. Those which attract me, I go in, and buy one drink or more. In the past years, these Nana expeditions took one or two nights. This year, after one and a half hour, I stood outside, confused. I had seen it. The bar scene has changed.
Midnight dinner in Pattaya. My Thai friend pours water in my glass, and serves me part of the fish. The table next to us has a Western couple and their fat daughter. They are looking at us. In his eyes, I see the realization that, if he were not with the elephant sitting across from him, he could have rented one of these Thai princesses himself, and get the same kind of kindness and care. In her eyes, I see hatred: hatred for the Western man who rents a Thai woman. Hatred for the Thai women who pays such attention to her man. My table has a couple who will be together for one night, and they are happy. Their table has a couple who will be together for a long time, and they are fighting unhappiness. The bar scene never changes.
I am the only reader of Stickman who has no problems in his relations with Thai women. That is because I have the kind of relations where you put her fee next to her handbag when she is in the shower in the morning. Let’s say the kind of visitor the Thai tourism agency denies exists. And still, I start to feel that it is time to move on.
My window shows the winter here in Scandinavia. We have a law which makes it legal to be a prostitute, but illegal to buy these services. Recently the newspapers have noted that despite these laws, no customer has yet been send to prison. I would be a prime candidate: single man, no family which can be hurt if he is made an example. As added bonus, my company, a project development group, can show their political correctness by firing the sleazy creature. Not too much damage there. Just an average nice guy who did something we did not expect he was that kind of etc.. Thus, each year I escape to Disneyland for adults.
But then, in the end all 12 year old boys and 9 year old girls will see that Disneyland is just some plastic fantasy with actors dressed up to look the dream. And the powers that be in the magic kingdom by the sea have decided that it is time to end the fairytale for Western losers and become a tourist destination for families. So, more and more often I take the check out of my bin, and wonder if the prices are still worth it.
Of course, Baccara in Walking street is good. Of course, Baccara in Cowboy is unbelievable. Bars where you can feast your eyes on the available candy for many hours. The beauty of the staff, and the sheer number of available options make up for an experience not easily found elsewhere. Peek into many other bars, and you see line up after line up of coyotes.
I wonder about the claim that there are not enough women who want to work in bars anymore. The number of coyotes in many bars proves the opposite. Their faces are pretty. Bodies a bit too skinny, but in good condition. But: in previous years, these girls new to the business would have worked as dancers. Why should they now? A coyote does the same shuffle, gets more money, is allowed to wear more clothes and has less horizontal obligations. When I started visiting bars, dancers were paid inversely related to the amount of clothes they wore: the less clothes, the more money. Now, with coyotes, the opposite is true.
The night gets late. The mamasan gives me a quote of 4200 Baht for some private time with one of her coyotes. The last time I got a quote of 4000 was in one of the high end massage places on Ratchadaphisek. There, you know that for that sum you get a delicate Thai beauty, a luxury room and could be sure that the lady had training in the service to be provided. I have my doubts about the horizontal dancing skills of a coyote. So I declined.
The dancers who are still there, are older now. Instead of coming from the farm, most had a stint in a factory, a seven-eleven or some other kind of job. When the numbers did not add up to support one or more children, they followed where so many other single moms went before. I make my choice: a real professional, who will get the job done in a kind and caring way. Not the kind of illusion I bought before, but a good night anyway.
Next night, another gogo bar. Row of coyotes with mobile phones and a handful of dancers who show aging female body parts and little interest. A DJ whose main job it is to produce the noise to chase customers out. Service staff who do not see when they are needed or when to connect which lady with which guy to buy her a drink. Thus, a Thai gogo bar any bar owner is proud of these days.
The few visitors are different from the group I used to see. Not the ones who have build the bar industry. Japanese have come out of the bars they used to concentrate in, and are now everywhere. A new generation of men is discovering the bars: they who find satisfaction in looking at a group of fresh faced coyotes and live the fantasy that these are available. They do not know there was a time the only clothing all dancers would wear on stage was a pair of boots. The old generation looks at the bars, sees that they get an inferior product for a higher price, and moves on. The new generation compares the price to what they would pay in their home country, and sees that it is cheaper here to get a partner in their bed (if they can get a partner in their bed in their home country). And me? I do not know.
Breakfast, Pattaya. The table behind mine has a Western man, and his Thai wife. Two children, a boy of 12 and a girl of 9. The color of their faces shows that they are the genetic mix of the adults sitting at their table. The girl breaks a glass. She reacts with the kind of cute embarrassment which young girls have everywhere in the world. Happy, healthy Western kids. On their holiday to an exotic country with their caring parents. But: kids see things. Even though they are too young now to understand what this city is about, they will create images. And then, when the boy grows up, he will start to realize that his father was once one of these lonely men walking past these bars in search of company. Will he still be able to fall in love with the girls in his class? Or will he believe that it is hopeless anyway and follow in the footsteps of his father? One day, the girl will realize that her mother once worked in one of these bars. And that her father must have paid for her services. Will she still believe she is a love child? She and her brother will have a lot to digest. And not many friends share this with.
(Impermanence: everything changes. Willing to hold on to things, leads to suffering)