Bangkok Don Juan, Part 1
My first trip to Thailand was in 2005. I went to get what I was not getting in the marital bed, and was not disappointed. That trip changed my life. In 2007, my wife noticed the curly writing in my passport and filed for divorce – it had been on the cards for a long time, so neither of us was too cut up about it.
I visited Thailand on and off for the next five years and, during that time, kept a series of diaries about my adventures (and misadventures). I also wrote a long narrative poem called Bangkok Don Juan, which transforms those diaries into poetry (or should that be ‘doggerel’?) I changed a lot in the poem (as poets do), but basically, it narrates some of my most interesting, erotic, amusing (and sometimes harrowing) experiences in the Land of Smiles. Those experiences are like beads on a thread, the thread being the story of how I met a Thai girl and had a relationship with her. If you are interested in reading the whole story, the book is available on Amazon here. The diary extracts have never been published before. This submission, and those that follow, give some extracts from those diaries, followed by the canto that came out of them. They might make an interesting study of the relationship between life and art (or perhaps not – today’s politically-correct faculties would rather see such a book burned!)
One more thing before we get started. The title is ironic. I am no Don Juan (as my failures with women throughout my life testify). Indeed, I am much like Jim in the poem:
A Don Juan he’s not – nor Casanova,
A fat and fifty-something sort of man,
He is divorced and hasn’t had a lover
Since, it seems to him, the world began…
9th May 2005
Don Muang airport at 4.30 am was almost deserted. It had a hint of the exotic because of its antiquated appearance and the signs in Thai script. There was a slightly bitter tang in the air, which I guessed was the famous Bangkok smell I had read about.
Took the airport bus (no. 3) to Nana – Soi 5. The Dynasty Inn is on Soi 4, so very convenient. Had to wait in the hotel lounge for over an hour while my room was prepared as it was still so early. Two tables away was a middle-aged man with an absolutely gorgeous girl. Long black hair, little ponytail, hip-hugging jeans, high-heeled shoes. The biggest shock was when his friend joined him. He looked about 70 – and he hadn’t grown old gracefully! – but he also had a Barbie doll in tow.
I was surprised (and relieved) to find that the average sex tourist is of middle to old age, often with a huge paunch. There are young men, but it’s not a young man’s scene – why should it be? They can get the real thing for free in Ibiza or Magaluf.
A lot of the older guys looked as though they are highly respectable citizens back in their ‘other’ life – churchwardens or social workers – or worse, down at the Derby and Joan club on ‘grab a granny’ night. But then, why not? How can I judge them – I’m not that different.
Slept for most of the day then went out to Nana Plaza. Turned the wrong way down Soi 4 and couldn’t find it at first. I’ve got the Rough Guide to Bangkok and though it has a whole section on gay nightlife, it has nothing to say about the gogo bar scene. That means that what I am doing makes me about as un-PC as you can get – and guess what – I don’t care! I’m fed up of being hectored and lectured about how I should behave, and even what I should think!
Soon realised I was heading the wrong way, and after that I just headed towards the crowd and the noise. Couldn’t believe how run down it all looked. The bar I intended to start with had been replaced by another bar called Rainbow 4. Went in anyway. Very nervous at first. Everybody but me seemed to have a friend to talk to. It was packed and it was only 7.30! A waitress led me to a stool just in front of the stage. I saw now that most of the punters were by themselves, so being alone made no difference. Anyway, girl hunting is essentially a solitary pursuit.
There were two stages, both jam-packed with gorgeous bikini-clad bodies. I found myself staring at them with a stupid grin on my face just as Stickman describes every newbie doing in his Guide to the Naughty Nightlife [Stick removed this section from his website in 2003]. All those fantastic and beautiful girls for the choosing, all of them slim and pretty, with long black hair, often done in elaborate Thai-style confections, their bronzed thighs only a foot or so from my face – powerful stuff!
