The Good, The Bad & The Deceitful
In 2003 I sold my house in Brisbane and decided to take a break from the day in, day out grind of everyday life. With no set plans I booked in to a local Southside Brisbane hotel and watched the world go by. Each morning for nearly two weeks I would get out of bed, make a coffee, and sit on the balcony looking at the rat race turning more congested by the minute as the debt slaves charged off to work. (I had just freed myself from the chains of commitment) so I was feeling a little relieved and relaxed at not having to be part of the real world for a while. Although I had toyed with the idea of travel for a long time and had a passport, the thought of travel was on the back burner simmering away, nearly forgotten.
It was then I thought I could actually do it. My passport at the time was 2 years old with no stamps in it. A wave of excitement washed over me, the thought of buying a ticket and jumping on a plane for my first overseas trip felt very liberating. All day I thought about where I would go, and at the end of the day I dozed off without 100% committing to taking the plunge.
Sitting on the balcony the next morning, coffee in hand, I decided to go to a travel agent. I booked and paid for before lunch. I was off on an adventure, purchased an around the world ticket with the last leg being Thailand before returning to Brisbane. This story is about Thailand / Cambodia.
Arriving at Brisbane International Airport I was like a teenager. Chomping at the bit waiting for the gate to open. After going through immigration at Bangkok I walked out through the doors of the airport and Bangkok slapped me square in the face, the heat, smells and energy of the place is something I can still remember like it was yesterday, even after 16 years.
On the way to Khao San Road I thought many things with the main one being what a goose I was for not doing this years earlier. I was 37 at the time with a full wallet, full ball sack and nothing much in the backpack. Khao San Road was full of life, bars and westerners booked into some hotel opposite one of the more popular bar / restaurants and headed out for the night.
Green as anyone could be and after making my way to the cop shop end of the road, I jumped in a tuktuk and said bar please. I was hooked, every thing new and exciting, My ego grew a couple of feet and the endorphins where being unloaded around the melon in huge amounts. And just like a first timer I shouted many drinks and cut loose.I will always remember the first trip.
The next time was in 2007, another wonderful time full of much beer-swilling and bar-hopping. But I had noticed that in just 4 short years the bargirls and the Thai public in general were slightly different. On my first trip in 2003 many of the old timers spoke of the years prior to 2003 and said that Thailand went through a change in the late 90’s where the Thais had become somewhat bored /of the western hoards. I didn’t have anything to relate their words to at the time so just dismissed it as that them maybe having a bad day. Nevertheless I suppose change is the only constant. and without change we stand still, which may be good for some but not me. Even though I can imagine the times they speak of and find myself wishing I could have been part of “good old days”, the good old days in my opinion would become slightly mouldy after a while.
I went back to Thailand 3 more times with the last being in 2016. My first trip to Cambodia was in 2007. I found Cambodia to be raw and electric at the same time, and a little intimidating after being dropped off in a bus in the middle of Orussey markets. Was not many bars in PP then but I did spend many a night at the Shanghai bar on Street 51. And the place still looks the same today (2019) as it did then apart from the blue room on the second floor which I think was a much-needed upgrade to the bar.
On returning to PP in 2013 and again in 2016 the sky line had changed somewhat, with many a new building / apartments over looking PP. In the time span of 12 years from my first visit to Cambodia I have found myself there 15 times and the place has changed very much but, as I stated above, change must eventually be a good thing.
On one of the visits to PP I found myself slightly taken in by a bargirl in one of the older bars in PP. After reading many a horror story in Stickman’s submissions over the years and watching / listening to a certain expat in Thailand who pulls no punches when warning of the dangers of bargirls, I thought I was in no way going to fall victim to any of their antics. This is where things get a little out of shape….
She was charming, attentive and displayed a very pleasant disposition, or so it seemed. She was great in the sack and was eager to show me around. Yes, I got the sob story of a hard life (which in PP if you know the history of the place you would lean towards believing her), or in any case I did. I’m sure that the “hard life” part of the story was the only thing she didn’t lie about. She told me of how her western husband died of a disease and had left her with his young child of 5 years old. She did show me photos of the husband and I have to say the child was the carbon copy of his father.
