The Cultural Divide

Thai men can be tricky to figure out. Sometimes I’ll be out in a bar or a nightclub, and a gang of Thai lads will come over wanting to shake hands with the farang – other times, like at Saphan Kwai, there can be a distinctly hostile feeling in the air. To be fair, as a race we do fly uninvited to their country, loaded with unfathomable wealth, and spend our time mostly shagging their womenfolk. I know very few farangs here with male Thai friends.

I had quite a shock when I first encountered the “toilet massage” service offered in the men’s toilets of many Thai nightclubs. I walked in to take a leak, stood at the urinal letting it all out, and suddenly felt a warm damp sensation on the back of my neck. A distinctly male Thai attendant had draped a hot towel on my shoulders, and then proceeded to massage my shoulders and back. I somehow managed to finish the job off without soaking my shoes, then staggered to the sink to wash my hands – after which I was physically picked up and shaken as this giant Thai cracked every bone in my neck and spine. And then held his hand out for a tip.

Anyway, I was recently trying to explain to a Thai guy that this kind of thing doesn’t happen so much in the UK. In fact, it’s pretty unthinkable. If you attempted to massage the average British male clubber’s shoulders as he stood “shaking hands with the big fella”, he’d likely turn round and knock you out, pissing on your shoes as he did so. This poor Thai couldn’t quite comprehend why. The East/West thing (or Thailand/Farangland thing) is such a massive cultural difference, but sometimes it’s difficult to know where the culture ends and sheer sexual harassment begins.

I went for a haircut this week. I sat down in the chair, and the very male middle-aged Thai barber reached around to unfasten the top buttons of my shirt, so that he could tuck the towel and sheet in more easily. He didn’t do that straight away though – he grabbed a tuft of my chest hair first, and told me how sexy it was. Already distinctly uncomfortable, he then proceeded to tell me how astonishingly handsome I was, as he clipped and snipped away.

Once that was over with (and not a moment too soon), I paid the ฿60 and made to leave – but not before being cut off at the door and physically embraced in a bear-hug by said barber. Cultural divide, or did I just get gayed?

12 thoughts on “The Cultural Divide

  1. U got gayed buddy but all in good fun. I must say with all the places to go that are full of women who are more than decent at giving a good cut – I am asking myself why u go to a male cutter? I have been hooked on Friends on Sukhumvit for over 4 years and see no reason to get my locks touched anywhere else.

  2. Maybe if you diddling white boys tried to make friends with more Thai guys they’d show you all the truly great places to shag Thai babes that you just don’t know about. Get over the nana skank. It ain’t all that.

  3. Never mind the guy’s sexual proclivities, you should be worrying about a 60 baht haircut. But then I suppose anyone who pays 60 baht for a haircut is unlikely to be concerned about the results anyway.

  4. I haven’t been around Thailand too long, just over a year, but I too often wonder about the depth and the difficulty of bridging the cultural divide. I have what amounts to one male thai friend and about 3 or 4 acquaintances. Recently, I queried one of my acquaintances, a full thai who for a time lived in the US, about the composition of his group of friends here in BKK. Interestingly enough, he indicated that most, if not all, of his thai friends are either luk khrung with western influences or other thais who have spent time living abroad.

    I imagine that a large part of the issue is the language barrier. How can you be friends with someone when you can’t communicate with them properly (not an issue with female thai ‘friends’ because attraction isn’t always something that needs to be discussed in intimate detail 😀 )?

  5. BBB You were lucky. At least you could tell straight away it was a guy.

    In Patong a few years ago, I slipped my sweetie 200 baht so she could go and pay the daily bar fine. I had given up doing this myself as she usually spend hours there chatting with her mates. Of course if I go with her it usually costs me a fortune in drinks for her buddies, and they are difficult to say no to.

    So anyway, off she went. Her bar was in Soi Eric I think. I sat down at a bar on Bangla Road to wait and get a beer.

    I was just about to start my first beer when I felt the tender caresses of a maiden’s finger tips on the back of my neck. Gently she kneeded my vertebra, and then started massaging my head and face from behind, then my throat. This went on for about 15 minutes. I got my back and shoulders done too. I was really getting into it. Then it just stopped and the lady came around and sat in front of me. 50 bahts please she said.

    I was beginning to feel queasy. I fumbled in my pocket and got out the small change which I gave to her, as well as a big tip.

    She sure was a georgious lady boy. It must have cost here thousands to look like that. But I figured she was still saving up to get the huge adams apple fixed.

  6. Having met BBB, I would say that spending as much as 60 baht on anything to do with improving his appearance is a rare, and possibly unique, event. His dreadlock extensions date back to “Exodus”-era Bob Marley, and the faded fisherman’s pants even further. The pavements of Bangkok have, over the years, given him hobbit feet, rendering footwear unnecessary and probably impossible. Facial hair is not a problem, due to the creeping psoriasis that makes him not only bald but the object of pity and charity for even the lowliest of street beggars. I actually saw that guy who crawls Sukhumvit on his belly reach up to slip a twenty-baht note into BB’s fraying cloth shoulderbag.
    So please, gentlemen, tread softly when you comment here, for you tread on an old man’s dreams …

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