Here begins an account of what transpired – the first of five (count ’em!) parts, because I figured people probably hate overly-long individual pieces even more than they hate serial pieces of readable length…
Day One – Outbound Flight
Miraculously, when we arrived at the airport, the flight was not only listed, but was actually running on schedule. We checked in, and went to change our fistfuls of bahts into a more appropriate currency.
Philippine Pesos are the order of the day, but a glance at the rates quoted at the change bureau at Suvarnabhumi suggested that this wasn’t such a good idea – Pesos were offered at à¸¿0.49 to buy, and à¸¿0.90 to sell. The actual rate was around à¸¿0.7, which is almost a 30% markup – in either direction. Caveat emptor.
We bought US dollars instead, which we could easily trade for Philippine Pesos at the countless money changers around Angeles City – as a rough guide, 1 US dollar is a smidgen under 50 pesos. Sure, we paid two lots of commision (baht to dollars, then dollars to pesos), but they added up to a hell of a lot less than 30%.
After the three-hour flight, the highlight of which was undoubtably not the “fun” games our flight crew attempted to get us to join in on (eg. “Hey everybody, first passenger to wave a pen over their head gets a free toy” – fuck off, I am watching Star Wars), we touched down for a welcome respite from the end of Bangkok’s rainy season in the typhoon-addled, yet remarkably dry, Philippines.
Down the steps and onto the tarmac, I took my first glimpse of our destination: aside from our aeroplane and the tiny terminal building, there was nothing else to be seen. There wasn’t a single other aeroplane at the airport.
One of the things that always bugs me about Pattaya is the farangs that I meet there. There are a few honourable exceptions, of course, but most of them are a pretty unpleasant bunch. It’s always riled me that by far the worst of the lot are inevitably Brits. I have long wondered where the trashy American whoremongers were, if not Pattaya. Surely the USA has its own unappealing scumbags, too?
In Angeles City, I found the answer. In the immigration queue, which moved swiftly enough, I counted four hick mullets, plus an elderly bearded gent wearing one of those tattoo sleeves. I could see the seam. Classy.
Although this was my first visit to the Philippines, it wouldn’t be my first dalliance with a Filipina. The initial dubious honour goes to the best of a bad bunch in the Dragon Club bar in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district, who blew me in the bar in exchange for far too much money.
And recently, quite by accident, I ended up on a fun, boozy date with a Filipina living in Bangkok, who works at a local school as an English teacher. Dinner, drinks, and back to my place. In the morning, I reflected on the fact that I was surely now a member of a fairly elite club who can boast at having been sucked off by a Bangkok English teacher, without all the associated unpleasantness of having to join the gays…
We even had a tour guide. On Nutter has a pal who moved from Bangkok to Angeles City earlier this year. Some readers may even know of him – lately of Bangkok, Baron Bonk is a British gent who seems to be channeling the spirit of dearly departed bon viveur Keith Floyd. His appetite for the finer foods and wines of the world is matched only by his lust for women.
And so we checked into our hotel and met The Baron for dinner – a cold cuts and cheese platter to start, then a nice steak in peppercorn sauce with spÃ¤tzli, rounded off with a slice of black forest gateau, inevitably accompanied by three bottles of wine. In between mouthfuls, The Baron explained how things work.
Firstly, as at the gogo bars of Saphan Kwai (Sutthisan), the barfine is all-inclusive. Barfines ranged from about P1,300 (à¸¿910) to P1,500 (à¸¿1,050) pesos, which is split between the bar and the girl, and covers not only the girl’s departure from the bar, but also her fee for services rendered – Long Time is apparently the standard.
That said, The Baron also advised me that “If you’re a gentleman, you’ll tip the young lady an extra P500 (à¸¿350).”
Tipsy on wine and amply stuffed, I was almost ready for bed. But no – it was time to explore the bars.
We began in Rhapsody, which was decent enough fun, but none of the girls particularly jumped out at me.
“Is that your Dad?” asked one of them – pointing at On Nutter.
“No”, I said.
We were going to leave after a single beer (San Miguel Lite is less than P100 (à¸¿70) in gogo bars, and closer to P50 (à¸¿35) or less in beer bars), but the Mamasan wouldn’t hear of it, and bought us another round.
On Nutter said he had never been bought a beer by a mamasan in four years of living in Bangkok. I’d only ever been bought one myself, years ago, in a tired beer bar in Queen’s Park Plaza – and never in a gogo. Yet we were bought beers by the mamasan – hired staff, not the owner – within twenty minutes of entering our first bar in Angeles. A little customer service goes a long way, and I made a mental note to return to Rhapsody out of principle, regardless of the quality of the women.
