Some Western men visit Bangkok and cheat on their wives. I’m not married, but I did something just as bad. Last month, I visited Bangkok and cheated on my dentist.
I wish I could say it was a spontaneous incident that only happened in a moment of drunken weakness. It wasn’t. I planned it weeks in advance. And yes, I did pay for it.
My act of betrayal was that I got laser teeth whitening at Bangkok Smile Dental Clinic. Of course, I could have had this service performed here in America. I saw my loyal dentist of ten years just a few months ago for a routine check-up. His office definitely offers teeth whitening. They’ve even got flashy ‒meth teeth to movie star” brochures and everything.
So why didn’t I want my regular dentist to do it? Sure, the teeth whitening would have been twice as expensive in America. But that’s not why I had it done in Bangkok. I’m not some kind of Cheap Cosmetic Dentistry Charlie. The real reason was privacy. I didn’t want my regular dentist and his staff to know that I’m secretly vain. I can just picture his receptionist snickering, ‒That guy? Teeth whitening? What he really needs are chin implants and an adult haircut.”
That’s why I had the procedure done as anonymously as possible in Bangkok. Now I know what some of you are thinking: Gavinmac is nothing but a pathetic dental tourist. I disagree. I’m nothing like those losers. Those dental tourists come to Bangkok with only one thing on their minds. Many of them are social outcasts who spend fifty weeks a year working in meaningless low-paying jobs, just so they can scrape together enough money for two weeks a year in Thailand, for the sole purpose of paying as little as possible for cheap, meaningless dental services. Some of those people are into really kinky stuff: veneers, bridgework, extractions, and other disgusting fetishes.
The absolute worst thing about those dental tourists is their complete ignorance of Thai culture. I once saw one of those chumps wai a common dental hygienist while leaving an appointment. The hygienist! She looked at him like he was a fucking idiot. And forget about those jerks ever learning any Thai. They’ll spend two weeks every year in Thailand and never learn any Thai phrases except ‒rinse,” ‒floss,” and ‒Hey, your magazines are all twelve years old.”
Really, I’m nothing like those one-dimensional dental tourists. I primarily come to Bangkok for the temples, the food, and the culture. And the diseased teenage hookers.
Also, it’s not as if I flew twelve hours to Thailand just for dental work. I was already on vacation in Phnom Penh, and Bangkok was just a one hour flight away. I actually could have gotten my teeth whitened in Phnom Penh even cheaper. I briefly considered it. But getting laser teeth whitening in Phnom Penh would have violated one of my most important personal safety rules: Never trust a Cambodian to competently operate any device more powerful than an Etch-a-Sketch.
Before deciding on where in Bangkok to get my teeth whitened, I thoroughly researched all the relevant online information I could find about various local dental clinics — patient testimonials, discussion forum postings, before and after photos, etc. That research convinced me that Bangkok Smile Dental Clinic was a paragon of dental skill, experience, and professionalism. And they’re located right around the corner from Soi Cowboy. Sold.
The Part About Cambodia
I made my Bangkok Smile appointment few weeks before flying from the U.S. to Cambodia. My plan was to arrive in Phnom Penh on a Saturday afternoon, spend four nights there, fly to Bangkok on Wednesday for two nights, then fly back Phnom Penh for the weekend before returning to the U.S. It was a roundabout itinerary, but I tend to get disgusted with myself if I spend more than four consecutive nights in Phnom Penh.
Anyway, an odd thing happened shortly after my arrival in Phnom Penh. I somehow managed to pick up a quasi-girlfriend. She’s a 26 year old Cambodian woman I met about four years ago, pursued half-heartedly, and then I lost track of her. Next time I’m using hot chick GPS.
I ran into her again on this trip, and she revealed that she had gotten married two years ago and then recently got divorced. Her English isn’t perfect, so I couldn’t quite understand whether her marriage ended because her husband cheated on her or because she’s paranoid and completely insane. It was definitely one of those two reasons.
After two whirlwind days and nights together in Phnom Penh, she was professing her freshly-divorced love for me and hinting at wedding plans. When I gently suggested that it might be too soon for all that, she protested, ‒But we’ve known each other for four years!” To which I responded, ‒But we haven’t really spoken for three of those years, and you were kind of married to another dude for two of them.” These were inconsequential facts to her. Hours of ridiculous ‒only in Southeast Asia” arguments ensued.
So when Wednesday came around, I was very happy that I had planned a mid-week trip to Bangkok. It would give me a much-needed breather from her high pressure engagement sales pitch.
