Around The Traps In S.E.Asia – Part 4
My irascible old mate 006 is still feeling the financial fallout from the scheming vixen he allowed to stay in his Bangkok apartment while he went on an extended overseas work assignment. In addition to the long list of theft and fraudulent activities perpetrated, she also made off with the USD 500 cash deposit for the utilities bills he left with the management staff of the building. It’s just another classic example of the incompetence, or duplicity, of some Thais when it comes to believing the lies which fall from the mouths of those worthless bitches over your more plausible explanation of events. I’ve seen it before so many times, the good old Thai love Thai scenario, when I’ve been with a Thai girlfriend. In a disagreement with other Thais they’ll often side with them, even though they’ve never met them before, instead of backing you up. I guess it’s an indication of where their real interests lay; only with you for what they can get.
If anyone thinks the cost of pay for play in Bangkok is expensive, try Singapore for a couple of nights out and you might soon have a reappraisal of prices in the big mango. I was recently in Singapore for a few days and had a night out with some expats who took me to a bar area in Katong. These were girlie bars with a nice bevy of Filipino hostesses to rub up against you and try and score some lady drinks for themselves. The expats I was with, who seemed well cashed up, were having none of it though and it was only after I bought one girl a drink I found out why the others were keeping their wallets firmly in their pockets; a lady drink was SGD 30 (750 THB). A tray full of tequila shooters being bandied around was quoted at SGD 200 (5,000 THB).
Singapore although a nice spot for a short break away from the chaos of Bangkok is definitely an expensive town. A decent condo, in the vicinity of Orchard Road, will set you back 2.5 million SGD (approx. 60 Million THB). A pint at Muddy Murphy’s Sports Bar (across the road from Orchard Towers) goes for 15 SGD (375 THB) and a bit of P4P action across the road is probably double what you might pay in Thailand. Vietnamese girls still seem to be the flavour of the month in this regard with the Ipanema Bar filled to the rafters with them on Friday and Saturday nights. The girls who ply their trade at the Ipanema bar are all freelancers so there’s no lady drink nonsense to deal with. If you buy one a drink it will cost the standard price. Avoid the bars the Filipinas are working in at the Towers as they all seem to have the lady drink scam going. Prices for some short time action seem to vary with the time of night. If you take a girl before midnight her asking fee could be anywhere between 200 – 300 SGD (5,000 – 7,500 THB). I’ve been reliably told that prices after midnight drop a bit with short time action being in the 150 – 200 SGD (3750 – 5000 THB) range. The price differential will depend on a combination of your bargaining skills and how highly a girl might value herself (whether she’s a looker or not).
An interesting of snippet of info I got one attractive Viet lass I took back to my hotel was that a lot of the better looking types also ply their trade in Shanghai. They’ll do a month in Singapore, go back to Vietnam for a couple of weeks and then head to Shanghai for a month. What was noticeable was there were virtually no Thai girls plying their trade at the Ipanema bar. I did spot one and sidled up for a chat. I knew she was Thai (from Isarn) from her distinctly darker complexion than the Viets and also that square Isarn jaw. For anyone who really wants the company of Thai ladies at Orchard Towers you could try the Country Road Cowboy Bar, across from the Ipanema Bar, where you’ll see a line-up of fifty year old Thai dragons.
The action down the road at the Hyatt (Brixx Night Club) is still predominantly Vietnamese but also includes a nice mix of Russian, African and Mongolian hookers. Mongolians, if anyone is interested, look like a mix of Russian and Chinese with strong looking figures, white skin and big tits. I was told reliably by 006, Mongolian ladies would be good shags as they all know how to ride horses.
The expat crowd in Singapore all seem to be a fairly cashed up lot, I guess that goes with the turf as it’s an expensive place to try and reside in for any length of time. A couple of Kiwi expats I met seemed to be doing well for themselves with one guy running a successful meat importation business for twenty years and another being a successful racehorse trainer. But just as with many expats in Bangkok they weren’t looking too healthy with the constant nights on the booze having expanded their bellies well beyond their belts. And just like many in the big mango living life in the fast lane the ladies who take an interest in them are of a certain type and looking for a certain result. Whether it’s in Bangkok or Singapore many blokes just can’t get their heads around the fact that attractive Asian ladies, thirty years younger, aren’t doing it from the goodness of their hearts. One fellow got quite upset when he showed me a picture of his Thai squeeze and I asked how much he was paying her a month.