Before long, I saw a girl I liked, signalled her to join me and barfined her for short time. But she turned out to be a bad choice. Her mobile phone went off just as we were getting started and she lay there like a starfish making no effort at all. I lost interest in her after that, so I gave her 1,000 baht and she left.
Felt a bit down – is that it, I thought? But luckily the hours I had spent reading Stickman and similar websites had warned me of the ‘starfish syndrome’. I realised that I had been over-eager, and that I should choose more carefully next time.
So, feeling a bit better, I went back to Nana Plaza and worked my way around the bars, only to hit another problem that Stickman had warned about – if you have a beer in every bar you visit, you’ll hardly be able to stand up, never mind get it up – so I staggered back to the hotel alone.
In which Jim, ‘a fat and fifty-something sort of man’ experiences a baptism of fire in the Land of Smiles.
‘I WANT a hero…’ – but I do not mock
Lord Byron by beginning the same way
As his Don Juan. Nor would I want to shock
The literary-minded person – nay,
It’s just that, in my story of Bangkok
I also need a hero – straight, not gay,
And representative of those I see
Hanging round gogo girls – and yes, like me.
The Thailand Hall of Fame may help me out:
Stickman, Earnshawe, Foskin – even Dana
(Or should I say ‘Rogue’s Gallery’?) I doubt
I’ll find my hero here. Somewhere in Nana,
Pattaya or Soi Cowboy he’s about,
Looking for action for his pink banana,
Leering at girls who simper back at him;
An ordinary guy – I’ll call him Jim.
And though he is my Bangkok Don Juan
A Don Juan he’s not – nor Casanova,
A fat and fifty-something sort of man,
He is divorced and hasn’t had a lover
Since, it seems to him, the world began.
And now no wife, no girlfriend – sex life over,
He has at last retired from his job, banking,
And spends his time on his old hobby – w… weeding the garden.
Now, being a banker, Jim was not a thick man
And knew a lot about all things high-tech.
On a computer he was quite a slick man
And knew his way around the Internet,
So not surprisingly he hit on Stickman
(Whose weekly newsletter is under threat).
What he read there gave him a pleasant shock,
Then goodbye my darling w… weeding, hello Vietnam Bangkok.
Twelve hours in a sardine can feeling rough,
The queue at Don Muang, the culture shock,
A Taxi-Meter with the meter off,
The sights and smells and noises of Bangkok,
A hotel in Soi 4 – more than enough
For a man who’d hardly ventured round the block.
He should have spent that night in bed alone –
But no, he couldn’t wait to hit the town.
He stumbled on a place called Baccara
And found the view, to say the least, appealing:
Girls in bikinis danced upon the bar,
But better still, above was a glass ceiling
And yet more girls. But what was so bizarre
Was – they were knickerless! – his head was reeling.
Something feminists thought couldn’t come true –
A glass ceiling that girls had broken through!
He saw a girl he liked – young, brown and slim.
Luckily, she spoke English: ‘My name Nok,’
She said, and Jim replied, ‘My name is Jim.’
She stroked his thigh (or wallet). ‘First time Bangkok?’
‘No, no!’ he lied – but she saw straight through him.
‘Pay bar!’ she cried, whilst toying with his c… can of Singha.
‘How much?’ he asked. ‘Five hundred is barfine –
Tomorrow pay five thousand – that is mine.’
She seemed to take for ages in the shower
While Jim looked forward to the promised mating,
At last it came – the long-awaited hour:
She lay there, wrapped in a white towel, waiting:
A beautiful young Thai – a very flower
Of womanhood. ‘Farewell to masturbating!’
Sighed Jim, and stroked her erogenous zone –
But she was busy playing with her phone.
‘Put that away!” cried Jim, “and let’s have sex!’
Nok scowled at him and spread her arms akimbo,
And her legs too – she looked just like his ex –
Or like a starfish – not like that hot bimbo,
Natt Chanapa, or other sex objects
He’d seen in porn flicks. Now he was in limbo:
He had a Thai girl naked in his bed,
But couldn’t do the deed – desire was dead.
