Wan Chai

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Continuing our adventures elsewhere, I found myself in Hong Kong recently with an evening to kill. Wan Chai, I had heard, was the local epicentre of naughty nightlife, so I figured it would be rude not to check it out.

First things first. Hong Kong is not cheap, and nor are Hong Kong girls. I knew nothing about Wan Chai before I turned up, and naively expected bars full of hot Hong Kong Chinese girls. There are none. There seems to be a 90/10 split between Filipinas and Thai girls. Not that they’re cheap either, compared with Bangkok.

I got the MTR (underground) to Wan Chai, and found myself on Lockhart Street – a busy urban street lined with what the locals refer to as girlie bars, but which bear more than a passing resemblance to Bangkok’s gogo bars.

Enter The Dragon

I took a wander, and found myself in Dragon Club, on Fenwick Street – just off the main strip. A stage full of chrome poles and bored-looking shuffling Filipina “dancers” in bikinis greeted me, and I could have been in any of Bangkok’s lesser gogo bars. Until I saw the drinks prices, that is. A bottle of San Miguel set me back HK$40 (฿173), or HK$44 (฿190) once they added the mandatory 10% service charge. Lady-drinks in this bar consisted of a shot-glass of cola, and sell for HK$110 (฿475) – that’s HK$121 (฿523) with the service charge. I’ve had cheaper shags.

I picked out the cutest girl, and beckoned her over to join me. She was about 30-ish, so older than me, and she’d get laughed out of the door if she applied for a dancing job at any of Nana Plaza‘s Rainbow bars, but seemed nice enough.

The vulture of a mamasan implored me to buy the girl a drink, which I agreed to in the interest of research. There was a pleasant surprise though – we sat in a booth, and as my girl gingerly sipped her tiny drink with one hand, she stuffed her other hand down my pants. “Sorry, I have a naughty hand”, she giggled.

“That’s quite alright”, I replied.

“I have a naughty mouth too”, she mischievously added. And with that, she set about impressing me with her pork-sword swallowing technique. Suddenly, the five hundred baht lady-drink looked like a pretty good deal after all.

Not for long. I thought she was coming up for air – in fact, she was coming up to finish her drink, flutter her eyelashes, and inform me that I’d have to buy her another drink if I wanted her to continue.

Ever tried to make a rational financial decision whilst receiving a blow job? I bought her another drink. This disappeared even more quickly than the first. “This is going to get expensive”, I said to myself.

“One more?”, she asked.

“Okay, if you finish me off this time”.

“Oh, you have to talk to mamasan”.

Sigh.

The mamasan informed me of my options. The girl just would not discuss it at all. Apparently I could take the girl out of the bar for two hours for HK$2,000 (฿8,639). I’ve had cheaper relationships.

I actually had no intention of taking any girls out whatsoever, but the mamasan started haggling anyway. She offered me one hour with the girl, firstly for HK$1,500 (฿6,479) and then, desperately, HK$1,000 (฿4,319).

“Can’t she just finish me off like this?”, I asked (and yes, BBB-jr was still sticking out of my pants during these delicate negotiations).

“Okay. HK$600”. That’s ฿2,592. I declined, drank up, and moved on.

Fake Tales of San Francisco

I eventually wandered into San Francisco #1, where beers were available for the bargain price of HK$20 (฿86), so still only HK$22 (฿95) after the service charge. That’s cheaper than most Bangkok gogos. Advantage Wan Chai.

Unfortunately, it’s advantage Bangkok all the way in every other respect. The girls were mostly Filipina, but I spotted an Issan girl (from Ubon Ratchathani, it turned out) amongst them, who was suitably amused when I introduced myself in Thai. She wanted to know why on earth I was wasting my money in Wan Chai when I lived in Bangkok.

I began to wonder the same thing myself. She wasn’t looking particularly appealing, and the Filipina girls weren’t much better. Lady drinks, I was enthusiastically informed, ranged from HK$110 (฿475) for a simple cola, to HK$220 (฿950) for a mixed drink, and onto HK$330 (฿1,425) for a tequila. Plus ten percent, naturally.

I hated to disappoint the Thai girl, her Filipina friend, and the mamasan, who’d all crowded round my small table to beg for tequila, but there was no way I was going to spend the best part of ฿5,000 on four drinks. That’s seven sessions at the Star of Light, for heaven’s sake.

