Fear and Loathing in Pattaya

  by: Mark Jones



The wet season; it’s one of the few predictable things of life in Thailand. In Pattaya, it normally arrives within a month, or so, following the Songkran festival. The heat and humidity build up to oppressive levels, generally hovering around forty degrees Celsius, and then the heavens open up with the first rains of the next five to six months.

For those of us who stay here, it’s a welcome respite from the previous two months of unrelenting heat. It’s also a time of the year in which the numbers of tourists are visibly lower and the drunken excesses, of Thailand’s famous water festival, are a distant memory.

As I walked towards the entrance to the Pattaya International Hospital the first drops of rain began to fall from the mid afternoon haze. I thought about the idea of predictability, in this crazy place we call the ‘Land Of Smiles’, and reflected on the fact that most of what the average foreigner experiences here is rarely predictable. For me, the unpredictable nature of daily events was one the great attractions of living here. Life was rarely dull, or boring, in this exotic land.

I’d come to see Chris, one of my few genuine friends in Pattaya, because he’d become a victim of that phenomenon of Thai unpredictability. The details of what happened were sketchy but it seems that he’d been on the wrong end of a drive by shooting. I entered the hospital and the reception staff directed me to his ward. As the lift carried me up to the second floor I made a mental note to get myself, at the earliest opportunity, a decent level of medical insurance. Chris’s predicament was testament to the fact that, in Thailand, anything, at any time, could occur rendering you grievous bodily harm and the cost, of proper treatment, was never cheap. I found Chris’s room, opened the door and, as I entered, he looked up and gave me that endearing laconic Aussie smile.

“About bloody time you showed up. Suppose you’ve been getting amongst it down on Soi six’ have you?”

“No such luck” I replied.

He was sitting up in the hospital bed and, apart from the cuts and grazes covering his face, and a bandaged right shoulder, he didn’t look to bad.

“Bloody Kiwis, you’re a cagey lot. Heard you’d just arrived back. How are things?”

“You know, just making ends meet” I said with grin.

“Yeah right, most of you lot have still got the first dollar you ever earned”

“Without stating the obvious mate, what the hell happened?”

“It was pretty friggin’ unreal I can tell you mate. I was on the way home after closing the bar. When I got to that intersection, at the top of the hill, there were cars coming from the opposite direction so I prepared to stop. As I slowed down I looked in the rear view mirror as a motorbike, with two riders onboard, pulled out from behind Hilux. They slowly moved up alongside so I glanced over and noticed they were both wearing full face helmets. I came to a halt at the intersection and they stopped next to the drivers’ door. The pillion passenger then reached into his jacket and pulled out a pistol. It was all like slow motion then. I was just staring at him and the next thing I know I’m looking down the barrel of a gun. I guess a bit of self preservation then clicked into gear and I ducked towards the passenger’s seat as he fired. Unfortunately a round hit me in the top of the shoulder. It’s a bloody good thing the Hilux is an auto. I was lying across the passengers’ seat and because I still had the vehicle in gear, and my foot over the accelerator, I just floored it. The problem was that I couldn’t see where I was going and ploughed into a vehicle coming up from the right. With the extra witnesses around the shooter boys took off. The cops arrived about ten minutes later and brought me straight here.’

“You were bloody lucky” I said.

“Tell me about it. Don’t suppose you’ve got any Changs in that rucksack of yours have you?”

“Sorry mate, it slipped my mind. I’ll bring some in for you tomorrow”

“I’ll be completely bloody sedated then with that and these pain killers they’ve got me on”

“Any news from the boys in brown, have they got any leads on who it was?”

‘They were here this morning and they didn’t seem to have much to go on. They asked me a few questions but the thing is I’d had a few so the memory was a bit foggy. I couldn’t even tell them the maker of the bike they were on. What really pissed me off though is that the Hilux is a mess. Good thing I’ve got decent insurance as I hit one of those brand new Mitsubishi SUVs”

“Where’s the missus?”

“She’ll be here shortly. She’s gone to pick up that brother of hers, the one that’s a cop”

As if on cue, the door opened and in walked Ning with the brother.

“Hello teerak (Darling), I’ve got some food for you. Are you hungry?” She asked.