Now it’s important to understand that to most Cambodian women, Bangkok is a mythical and unattainable shopping Shangri-la; a city filled with mesmerizing jewelry, quality fabrics, and magical lotions that will instantly make your brown skin whiter than Molly Ringwald’s ass.
When I told her that I was going to Bangkok for two nights, she not unexpectedly asked if I would be kind enough to buy her a gift there. She suggested clothing. I agreed. Because everyone knows that the best way to solve the problem of a desperate, impoverished Cambodian woman wanting to marry you too much is to buy her expensive apparel from a foreign country.
The Part Where I Shop for Dresses
I flew into Bangkok late Wednesday afternoon and checked into the President Solitaire Hotel. My soon-to-be-less-yellow teeth and I then spent an enjoyable evening making the rounds from the Big Mango Bar to Nana Plaza to Soi Cowboy. The upstairs at Mandarin Go Go was definitely the highlight. Spinners galore.
Thursday was shopping and teeth whitening day. Since I haven’t left Sukhumvit at all during my last ten trips to Bangkok, I’m not familiar with any Bangkok malls except Emporium. I slept in and then headed to Emporium a couple of hours before my afternoon dental appointment.
I confess that I know absolutely nothing about buying women’s clothing. The only times I’ve ever bought women’s clothing are when a woman tricks me into going to a mall with her and then gets me to pay for something she picks out. I usually end up standing around, holding her purse, pointing halfheartedly at the nearest items and saying ‒This is nice,” ‒What about this?” or ‒Can we please just buy this and go to Orange Julius?”
So I definitely felt out of place wandering around the Emporium women’s department alone, trying to decide what a feisty Cambodian girl would wear. The Cambodian girl was nice enough to inform me, ‒My size is small.” And from what I knew of her, her general style of dress was ‒Fun and sexy, but not so sexy that I can’t still make catty comments about other girls who dress like whores.”
After an hour perusing the Emporium women’s department, I picked out a cute, multi-colored, halter dress. I write that last sentence with an unblemished record of heterosexuality. I looked to see if the dress was a size small. It was a 2. Crap. What does that mean? I asked the salesgirl if it was a small. She said ‒No, 2 is medium, 0 is small.” I asked her several times if she had the dress in a size 0 or small. She kept responding ‒Free size, free size,” which I eventually figured out means ‒One size fits all.”
How can one dress size fit all women? The Cambodian girl is about five feet tall and weighs 97 pounds. Some women are much bigger than that. I’ve seen them. Yet the salesgirl assured me that this ‒free size” dress would perfectly fit any woman on the face of the earth, from the tiniest Tootie to the beefiest Natalie. Perplexed by this development, I left Emporium for Bangkok Smile empty-handed, vowing to return to consummate the dress shopping experience with brilliantly white teeth later that evening.
The Part Where I Get My Teeth Whitened
After a short BTS ride and brief stroll down Asoke, I was at the Bangkok Smile clinic. Bangkok Smile’s motto is ‒Great Smiles Start Here.” Fair enough, but I thought they started whenever Richard Quest leaves a room.
The reception desk was staffed by three reasonably cute girls wearing pink shirts. I gave them my name, filled out the required forms, and took a seat in the comfortable lobby. After a few minutes, one of the pink-clad cuties led me from the lobby into a small private room containing a typical dental chair. Then she disrobed and filled up the little spit sink with warm, soapy water. OK, I made that last part up.
I soon noticed that there were actually three other people in the room-a male dentist and two female hygienists. I hadn’t noticed them at first because they were absolutely camouflaged from head to toe with matching scrubs, gloves, and surgical masks. The hygienists seemed attractive, but all I could see were their eyes. It was like visiting a dentist in Saudi Arabia.
The teeth whitening process begins with the dentist putting retractors in your mouth to keep your lips off your teeth for the next hour. From the photos I saw online, I thought he would use fun metal retractors like the reverse bear trap thing that Jigsaw hooked up to the girl’s mouth in ‒Saw.” Instead, my dentist put a latex rubber retractor in my mouth that tasted just like a Durex condom. I assume.
Next, the dentist put protective sunglasses over my eyes and draped a cloth napkin over my face. The napkin had a round hole in the middle to expose my mouth. Or to allow the dentist to have sexual intercourse with a Hasidic Jew.
I spent the next hour lying in the chair with my face and eyes covered, while the dentist systematically applied a flashing blue laser to various sections of my teeth. Because my eyes were closed, I became very aware of the music playing in the room. I’ve heard that some world class surgeons listen to classical music, or even rock music, while performing their most difficult and complex surgeries. Not my Thai dentist. Apparently, he’s at his best when he’s listening to annoying bubble gum pop songs like ‒Barbie Girl” by Aqua.
