Culture Shock, Frauenverein and the Shrink
Don’t be put off by the curious heading. The story contains valuable advice for Thailand newcomers later on.
In the late 19th century the British may have been at the root of the modern tourism industry in Europe. Ironically the trend was partly inspired by a Frenchman and in the form of that eccentric Englishman Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s novel “Around The World in 80 Days”. Proud rulers of an empire on which the sun supposedly never set, not all Englishmen however disposed of the funds to travel around the world. Instead the rich and affluent at the time went skiing and thus became the creators of some of today’s famous skiing resorts in Switzerland, Northern Italy and Austria.
The military after WW2 also were a new source of putting previously unknown places on the tourist map and not only in Thailand but around the world. In their wake, starting in the 1950s young Americans for the first time in history were able to travel the world, often only provided with an open-ended around the world airline ticket by parents to fill in a gap year in their studies. Then financed often with temporary jobs along the route and perhaps sometimes inspired by the young Ernest Hemingway’s books of his European adventures.
Celebrities eventually rounded up the creators of new leisure centers later known as holiday resorts or tourist hubs. An example is Saint Tropez, France. The unassuming fishing village gained celebrity status when Brigitte Bardot and the French new wave artists moved and settled there in the golden years between 1950 and 1970.
The most recent category to contribute to the creation of these hubs or tourist centers is the backpackers. Love them or hate them, they are the adventurers of our time and often at the origin of discovering new grounds, exotic scenery, beaches or other picturesque sites unknown to the public at large.
So when I came to Thailand almost 30 years ago, the country was already on the tourist map and well-known. But I did not come for the bars, the girls, or the nightlife. Not even the beaches, the islands or the treks in the northern region (but did one out of curiosity). I was aiming to exploit a new tourist component that was being created there at the time. The package tourist!
The year was 1987. I was running a Café Restaurant in Ouchy, Lausanne. It was not doing well. Worse, I was losing money. Tuesdays I usually took my day off and commuted to my girlfriend’s house outside Vevey on Lake Geneva. We spent the evening drinking wine and watching movies on TV. Things were at the lowest at my restaurant in that autumn of 1987. The movie of that day was “The Night Of The Iguana”. Richard Burton in a leading part plays a run down, alcoholic tour guide. I would rather be a tour guide, I said to my girlfriend. It suits my personality much better than being a restaurateur. And I meant it. As happens sometimes in your life; it was a totally thoughtless, indiscriminate, perhaps even wild idea. No doubt the several glasses of rouge (wine) had contributed.
The next morning I told an incredulous Florence about my plans and immediately went ahead putting the restaurant up for sale. Next I started to think about where I would go. South America was my first choice. Then a book titled “Serpentine” by Thomas Thompson came in to my hand. It’s about a serial killer who operated in Thailand and other Asian countries. A fascinating story. Again for some mysterious reason reading that book made me decide to go to Thailand.
6 months later in March 1988 I boarded a commuter plane to Warsaw and continued on an old Russian Ilyushin plane run by a Polish airline called LOT on to Bangkok. But that was not my final destination. For some time I’d heard of a new and still fairly unknown paradise island called Phuket.
Having observed the evolution of St Tropez and similar new tourist places, I figured there was a market to exploit on Phuket. It was a backpacker’s paradise then. Small and cheap bungalows on Ao-Sane, Kata and Karon Beach became my home for several weeks. Over the hill in Patong the second phase was already well under way. The cheap bungalows slowly disappeared and gave way to more modern hotel complexes. In short, the infrastructure for more affluent tourists was being built. Later, luxury resorts would see the day for the jet-setters to look down on the package tourists.
But they all needed to get there first! My market would be the travel segment, co-operating with airlines and arranging hotel packages.
Ironically at the time I had zero experience or training in the travel industry. Apart perhaps from the fact that I spoke several languages and learned new ones easily. Also, I was simply too old to pick up tour guiding in a country that I had only studied in brochures and guidebooks but basically knew very little about. Unless of course I created my own company. And that, to be honest, was my idea from the outset. A fairly easy undertaking in the sleepy and unpretentious Phuket of 1988. Also, turning 40 is sometimes a milestone, a new beginning for people. And so it was for me. In more than one way as you will see.
But perhaps my professional ups & downs are not of much interest to you so let me get to the more interesting part. A few months or so in to my venture I had to go to Bangkok to meet airline & hotel people. A horrendously expensive flight on Thai Airways and with a stopover in Surat-Thani on the way back. At Don Meuang Airport I was met by a pretty, young lady. On the way to the hotel I naturally was on my best behaviour talking about the first group tour she was to lead for my newly founded company on an upcoming discovery trip in the north. When we reached the hotel she hesitated for just a moment then said, sporting that charming Thai smile, “You know I don’t normally do airport pick-ups. I did today’s because it was you.” The penny finally dropped. I was being invited. Welcome to Thailand!
