Tales from Thailand – Part One
Thailand tales for your reading pleasure. Names changed to protect the innocent.
So after a lengthy stint toiling through a long winter in London, it was time for a refreshing dip in the sensory delights that is Thailand. Easter appears with a long weekend allowing for a ten-day holiday for the cost of only four working days. Unfortunately, it’s also Songkran but let’s go.
So pack bags, off to Heathrow and ont o the silver bird, courtesy of the Thai national carrier, pride of their muggy skies. I board and tall ladies and groomed men with brimming wide smiles smoothly steer us to our seats. Welcome champagne is served, drinks and meals dispensed, and a sleep follows as preparation for adventures ahead. Certainly Thai Airways is not the worst airline, but doesn’t hold itself well against the greats like Emirates. The company has been struggling financially. The story goes they are over-staffed with high costs and even though seats are usually full, they are lacking on revenue as many Thais travel for free under various local arrangements.
After a smooth nap, we arrive in Bangkok on time. Easy landing and straight to Immigration. Massive queues but to be fair, all the Immigration officer booths are manned. They do seem to be trying. I am fortunate enough to skip through fast track and my bag already awaits. Out the door and the heat hits. Taxi. Hotel. Shower. Change. Ready to go by 5 PM.
Needless to say, the next few days are packed with adventures. You can only imagine. It takes stamina to go on holiday in Bangkok. Daily workouts in the hotel gym are required to maintain energy levels combined with frugal alcoholic drinking. The place will suck you dry if you’re not careful. Don’t return home a withered husk rattling around in a tin box.
One free night, I decided to whip around the gogo bars for a fast tour, Hangover Part II style.
Nana first. Haven’t been here years. Not much has changed it seems. The stairs are in bad condition and it’s a bit of a mess. Bad smells, rubbish lying around. Rats in holes nearby, waiting no doubt for the people to go so they can fest on the fallen scraps from girls’meals. As you walk about ladyboys grab you aggressively, trying to drag you into their lair like a shaven trap-door spider.
These ladyboys are something else. I have two uneducated theories about them. One is that due to either a terrible misfortune in the womb or a genetic mismatch on their Y chromosome, they have a woman’s mind but are trapped in a man’s body. My second theory is that they are just gays that like to dress camp in women’s clothes like a drag queen. If it’s the first they should want to get gender reassignment surgery, which some do I suppose. If it’s the second, then it’s a bloke in a dress basically. Maybe the answer is both. Wiser minds than mine may know….
Nana is not really a slick set up. I head up and pop in to Billboard. Wow, big place, packed. Lots of good-looking girls and loads of punters too. This place does a roaring trade. But too busy, and can’t hear over the noise, so off to another, Butterflies? Something like that, same owner they tell me. This is less hectic. Lots of Chinese in here. Girls a bit random, some fat some hot. Speak to the girl on the door. She’s great, have a good chat with her. She’s the guest fixer, speaks Chinese so looks after these groups. Chat to her for a long time, top lady. She has a lovely smile and natural easy-going way about her. A bit dangerous, you could fall for a girl like this! I ask her for her story, actually she’s quite normal. Used to work in tourism but found fronting bars earns well, especially with Chinese language skills. No children. Ex-husband is Chinese, hence the language. I was left with the impression she didn’t need to go-with customers. Good for her.
From here, off to Soi Cowboy. Not a place I like. About four years ago I had a night out there with the lads, and it was bad. Many rough, unattractive women. The best ones were coyotes. Constantly hassled to buy their weirdly coloured slurps they call a ‘lady drink’. We were not impressed and scarpered off to more fun places.
But this time, I had read Stick’s posting recommending Dollhouse, Lighthouse and Tilac. So, on the strength of that, time for another look.
Jumping off the BTS at Asoke I embark down the back soi. This way takes me past a bar called Crazy House which I have heard of. Well, pop in for a look then. Past the curtain and WHAM, what a place. It reminds me of the scene in Star Wars with the cantina bar with the weird aliens. This was that. It’s dark. Music is load. Crowded with people, packed. Groups of butt-naked girls are dancing on stage. Rows of older Japanese / Korean gentlemen are sitting right up by the stage staring intently at the girls like total pervs. They lean forward with their elbows on the stage, head perched in hands, with eyes held at the same level as the dancers neither regions. A few westerners scattered around, seem to be enjoying themselves.