I did buy a cola for the Thai girl, and had a quick chat with her about the industry. It was definitely a nice change to be able to chat with a bargirl in a language her boss and her colleagues couldn’t understand. She claimed that she receives no salary from the bar, and just makes her money on drinks (HK$40 to the girl, HK$70 to the bar) and bar-fines (the barfine around here includes payment for the girls services, just like at the Saphan Kwai gogos in Bangkok).

Long-time, I was told, would set me back HK$4,000. That’s a mind-boggling ฿17,277 – and remember, this is for an Issan girl who must have been pushing forty years old.

Same Same

I ventured into San Francisco #2, next door, and then onto Cock-Eye, or Pop-Eye, depending on which sign you read. They were pretty similar, although only the San Francisco bars offered HK$20 beers. HK$40 seemed to be the standard price. This was getting depressing.

I had one more bottle of San Miguel in Cavalier, where I found another ageing Thai girl, this time with ludicrous silicone breasts. We were shepherded into a private booth, where I was told the girl would give me a lap-dance if I bought her a (HK$110) drink. I did so, and in return she simply sat on my lap, staring into the middle distance. I enthusiastically groped her boobs for a while, but it was clear that even my sexual magnetism wasn’t going to extract any fun out of this situation.

The mamasan stuck her head around the curtain, and told me that for another HK$1,000, I could do anything I wanted with the girl, inside the booth. I declined, paid for the drinks, and left.

The Fenwick

Having already gone way over budget, I kicked myself when I finally found the Fenwick. A friend had recommended this place as a great freelancer hang-out joint. I got myself a pint (yes, a proper pint) of John Smith’s, and cruised around.

Think Thermae, but much darker and with Filipinas instead of Thais. They weren’t doing anything for me though – even though I wasn’t particularly looking for a girl, I saw nobody in here capable of changing my mind.

I should have at least found out the kind of money the girls were looking for – I’m sure it would have been far more reasonable than the girly bars, but I was getting sloppy after several beers on an empty stomach. I moved on, and somehow found myself back in Dragon Club – the first bar I’d visited.

Easy come, easy go

Since bedtime was drawing near, I figured I’d take up the offer of an in-bar oral “happy ending” from earlier. Plus a beer for me, and two more lady-drinks for the girl. She did put in a decent performance, and for Hong Kong residents it’s probably marginally cheaper than flying to Bangkok, but otherwise I see no reason to head out here.

It All Adds Up

Six bottles of San Miguel: HK$220 (฿950)
Eight lady-drinks: HK$968 (฿4,181)
One gobble: HK$600 (฿2,592)
Total: HK$1,788 (฿7,723)

Ouch.

So I guess this is the point where you Hong Kong expats and experts tell me what I should have done, and where I should have gone. Over to you…

Gratuitous Dancing Girls

I’ve got a ton of material in the pipeline, but they’re all going to be longer posts, and I’m way too busy to write them today.

So here’s some footage of a foam party somewhere in Pattaya to tide you over…

The Art of Lying

Asian girl lying Women lie, cheat and steal. This is not news. For Thai bargirls, telling tall tales seems almost to be the national sport. The problem is, they’re appallingly bad at it.

“I only go with you, tilac“, she purrs, as her cellphone continually beeps throughout the evening with various messages from Steve, Sven, Simon and Somchai.

Then there’s the girl who answers her cellphone in mid-thrust to tell her boyfriend that she’s staying in her room watching TV alone.

Another girl couldn’t call you the other evening because her cellphone battery died. Which means she was in bed with a guy who had the sense to persuade her to turn her phone off…

Happy Hour, and Amazing Thailand

It’s not just the girls though. I was wandering lower Sukhumvit recently when I almost literally bumped into one of those massage touts. You know the ones. The seedy-looking chaps who mumble “massage. sex massage” in what they imagine is a subtle manner at every farang who walks past, whilst displaying a little folding card with blurred photos of identical-looking Photoshopped Thai girls.

For some reason, and I’m still not sure why, I ended up chatting to him. I took the card off him and had a look. The card was for Cupidy Massage at Plaza Entertainment, but who knows where he’d have taken me if I’d agreed. What interested me was his unbridled enthusiasm.

“Yes! Yes! Massage!”, he beamed. “Have sexy lady take care you! Good boom-boom good for you! Happy hour!”

I laughed. “It’s always happy hour, isn’t it?”, I asked him.

“Yes, yes! Always happy hour!”, he beamed back, completely oblivious.

“Lady boom boom”, he said, “and…” – and then he stuck his thumb in his mouth. It took me a moment to realise he was illustrating oral sex. I wish he hadn’t.

“And what? Suck your hand?”, I asked.

“Yes! Lady suck your hand! Amazing Thailand!”