And it was time too. I had been immersed for weeks in my project forgetting that to keep my sanity I also had to taste some of the sweeter things in life. I spent a memorable weekend with Lamyai. She was fluent in French and English which suited me as I had not had much time yet to pick up the local lingo. That would change and I promised myself to start language lessons right away. With hindsight I believe those few days in Bangkok was the beginning of my sincere fondness of the Big Mango. From that day onwards and with my language skills improving rapidly I started to enjoy Thai female company. There were not many weeks from then on when I did not have girlfriends, sometimes occasional, other times regular or semi-regular. Until the big mistake. I fell in love and got married. And divorced! No further comment on this phase of my life. It was a mistake, full-stop.
The previous pattern of girlfriend relations resumed and has remained to this day.
Enter now the “Frauenverein”! The word roughly translates as women’s club. However in German or French-speaking male circles it has a derogatory connotation. Perhaps feminazis would be a more accurate translation. My reference here is to the puritanical or xenophobic Thai females who do not look favorably on foreigners. As referred to by Stick in a recent piece.
At my beginnings here as a young man (or at least young-looking and handsome man) I did not feel this. In fact I myself sometimes made derogatory remarks when I saw old guys with pretty young girls even when in most cases I knew they were probably prostitutes. But more recently, now belonging to a group of elderly gentleman, being seen in company of young ladies is often frowned upon or calls for shady remarks. By Thais but also by some fellow female foreigners. Words, looks and in a few cases even remarks on Facebook. I have classified these people as the Frauenverein!
So now a word to the shrink! Again in reference to a piece by Stick, “When you can’t get it up” Unlike the Frauenverein, no derogatory connotation is intended here using the word shrink that I believe is somewhat pejorative in the English language. An apology to the good doctor who I’m sure does valuable work with his hypnotherapy.
However, I will not consult his cabinet and I believe most men can do without. Because by far the most important ingredient in the “can’t get it up” category is having the right partner. Without it your libido will simply not work.
Here’s an example: Give me the choice to spend an evening with that tough and vulgar talking TV person Ann Coulter or Kim Jong un, and I will choose Kim Jong un. Such is my dislike of this woman. Naturally, such people will not appeal to you on an erotic level. So let me now explain my own theory or input on the matter:
“Il y a pointure pour chaque pied” (the right size shoe for each foot). Can we agree that we are all individuals? Each one of us has our own needs, joy and fears, obsessions, hatreds, loathings or phobias. And of course, sexuality. Some men like tall, big-busted women; others like them small and flat. Shemales, exhibitionists, young, old, MILFs. The list goes on. Open any porn site and take your pick. Others meet their soul mate in college or high school. Get married and stay together a lifetime. Some enjoy sex well in to their 70s.
I like young girls, long legs, small breasts, calm, serene personality, smiling disposition. (That covers about 90% of under 25 female Thais). Now I see you coming; where does an old guy find this sort of companionship?
Don’t be surprised when I tell you they are everywhere. There are armies of young girls, broken in and abandoned by their Thai boyfriends who are waiting to meet a decent farang, young or old. Sometimes they have a child, but most do not. Some are on dating sites and are happy to correspond with you. It’s made easy now with the instant translation services. None of the girls I have encountered in the last 18 months has seen a girly or gogo bar from the inside. Not even a massage parlor. Make the effort and you’ll find what you want. If you master the local lingo, if only a bit, it helps of course. Here is my personal MO.
A year ago at the local market of a small town about 1½ hour’s drive outside Bangkok (in a van from Victory Monument) a pretty, young lady was selling chicken / corn / pepperoni sticks on a grill. Very tasty and cheap and presented with a courteous smile. I savored two helpings. It was a busy evening for the girl so I moved on.
On my next visit, 10 days on I returned for more. Naturally she remembered me, the only farang to be seen that day in the market. When’s your day off? Sorry, don’t have day off, work every day! Never mind, see you next time, okay. On my following passage only a few days later she opened up. Yes, she could take off next Sunday evening. Great, I will be in Bangkok then, we can meet there.
Bangkok. I’m there twice a month for a few days. I meet her. She comes to my hotel and later we go for dinner at the nearby restaurant. The last minivan to her village leaves Victory Monument at 10 PM for she has to be back at work the next day. In only a few hours she has earned three of the pale orange-brown colored bank notes, has had a good time as per her own words, and I return to my hotel room to spend an undisturbed night.
About 2 months in to the relationship she mentioned her “sister” working in a shop nearby the market. Could she also come along next time? Yes, sure. Another time she sent pictures of another “sister” on the LINE account and with the same request. To be honest, the first time it happened I wasn’t entirely sure of her real intentions. But that was soon to be settled when I got the call from reception on their arrival, “Sir, you pay more 500 baht for take two lady, na.” A good time was had again, topped by a tasty meal at the nearby restaurant whose servers now greet me by name having become a valuable and generous customer.
If I had to make a conclusion I would say that young Thai girls of this current generation have a much more relaxed attitude in sexual matters. Regardless of whether they are shop girls, students, hi-so or belong to the so-called good girl category.
As for me, the required erotic sparkle or mutual connection is established by the simple beauty of the young body. The Frauenverein no doubt would condemn my actions saying these poor girls are being sexually exploited and need to be rescued.
I my view however I much prefer spend my money on a type of girl that provides the required sex appeal to me as opposed to living out my life with a partner of a similar age to mine and seeking psychological help to get it up.
The author can be contacted at : [email protected]