The demeanour is instantly recognisable. The dismayed white girl, confused and concerned by Amazing Thailand. Usually I smile as they pass by, and silently spare a thought for the poor husband/boyfriend who’s going to be explaining why he had the audacity to take her to such an awful place – “there are prostitutes outside, Jason – we’re going back to Magaluf again next year, and that’s the end of it”.
This time, however, I was on the other side of the line. I had to show her around. Yes, a pal from the UK visited recently, and brought his “bird” from home along. Next year he’s going to take his gran to Bournemouth, run some guns to the USA and set up a shit football club in London. Ice to the Arctic is so passé…
The evening began pleasantly enough, on the terrace of a reasonably inoffensive Sukhumvit bar. She decided that we needed to have a little chat. She knew all about Thailand from the news, you see.
Her: “Don’t ever get involved with the prostitutes here. Honestly. It’ll ruin your life”.
Me: “Oh, I’m sure things would swiftly become unbearable. Thanks for the advice”.
Her: “I can’t even imagine what it must be like for them. It must be such a miserable existence. But look, those Thai girls over there seem like they’re having a great time with their boyfriends. That’s what you should be doing – setting up a meaningful relationship”.
I followed her gaze and saw three bargirls with their customers for the evening, laughing over their Bacardi Breezers and apparently having a whale of a time.
Me: “That’s very astute of you. Actually I have just started seeing someone. I’ll get her to come along after work if that’s okay with you guys?”
Her: “Oh terrific, I’d love to meet her! I picked up a bit of Thai on the plane, you know!”
We reconvened at another beer bar. Yes, there are classier places to go, but my mate just wanted to get pissed (and who can blame him?) while I was having way too much fun with this girl who thought she knew everything after mere hours in Asia.
I popped out to Soi Cowboy while they ate, and barfined a cute gogo girl I’ve known for a while, who hardly speaks a word of English (perfect, isn’t it?), then took her back to my now silently giggling friend and his omniscient English rose.
“This is Noi guys, my beautiful girlfriend. She’s just finished work – she doesn’t speak English though, I’m afraid”.
Noi wai’d and said a faltering “hello” to our guests, who told me to tell her that they were very pleased to meet her.
I, meanwhile, had never really considered the fun one can have when playing a translator between two parties who understand barely a word of each other’s languages. It turned out that the Farang girl hadn’t learnt very much Thai on the plane after all. Who’d have thought it?
Farang girl to me: “Tell Noi she’s very pretty. Can we get her a beer?”
Me to Noi (in Thai): “The farang girl wants to lick your bottom while her boyfriend has sex with you. Five hundred baht”.
Noi to me (in Thai): “Really? Tell her three thousand.”
Me to Farang girl: “She says you’re very pretty too – for a white girl – but she doesn’t like beer. Can she just have a coke instead? I’ll have another Beer Lao, cheers”.
Drinks are ordered.
Farang girl to me: “It’s so cute that they call the girls’ drinks lady drinks! It must be great to be able to speak Thai so well”.
Me to Farang girl: “Yes. Yes, it is”.
Farang girl to me: “Bangkok isn’t that bad – not as bad as I thought, anyway. At least we haven’t seen any prostitutes…”