He really did say “Amazing Thailand”, and without a hint of irony. Amazing…

I only like man from East Ruislip!

But the ones that really make me laugh are the bargirls who try to make you feel special. “Oh, you English man! England number one!”, they’ll say. Or “I love fat bald pig-man, I no like sexy man!”

Sure.

I guess there’s a grain of sense in the flattery aspect. Make a man feel good about himself, especially if he doesn’t have much to feel good about, and he’ll appreciate the girl simply for appreciating him. But the art has clearly been lost somewhere along the way.

That’s why I’m starting a lying school for bargirls. The lessons are free, and come with complimentary cellphone credit, Hello Kitty merchandise, som tam and sticky rice. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling them…

Phnom Penh

A cute Khmer chick attacks my ballsA cute Khmer chick attacks my balls.
She’s never going to pot that yellow.

“Oh no”, say the Americans. “Our dollars are worth jack shit. Thailand should devalue the baht, or we won’t be able to afford to go long-time any more”. Of course, the dollar’s been depreciating against every other world currency too, which doesn’t help.

Anyway, it’s a bad time to be selling US dollars – as visiting Americans must, in order to purchase Thai Baht. Conversely, and rather obviously, it’s a fantastic time to be buying dollars. And, as luck would have it, the prevalent currency in already-cheap Cambodia is indeed the good ole’ greenback.

Just a year ago, US$10 was about ?400. Today, it’s a little over ?300. And you can pick up a cute Khmer or Vietnamese freelancer in Phnom Penh for US$10. That’s full sex for half the price of a Bangkok barfine. So if you’re earning baht (or just about any other world currency that isn’t tied to the dollar), it’s a great time to visit Phnom Penh.

Getting there from Bangkok is trivial by air, and is even doable by land if you’re saving those nickels and dimes – although I wouldn’t recommend it. I stayed in a hotel near the river, where simple but decent-enough rooms went for $10 to $15 per night. Draught beer is far more commonly available than in Bangkok, and generally sells for $1 a glass. At today’s exchange rate, that’s about ?30.

The Wild West of South East Asia

A friend once said that Thailand is a country for those of us who either can’t or won’t cope with life in the Real World. I’m inclined to agree with him, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. He goes on to add, however, that Cambodia is for those people who can’t even cope with life in Thailand. He’s got a point.

If you thought Thailand was a little cavalier when it comes to enforcing the law, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Cambodia isn’t exactly lawless, but it’s not far off. Head out to Thunder Ranch, a firing range run by Cambodia’s 911 Paratrooper Commandos, only a twenty minute drive from central Phnom Penh, and fire away with a variety of handguns (dollar a bullet), an AK-47 or an M-16 ($30 for 30 rounds, or ?900), or if you really need to blow away the cobwebs try an M79 launched grenade for $100 (?3,000), or a B40 rocket propelled grenade for $200 (?6,000).

Live animals are readily available, if those paper targets get a little dull – from $5 chickens (?150) for small arms fire, to goats and water buffalos for your grenades – these go for $100 to $300 (?3,000 – ?9,000).

Cold beer’s not on the menu, but it is available. What better way to relax than with an ice-cold Ankgor beer in one hand and a machine gun in the other?

Head out to the market later on for some shopping, and you’ll find the live hand grenades on sale between the bread and vegetable sections. Cambodia is seriously messed up. I saw a posting on a website recently where an ex-pat defended Phnom Penh as being much safer than it’s given credit for. “Bodyguards are cheap enough”, he said – “what’s your problem?”

Girls, girls, girls

I couldn’t live here. It’s insane. But a long weekend is perfect. Sharky’s bar is full of 8-ball and 9-ball pool tables (pictured above), cheap beer, and swarms of freelance girls (one pictured above). It’s maybe a 60/40 split between Khmer (Cambodian) girls and Vietnamese. The Vietnamese chicks find it much easier to work in Phnom Penh than in Vietnam, and the locals prefer their lighter skin. The Khmer girls are more familiar-looking to fans of Thailand’s own sisters of Issan.

Most girls were asking for US$20 for short-time, but expected $15 and would often settle for $10. Being “yung and handsum” may have helped here, but even if you pay the full $20, it’s only ?600 at today’s prices. ?300 if you get them for $10.

After the first round of the evening, move on to (relatively) nearby Martini’s, where there’s a disco, more pool tables, an outdoor restaurant, and a big projector screen for movies. And hordes more girls, of course. Motorcycle taxis, tuk-tuks and songthaews are everywhere. Taxis are not. Most journeys cost a dollar, maybe two if you get ripped off.