After an hour, the procedure was complete. Dr. Aqua carefully removed the napkin, sunglasses, and Durex lip retractor. He leaned back and began gazing at my teeth like a painter admiring a newly created masterpiece. He then proudly handed me a mirror, as the smiling eyes of his burka-clad assistants looked on. The moment of truth. I looked in the mirror, examined my new smile for a good ten seconds, and then skeptically asked Dr. Aqua, ‒Is it whiter?”
As soon as I asked this question, Dr. Aqua’s beaming bubble was burst. He looked totally dejected. This is no doubt the same look BBB gets when women ask him, ‒Is it in yet?”
‒Yes,” Dr. Aqua assured me, ‒Your teeth are NOTICEABLY whiter. It’s an excellent result.” I took his word for it. They did look a bit less yellow.
I walked back to the reception desk and paid my bill. The cost was 7,500 baht for an hour’s work (not including tip). This works out to about 125 baht a minute. That’s almost the exact same rate I pay for oral service at Lolita’s. Except at Lolita’s, I’m the one doing the teeth painting.
The Part Where I Shop for Dresses Again
I exited Bangkok Smile, with an undeniable spring in my step that can only come from having marginally whiter teeth. As I was departing the clinic, one of the pink-clad girls offered me three analgesic tablets. She told me I should take one tablet if I experienced teeth pain. I felt fine, and I considered declining the pain pills in a display of machismo. Then I thought, ‒Hey, free drugs.” I pocketed the stash.
It’s a good thing I accepted the pills, because halfway to the BTS station I felt a sharp, excruciating pain in my lower teeth that had me doubled over on Asoke like a wounded soi dog pissing on a sleeping beggar. I immediately took two tablets. That’s right, two. When I visit Bangkok, I live on the edge.
I regained my composure and returned to Emporium to finish the dress shopping. I finally bought the multi-colored ‒free size” dress, but I wasn’t confident in my decision. I started looking around for something else, thinking that if I bought the Cambodian girl two items of clothing, there was a decent chance she might only hate one of them.
I soon spotted a sexy purple silk blouse that I liked even more than the dress. I checked the sizes. The blouse came in XXS, XS, S, M, and L. I scratched my head. Was the Cambodian girl still a small on this warped spinner-centric scale? She had specifically told me she was a small, but the ‒XS” looked like it might fit her better.
I sought counsel from a nearby salesgirl. I explained my dilemma, then held up the various purple blouses while making elaborate pantomimes to depict the size and shape of the Cambodian girl. I felt kind of silly doing this, but I figured it was more politically correct than telling the salesgirl, ‒Well, she’s shaped just like you, but with a much nicer rack.” The salesgirl advised me to buy the small. I bought the ‒XS,” preferring to err on the side of silk blouse tightness.
The Part Where I Neurotically Search for a Nana Plaza Hooker to Try on the Clothes
So I returned to the President Solitaire, somewhat concerned that I had bought a ‒free size” dress that was too big and an ‒XS” blouse that was too small. Moreover, when I took the ‒multi-colored” free size dress out of the bag, I realized that the primary color was brown. The straps were brown, and the whole top part of the dress was brown. It occurred to me that the Cambodian girl is also brown. Perhaps this was not a good dress color choice.
I popped a fistful of Tylenol and headed back to Mandarin Go Go for some teeth-numbing San Miguel Lights. That’s when I had the brilliant idea to barfine a dancer shaped just like my Cambodian quasi-girlfriend, then bring her back to my room to try on the clothes, so I could see if they looked good or if I should return them.
First I had to find a Mandarin dancer shaped exactly like the 97 pound Cambodian girl. This was harder than you would think. I poked and prodded a few dancers in an effort to find a suitable model. I even lifted a dark-skinned prospect up by the waist for a few seconds, comparing her weight to the Cambodian girl, like Indiana Jones preparing to swap a bag of dirt for a golden idol. She ran away.
Sometime after 1 a.m., I left Mandarin empty-handed and began wandering aimlessly around the second floor of the plaza. A door girl sitting at the top of the stairs on the other side of the plaza caught my eye. At first, I noticed her cute face. Then I saw her body. Although obscured by jeans and a white T-shirt, I knew immediately that her body was a perfect 97 pound match.
I walked into the door girl’s bar and managed to coax her inside for a lady drink. As she entered the bar, I was informed by the other staff that the door girl was ‒shy.” This was an understatement. Door Girl Dullard didn’t speak, didn’t smile, didn’t kiss, didn’t make physical contact, didn’t make eye contact, and didn’t express emotion of any kind. She was a lot like a mannequin. Fantastic.
