Good Old Fashioned Trip Report
“I haven’t left my country in 2 years!” read the text from Al. “Going crazy. Is Thailand open yet?”
Good question. Thailand is open, or closed, or half open/half closed, depending on the day of the week and what color underwear the Minister of Tourism is wearing. Just today I read that a- Thailand would eliminate all testing and b- Thailand would shut down its Test and Go program and revert to quarantines. Who knows?
The old days when you could book a flight, grab your passport and a toothbrush and go are a thing of the past. It’s a new world. Stop whingeing. Tests and paperwork are the order of the day. Get used to it.
When Al and I prepared to go to Thailand (this was early March), in addition to the pre-flight PCR test, you needed to apply for a ThaiPass (approval to enter the Kingdom), by submitting the following on line: passport, proof of vaccination, proof of pre-paid PCR tests for arrival (Day 1) and Day 5, pre-paid hotel bookings for Days 1 and 5, and proof of medical insurance of a minimum of USD50,000.
I had flown to Thailand in December and since my flight had arrived at noon I booked a cheap hotel, went there and had lunch, and in a few hours my PCR results had come in and I left the hotel, never having seen the room. This time, Al’s and my flight arrived at 8pm and I assumed the test results would come in overnight. So I booked a cheap room (1000 baht) at a Phuket airport hotel where we would spend the night, and another cheap hotel (where I had no intention of spending the night) for Day 5 near my condo. As it turned out, the Day 5 test was cancelled so we were able to cancel the Day 5 hotel and apply to get a refund on our Day 5 PCR test. (It is now 3 weeks later and I am still getting daily texts telling me to submit my Day 5 results).
We both applied for our ThaiPass the recommended 7 days in advance and approvals quickly came in. When we landed, as we were in the 1st row, we were first in line to submit our documents, which took but a few minutes. There was no one at Immigration so that was another few minutes. After collecting our bags we went outside where we were given a PCR test, and then met our car for the 2 minute drive to the hotel. From touchdown to in the car was only 15 minutes.
At the hotel we were instructed to download the Morchana App. I had done this on my previous trip a few months back but it didn’t work. Someone had fixed it and we were now able to log in. My profile showed amber, that is, I was not cleared to leave the hotel. The next morning our apps showed green so we checked out, picked up the rental car, and drove to my condo. Other than the hassle of spending the 1st night at the airport hotel, it was a very smooth and painless experience.
Al, having gone 2 years without paying for sex with a total stranger, was keen to go to Patong, Phuket’s famous bar area on Bangla Road. We went early, having been advised that bars were required to close at 11pm, and set our sights for two places, both on Soi Seadragon: Suzi Wong’s which a friend told me was excellent, and Harem, which I had read about in a Stickman column (Thanks Stick!).
I usually park in the shopping center called Jung Ceylon, which is a few minutes walk to Bangla Road, but when we arrived the place was completely dark and the parking lot closed. We later found out that the Singaporean mall owner had temporarily closed the entire mall. But we found a parking spot on the street so all good.
The first thing we noticed was that many bars on Bangla Road were closed, and the ones that were open had no girls dancing on the poles. I thought perhaps that pole dancing was banned outside but as we walked further down the soi we found several places with pole girls.
But we made our first right onto Soi Seadragon, and quickly found ourselves in Suzie Wong’s.
It’s a small place, with a stage for 6 girls. Seating for about 20 or so. We grabbed a bench, ordered drinks and Al had his first look at naked Thai women in 2 years.
If short and pudgy is your thing—stay away! These girls were tall and slim. Amazingly so. Exactly my personal preference for body type. Unfortunately, most of them were enhanced up top, and sported multiple tattoos, both things a turn off for me.
We had 2 drinks, no one pestered us and no girl came to sit with us, although the mama indicated that they were available (what a shock). There was an elderly Western couple next to us, man and wife, and we wondered what she thought of the whole thing.
Overall, Suzie Wong’s had a decent vibe but a bit laid back.
We moved to Harem, a few minute’s walk away.
Wow. Two stages in two rooms, many many girls both dancing as well as wandering around. Dancers were topless and bottomless. We were shown to a sofa and immediately two girls came to sit with us.
I never like it when girls come to me, because I find the aggressive ones are often the least attractive, But both of these girls were sensational, 8 or 9 if you score that way. We ordered drinks for ourselves, and after 10 or 15 minutes, without being asked by them, we ordered drinks for the girls. They both got tequila shots, and when the drinks arrived, I took a taste and it really was tequila.
My girl soon had her hand rubbing my crotch while my hand found her breast, at first on the outside of her outfit but soon, with her encouragement, on the inside.
