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Greng Jai


 

 

Greng Jai (เกรงใจ) means to be considerate of others, not wanting to disturb or offend or impose upon them. I’d REALLY like to give a recent personal example of this, but sadly, I can’t, to be honest.

Has it disappeared? Is it an out-dated concept in Thailand now? Are the younger generation not as inclined to the concept the same way that no-one really seems to care about showing the soles of their feet or touching the heads of people anymore. Both of these concepts may even have been out-dated when I first came to the Land of Smiles in 2006 clutching my copy of ‘The Bible’ (Lonely Planet) and half expecting to be raped by a Malaria-ridden ladyboy mosquito selling fake diamonds as I stepped off the plane in Bangkok for the first time to be battered by the heat.

THAT feeling never leaves you! That first slap of heat and humidity was like nothing I’d ever felt before. In the UK (Scotland) when it’s (rarely) hot, it’s hot from above. That round yellow orb in the sky that we so seldom see is where it comes from and as soon as a cloud covers it, we feel the temperature change straight away. But, here .. it’s every-fxxxin-where! Like being cooked from the inside .. slowly.

On advice from my older brother I went to Soi 5 (I think.. maybe 5/1) & a hotel he had recommended (right at the end of the soi, blue sign). I took a taxi from the taxi stand and ignored all the hawkers (as advised by ‘The Bible’) and took the metered taxi like the wizened old traveller I wasn’t.

The hotel (the fxxxin name still escapes me .. give me time!) was located at the end of the soi and I head there with the biggest fxxxin ruck-sack in Thailand that made me feel like a turtle with a neon sign saying: “Newbie alert! Fresh meat! Get your fresh meat here!” I have to walk past bars .. with girls in them .. actual fxxxin hookers .. the real thing! THE main reason I was here, if truth be told. It was around 5 PM and the girls were probably just starting for the night, but they still called out to the handsome, young (33-year-old) Farang as he passed (I genuinely am a decent looking guy .. honestly!). Being the world weary traveller that I was, I smiled politely and kept walking towards the (whatitsfxxxinname) hotel and went to rent a room, whilst secretly shittin myself and wondering why the fxxx my stupid older brother had gave me this hotel name (?) in such a noisy fxxxin area surrounded by hookers.

No room at the inn though! All my plans fell through at that point. I only had that hotel as a plan and ‘The Bible’ didn’t have any parables to aid me, so I took the first fxxxin taxi I could grab and told them to take me to any fxxxin hotel! Yep, I know, I know .. ‘The Bible’ warned of commissions, dodgy taxis, expensive hotels etc etc etc BUT, I didn’t give a shit at that point as I was exhausted after the flight and (as mentioned before) I was slowly cooking from the inside out!

The taxis commission based hotel choice was The Royal Park View Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 20. No longer there, it seems. The hotel, not the Soi. I went to the reception and was told the price per night and paid for seven nights. I was also told that if I brought a girl back to the room it would cost an extra 1,000 baht per night (£15 in old money. 70 baht to the pound in them days .. aahhhhhh .. *a single nostalgic tear drops down the writer’s cheek*). Not knowing the rules around these here parts I confidently said: “Well, I’m going to bring a girl back every night!” and promptly paid an extra 7,000 baht then and there, before confidently walking off with my room key (closely followed by the bemused looks from the recepetion staff at the back of the new crazy Farang).