So let’s have a drink then. One comes and soon a girl, let’s call her Noi, comes along to chat. Well, not really ‘chat’ more like shout. I buy Noi the required lady slurp and waitress shows me the menu price of 330 Baht. Really? Well at least they made it clear, so fine then. The waitress had me initial the check-bin slip I guess so there are no arguments about this price later.
Noi is very cute. Wearing nothing but a pair of high heels and a wrist band. The wrist band is stuffed with the drink slips and money received on the job so far. She looks about 22. A bit rocky on her feet. Heels too high and a bit drunk, I think. Great figure.
So I ask her for her story. Not much comes other than the usual poor upcountry situation, she’s not been working here for long. She is a bit drunk and obviously doesn’t know how to handle drink. So we chat a bit then time to go. She asks to go with me, I say no and she becomes very agitated. I think not because I’m a hero, rather she wants to get out of this place. It does seem oppressive. Crowded, dark, loud with the girls naked and pawed at like cattle. Not great.
So out of here and off to Dollhouse. Actually, not bad. Girls were nice looking, music ok, not too loud and no-one smoking. Seemed ok. Had a quick drink then moved onto the next venue Lighthouse. Here the girls were A-list at least for a go-go bar which generally just have Issan princesses. I admit the ladies are quite pretty here. Generally tall, lighter skinned and minimal tattoos, which is my preferred style. Not overly hassled to buy drinks either. Stayed for a while and watched what happened. The A-list girls ended up sitting with the Japanese punters. Good payers I guess but girls looked really bored. I chatted to a couple of other girls and they were good fun. Easy to be with. Good company. Asked them how much they were earning. Answer was along the lines of 20K baht basic pay plus another 40K to 60K from drinks, barfines, earnings from punters etc. So there you go. Actually that’s quite a lot compared to a regular office girl here.
Time to go. Head out and I notice next door is some old school looking place called something ‘school’. Well why not, so step in. Ah, yes, old school it is. This place has not seen renovation for some time. I’m sure some of the pictures on the walls are relics from the Vietnam war. Here the girls are mostly very unattractive. Two plunk down beside me and press for drinks. Sure, why not. I order for them and have a look at the check slip. Annoying, I see they charged me twice, once for their ‘lady drink’ and for a side ‘mixer’ as well. Bit annoying. I ask for their story, one is a usual solo Issan mother, the other is a young girl without children (for once) and really didn’t want to be working here at all. I suspect family pressure for money made her turn up. Also she had a pushy ‘sister’ here who groomed her to turn up. Not great.
Asked about their wages, 15K basic plus the usual extras. I don’t think they were doing very well. They then explained this was a BJ bar and it all happens on the seat down the end of the bar! All class this lot. That explains the slightly pungent cleaner smell lurking in the air. Gross.
Off to Tilac. Different set up. Girls not quite as good-looking as Lighthouse but ok. Again, music good, not too loud and not smoky. It’s set up for more of a party atmosphere with lighting around the various pillars creating more of a disco feel. So, I beckon over a nice-looking coyote to chat to. Ask for her story. Usual, aged about 25, from Issan with a kid. Kid is with mum while she makes the money here in Bangkok. Asked about her wages, she said 500 baht a day for dancing as a coyote plus 80 baht tip for lady drink. Doesn’t quite add up to me, suspect it’s more. She didn’t look hungry. Quite relaxed actually and didn’t pester me for anything. Easy to talk to, nice!
So it seems the go-go bar format is not dead yet. If it’s a good one, it’s not so bad. But the bad ones really are dismal.
In comparison, Bangkok has hostess clubs as well, like the former Pent club. There you pay 40K to 50K baht for membership which also gets you ten bottles of whiskey pre-paid. They have a stack of pretty girls there, you go along, pick one and pay buy time for her company. Fun if you go in a group of guys and have a party. These clubs have live music, great dancers, etc. And the girls and very cute, usually university students, smart, white skin, zero tattoos, nicely dressed and well-educated. They are the classic Asian hostess routine. Usually these places are mainly full of Asians blokes. I imagine the 50K up-front fee puts this option off from western tourists.
