A Tour of South East Asia, Part 5
15th, Friday Morning, Bangkok to Pattaya
Alone at last, I could indulge in a raised leg fart. Only the bravest will chance it at my age. In the spirit of Admiral Nelson, who it's said wore a red shirt so his crew wouldn't be startled if he got shot, I put on my brown pants.
I’ve dumped the bulk of my cash in the safe at the Lucky Star in Phnom Penh and was now running low on beer and pussy vouchers, but was on my way back to it. I know it’s risky carrying only cash, not because I might get robbed or lose it – but because I’m likely to impulsively blow the lot.
I researched the cheapest deals online where I could, booking all my accommodation in advance, but I am forced into some ad hoc arrangements. It does get your ass around but I did it is so that I wouldn’t need to bring so much cash. Straightened circumstances did not allow me to bring a card as standby. If I had I would have cleared out my account and ran up a huge overdraft. Anyway, the matter was taken out of my hands. Before I left, my creditors began calling in their debts and blocking my plastic. The major disadvantage of booking numerous places all over Asia is that plans change; mine frequently did, but because I had only booked cheap hostels and guesthouses it was no big deal – it did not affect me as much as it would someone not sliding on their rear cheekbones. At least it hasn't so far!
Now I’m off to Pattaya. Nana to Ekammi by Sky Train is 25 baht, Bangkok’s Eastern bus terminal to Pattaya is 113 baht, the bus terminal in Pattaya to the Siam Guesthouse is 50 baht and a shit is 3 baht. That is only 178 baht – not much more than half a dollar! You can't even take a shit for that price in London.
I am writing this on the bus to Pattaya. The most important thing to remember is that the seat number is on the back of your seat – don’t assume it is in front of your face. It seems that everyone does until they have first been humiliated by being ordered out of the wrong seat.
The first thing I did after I checked in was buy a bust ticket to Phnom Penh. The all-in ticket was 3000 baht which seemed steep – but the agent said it included an overnight stay in Koh Kong at the Thai-Cambodian border with all meals included. It still seemed high to me; I wouldn’t have even noticed I was shelling out 100 dollars; but the money I had brought with me on this leg of the trip was getting low. As I have said, I was using the Lucky Star not only as a dump for most of my belongings but most of my money was there too. This inflated ticket had made a dent in my budget and focused me strongly towards the freelancers on Beach Road – or maybe it’s just a massage, an early night and a pull on my wire. I’ve found I can live without sex but not without beer.
I always knew I was gonna die broke and alone – I just didn't know I was gonna live that way. The only time I was certain of getting laid was when I was in jail. Before my trip I read on one of the forums about the desolate English guy who ran out of money while in Pattaya and was fed by bar girls. It read it in the Bangkok Post and I was whaaaat? What a dick!
But what I didn’t know was that events were to take an even starker turn. My focus was to become, not, ‘can I get drunk and fuck’ – but, ‘can I survive?’
15th, Friday, Pattaya
That afternoon I made the first of many walks along Beach Road.
I walked a long way up and down Beach Road interacting only with those who want to talk. Most do not even make eye contact and seem fed up trying. How often do they pull off a trick? From what they tell me not more than once day and some even less. It can’t be an easy life. I talked to a few girls about where they have come from, how long they have been here and so on, not pressing them for details but they often give it freely. The shortage of customers is the most frequent complaint. Supply seems too often exceed demand.
Yet, it is important for a punter not to smell of desperation. All would go for 500 baht but initially wanted more. One lady had just arrived from Chaing Mai and said she had only 123 baht (I tell her I don't have much more than that myself!) but she had nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, and said she knew no one here. But she didn’t stand out enough I wanted to help but couldn’t help all, if any of them. Who am I kidding? I was desperate for a fuck. It is a hard life for these girls, and yet, very few even look up as I pass, some make eye contact, rarely they tout. Most men walking along seem to be in the retired falang category and showing no interest in the girls. Maybe they think that’s what I am. There is a little life in me left.
I crossed the road at Soi 6 to take stock of one of the more notorious streets. I know it is claimed that some of the girls working here are turning over five customers a night and rolling in money, but I can’t see it. A few are proactive, blocking my path and some getting a hold of my nuts, but most are passively sitting around. A few bars are packed out for no apparent reason, most bars have a few customers but some are totally devoid of punters. This is a sad sight – the girls in these bars look totally dejected – they have reached a state of helplessness and have given up trying to attract business at all.
Some of the names on the bars are very inventive. There is one; ‘My Friend You Bar.’ I said to a girl sitting out at the front, ‘I like the name.’ She grabbed my crutch, looked very serious and said; ‘I like your dick.’ A more apt name for most bars would have been; ‘Same-Same Bar.’ There are just too many of them competing for too few Falang.
I walked all the way down to bottom of the road to where it begins to turn a sharp corner. A group of girls were coming towards me. As I got closer I could see that they were very beautiful, tall and elegant. Ladyboys! They started to fool about with me one bent down in front of me as if to make a piggy-back for me to leap over. I would never have made it.
Taking me by surprise, two of them came up from behind and pushed me into his ass. That was the closest I’ve got to poking a katoey in the brown eye. They mobbed me for a few seconds, and then they were gone. So was my wallet, my passport and my neck chain.
I spent most of the rest of the day in the police station, Embassy, Immigration, getting photos and translations. I had a bit of loose change but everything else was gone. Losing my passport was the worst part – I was reminded I was an illegal alien, charged a bomb and then only given a letter to get out of the country. I didn’t even get a new passport; I would have to apply for that when I got home.
As for the neck chain, it was cheap gold-plated trinket. I buy these in bulk and sometimes give one away in lieu of payment for the provision of services. It is nice to see their little eyes light up when I tell them it’s worth 10,000 baht and they can keep the change. It explains why avoid Baccara.
I found a 7-eleven and bought a loaf of sliced bread (32ThB) and a pack of cheese slices (120ThB). With my complimentary water I can survive for a week on these rations. I have little choice. When I got back I discovered the water was in fact not complimentary – the cheap bastards.
Later that same day, Beach Road, Pattaya
An early evening walk along Beach Road; why am I doing this? I have no money. A bunch of old guys are involved in some kind of chess competition and fat old boyfriends of pretty petite ladies are all around the place. I thought of the Falang who became destitute – a Brit who ran out of money and was sleeping rough and being fed by bar girls. Where are these bar girls? What is the grub like? Then I saw the German tramp in a similar position. He was asleep on a bench with his trousers around his ankles exposing his butt. At least it’s something to remember if I get really desperate…
I have only, 112ThB, $53 and 1000 riel to stretch out until I am reunited with my safety deposit box in the Lucky Star. I need at least $20 for the Cambodian visa, or maybe $25 – it is more likely to be the latter. I need to take some refreshment on the journey, at least water for Saturday and Sunday. I have actually spent, been conned or robbed of all the money I need to get to Cambodia.
My mission is this; can I get water cheaper than 15 baht a litre (the hotel price). Can I survive without the massage money (before and if I get a massage that is)? Do I really want a massage? I find that I can get 3 litres of water for 13 Baht. What if I go for a nice Indian curry instead of having a beer, a woman or a massage? Am I dead?
I continued walking down Beach Road trying to decide whether to eat food or pussy. What did Bob Marley say? ‘No woman – no cry.’ Bob must have totally baked – he should have said, ‘No food – die.’ I decided I can live without food. I need to lose a couple of pounds.