Up in my room on the 17th floor, too wired to sleep, I looked out over the Bangkok skyline and thought, “What the fxxx am I doing?” Reality had now hit and I realised I was thousands of miles away in a strange country and I didn’t know a single fxxxin soul. I had genuinely come to Thailand for the girls, first and foremost. My brother’s stories had sold me on it and I’d always had a soft spot for Asian women .. but, can’t place the specific event, tv show or movie that planted that seed. Maybe James Bond (Sean Connery) with his Japanese women in *quick Google search later* ‘You Only Live Twice’? Definitely not Yoko fxxxin Ono! The cute girls from the Bruce Lee films? Fxxx knows, anyway .. here I was with £10, 000 in the bank .. yeah, forgot to say .. I ‘borrowed’ £10 grand from the Royal Bank of Scotland the day after being sacked (fired, for you Yanks!) from another dumb job and received said money SIX fxxxin days later straight into my bank account. No employment check, no references required, nothing! I phoned the said bank straight away and transferred £9, 999 to my other bank account on the pretence of “having builders coming and having to pay them by cheque” etc etc .. & promptly fxxxed off to Thailand to meet hookers!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch .. or, the 17th floor of the Royal Park View Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 20, to be precise .. I’m smoking a cigarette and feeling very tiny in this huge city as I look out the window and pluck up enough courage to decide to put my big boy pants on and go and meet some hookers. Luckily, unbeknownst to me I am only a ten minute walk away from Soi Cowboy. Quite the eye opener! Lights, music, people, beautiful girls trying to drag you this way and that; “Hey sexy man, where you go?” I walk the full length of the street half terrified, half excited .. basically, shittin myself, but with a hard-on!

At the very end of the soi I hear on my right the sounds of Pink Floyd coming out of a bar. Possibly/ probably Country Road Bar ..  google just told me. I walk inside, buy a beer and look around .. I see another Farang sat by himself at a table and I blunder towards him. He confirms he is by himself and I just blurt out: “Can I sit here with you, mate? I’ve just arrived. It’s my first time here .. & I’m shittin myself, to be honest!”

He was cool with it, with huge relief I sat down and tried to get my bearings. The tales from ‘The Bible’ still fresh in my mind as I tried to keep all the scams, warnings, worries, concerns and precautions at the forefront whilst I (warily) scanned the room. The guy was called Steve and he was from Leeds (truth, no ‘name changed to protect the innocent’ here, my friend!). Over the course of a few beers I got his story, or stories, to be precise. A veteran of Thailand and Bangkok and hookers, was Steve, so I sat like a sponge ready to soak up his wisdom. Find out all the do’s and don’ts that ‘The Bible’ just doesn’t/ can’t tell you. Landed on my feet here, I thought. I strapped myself in (metaphorically, of course!).

One time Steve (from Leeds, you remember) had come to Bangkok and searched for a bar girl he had met on a previous visit. She wasn’t at the bar, so he travelled to her home town somewhere up in Isaan (I presume!). *alarm bells ringing in my head* Steve couldn’t find her in her hometown, couldn’t speak the language, not sure about how much money he had, but he ended up “sleeping by the side of the road” in a field of some sort! What. the. actual. fxxx!

Another time, good old veteran traveller Steve had been stopped in the street by two beautiful Thai girls and asked if he wanted to go upstairs to their room to see some designer bags. *ding ding fxxxin ding again* He went!

When he got there the girls’ “uncle” arrived and he explained to bright boy Steve (from Leeds, you understand) that he wanted Steve to go to a casino and gamble for him and Steve would earn X baht for doing this easy task. Good old Steve was all for going!

One other time, Steve (you remember him?) was somewhere in Africa, surrounded by mud huts etc and he was shown the way to a hooker there. He instantly fell in love (again), as is his wont. When he got home (to Leeds) she called him up and said * now you have to imagine a Yorkshire accent doing an impression of an African tribeswoman who sweetly said* “Come make baby!” .. so, he went!!

‘Tubular Bells’ by Mike Oldfield must’ve been playing in the bar now as I had bells, chimes and ring-a-fxxxin-dinging going off all over the shop as I looked at this fxxxin idiot and thought, ‘Fxxxin Hell! If this dumb cunt is still alive .. I’ll be fine!’

So, I tossed ‘The Bible’ and lived by Common Sense alone and was absolutely fine .. barring a few scrapes along the way, .. but that’s another few stories.

So, back to greng jai ..

Nah, I don’t want to impose on you any further!

The End (for now).

Rabbie Burns

The author cannot be contacted.