The Ghost of Pattaya
This is a pleasant night. The temperature is nice, and the smile of little Lek walking next to me is warm. Lovely Lek, dancing in the old gogo in soi 7. The white see-through outfit complimented her shapely body, and the dragon tattoo on her belly suggested an interesting girl. At showtime, she strategically chose her position straight in my line of sight, and then slowly started to take her clothes off. Her slow movements suggested a sensuality only remembered from an illusion of years before. After her dance, she stood naked before me and allowed my hands to move up from her hips to her breasts. A promising smile was followed by “pay bar” and a small kiss when I said OK.
Tonight will not be too complicated: a short walk to Kiss food for an after midnight dinner and then exploring the rest of her in my hotel room. Probably another round in the morning. The soi is still bustling with the sound of the bar beers. Lights, girls dancing to Isan music, the jokes and sanuk, the farang who are drunk because that is what they do every night, the farang who are drunk with confusion because it is their first night, the street food vendors. A few friends shouting some comments to Lek. We turn to Second Road. Lek presses herself against me. “Phii”, she says while looking at the road. Ghost. I look and see nothing. A scatter of dust. Although, for a fraction of a second I imagine that the dust forms the shape of an old white man on a motorcycle.
Lars was in his early 60’s when he moved to Pattaya. Retired from a simple job in Sweden, with a small saving which was his pride. Wanted to move out of his home country because of all these immigrants. Not a social man, no real friends. Heavier than would be good for him, his T-shirt would just cover the top of his worn jeans. Settled in a pay by the month room with adequate air-con and bathroom somewhere close to Soi LK Metro. Fit the thing up with a new television and his new laptop. For the first time in his life he was happy: no more bosses, no more feminists, no worries about food or company, and plenty to drink every afternoon and evening. The headaches in the morning were a small price to pay for this pleasure.
His happiness was complete when he fell in love with Kanda. At that time, the most beautiful gogo dancer in one of the top gogo bars on Walking Street. From the moment he entered the bar, he could not take his eyes off her. He did not mind waiting: she was already with a customer, but signaled that she would join him shortly. The first night, he just bought her a few rounds of lady drinks. She was fun, nice and the other customers looking at him with some kind of jealousy made him feel proud. The second and third night continued in this way. Her joining him directly after her dance, and the fact that the other topless dancers covered up after going off stage and she did not made him sure he was on to something. The first night she was in his bed, he understood the meaning of paradise. The nights after were pure bliss. Her soft body, her slow licking and kissing, the feeling when he entered her. Her oily skin against his, his hand going through her silky hair.
One day he woke up feeling worse than normal. That night he had a strange sleep, unlike his normal sleep. To his surprise, it was already 2 in the afternoon. His room was empty: television gone. Laptop gone. A few thousand baht he had hidden gone. Euros and dollars he had hidden gone. His watch gone. Some of his smaller valuable possessions gone. Kanda gone. Only an empty glass left over. The glass which had the drink she had asked him to take without drinking herself. He talked to the owner of the apartment building, who had not seen a thing. He went back to her bar. She was not there. The rest of the staff did their best not to see him.
The next evening he started his search. He climbed on his motorcycle, and started to make his rounds. Beach Road, one of the sois, Second Road, and back to Beach Road by way of one of the sois. He should find the woman who had given him so much happiness. He drove. And he drove. And drove. He became a common sight every night. Mom, one of the ladies in a bar beer he used to visit in the afternoon, tried to get him to stop his nightly drives. He did frighten the young ladies working in the bar beers on Beach and Second roads. She tried to talk reason, that he had been drugged and robbed by a bar girl. He did not care. He only knew, “I will continue to drive until I find my love.”
The fatal night came a few weeks later. From some distance he saw a girl who looked surprisingly like Kanda. His speeding and change of direction was missed by a half sleepy songthaew driver. The crash sent him flying. His head cracked on the curbs of a beer bar complex at Beach Road. The girls screamed, while the Thai men took out their phones and started filming. The blood flowing from his skull was already on the internet before the ambulance service arrived. Lars was pronounced dead at the scene.
He was first seen the next night by Noi, a girl working in the same bar beer as Mom. Being the youngest in the bar, and having one lady drink too many, she suddenly turned pale. She pointed to the street. The other girls stopped laughing and followed her finger. They saw a cloud of dust, which showed the lines of an old man on a motorcycle. More sightings were reported that night: Beach Road, side soi, Second Road, side soi, back to Beach road. Noi left the bar, and left Pattaya the next day.
Lek was nervous that night over dinner. Trying to tick off what seeing the ghost would mean. Nit saw the ghost and did not have a barfine in two weeks. But then Nu saw him and met a rich customer the same night. Pui saw him driving by her bar beer and got a 500 baht tip. But then when Ploi saw him she did not get any tip at all that night. Yai saw him after which the food cart came just when she was hungry. But then Pet could not find anything she liked to eat the night she did see him. There was the girl in the gogo bar on Walking street who, the night after she had seen the ghost, mamasan told her she had to dance topless. Somehow, things didn’t add up in Lek’s mind. But she was so sweet when she cuddled up to me when falling asleep.
Stories about people having seen the ghost on his motorcycle were not uncommon the months after. They asked the monks to make the ghost go away. That failed. Some suggested to find Kanda and ask her to make peace with him. However, Kanda had just completed a financially successful divorce with an American, and was busy setting herself up as the widow of another American: a 72-year-old alcoholic and diabetic, chain smoker with no other family members and a series of hospital visits in the last half year.
For the farang community, these stories were just a source of entertainment. It was a good laugh to hear the girls musing about if seeing the ghost was a good or bad thing. They could tease the girls in the bar beer complexes on Beach and Second Road not to look at the road too often. They now had an excuse to hug the girls when these were scared of seeing the ghost. For them, they did not believe: a man on a motorcycle driving around and around. I mean: who would be so crazy to drive around bar beers every night to find the love of his life?
Aom was a plump girl, although some would call her fat. Average face, dressed in a cheap summer dress. Trying and failing to look sexy. A girl with a heart of gold. Why she ended up in a bar beer on second road, no one understood. She was too kind for the kind of work she did. One of the most successful in getting lady drinks from the lost and lonely who ended up in her bar. Not good-looking enough to get many bar fines, and soon got a reputation that she did not know what to do between the sheets. A silent girl the other girls avoided, for being mai sanuk. And they did not like her oddity that at night she was staring into the road to look for a lonely ghost on his motorcycle.
The rest of the story is confused. The Pattaya Mail tells that some night a drunk young woman ran from a bar to the middle of the road where she started to take all her clothes off. She was smashed by a speeding touring car carrying high-class Chinese tourists back to their hotel. The Thai Tourist Agency is busy assuring the Chinese that this will not happen again, and that Thailand will continue to be a high class destination.
The bar girls tell me something else. When Aom was on the middle of the road, and started to take her clothes off, they first shouted words of encouragement, and then words to try to stop her. Out of the dust on the road, an old man on a motorcycle appeared. Their eyes fixed on each other for some time. His hands went over her body. She pushed her lips against his. The merging of lips became a merging of bodies. They settled into a slow rhythm, one body joined with another. Sounds from the bars disappeared, the road empty apart from a couple copulating in the street. Small shrieks from a girl. Tears from an old man. The rhythm of their movements getting faster and faster. The moment when muscles cannot be controlled and start moving on their own. The moment of deep relaxation followed the next second by a touring car carrying Chinese tourists passing by at high speed. After which, only dust on an empty street. Sounds of bars coming back. Aom was never seen again. Nor was the ghost. Those who witnessed, tell me that it was the most beautiful thing they have ever seen.