Our eyes met and it was instant daggers. Chris might have been completely hood winked by this nasty gold digger but I wasn’t.

“Hello Mike, are you leaving?” she said deprecatingly.

It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. Once again our eyes met and it was mutual dislike. The vibe in the room had changed completely and I decided it was time for me to make a quick exit. I grabbed the rucksack made for the door.

I turned and looked at Chris. “I’ll catch up with you later mate”

“Okay Mike. Give me a call” he said as I turned to leave.

As I went through the door I glanced at the cop that was supposed to be Ning’s brother. The pips on his shoulders indicated he had some kind of rank. Physically, as far as I could tell, he bore very little resemblance to Ning.

As I walked towards the lift I took a few deep breaths and felt myself relax. There are people in this world who are total opposites and, if the Chinese horoscope is anything to go by, are the deadliest of enemies. My birth sign was the monkey and my enemy on the horoscope wheel was the tiger. Ning, Mikes wife, I’m sure was a tiger. She had that feline grace of movement, the cold calculating eyes and the instincts of a predator. We only needed to be within shouting distance of each other and it was instant agro on my part. One thing I’ve learnt though, over the years of being here, is to avoid showing anger with Thai people because they see it as a sign of weakness and, therefore, have even less respect for you.

The lift doors opened and, as I stepped through, I looked back down the corridor. The policeman ‘brother’ was leaning against the wall and giving me a hard stare which definitely didn’t invite friendship. As the doors closed he continued giving me the eye which only served to heighten the unease I was feeling about what had happened to Chris. The doors opened again and I made my way towards the exit; the rain had eased up but there was still a light drizzle.

As I walked towards Beach Road I started to consider what Chris had told me. It was a well known fact that most shootings of farang are traced back to either business competitors or the greedy Thai wife, or girlfriend. The thing that concerned me was that there was so little to go on and the policeman ‘brother’ could actually make it even more difficult for any evidence to see the light of day. Somebody had wanted Chris dead and I was fairly sure I knew who that might be. The errand boys had screwed up. Next time Chris might not be so lucky.

I turned left out of Soi four and crossed beach road. My intended destination was the outdoor bar at the end of Soi six, an excellent spot to watch the world go by and enjoy a cold beer. There was also a great view of the ocean and, if I was there at the right time, I’d be able to watch the hot babe that ran the outdoor aerobics class across the road. The drizzle was easing up as I approached the junction of Soi six. It was perfect timing as the suns’ rays began to break through the haze and the aerobics enthusiasts started to appear. I crossed the road again and entered the bar area.

“One large Chang please” I said to the waitress as I sat down on one of the cheap plastic seats.

The waitress poured the beer into my glass. There’s nothing like the first gulp of a cold beer after not having had one for a couple of months. I’d arrived back late last night, to my apartment in Naklua, after thirty hours of travel and a sixty day offshore contract in the Gulf of Mexico. I was that hammered I’d just staggered into the room, turned on the air-conditioning and crashed for a solid 12 hours. I was still feeling jet lagged and probably would for another two or three days. Across the road the aerobics babe was up on the raised concrete platform and strutting her stuff. She had a butt that was so firm you could probably bounce marbles off it. There’s no doubt that the beauty of Thai women is one of the main reasons there are so many farang males moving to Thailand.

I turned my thoughts back to Chris. Did I really want to get involved in a situation that had the potential to get a lot murkier than it already was? I didn’t have any choice really. Chris was a mate, a real mate, and we went back a long way; more than ten years ago when we were both living down in Phuket. I’d been doing the scuba instructor thing, opened my own business and eventually realized that, although I was a hard worker and a reasonably proficient scuba instructor, I wasn’t much I a business man. Within a couple of years I’d got into debt and fallen foul of the Thai Tax Department. I’d put Chris through a couple of scuba courses and, over time, we’d become good friends, and drinking buddies. He’d owned, and managed, a very successful bar/restaurant in Patong and, when I’d asked, he’d provided financial assistance when things were looking pretty grim for me. Eventually I paid him back but, while the debt was still outstanding, there was never any pressure from him.