A comment which is often heard by wise old hands in the region is that the bar scene, and all that it throws at you, should never be taken seriously. It’s purely for fun and what happens down on Soi Cowboy or Nana Entertainment Plaza should remain there, that it’s a fantasy world which should be put be behind you as soon as you step into your taxi and leave the area. By extension that sober assessment of what occurs in the red light districts must also be applied to the ladies plying their trades there. Personally I’ve always thought the world which most of those girls live in is so far removed from the way I live I find it hard to fathom exactly how, or why, any level-headed bloke would consider entering into a relationship with one. Aside from the language and cultural issues, theirs is a world which I have little affection for. Late nights, booze, drugs, the desperation for a pay out each night; it’s something which seems a completely alien way of living compared to my own lifestyle. Their motivations and aspirations, if they really have any, seem completely shallow compared to the commitments of people living a mainstream life.
There was one night when it really hit me, what their lives are really about. I was in a taxi coming back from Suwarnabhumi, crawling along Asoke in the late evening log jam, and by pure coincidence the lights turned red and we were stopped for a few minutes on an inner lane a few meters back from the entrance to Soi Cowboy. There’s clusterfuck of humanity on the sidewalks to either side of the entrance. The Thais seem to be experts in making these congested thoroughfares a melee full of noodle carts, tables and chairs and street side bars. Mixed in with this night time shit fight there’s also a police checkpoint and a spot where a bunch of motorbike taxi guy’s hangout. Just to the left of the entrance there’s a covered seating area and, with the taxi at a complete stop, I decided to have a good look at what was happening. There were four bar girls sitting with a bunch of motorbike taxi guys; laughing, swearing, knocking back shots of whiskey and smoking cigarettes. And I remember thinking there it is, the reality of who they really are. Forget the fake little performances they put on for the naïve punters looking for the love of their lives in the bars, when they’re with their own kind and free of the conformities of accommodating khun farang they revert to type; poorly educated, rough and ready farm girls. I guess that’s why the odd middle class birds I’ve befriended in the past, often had a dig at me by asking if I’d “slept with any farm girls recently?”
There’s a difference there and mainstream Thais see it immediately, whereas a lot of farang are completely oblivious to it. A Thai will know within seconds if a girl is a hooker or not just by assessing her manner, the presence of tattoos and very importantly the way they dress. Most Isarn hookers, the ones which are poorly educated, seem to think that by wearing a tight fitting dress and a pair of high heels they immediately elevate their status in life. It’s quite amusing to see them strutting about in Bangkok during the day time showing off their newly acquired fashion, thinking they’ve immediately acquired some better standing in society purely by their improved look. It’s quite pitiful really. Many of them clattering around in their six inch high heels are so convinced that’s the look to aspire to; that it’s the look of success. What they fail to understand is it just compounds their situation; it just screams whore. Decent, mainstream Thai women don’t go clattering around in six inch heels and tight dresses during daylight hours; they’re wearing low heels and conservative attire for work. But if you want to parade your whore around in daylight hours, by all means go ahead.
The past three months in Bangkok has really brought home to me how bad the pollution is there. It seems so many people I know, me included, have been suffering from a lingering cough; the after effects of a cold virus. The air quality in the big Mango is so poor that it seems to impact on health issues significantly. Around the beginning of November I decided I’d had enough so I rented a car and took off to the southern Isarn area. Just before Korat I took a right and drove out through the Buriram corridor, past Ubon Ratchatani, eventually ending up at an amazing area at the eastern most extremity of Thailand (right on the Mekong) called Khong Chiam and the nearby Pa Taem National Park. Within two days of being out in bright sunshine and clean air the transformation was undeniable. With a bit of exercise, from doing hikes around the national park, the cough cleared up and I felt 100% better. The bottom line is that Bangkok, as a place to reside for any length of time, is a definite health hazard.