Another round of tequila followed after a while.
“I’m ready to take mine home,” whispered AL, and I told him to ask the procedure.
Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, because I had never heard anything like this before.
The girls told us that before they could leave the bar, they have to have been bought 15 tequila shots (at 250 baht/shot). As we had bought them 2, they still needed 13 before they could leave.
Once they accumulated the required 15, the bar fine was then 2000 baht!
To save you the math, that meant 5750 baht before they could leave.
We then asked how much for the girls to spend the night. The usual answer is either 1- “up to you” or 2- “2000 short time/3000 long time.” But the girls simply looked puzzled and couldn’t answer. We finally figured out that with the cost of buying a girl out being so prohibitive, no one ever took a girl home. I asked my girl if she had ever left the bar with someone and she said No.
With tears in our eyes and rather stiff ones down below, we left. After that, the rest of the girls we encountered palled in comparison, and we soon lost the appetite for further hunting. We made the 30 minute drive back to my place, but I remembered a bar about 5 minutes away from my condo, where the girls were average looking but keen to deliver. We decided to go there for a night cap before turning in.
If you added up the five girls who were there, I doubt they would total a 10. This was the saddest, sorriest group I had ever seen. We ordered drinks and realized it would be an early night.
Then M stumbled in.
She was everything the others weren’t: sexy, attractive, well spoken, friendly…and gloriously drunk.
Whether she was coming from an assignation, or just out having fun with friends, we never discovered, but we did learn that she was from the south, a Thai Muslim, and was up for dinner the following evening so she could get to know Al.
The next morning we did a 50km bike ride to a reservoir. There are lovely back roads in Phuket where you would never feel you’re in a tourist paradise. It was great to exercise and work up a bit of sweat in the fresh air. Surprisingly, the motorists were respectful of us as cyclists and we never felt in any danger.
Al invited M to dinner and she accepted. I asked Al to ask her to bring a friend, and send a picture. M asked that I send a picture back to show to her friend so everyone seemed happy.
The girls showed up, only a few minutes late (which was a good sign), the friend, A, driving her own car (an MG, made in China, which has become quite popular in Phuket, selling for about 800k-1m baht. An English friend of mine bought an electric MG, and got a home charger included as part of the package).
Speaking of driving, I later learned from A that she paid 15000 baht for a driver’s license, bought the MG in Korat and promptly drove it to Phuket, getting only three speeding tickets and not paying the last one.
M & A were both elegantly dressed. A seemed a bit shy and didn’t speak much. She told me later that when meeting new people she liked to sit back and assess. After dinner, we invited them back to my place for a drink. After demolishing a bottle of red, I invited A upstairs to continue our chat in my bedroom, while Al and M went to his room.
In my room, A asked “How much you give me?” and of course I responded with “How much do you want?”
Now I knew that 2000 was the correct price, and I know many of you readers believe that we men should pay as little as possible. I am of the belief that a monetarily content lady is an enthusiastic one, and as she needed the money more than I, and I was looking to establish something a bit more long term, I agreed.
She looked down at her chest, up at me and asked “Would you like to see?” as she pulled down her top.
The following day the girls came back, first to my place for a before dinner drink and some fun, then to dinner. Over the course of the next few days I learned that A had a three year old daughter who lived with the father. The father, to hear A tell it, was a useless good for nothing who couldn’t get a job but this was from a woman who slept with strangers for money while letting her daughter live apart so who knows what truth is?
(As a refreshing aside, a different woman I met on this trip, when I asked her if she had a boyfriend or husband, responded “No. I’m a bad girl. I always go out drinking all night long so my boyfriend left me. Now I fuck men for money so I don’t need a boyfriend.”)
The next day we left for a 3 day adventure on the mainland at a place called Khao Sok, about 2 hours drive north of Phuket airport.
According to Wikipedia, “The park is the largest area of virgin forest in southern Thailand and is a remnant of rain forest which is older and more diverse than the Amazon rain forest”.