I said goodbye to Phuket in 2002 and went back to working in the oil and gas industry, eventually ending up in Sin City (Pattaya). Chris made the move here, about six months later, after selling up his business in Patong. Chris was an astute business man. Within six months of arriving in Pattaya he’d opened up a go-go bar and twelve months later he’d opened another. Things were going well for him and, as such, success attracts pussy. The problem with Chris was that he wasn’t much of a judge of character when it came to women and, in particular, Thai bargirls. He couldn’t see beyond the slim figures, the firm breasts and the bewitching smile; there was no recognition of the guile that lay under the surface. We’d both been at Snappy Ago-go the night that Chris had spotted Ning swinging off the chrome poles. She had it all, the body, the looks and the smile. He’d bar fined her and within a month she’d moved in with him. The thing that I’d never told him was that I’d also taken her out of Snappys’- about six months earlier - and had fallen foul of the full go-go dancer bullshit routine. After bar fining her, and a mate of hers, we’d gone to Exzite where I’d been done over with the expensive drinks routine – what do they say about ‘let the buyer beware.’ Anyway, we eventually got back to my digs, at about three a.m., where she informed me that she had to leave at six a.m. to take her son to the hospital that morning. I hadn’t enjoyed her company. She was just all business; cold and calculating – the proverbial black widow - so I decided I’d had enough of the bullshit and told her to ‘fuck off.’ She then erupted and demanded payment for the full night. I laughed at her, which probably inflamed her even more, and told her to ‘fuck off’ again. It started to get messy as she continued yelling and demanding full payment while I continued laughing and telling her ‘to get the hell out of my room.’ Then it turned really nasty; she pulled a short bladed knife from her hand bag and started swinging it at me. Even though I’d had a few I still had the reaction time to cope with her wild swings. I feinted to the right and as she lashed out in that direction, I stepped to the left and grabbed her wrist from the side. I then used all my force to twist her right arm up behind her back so that she released her grip on the knife. It fell from her hand, to the floor, and I frog marched her to the door as she was yelping in pain. As I threw her out of the room the condo night manager turned up at the door; no doubt the commotion had been heard throughout the building. I expected him to side with her – the ‘Thai Rak Thai’ thing – but, to my surprise, he told her that if she didn’t leave immediately he’d call the cops. She left but not before giving me a look of real hatred, slashing across her throat with her hand and telling me ‘I’ll kill you.’

She was one nasty piece of work. Later on I’d found out that she’d milked a couple of guys for millions of baht and now, that she’d got her claws into Chris, she was, literally, going in for the kill.

My thoughts were interrupted by the beeping of my phone; it was a text message from Ning. It read ‘you not go to see Chris again.’ This was further confirmation of my suspicions. I turned off that phone, the one reserved for bar girls, acquaintances and people that I wasn’t really interested in talking to on a regular basis, and turned on my work contacts and best mates phone. I hit the speed dial for Chris’s number.

Three rings and his sleepy voice answered. “Hello mate, I was just about out to it”.

“How was the fried rice and chicken?” I said not wanting to make my suspicions sound obvious

“Oh bugger that shite, she brought me some KFC”

At least she hadn’t tried to poison him, yet.

“Do you still want me to drop by tomorrow with a couple of Changs?” I asked.

“As much as I’d like it, it’s probably not a good idea as they’ve got me on antibiotics”

“Do you still want me to stop by in the morning then?”

“Make it mid afternoon. Ning’s coming here at around midday with some more food for me. It’s probably better if you two don’t bump into each other again. For some reason she just doesn’t like you”

“Okay mate, I’ll try to stop by at around three tomorrow afternoon”

“Right mate, see you then”

I hung up and reached for my glass. The waitress had refilled it and taken the empty.

“Aow ik neung ka? (You want one more?)”.

“Mai aow krap (Not want thanks)”.

As I lifted the glass I looked across the road; the aerobics hottie was looking my way. I smiled and gave her a chok dee (cheers) with my raised beer. She smiled and waved back. Touché. Maybe I was in with a chance. Maybe not, as most Thai’s are just friendly by nature and will usually return a smile.

I turned my thoughts back to what Chris had just told me. Ning didn’t like me; that was obvious. She had good reason not to as I knew what was really beneath that facade of nicety. The problem was that Chris was so taken by her that he just wouldn’t hear of any criticism of her. I’d tried before and he’d gotten agro with me. I’d learned to keep anything negative about her to myself. All I could deduce was that she must be one incredibly good shag for Chris to turn a blind eye to her scheming ways. She had a major share holding in his second go-go bar and had managed to hoodwink him into buying the condo in her name. What do they say; love, or lust, is blind.