Pa Taem National Park is quite possibly the best kept secret in Thailand Tourism at the moment. It is definitely off the beaten track as there are no tour bus loads of Chinese scrambling over each attraction to be seen anywhere. The majority who make their way there are normally the independent type traveller looking to get away from the mainstream tourist traps. If you want to get off the beaten track in the most eastern area of Thailand then Pa Taem National Park is definitely worth a few days of your time. While I was in Khong Chiam I was fortunate enough to get an unobstructed view of the super full moon rising over the Mekong on November 14th. A full trip report can be seen on my travel blog here:
With the end of the year fast approaching I decided I didn’t want to see it out in Bangkok and made my way down to Phuket for some beach time. Granted the place is a tourist trap – with the onset of high season – but it still seems like a much better option than the grimy streets of Bangkok. Early December in Phuket is generally the beginning of the high season and, correspondingly, the good weather. For some reason the weather patterns were off and five days of rain greeted me when I arrived there. The new airport terminal is open but it’s for international flights only. There are direct flights to the capitals around the region including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Apparently there are also direct flights to a number of destinations in Europe as well. If you’re thinking of heading to Phuket over the high season be warned, the airport is currently a madhouse due to parts of it being boarded off for the ongoing upgrade. The lines waiting for a 200 THB minibus ride down to the beach areas are a chaotic melee of confusion. For 800 THB you can avoid the queue by booking a private taxi whereby you’ll walk straight past the waiting lines over-flowing onto the footpaths and be away down the highway in minutes.
Things seem to be going from bad to worse in the bars along Soi Bangla. Apart from the fact the attitudes are even more mercenary regarding the drinks hustle; the current prices have reached the nonsense level. Unfortunately it seems to be a case of the old Thai 101 approach to economics when there’s a downturn. Instead of reducing prices a bit to make things more attractive to the punter, they’ll put them up; even if the bars are empty most of the time. After swinging through a number of beer bars along Bangla these are the current pricing schemes which most now have in place: a lady drink = 200 – 240 THB. An ST bar fine = 1000 THB. An LT bar fine = 2000 THB. Hookers rates: ST = 2000 THB, LT = 3000 THB. And that’s only in beer bars; go-go bar hooker rates are 3k – 5k. As a good mate of mine recently said “prices these days in Thailand are an insult for what one actually gets.”
My own take on why things seem to be perceived as being on a slide with the bar industry in Thailand probably has a lot to do with escalating prices, the pragmatic approach of the ladies, and the fact that a lot of the girls presently working in the bars are of the older, more hardened genre. The next time you do a tour of the bars have a good look around and note if there are any younger, fresher ladies available. Chances are there won’t be many. With wages on the increase in Thailand, even the minimum wage jobs with overtime pay reasonably well for a Thai who’s willing to live within their means. So what’s mainly available in the bars now are the hardened gold-diggers, full-time whores and the ones who have no chance of moving back into a normal, mainstream job. Many, with years spent in the bars, are stuck with what they’ve got. They’ve got no other options in life save for a willing, generous farang to hand them never-ending streams of money.
Occasionally on this site the question is asked “what happens to bargirls when they get too old?” I think a lot, if they aren’t able to snare a farang, eventually move back to their home towns to involve themselves in some sort of small business. A lass I’ve known for some time, working in the Shark Bar, told me as much. She’s currently 32 and sees her cut off point in the bars as 45, at which time she’ll head back north and make a small business. She’s looking a bit rough around the edges already from the booze she consumes every night so another thirteen years will undoubtedly be a hard road to hoe. I think a number of bargirls eventually move into the massage gig but some, for one reason or another, keep plugging away night after night, well into their dragon years. To be honest one has to wonder why they do it because there’s very little chance they’ll attract any attention, particularly in a place like Bangkok. Case in point is a crone which can be seen hanging around the outdoor seating area of the Nana Hotel. I remember seeing the same lady some twelve years previously hanging out in the lounge area next to the entrance to the Nana Disco and at that time she was already into the pensioner stage of life. Anyway, after allowing 006 to talk me into swinging down Soi 4 for a beer or two, we ended up in the outdoor seating area of the Nana Hotel. For a bit of people watching it’s not a bad spot to be able to enjoy a beer and eat some barbecued skewers purchased from the carts across the road. As we sat there I became increasingly aware that this particular crone, who I suspect is well into her sixties, was beginning to take an interest in me. She eventually summoned up the confidence to come and stand by our table, as if to advertise her availability. God knows what was going through her mind and to be honest I didn’t really know what to do or say – I didn’t want to act aggressively to a pitiful old biddy nearing seventy. It did cross my mind to offer her twenty baht but in the end I just sat there and ignored her. A couple of minutes later she returned to her seat and we got up and left the area. As we left the Soi behind us and I made my way up Sukhumvit Road I realised what an abhorrent, shithole Soi 4 really is and vowed not to return there any time soon.