The Unexplored

I only scratched the surface during my visit. The problem with freelancers in Phnom Penh, as in Bangkok, is that you’ve got no recourse if they steal your stuff. Be wary.

It’s a problem that can be avoided by visiting one of the karaoke clubs or hostess bars. But you’ll pay way more for the privilege. I didn’t see the point of doing so, so can’t report on them. There are no Bangkok-style gogo bars, but there’s apparently a BJ bar called Sophie’s Club. I didn’t find it.

The local brothels, catering to Cambodian men, are of course far cheaper than the western-targetted industry. As a tourist though, you’re never going to get away with paying local prices. The motorcycle taxi drivers will know the local scene, and their spoken English is usually way better than their Bangkok equivalents. They’ll be in for a cut, of course, but when it’s this cheap, who cares?

The Dark Side

With firearms so freely available, there’s always going to be trouble. The Heart of Darkness bar, where Westerners have indeed been killed by Khmer gangsters, now features a reassuring metal detector by the front door, where customers are frisked for weapons. The gangsters avoid the issue by entering via the side door, of course.

The two main freelancer hangouts, above, apparently check the girls’ ID, and are generally safe environments in which to pick up 18+ year-old girls. Other venues are not. The infamous Svay Pak area, also known as K11, was closed down after NGO pressure a few years ago. The effect has not been to stamp out underage prostitution though, but to move it from one easily-avoidable place to the inner city.

Secret brothels above shophouses abound, apparently. I saw a heavily dolled-up girl of maybe twelve years old being led down the street by a minder early one evening. I don’t think she was being taken to a beauty pageant. The touts will ask you if you want “young lady” or “small girl”. It’s here, it’s deeply unpleasant, and there is nothing you as a tourist can do about it. Make a fuss, and you’re likely to get into some very unpleasant trouble. Turning a blind eye can be difficult, but it’s the only safe option. Just say no, folks.

The Roundup

Phnom Penh can be fun. Drinks are so cheap that they’re effectively free. Even the girls aren’t that much more expensive. It’s a wild, wild place though, and you do need to watch your back. Life is cheap here, and the less pleasant members of society could quite easily get away with murdering you if they were so inclined. Don’t encourage them.

I couldn’t live here. Some people do, but then some people live in Hull too – there’s no accounting for taste. But for a long and dirty weekend, especially with the current exchange rates, it’s amazingly affordable hedonism.

Co-Habitation, Part Two

Tears on my towel, yesterday
Tears on my towel, yesterday

nb. This is Part Two of a two-part story.
Part One is here.

I wasn’t going to make a potentially life-changing decision without consulting my friends, obviously. I called, emailed and spoke to a few people, asking not only for their opinions, but for more practical advice – like how would I deal with her bar wanting money to smooth the passage of her leaving?

Most reacted with amusement. Then recoiled in shock when a punchline was not forthcoming. “You want to do what? Are you insane?” – etc.

Others were more useful. “Don’t pay the bar a satang”, said one. “That money’s supposed to ease her leaving, and ensure that she can go back if she needs to. But if she makes money for the bar, they’d take her back anyway. And if they don’t, another bar will”.

But the most important advice was with regard to the difficulties of ending such a relationship. If a girl has the keys to your apartment, dumping her can get to be extremely expensive – in both monetary and psychological terms. One friend had a girl come at him with a machete when he decided he wanted to break up. Another had to fake his emigration to Cambodia in order to stop her from constantly coming over to wail at him.

“Think about how you’re going to handle the break-up”, was the advice I received on Friday night. “And think about how she’s going to handle it. If she’s the type to get over-emotional and over-react to trivial things, then the break-up, when it comes – and it will – is going to be hell”.

He had a point. The girl and I hadn’t even had an argument yet. How would she react if it all went pear-shaped and I wanted her out? I needed to find out, but I wasn’t quite sure how.

Fate always provides. That very night, I brought her back to my place once again. I sat down to catch up with my e-mails, and read the new comments on this site while she showered. But when she returned, she spotted a scrap of paper on my desk.

It said “Nok. 08xxxxxxxx”. Oops.

Nok was a cute girl from a Silom massage shop who’d given me a thoroughly enjoyable foot massage a couple of months ago – before I even met my potential co-habitee.

She’d given me her number, but when I called there was no answer. I sent a text, and received no reply. That was the end of that – except I’d forgotten to throw away the piece of paper with her name and number on.

I explained all of this to my girl. She nodded, and softly padded away into the bedroom. I finished up on the computer, and shut it down for the night.