On leaving PP that time I sent her money each month to help with her income from the bar. I returned a few months later. By this stage she had left the bar and entered into getting commissions from renting out real estate. She was slightly different to the person I had met on the trip before. A more ill-tempered little vixen who started to show signs of manipulation and dummy-spitting when things did not go her way. But I didn’t pay it too much mind as I was getting much exercise in the bedroom. One night we had arranged to meet at a certain time but for whatever reason she decided not to show.
The next day I asked her why she had stood me up. I was out with a client was the reply. RED FLAG NUMBER ONE. I asked her why she didn’t call to let me know. Silence followed and a couple of tumble weeds rolled past.
Anyway, the next thing that came out of her mouth was “we go shopping”. After shopping she was up one handbag, a dress and new shoes. Why was I feeling like a twit? Why was my stomach telling me to dump this crafty little princess and head back to the bars and forget about ever trying to take on a bargirl, come real estate rental girl.
Long story short, after speaking to a few people who knew what was going on when I was back home it turns out that my little real estate / bargirl was indeed renting out real estate and was no longer working in the bar on a time clock everyday basis. But dolling herself up most nights and heading to a bar on 130 Street to see what she could catch! As you may or may not know there is a large turnover of customers in the bars roughly every two weeks, so if she caught a big fish 2 to 3 times a week, that is a nice little payday for every catch. I did find out later that some of the 2-week millionaires would cough up stupid amounts of money for a short time roll in the sheets. Before it all finished and on arriving back home one time I got a phone call from her showing a positive pregnancy test. Once again the stomach rumbled and I shouted BULLSHIT!
For the next few days I agreed to doing the right thing and taking on the responsibility of raising a child, which she agreed to. But not long after that she became very argumentative every phone call and threatened to take the baby out over the most trivial of things. Any woman who uses aborting a child for what ever reason, whether it be a large concern, or in this case, trivial matters is not a decent person in my book. I understand in some cases that woman have to resort to abortions if they are abandoned by a partner, but to repetitively threaten to abort in a heartless manner because of minor disagreements with someone who was agreeable to take the child on was the final straw. There are a number of other situations that concerned me before it came to this, but the point is if your gut tells you there is something not right about a situation, listen attentively. Your gut is never wrong.
On summing up, her final threat of aborting I agreed to and of course sent $200 US for the abortion at the Japanese hospital in PP and a further $50 US for antibiotics via Western Union. Thinking this would be the end of it, I get a phone call the next day from her friend stating that a real estate / bargirl had lost her ID and was unable to pick up the money and to resend the money in her name (the friend). Needless to say my gut was doing over time! I went to the Post Office and the money was returned to me. When I asked why it was returned the lady behind the counter just looked at me with a look as if she wanted to slap me up the side of the head and, politely said I think you should speak to Western Union directly. After speaking to WU it turns out she was recently barred from Western Union. When I ask why they said there was an error code and it was a private matter and they could not tell me. So me not being satisfied with that answer I once again politely asked if I could run a scenario past her that may or may not be true, and she replied yes. So I said to the good woman at Western Union that in this scenario which may or may not be true was she barred from Western Union because she receives money from many men from different countries and her reply was a sharp and quick YES! I have also been told recently that she was indeed not pregnant and simply wanted a parting money injection.
One of the many reasons I am writing this is to let people know the good and the bad about deciding to be a part of the bar scene in Asia. You can have a great time in the bars with the woman who work there, but the chances of finding a diamond in the rough and having a happy relationship are remote to zero. Thanks for reading this far, as my story is not the best written. Anyway I’m looking forward to many further trips to Cambodia. I have recently met a decent woman in a town north of Phnom Penh who has a degree in accountancy and manages a large hotel. Much better odds.
The author of this article can be contacted at : [email protected]