“Its area is 739 km2 (285 sq mi), and it includes the 165 km2 (64 sq mi) Cheow Lan Lake contained by the Ratchaprapha Dam….The park is traversed by a limestone mountain range from north to south with a high point of 950 m (3,117 ft). Heavy rainfall and falling leaves led to the erosion of the limestone rocks and created the significant karst formations seen today….Bamboo holds topsoil very tenaciously, preventing soil erosion on hillsides and riverbanks. With more than 1,500 species, bamboo is the oldest grass in the world, dating back nearly 60 million years. Liana trees grow rapidly wrapping around any vertical or horizontal support base such as takian or “rain trees”. Thus, it’s dangerous to simply cut a tree in the jungle because it can pull connected liana vines with it creating a cascade of damage…Many kinds of wild fruit can be found around the national park and serve as sustenance for animals. Among those fruits are wild jackfruit, mangosteen, durian, rambutan, jujube, pomelo, and wild bananas. Wild pepper and ginger are not uncommon. Khao Sok National Park is perhaps most famous for the bua phut (Rafflesia kerrii) flower….The park is estimated to contain over five percent of the world’s species. Wild mammals include Malayan tapir, Asian elephant, tiger, sambar deer, bear, gaur, banteng, serow, wild boar, pig-tailed macaque, langur, white handed gibbons, squirrel, muntjak, mouse deer, barking deer.”
We spent our first night at a place called Our Jungle Camp (which I recommend). Literally set in the jungle, there are cabins and treehouses. A river on the property makes for excellent swimming. My cabin slept three (unfortunately A did not come), came with en suite bathroom and cost 1200 baht. Staff were very friendly and welcoming, and the restaurant served simple but tasty Thai and western food. There was a village of sorts within 1km, with many restaurants, massage parlors, and mini-marts.
The village led to one of the Park entrances and, after checking in and eating a lovely Penang chicken curry with roti for lunch, we set off with a nature guide on a 7km walk.
The next day we packed a small overnight bag, checked out but left our luggage at the hotel, and joined a group of 12 to spend the night on the lake itself. The drive to the marina was about 45 minutes and we got to know our fellow travelers, a German couple and American couple, four 25 year old American female Bangkok English teachers, and a gay Dutchman who was travelling and sharing a cabin with a Middle Eastern man who claimed to be straight but hey! it’s 2022 and who cares.
We got on a long tail boat for an hour cruise into the lake and to our cabins, which were tiny bungalows built on rafts on the water. No bathroom and just a futon on the floor, but there was an electric fan and power on from 630 at night until 6am.
After another simple but flavorful Thai lunch, we went on a hike. Man! Hike would be an understatement. About 2km in lateral length, we climbed up about 500 meters, taking two hours to reach the top. The last few hundred meters were spent climbing using hands and feet up a boulder field that littered the mountainside.
I was expecting to emerge at the top on an open field with a 360 view but the group ended up perched on the side of the mountain, clinging to the rocks. The view was spectacular though. Coming down, we had to go backwards down the rock field and then another hour back to the boat which would take us to our lakeside bungalows.
Hot and sweaty, we all grabbed beers and jumped into the water, where we stayed until suppertime. As only beer is allowed in the National Park, everyone was quite happy when I emerged from my bungalow with a bottle of single malt whiskey, which was easily consumed as a raucous night began.
I did mention the four 25 year old American teachers, who were quite lovely to look at. At first, they looked right past Al and myself. As 60 year old men we didn’t even register with the young ladies. But after the hike, the swim, and the whiskey, we became accepted into their group and, while we both ended up sleeping alone, we were able to enjoy their company during the evening.
The next morning was spent looking for elephants and enjoying the sunrise over the lake and eventually we made our way back to our first hotel in the jungle. After a massage and pizza we slept well, despite the furious thunderstorm that crashed overhead. For our final morning we took a bamboo raft down a river, not terribly exciting but a relaxing hour, drove back to Phuket in the heaving rain, and hooked up again with M and A, who came over for a drink and some “exercise”.
Then it was off with them to Catch Beach Club, followed by a shared dinner of multiple plates as we were reminded how much food Thai women could put down. We moved a few meters from the restaurant to the disco and, since the Russians had more or less gone, it was mostly some Koreans, local Thais and a few Westerners. Masks were off and it was like old times.
Al’s trip was coming to an end, and he had to fly home via Bangkok. He had reserved at a Bangkok hospital to take a pre-departure test but as we arrived at the taxi rank at Suvarnabhumi we saw the same hospital had a testing center right there. So Al was able to get his test in a few minutes at the airport as we arrived from Phuket. Then it was a taxi to my condo in Bangkok, a nice soapy massage on soi 24, dinner with a Thai friend of mine and his wife, and then Al was up at 4am for his 7am flight.
As I write, I am still in Bangkok, waiting for the mia noi to arrive from upcountry. We’ll enjoy each other’s company by ourselves for a while as we wait for her mum to come a few days later to continue her cancer treatments. Then I’m off back to my home for meetings and business. I’ll have the memories of two great weeks in Thailand, where the sun always shines, the girls are most willing, and age has not crept up on me.
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