I took another gulp of my beer and considered my next step. I didn’t actually have any solid proof against Ning and it might well be that I was being completely paranoid but, I’ve always maintained that, if something doesn’t smell right, then it probably isn’t. The only rational way of digging up some dirt on her would be to have her tailed for a while; to have somebody watch her movements and see what she gets up to on a day to day basis. I picked up my mobile and scrolled through until I found Barry’s number. Barry was a Bangkok private detective that I’d used a couple of years ago to check up on a previous girlfriend. He was good but also expensive and, in the end, he only confirmed what I’d already suspected which, once again, proved my theory that if something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t.

I’d been offshore when he emailed the proof; the girl in question had been photographed taking guys into the apartment I’d been renting. The photos were undeniable and it ended the relationship there and then. I pushed the call function.

“Hello, Barry speaking”

“Barry, its Mike the kiwi”

“Well, well, it’s been a while since I’ve heard from you. How are things?”

“Fair to middling, yourself?”

“Can’t complain, been pretty busy over the last few months. It seems as though the increase in farang coming to Thailand has had a corresponding increase in the number of blokes wanting their little teeraks (darlings) spied upon. How did things turn out with that bird that I followed up for you?”

“Well, I was offshore when you emailed me those photos. It was pretty conclusive and I just didn’t bother going back there. I’ve never contacted her again. Got myself a new SIM card and moved back to Pattaya. I’ve never seen her since”

“You did the right thing there. You saved yourself a lot of stress and emotional turmoil. There are not many that have the discipline to react the way you did. Too many of the chaps I provide photos for just can’t, or won’t, accept the evidence when it’s staring them in the face. It ends up costing them a lot more in time, and money, before it finally sinks in. The sad fact is that not many of those ladies are able to reform themselves; that whole way of life for them is too ingrained. I go down to Cowboy, on the odd occasion, and I’ve seen that ex of yours still plying her trade down there”

“Yeah, I figured that; I’ve avoided the place since. It’s a pity because it was always a good night out down there. Anyway, if you’re not too busy, I was just wondering if there was something that you could look into for me”

“I’ve just finished up a couple of jobs so I’ve got a few days spare. What is it that you need doing?”

“Just the usual; a bit of surveillance. I’d prefer to meet you in person though because this has the potential to get dodgy” I said.

“How so?”

“Basically, I think some nasty Thai gold digger is trying to bump her farang boyfriend off and she’s got the support of a Thai boyfriend, who also happens to be a cop”

Barry let out a whistle.

“You’re right; this does have the potential to get dodgy. Okay, when are you coming to Bangkok?”

“Today’s Wednesday, right? What about I meet you at Wall Street on Saturday afternoon? There are a couple of good games on so we can discuss it, over a cold one or two, and take in the rugby at the same time. As an added incentive, I’ll make it my shout”

“That sounds like an offer that’s too good to refuse. Let’s make it two p.m. then shall we?”

“Sounds good, I’ll see you at two”

“Mike”

“Yeah”

“The initial fee is still the same. However, I want to hear out the whole story before I take any money off you. It might just be that, as you say, it’s a bit too dodgy to get involved in”

“I wouldn’t expect anything less from you mate”

“One last thing, try to bring a couple of recent photo’s of the subject”

“Will do. See you on Saturday”

“Yeah, no problems. I’ll see you there”

I had been planning to head down to Phuket to look at some condos on Saturday. That was now a lower priority. It was starting to get dark and the aerobics enthusiasts were departing. The aerobics hottie crossed the road, got into her car and drove off just as the rain returned.

My apartment was down in Naklua. At this time of the evening it was too late to be heading back there just to change my kit and come out again. It would’ve meant an hour’s turn around and a waste of time and, besides, I could feel the call of a decent steak coming on; a visit to the Swiss Restaurant on Soi Diamond was in order.