Another thing, it is the case I know a bit of basic Thai and I did chat in Thai to the ladies in Nana and Cowboy. Suspect this is more fun for them as we can joke and kid around easily. Interestingly I did swap LINE IDs with most of them and over the next few days had a lot of LINE chat (in Thai) and also meet up with a couple of them for local food before they hit their shift for the night.
My impressions after this were mixed. I did get the impression they really hated working in the bar, those smiles soon vanished when I probed on this. These girls know it’s a sh*t job if they have to go with guys. Actually I notice their brains were fried if they had been working like this for too long. The coyotes and front girls were more ok. I don’t think they were on the game so much. Still they didn’t want to work there but they don’t see a way out from the easy money. Where else are they going to earn 60k easily? If they go with guys, the hot ones will get 100k. I asked where their money goes, well….. it seems upcountry families drain it. Also some lavished themselves with relatively nice apartments close to the BTS. Not always squatting six to a room.
One girl told me she had an American boyfriend who came to visit every two months or so. He paid her USD $2,000 per month to not work in the bar. Of course, she did work in the bar anyway. I asked her why, she said got bored staying at home, nothing to do. Rather dance for more money. I also noticed the A-list girls tended to be single, but looking for a good sponsor fitting to their ‘standards’, while the B-list upcountry dark-skinned, tattooed girls more often had loser Thai guys on the side, again draining them of cash.
What a situation. Now, I’m not so naive, I do realise that I’m actually a mark for them as I’m not poor and these girls can tell that. Combined with some Thai language skills, I’m easy-going with their food and culture, this obviously makes me a potential plan-B option for them.
I do know a couple of guys who married bargirls. It did not go well. They moved the girls back to the UK. After a few years, the romance ended and the girls just made as much money in the UK as possible, sent it back home to their family, and shagged some Thai guy locally for company.
Actually, I have advice for anyone falling for a hardcore bar girl. To define hardcore think working two years or more, goes with guys, from upcountry, dark skin, tats, etc.
OK, so take your princess out for a meal in a tourist area. First let’s do some math. Princess likely has five customers a week in high season, more if she’s hot. Off season let’s say three guys a week. I’m making this up, but you’ll see. Let’s say 12 weeks working high season and 36 weeks for low season and 4 weeks holiday. The math is 5 * 12 plus 3 * 36 = 168, then times two (for working two years) = 336 random men she has had sex with. Look around you at the tourist men you can see in your field of vision. Count them. See about 30? OK imagine 10 times that number, that what’s been through Princess.
Still think she’s a Princess? No? Didn’t think so.
But enough with Bangkok, it’s off to the beach. Time for some relaxation away from the big smoke.
Here it’s an entirely different story. Away from the main tourist drag (i.e. not Pattaya, Patong, etc) are quiet back waters. Classic Thailand, soft powder sands, clear blue skies, lush greenery. People are more relaxed, easy-going. Smiles are more genuine. The rush and greed of the city is soon forgotten in the Thailand of yesterday.
Even here there are some bars for a weary traveller to rest and recuperate, with ladies for company. However, out here they are generally a bit older and weathered, not the slick Bangkok girls. No matter, good chat here, good times. Beer’s cheap, time moves slowly and the company does not hassle you. The ladies are friendly and more like the girl next door. It’s easy to while away time for a bit. The woes of the West are far away.
Then of course it happened.
Walking down a soi, I happen upon an angel. Sitting on the step of a small shop is a Thai girl with piercing eyes and a beautiful smile. She has a radiant beauty, born from a natural style, without makeup or pretence. I smiled and introduced myself. Her name was Bee. Bee was quite different. See, this is a girl who was very smart, if poorly educated. Smart girls are stand outs. They can hold their own. Bee was sharp. Bright eyes captured everything. Wit was razor. Bee had an opinion on everything. No ‘up to you’ acquiescence. Over the next few days, we spent the time together. Exploring the area, hiking, foodies, evenings dancing…. You get it. It’s a quiet magic when you see the light fall softly on your girl’s honeyed skin, soft rich hair curls over slim shoulders and she turns to you with a warm smile and dark eyes which sparkle.
Even an old dog such as myself can be knocked over it seems!
To be continued….
The author can be contacted at : [email protected]