To make good on my vow I’ve bought a condo in Phuket and will be moving there by the end of February 2017. It’s located in Kathu, over the hill from Patong, so I’m at least separated by barrier from that tourist trap but near enough to be at the beach within a few minutes.
Although it’s a bit manic during the high season, my own take on things is that Phuket during any season beats the crap out of Bangkok. The problem with the Big mango is that it’s simply a large, hectic, crowded, and polluted city and just like other large cities around the world, it offers nothing which is soothing to the soul. Just traffic jams, grimy streets and teaming crowds scurrying about as they get on with life. Except a life in a big city is not really much of a life. I’ve always maintained that people don’t live in cities, they exist. Mainly as part of the giant, impersonal machine which just grinds on and grinds people down. The majority living there earn just enough to survive, to keep their heads above water, pay the bills, and hopefully save enough to head back home for a few days at the end of the year. Like mice on treadmill they head off to crappy jobs hoping there’ll be a better day, one day. A good mate of mine made the observation recently that Bangkok is becoming too expensive for the average man, and that it’s becoming a city for the rich and the elite. I think he’s right. Ninety five percent of the population are just grist for the mill, subsisting from one week to the next and thinking they’re going to make it one day. Most won’t. But many want to look the part. Convinced the white skinned models staring down at them from the BTS screens are the look to aspire to. The city girl look with the Dove complexions, the I-Phone 7 and the L.V., hand bag.
Your average Thai city girl can be seen clattering around the shopping malls of Bangkok with a hand bag over one arm, a load of shopping bags in the crook of the other, and her I-phone held out in front of her as she talks through her ear phones to her friends about what she plans to buy or eat next. I’ve always considered such woman, the hi-so looking types with their white complexions and svelte curves, to be a moving cluster-fuck to be negotiated in Terminal 21. The type that always look in a hurry, as if there’s a not a moment to lose in getting to the next shopping destination. I guess that’s how people fulfil themselves in the city. Shop and be seen or be in the scene. Coffee’s at Starbucks, at the Paragon, and Fuji for lunch at the New Emporium. There are some that can genuinely afford it and they, at least, have my grudging respect. It must be nice to be so loaded that one lives vicariously. But for many, trying to attain the look, they’re maxed out on their Visa cards and seem oblivious to one of the late King’s core philosophies for his people, that being the idea of “self-sufficiency” or put more simply, not living beyond one’s means. So is it any wonder that Thai ladies who are seemingly well-educated, even ones studying for a PhD, are casting about for the richest guy’s they can find? And in doing so will screw a bevy of suitors to ascertain who can provide the lifestyle, the gadgets, and the wardrobes they aspire to. Ladies who, when caught out, admit freely that “all of her friends are doing it as well.”
After reading that (a recent submission on here) I wasn’t surprised. If one is aware the underlying characteristics of the Thai then the actions of the PhD lady are not hard to understand at all. Generally, I personally have learned not to trust Thai women. It is sad how often their mothers use them to fetch money for them. They might not be working as bone fide prostitutes, but in many ways their families prostitute them by encouraging them to marry or date a farang with money. The Thai people in general are egocentric and do not easily fall in love in the true sense as much as they look for material security, and this has been verified by social psychologists who have researched Thai culture. Read Suntaree Komin, Ph.D. on the internet. She is a Senior Fulbright Scholar and a member of the Thai Royal Educational Patronage Society. She is internationally respected and the leading expert on the psychology of the Thai people. Dr. Komin is Thai – If you combine the egocentrism with the desperate need to look the part – image and status – then it’s easy to understand why many of those so called “good girls” operate in a manner which is really not much different to the ladies working in Soi Cowboy. Most are in debt up to their ears with monthly car and condo repayments. When that is combined with the constant pressure from the families, and the need to maintain face by showing they have the latest gadgets and fashion accessories, it’s no stretch to consider the reasons many in their early thirties end up doing “fishing” expeditions on the dating websites. And I’ve met plenty of educated girls in the bars and clubs along Soi 11 during my years in Bangkok.