I was looking kind of rough around the edges and was in need of a decent apnam (shower). More than likely the darlings of the night would make the observation that I was men mak maak (bad smell). To be honest, I really didn’t care what they thought of me now. I wasn’t a tourist and I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. If anything, I preferred the opposite. I wanted to be the grey man, to remain unnoticed and not attract any undue attention to myself. At the end of the day the only thing that really impresses the darlings of the night was the size of your back account. I paid my bill and hailed down a baht bus.

The light drizzle was still falling as I strolled through the entrance to walking street. I hadn’t been here for a couple of months but not much had changed; the touts were outside the seafood restaurants trying to drum up business in what was clearly the start of the low season. Even though it was still early, the number of punters around was way down. The rain was probably adding to the lack of clientele as well. As I turned into Soi Diamond I glanced further up Walking Street. The gold fish bowl above the road was still there with its rotation of blonde East Euro ‘ladies’ pole swinging.

The go-go bars of Soi Diamond were starting to wake up. I checked my watch; it was just after seven. There were a few ladies in the centre bars. None of them took much notice of me. I looked like a local expat and, no doubt, wasn’t worth wasting a ‘hello sexy man’ on. The soi narrowed to a small lane which ran through to Pattaya Second Road. My intended destination was the Swiss Restaurant, positioned a few meters in and on the left side of the lane.

I went up the stairs and was about to open the door when I noticed a familiar hair style; it was Ning, with her back to me, seated at a table with a couple of her friends. As I did a quick about face, one of the friends looked up and saw me. I made my way back down Soi Diamond, towards Walking Street, and thought ‘there goes the steak dinner.’ The fact that she was there didn’t surprise me. Chris’s go-go bars are in the area and he, and Ning, ate there regularly. It was something I should have considered earlier as I just didn’t want to put myself in a position where I was at a disadvantage in her presence.

I made a bee line for the next soi and entered the Hawaiian Princess Bar. It was only just after seven and it was packed. One of the waitresses guided me to a seat where I ordered a beer and asked for the menu. The Hawaiian Princess (HP) is well known for its American style burgers and ribs. I got my beer and looked up at the dance platform; there was a bevy of beautiful ladies who were definitely not the HP regulars. I collared a guy next to me.

“What’s the deal with this” I said.

“It’s a dance competition. There’s a whole bunch of ladies from six different go-go bars around town. The winner takes home 10,000 baht”

I reflected on my earlier thoughts of the unpredictability of this town.

“Well, I’m happy that I got here in time”

“Yeah, it’s only the preliminary rounds. It’ll heat up later when the girls start getting their gear off” he said as the waitress came back and took my order.

Looking around I could see that most of the punters were local expats who lived in Pattaya. I recognized a few faces; some of them were the owners of the go-go bars that the girls, in the dance off, were from. The boys were here to look after their assets no doubt. I guess there was something about the whole scene that kept some guys involved in it for years. Maybe it was the girls, the booze, the action, who knows? Whatever it was, for me, it lost its veneer of glamour a long time ago. I’d pretty much become immune to it. I’d had my binge, in the first six months I’d been here, and had now reached saturation point. I’d met some girls that seemed okay but, for most of them, it was always the same bottom line – money. My interactions with bargirls were now strictly on a one night only basis. After a couple of expensive failed relationships, with bargirls, I’d realized that I was much better off remaining single. The next time I got into a relationship I’d make sure it would be with a lady that had more money than me.

My food arrived just as the action was hotting up on the dance floor; two girls were stripped down to their ‘birthday suits’ and getting in to a full on lesbian routine. The cheers and whistles form the crowd were getting louder by the minute as one girl got her mouth into some sweet Thai pussy.

“Hey mate, haven’t seen you around here for a while”

It was Brian. I had a mouth full of barbecued pork spare rib. I mumbled something resembling a ‘hey mate’ and grabbed my beer.

“Yeah, it’s been a while. How’s thing’s” I said after a large swig of Heineken.

“Not bad. Are you sticking around for a few beers?”

“Yeah, I probably will. What about you?”

“I was thinking about heading up to Snappy’s in an hour or so. I won’t be having a late one though as I’ve got to pick up the girlfriend from work at ten thirty. Do you want to head there later for a couple?”

“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. I haven’t poked my head in there for a while. Do they still have the shows there or has the expanding morality movement started to bite into the entertainment value of Pattaya as well?”