In the bedroom, she was crying into what had been a pink towel, but was quickly gaining a pattern of black smudges from the mixture of mascara and tears she was sobbing into it (pictured above).

I was genuinely concerned, and tried to comfort her, but it seemed that – whilst she believed that Nok was no longer a concern – she was still so jealous that I’d received another girl’s phone number before we’d even met that she was overcome with emotion.

This didn’t bode well for any future, more dramatic, clashes. I figured I’d sleep on it. Well, on her. And it.

I woke up the next morning afternoon and left her sleeping while I spent an hour or so on the site entertaining my hordette of fans. She eventually rose at around 4.30pm, and wordlessly locked herself in the bathroom where she showered and dressed.

“Say hi to Nok for me”, she snarled as she left for work. I protested my innocence again, but she wasn’t impressed. She hasn’t been back. I think that’s possibly what they call a close shave.

Bangkok Bad Boy is still living alone, and now has an extra pair of earrings for sale.

Co-Habitation, Part One

Domestic detritus, yesterday
Domestic detritus, yesterday

I’ve always lived alone in Bangkok. Whilst I’ve lost count of the number of girls I’ve shared my bed with, they’ve never stayed for longer than a day or two. The endless influx of companions can take its toll on a simple apartment, beyond the simple need to throw away all those extra toothbrushes every week or two.

Indeed, my most recent clearing-out session (pictured) yielded a handbag, sanitary towels, a clockwork musical cherub, a wax mould of my hand clasped with that of a particularly over-keen young lady, a half-drunk bottle of something pink, a mini-dress, various cosmetics, a cellphone charger, three pairs of earrings, three toothbrushes and a bottle of fanny-wash. All offers considered.

And so onto the point. As far-fetched as it may seem, I recently found myself falling for a particularly tasty gogo girl. I came across her for the first time a week or so before leaving for my mercifully brief trip to the UK, and we found ourselves spending most of our time together until I flew to Europe.

I returned to Bangkok having taken a rather painful hit in the wallet, but went to see her in the bar whilst I waited for more funds to come through. She was visibly thrilled to see me, shooed away the pushy waitresses who were suggesting I should buy her a drink, and just draped herself over me as I sipped on a cheap beer.

In between spending time together, she’d been sending cheesy love poems to me by text message. They were obviously copied from a book, but it was still a touching gesture – especially considering the fact that all too many girls seem to consider an appropriate vocabulary of communication to be “you buy me drink”, “I go with you”, “two thousand”, and “pussy hurt now. you finish soon please”.

I’d tentatively approached the subject with her after a marathon session of naked twister, and asked what she thought about the idea of moving in. Her eyes lit up like the neon sign of the gogo bar from which I’d plucked her.

And, of course, if she was to be my live-in girlfriend, she wouldn’t be working in a gogo bar any more. She could be housemaid, cook and concubine – in exchange for a modest allowance, of course. All that remained was to work out the details, and to make sure there weren’t any last-minute hitches…

Part Two is here. Feel free to share your own tales of domestic bliss – or otherwise – with Bangkok’s ladies of the night.

A Little Knowledge

My executive lifestyle has taken its toll this week, hence little activity on the site. I got back to Bangkok last night, and made it to Nana in time to drink way too much, and stayed out way too late with a couple of sleazy reprobates. I have a hangover the size of Belgium, but must write.

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Learning to speak Thai if you’re going to spend any amount of time here is a huge help. Even “survival Thai” will make things ten times easier, and open up a lot more possibilities.

Unfortunately, the more Thai we learn, the more dangerous we become. Knowing precisely how to insult a mamasan in her native tongue is a recipe for disaster – as a buddy found out in a certain Nana Plaza bar recently. He narrowly escaped a beating, but ironically if he’d been cursing in English they probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

I found myself in a similar situation last night, having slept too little and drunk too much. Incredibly, as I staggered past Thermae at around 5.30am, there were still a few young ladies touting for business outside.

My offer of ฿100 for the “holey trinity”, complete with altogether too many Thai swear words, was not well received.

Kryptonite

Wandering the streets of a more “civilised” Asian capital recently, I felt like Superman must have felt in the criminally-underrated Superman 2, after losing his super powers.

Tons of hot Asian chicks, 99% of whom were showing zero interest. In Bangkok, you can ascertain whether a girl’s interested just by making eye contact – whether in a bar, in a disco, on the street, on the skytrain or wherever. To have hordes of hotties positively avoiding my eye was a sobering experience. It’s good to be back.