When all the above is considered, it makes a mockery of the idea that such people consider themselves to be Buddhist. I’ve met many Thai ladies who make quite a big deal about needing to go to the temple for one reason or another. When I hear that my immediate thought is they’re wasting their time if it’s being done just to put some money in the coffers and pray for good luck. Buddhism might be the National religion of Thailand but from my own observations, most Thai people have very little understanding of the real concepts of Buddhism. Buddhism is not about monks, or temples, or blessings, or donations, or amulets, or tattoos, or burning incense, or bowing down to a statue. If you spend a bit of time reading about Siddhartha, and reading his quotes, you’ll come to understand that Buddhism is mainly about how, or what, we think. Why else would the Buddha say “what a man thinks, he is.” It’s also very much about being in control of our emotions at all times and understanding the mind is the king of the senses. How we think controls how we feel. Occasionally I’ve mentioned these concepts to Thai ladies and they seem completely surprised when I tell them they are basic concepts which underpin Buddhist philosophy on life. What passes for Buddhism in Thailand is actually a modified version of the older folk religion – animism – of the country, and that is mainly based on superstition. I’ve no doubt that many career monks have a proper understanding of what true Buddhist philosophy is but things become a bit mixed up when it comes to the guidance of the flock; there are temples to be built and maintained. Personally, I enjoy visiting temples, but not so much because of any religious devotion, more so because I appreciate the photogenic qualities of some of the more colourful architecture; particularly the older historical Khmer sites such as Phnom Rung in Buriram.
What has become apparent during my recent trips to a number of rural areas around Thailand is that Bangkok is not a fair representation of the way Thai people are. In the more relaxed, stress free settings of smaller provincial towns and villages the smiles are still there and the friendliness still seems genuine. Big cities such as Bangkok create a multitude of stresses associated with living in a hectic urban environment, the results of which, manifest in the local populations; hence the scowls, the lack of friendliness and often times, the rudeness and aggression. Those are the characteristics of a stressed populace which have departed from their traditional roots and are now consumed by accumulation (money), image consciousness, and competitiveness. Unfortunately people become a product of their environment and in that regard Bangkok is no different to any other large city where consumerism, advertising, and self-interest seem to be the driving forces of big city life. When you combine these negative aspects of urban living with the worst characteristics of the Thai persona i.e., the willingness to lie, deceive, and cheat for personal gain, then what you end up is a rather disgusting, self-absorbed individual. A couple of friends have reliably informed me that the hi-sos are the worst of the lot. Whether they are or not is pure speculation as I don’t actually know any but from my own observations, I have absolutely no attraction to what I would consider to be a hiso women. The ones I’ve seen in the Emporium and Paragon appear to be amongst the most self-absorbed people I’ve seen anywhere on this planet with their motivations primarily being the promotion of their image and financial worth. A couple of years ago a good friend of mine mentioned he met a couple, through a mutual friend, living in an expensive area of Sathorn. The Thai wife was a hi-so type and quickly made a big deal about having a wardrobe full of expensive shoes and handbags, with an estimated value of 2.5 million THB. The whole thing disgusted him, and it wasn’t just the seeming money waste, but the sheer pointlessness of her boasting. The husband later confided that while he was courting her, he gave her a monthly stipend of 10K USD. When I heard that my immediate thought was, what’s the difference between that and a girl working in Baccarra? Or, as another wise man once said, “show me the difference between a naked society woman and a prostitute.”
Spending two weeks in Phuket, and hanging out on the Beaches, was a reset for me. It made me realise I’d wasted too much of my time in the chaotic concrete jungle of Bangkok and I’d become totally disconnected from my original reasons for coming to Thailand, that being enjoying a healthy lifestyle in the Tropics. After casting about other areas in the region, such as Vietnam, I finally decided on Phuket, even though for four months of the year it’s a tourist trap. In the end it’s about striking a balance. Phuket these days has all the modern conveniences, such as decent shopping malls, bars, and restaurants, and it’s also got the great beaches and jungle clad peaks providing a healthy atmosphere to live in. There’s also the added bonus of some great national parks nearby such as the Phi Phi Islands. Good bye, Bangkok.
Safe travels, and have a Merry Xmas,