“The shows are still happening but they’re a lot tamer than they used to be. The days of ping pong balls, bananas and darts are gone. It’s mainly about pseudo lesbian acts and girls writhing around in soapy water” said Brian with the time served expertise of a go-go bar devotee.

“Naked?”

“That’s the main attraction of Snappy’s mate. It’s still got the hottest looking babes swinging off the poles”

After another beer we’d paid our ‘check bins’ and pushed our way through the crowd to the exit. Snappy Ago-go was only a short walk from the Hawaiian Princess. We headed back onto Walking Street and then turned into the next Soi on the left. The beer bars along Soi Snappy were devoid of punters and the girls, feeling the bite of the low season already, were doing their best to entice us in. Just as we entered Snappy’s, the rain started again.

There were a few empty seats around the dance platform. It was another indicator of the level of business at this time of year.

“There are plenty of seats. Where’s good for you?” asked Brian.

I nodded to the right. The waiting staff guided us to a couple of seats, at the end of the platform, right next to the exit stairs.

“Best spot in here mate. You get to look at the pussy advancing towards you” I remarked to Brian.

“Good choice. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m here”

“Sawasdee ka, derm arai ka?” (How are you, what do you want to drink?)

I turned and recognized the face of the waitress.

“Hello Fon, sabai dee mai?” (Are you good?)

“Sabai dee ka (Good thanks), how are you Mike? You want three ladies tonight?” she asked with a mischievous grin.

I thought back to a mad night I’d had a couple of months ago, smiled and shook my head.

“Mot laeng (Not enough power) tonight, can I have two Heinekens please?”

“Okay Mike, I come back soon” she said as she moved off towards the bar.

“Three ladies; what the hell was all that about?” said Brian.

“A time when I finally realised that I’m a lot older than I think I am” I reflected.

“How so?”

“Sleep deprivation, too much booze and a torrid session of horizontal folk dancing with three go-go dancers” I said shaking my head at the craziness of that night.

“But she’s a waitress”

“She wasn’t three months ago when I bar fined her, her sister and a friend of hers out of Super Babes Ago-go”

“Sounds like an interesting tale, what happened?”

“Well, I’d just come back from a job in the Gulf Of Thailand and arrived in Pattaya looking to do some serious partying. The problem was, due to the fact that I’d been working nights, I’d already been up for sixteen hours when my taxi pulled up at the San Sabai Lodge” I said.

“I reckon I’ve got a pretty good idea where you would be going for an afternoon session”.

“Where’s that then” I asked feigning innocence.

“How about the Embassy”

“Right on the money, old sport” I said as Fon arrived with our order.

“You buy me one drink Mike?” she said, flashing her beautiful Thai smile, as she placed the Heinekens’ in front of us.

She was still a very attractive lady and I was intrigued as to why she’d stopped dancing.

“Sure babe, go get yourself one” I said.

She waied, as she said thank you, and then scurried off towards the bar again.

“Are you going to finish that story” asked Brian.

As I reached for my beer a hot looking go-go dancer sidled up next to Brian and wrapped her arm around his waist. She was wearing a skimpy bikini which gave us an eyeful of her well endowed breasts. I looked down to her flat, smooth stomach and couldn’t see the child bearing stretch marks that one often finds on a lot of the girls. Brian was immediately distracted and warmed to her friendly approach.

“Sawasdee ka? (How are you?), my name is Mint. You buy me one drink ka?”

“Yeah what the heck. What do you drink?” said Brian.

Mint immediately yelled out an order for a lady drink to a passing waitress as she released her grip on Brian and sat down next to him. Brian turned his attention away from the generous volume of her breasts.

“You were saying” said Brian.

“Anyway, I ended up doing a threesome at the Embassy which, I might add, is highly recommended as some of those girls are fairly switched on when it comes to team work. Probably not quite as good as the Eden Bar in Bangers but definitely a lot better service than you find in most of the bars in Pattaya”.

“I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I’m up for a threesome”

“Anyway, after my session at down on Soi three, I met up with some of the guys off the vessel and we went on a bit of pub crawl which included the infamous Kwai (Buffalo) Bar down on third Road. We eventually ended up back on Walking Street. It was about ten p.m., and I was really starting to feel the effects by then as I hadn’t slept for twenty four hours”.

