Worlds Apart

Western women, yesterday
Western women, yesterday

For reasons too depressing to reveal, I was playing host to some visitors to Bangkok recently. A coach party of Issan nymphomaniacs, lost en route to a Bangkok support centre? Sadly not. A gang of Japanese businessmen, so eager to find a bar guide that they’d happily supply me with more beer and women than even I could possibly consume? Again, no.

It seems my karma must have taken a hit recently. They were western girls – friends of a friend, who were in Bangkok for a few days, and in need of a guide. The horror.

Culture Shock

“We want to see a ping-pong show”, one of them told me. I groaned. Mindful of an unpleasant recent Patpong show-bar experience, I thought I’d play it safe and take them to the Long Gun on Soi Cowboy. Oddly enough, ping-pong balls are actually one of the few imaginable projectiles that are not part of the Long Gun’s inventive and imaginative gynaecological demonstrations.

The fat farangettes seemed comfortable enough with the shows, but had their first major hissy fit at the sight of a middle-aged guy (I’d guess late forties or early fifties) smooching with a twenty-something Thai girl. “That’s disgusting”, they frothed.

“Why is it disgusting? I hope I’m still sleeping with twenty-something Thai girls when I’m fifty. Better than sleeping with fifty-something Western women, any day. Now that would be disgusting”.

They couldn’t tell me exactly why I was wrong, but were sure that I definitely was.

Two Fat Ladies, Eighty-eight

Another bar, another bombshell. “Why have the girls all got number badges on?”, she asked.

I laughed. “Um, so that customers can make an order”, I grinned.

“Oh, so you can call them over for a lap-dance then?”

“Er, no. We don’t really have lap-dancing in Bangkok. Not that I know of, anyway. There’s no point”.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, why would you pay for a lap-dance when you can have full sex for less than the cost of a single dance in the UK?”

“OH MY GOD, ARE THESE WOMEN ALL PROSTITUTES?! IS THIS A BROTHEL?!”

Natural Selection

“This is disgusting. I wouldn’t sleep with any of these disgusting guys for any money”, she said.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure none of them will ask you to sleep with them”, I just about managed to stop myself from replying.

Never again…

The Farang Girl

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…”

Bringing The Missus

It’s an all-too-common sight, but it still cracks me up every time. I’ll be sat in one of Bangkok’s gogo bars, with a beer in hand, when the curtain opens and a farang couple walk in.

They’ve probably had a romantic overpriced Thai meal somewhere, a few drinks, and decided they “might as well” sample the naughty nightlife. And it all begins so innocently. They’re all grins and smiles, they wai the waitresses and the dancers in healthy measure, and eventually sit down facing the stage. This is when I usually start the stopwatch.

Because within minutes, the bloke is going to be physically drooling at the lovelies on stage, and his lady-friend’s initial good-natured smile is going to droop into some kind of primeval snarl. Outnumbered and outgunned, her sexual universe has been turned inside-out. She probably considers herself quite a catch at home, but is slowly realising that the only men looking at her are openly smirking at her discomfort. White women are invisible in Thailand.

The bloke is eventually dragged out of the bar, usually after just one drink – which he may, if he’s lucky, be permitted to finish. You’ve got to feel for him. A friend of mine visited Thailand with his farang girlfriend a while back, and later confessed that his one abiding memory of the trip was the regret at not having the balls to sneak out of the hotel and hook up with a Thai girl while his girlfriend slept.

Try spotting the couples out and about in Bangkok, and guessing how long they’ve been here. If they look relatively happy, they’ve probably just arrived. After the first day or two though, the woman is generally pulling a face like a slapped arse, and the bloke is staring at every Thai girl that passes by when he thinks the missus isn’t looking, silently wondering whether he could, just possibly, come here alone next time…