We moved on from there to Gecko’s, where I was rather taken by a pretty girl with bleached blonde hair, but she was already in street clothes – presumably she’d already been out for a short-time. I figured I was bound to find something more attractive later on – ideally bikini-clad, so that I could inspect the goods more closely…
La Pasha bar was up next – by now we were getting the hang of it. The Angeles gogo model is not a million miles from the Bangkok version, with the main difference being the prices.
That said, bikinis are ubiquitous. The closest Angeles gets to nudity, I was told, was at a few bars where the bikini top is replaced by body paint – knickers stay on regardless.
Those bastard ping pong balls were present too, albeit again at a discounted price. Bell rings, interestingly, are set-price – the fee ranged from about P3,000 (à¸¿2,100) to about P6,000 (à¸¿4,200) depending on the size of the bar and the number of employees. The walls of many bars were inscribed with lists of the names, dates and times of previous bell-ringers, which is I suppose more recognition than it earns a punter in the average Bangkok bar… I still wasn’t tempted though.
On the upside, the standard of English is streets ahead. English is an official language of the Philippines, so one can have a perfectly pleasant time in the bars without having to utter a single word of Tagalog. I encountered absolutely no communication problems whatsoever.
From La Pasha we headed up Fields Avenue – the main bar strip – to Brown Sugar, in whose toilets I came across a caricature of Mick Jagger in which his index finger had sprouted a bell-end. Which was nice.
Something else I found in Brown Sugar was Cherry Girls. Definitely not something available in the gogo bars of Bangkok, Cherry Girls are, apparently, virgins. I was sceptical too, but am reliably informed that they are the real deal. Their status is indicated by a red “V” on their licence – every dancer or bargirl in Angeles has to wear a laminated licence card bearing their photograph, date of birth, place of birth and other assorted details. It does not indicate how many kids they’ve had, but it does indicate whether they’re a virgin.
Deflowering Cherry Girls was not on my list of things to do, so I didn’t even bother asking the price, but if that kind of thing floats your boat, they’re all over the place. Virgins are terrible shags, and I don’t think one really gains any bragging rights if the defloration comes at a hefty price – further online investigation suggests that the price might be somewhere in the P30,000 (à¸¿21,000) range….
I should point out that they’re all 18 and over, of course – that’s the minimum age in Angeles, and the licence system means that it seems to be fairly rigidly adhered to. There are freelancers working the streets in Angeles, but they’re viewed with suspicion – generally assumed to be diseased, thieves or underage (or all three). Sticking to the licensed girls seems the safe approach. There’s no good reason for a girl to work on the streets when she can easily work in the bars – so if she is on the street, it’s probably for a bad reason…
Then onto Angelwitch – no relation to the heftily overpriced Bangkok and Pattaya show bars of the same name, this was more like a rock pub that happened to have dancing girls. A couple of decent lookers – both of whom asked On Nutter whether I was his son – but nothing irresistible, and we stayed in here for another couple of beers, after which I was very drunk indeed.
After the equivalent of a bottle of wine each, followed by at least seven beers, coupled with crippling jet lag (Angeles is a whole hour ahead of Bangkok), I had little gas left in the tank.
On first impressions, Bangkok spoils us. The average Bangkok gogo girl is several orders of magnitude more attractive than the average Angeles gogo girl, and I don’t even particularly rate average Bangkok gogo girls very highly.
Angeles City is a town in dire need of a good orthodontist, for a start – and this is coming from a Brit! Those girls fortunate enough not to have a grin like a smashed piano were often either overweight, had skin that would benefit from a good sandblasting, or had a big wobbly facial mole – or even several.
To be fair, midnight had long passed before we’d really even started, so the cream of the crop could safely be assumed to have long been harvested, but the paucity of talent was disappointing. Perhaps I should have taken the blonde from Gecko’s, but I wasn’t quite feeling it, and hadn’t seen anything truly tempting since. There just wasn’t a single girl who I really wanted to sleep with.
Blowjobs, however, are another matter, and needs must. And so to Blow Row. An area of Santos St, just off the main strip of Fields Avenue, is Angeles City’s answer to Pattaya’s Soi Six. There are dingy rooms in the back of these run-down beer bars, and short-time is billed at a balloon-chaser-friendly P700 (à¸¿490) – all inclusive. I staggered into the first bar with an acceptable girl in front, and was blown away. Ha ha. No, seriously – one of the best BJs I have ever had in my life, which is not an accolade I award frivolously. I could have shagged her too, for no extra money, but really couldn’t be bothered.
After finishing my beer, and buying the young lady an orange juice for her troubles, I waddled contently to the hotel, and to bed.
As I began the slow drift into unconsciousness, I consoled myself in the facts that it had been Saturday night, that we’d hit the bars far too late, and that we’d only explored a fraction of the area.
Sure, I’d slept with more girls during my recent week in England (1) than I’d managed so far in Angeles (0), but that ratio couldn’t possibly last – could it?