At last our hero sobbed himself to sleep
And dreamed of all the things he didn’t do.
And Nok was dreaming too, not counting sheep,
But counting all the baht that she’d accrue,
And what she’d buy and how she’d get it cheap:
Maybe a piercing or a new tattoo.
But as for Jim, don’t worry, he’ll be pukka –
Tomorrow, he’ll find another girl and f… feel more confident.
The book Bangkok Don Juan is aimed at the general reader, and so contains extensive notes. Many of them will be unnecessary for the ‘old Asia hand’, but I give them here for their historical interest.
1 Stickman: Editor of the website www.stickmanbangkok.com. The site was started in November 1998. It contains extensive information about Thailand nightlife, its unique feature being the Reader’s Submissions section. It quickly became a must-read for any male visitor to Thailand. A detailed history of the site can be found here: https://www.stickmanbangkok.com/about/
2 Earnshawe: Extracts From The Diary of Dr J A Earnshawe, BSc PhD took the Thailand forums by storm in November 2006. This was one of the first submissions from a literary persona rather than a real person. Earnshawe is a naïve intellectual who fails to understand what is happening when he blunders into the girlie bar scene by mistake – something which creates endless possibilities for humour. Even more humorous were the responses from a minority of forum readers who thought Earnshawe was a real person!
3 Foskin: The Chronicles of Foster Foskin’s Adventures in Thailand is a riposte to Earnshawe by Marc Holt. Foster is just the opposite of Earnshawe being a hard-drinking, no-nonsense guy from Oz.
4 Dana: One of the best known of all contributors to Thailand forums. His popularity began with his series of Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes in the early days of the Stickman website.
5 Whose weekly newsletter is under threat: At the time this Canto was written, in November 2006, Stickman’s website had been taken down, perhaps due to a site (long since taken down) which criticised Stickman. At the time, it seemed that Thailand aficionados had lost a valuable resource. However, Stickman was back online in April 2007.
6 Then goodbye my darling w…weeding, hello Vietnam Bangkok: This line alludes to the famous song (written c. 1964) by Tom Hall, in which the refrain is: ‘Kiss me goodbye and write me when you can. Goodbye my darlin’ hello Vietnam’. The effect of the line in the poem is to emphasise how adventurous Jim’s first trip to Bangkok seems to him, and also alludes to the political situation in November 2006, in which the war in Iraq was going badly, but no politician in the US had yet dared to used the dreaded ‘V’ word (though everybody else was using it). There are many other Vietnam references in Bangkok Don Juan, which are intended to make a similar point.
7 Soi 4: A ‘soi’ is a side street. Sukhumvit Road, Soi 4 is where the Nana Plaza complex is, along with many other bars, and two hotels popular with sex-tourists, the Nana Hotel, and the Dynasty Inn.
8 Baccara: The Sistine Chapel of Soi Cowboy – look up and you see more of Eve than Michelangelo dared to paint.
9 Singha: The best-known Thai beer. It is a 100% barley malt beer flavoured with lemons and cinnamon. It is a little too sweet in taste for some western palettes.
10 Barfine: If a customer wishes to take a girl out of a bar, he must compensate the bar for the loss of her services. Bangkok barfines at the time of the poem (which is set in 2004/5) were 500 or 600 baht.
11 Five thousand: A girl can be taken out for ‘long time’ (i.e., overnight), or ‘short time’ (usually a couple of hours). In 2004/5 the average long time payment was c. 2000 baht, short time, 1000 – 1500 baht. So in this Canto, Jim, recognised as a ‘newbie’ is being ripped off for more than twice the standard rate.
* * *
A note to my old friend “Earnshawe” – if you are reading this, get in touch, and maybe we can meet up in Bangkok for a beer or three just like we did back in the day!
The author of this article can be contacted at : [email protected]