I quickly negotiated a ‒no sex” long time with DGD, as I did not want to cheat on my Cambodian quasi-girlfriend just four days into our budding relationship. We went back to the President Solitaire, where I immediately had her try on the predominantly brown dress and the sexy purple blouse.
I was hoping that after trying on the clothes, DGD would say ‒Oh, you’ve picked out the most beautiful garments. Whichever woman you give these clothes to will surely reciprocate by sucking your penis, even if she’s an uptight Cambodian woman who claims to have some bullshit cultural aversion to smoking pole.” DGD did not say this. She just silently tried on each item of clothing and then looked at me uncomfortably as if to say, ‒OK, are we done here, weirdo?”
The ‒XS” purple silk blouse fit DGD perfectly and looked damn good. It was a definite keeper. But the ‒free size” brown dress only looked OK. I couldn’t decide whether I should return it to Emporium before my flight the next day.
DGD quickly showered, wrapped herself in a towel, and silently climbed into bed. Then she uncharacteristically perked up . . . for a rather animated five second coughing fit. Which was kind of sexy. Then she immediately fell asleep.
I woke up at about 7 a.m. and tried to test the DGD waters to see if she might be up for renegotiation of the ‒no sex” part of our agreement. No dice. Sensing that she didn’t really want to be there, I started to say, ‒If you want to go . . . .” DGD was out the door 2000 baht richer before I had finished the sentence.
The Part About The Mystery Stain
Shortly after DGD left, I noticed an odd stain on the bed sheet, on her side of the bed, just below her pillow. Imagine a light brown Canadian maple leaf about the size of a midget’s palm. That’s what it looked like.
I wondered ‒What the hell is that?” and ‒Oh no, did that come out of her ass?” Then I decided, ‒No way, the stain is up near the pillow. DGD’s ass was never that high up in the bed, and she was wrapped in a towel like a rather prudish King Tut the whole time. The stain can’t possibly be from her ass.” This was a relief, because I didn’t have the customary two green notes on me to tip the maid for shit-cleaning service.
Next I thought, ‒The stain’s a faded brown color. Maybe it’s an old stain that came with the bed sheet. For free.” So I smelled it. Nope. It was definitely a fresh deposit. And it smelled kind of like DGD’s breath.
That’s when I remembered – the coughing fit. Oh God, she’s got tuberculosis. Suddenly, her no kissing and no touching policies seemed positively enlightened.
Several seconds later, I noticed that not only was DGD gone, but the bag of Emporium clothes was nowhere to be seen. I briefly felt violated; then I felt vindicated. ‒Yes! She stole the clothes. I DO know how to buy clothes that chicks want.”
A few minutes later, I found the Emporium clothes stashed safely in my closet, where I must have put them the night before. This sealed my decision about the free size brown dress. If the dress wasn’t fetching enough to tempt a diseased bargirl down the path of thievery, it wasn’t good enough for my Cambodian quasi-girlfriend. Back to Emporium I went.
The Part Where I Un-Shop for Dresses
Let me tell you, Thai salesgirls are a lot cheerier when you are buying dresses than when you are returning them. I ended up with a team of three Emporium salesgirls all trying to dissuade me from returning the brown dress. Their first question, delivered in a somewhat accusatory tone, was ‒Why do you want to return the dress?” To which I responded, ‒Because I had a lethargic prostitute try it on and she didn’t try to steal it.” Well, if I were a cool guy, that’s what I would have said.
Resigned to the fact that I was definitely returning the brown dress, the salesgirls then tried to convince me that exchanging the dress for Emporium store credit was MUCH better than simply receiving a refund to my credit card. I politely insisted on a refund, explaining that I was leaving the country in a few hours with no plans to return. They said they understood. Then they brought me forms to fill out to process an exchange for Emporium store credit.
I eventually claimed my credit card refund and caught my Friday afternoon flight back to Phnom Penh. The ‒XS” purple silk blouse fit the Cambodian girl very well. In fact, it looked so good on her that when she wore it to dinner that evening, a bespectacled European guy tried to hit on her while I was in the toilet. Result. Now if I can just make it through my next check-up with my regular dentist without him noticing my ‒lipstick on the collar” marginally whiter teeth, my two day trip to Bangkok will have been a smashing success.
Gavinmac is an avid Connect Four player who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and visits Southeast Asia as often as possible. Door Girl Dullard appears nightly at the top of the left hand set of stairs at the entrance to Nana Plaza.