“And?”

“Well, I’m not one to look for sympathy but, in hindsight, it’s amazing what we do to ourselves when we’re out for a good time”.

“You had some chemical assistance?”

“Not exactly. To charge the battery up I did something that I wouldn’t recommend doing”

“Which was?”

“I went into a seven/eleven and downed three red bulls, one after the other”

“Nasty”

“Yeah, but it had the desired effect. I went into Super Babes Ago-go and, as I said, bar fined Fon, her sister and their mate”.

“That must have been one hell of a session”.

“Not really as Fon was the only one that was a half way decent shag. The other two were clueless. In the end it was a complete waste of money and it took me about five days to recover from my excesses. There was something positive to come out of it though” I said as I took another gulp of my beer.

“What?”

“An awakening, so to speak.”

“An awakening?” said Brian with an enquiring look.

“More of a realisation I guess” I said somberly.

“Oh shit, you’re not getting spiritual now are you?” said Brian as he took swig of his beer.

“No mate, just facing reality”.

“Which is?”

“That I’m approaching fifty and I’m not bullet proof anymore”.

“Tell me about it” said Brian.

“Can I sit here Mike?” said Fon as she sat down on the seat next to me.

“Sure, no problems, chok dee krap (Cheers)” I said as I raised my beer.

“Chok dee ka” she replied.

“Hey Fon you are still a sexy lady, why did you stop dancing” I said as I turned to face her.

“Mike, you are a sweet mouth. I am poompui (Overweight)” she said with a cheeky grin.

“No way babe, khun suay maak (Very Beautiful)”

She smiled and took a sip of her gin tonic.

“Are you tired of dancing Fon?”

“I think it’s boring. You know Mike there are many farang who are not so good. They drink too much and maow mak maak (Very drunk). I tired about go with man who are fat and smell bad” she replied with a detectable sad look in her eyes.

“Kao jai (Understand)” I replied.

“I just want to be sabai sabai (happy and comfortable) when I work and not get a headache from thinking too much. You know there are many girls who take yaba (methamphetamine), drink whiskey and have a Thai boyfriend who takes all their money. I’m not same as that. I take of care my baby and mama. We have house here in Pattaya. I’m not from Isaan” she said as she looked at me steadfastly.

I had to admit that she had a point. Too often we think of these girls as just sex robots. Many times I’d found that plainly to be wrong. The problem is that it’s a vicious cycle, almost like a slow spiral of doom. It’s the money that sucks them in of course. Dancing and having sex with foreigners pays a lot more than some minimum wage job in a factory or on a building site. The problem for many of them is they get involved in the real negative aspects of the profession they’re in; the drugs, the whiskey, the gambling and, of course, the dead beat, unemployed Thai boyfriend that leaches away all their hard earned cash. There are some, like Fon, who’re able to stay balanced and avoid all the negative trappings of being a go-go dancer. She was actually a good hearted lady who, through the usual circumstances – poor education, being a single mother and having a family to support – had turned to this option to make money. Eventually though, the level headed ones get fed up with it and look to do something else. As a waitress she’d be making less but she’d have no pressure on her to go out the door with someone.

“Can I go home with you tonight Mike?” she said as she placed her hand on my lap.

“I’ll think about it” I said.

I smiled and took another pull on my beer.

“Have you got anything planned for tomorrow Mike? I’m heading to Tony's’ in the afternoon for a swim” said Brian.

“I might be able to join you later in the day. I’ve got to go and visit Chris Lane at Pattaya International Hospital at three”

“Yeah, I heard about what happened to him. Bad news huh. I hear that nobody’s been apprehended yet”

“Yeah, it’s a bit dodgy to say the least” I said thoughtfully.

“I don’t know Chris very well but I do know a couple of ladies who know his girlfriend Ning”

Brian now had my full attention.

“Any rumors?”

“Well, the talk is that she’s a heavy gambler and that she’s got some serious outstanding debts”.

“Any amounts mentioned?”

“The word on the street is that it’s something like a million baht or so” he said nodding his head.

My suspicions were being confirmed. Rumors, of course, were just that. But, the Thai street gossip telegraph, more often than not, has an element of truth to it. Simply because they love to see others, who they consider black hearted, get their just deserts.

“Mike”

It was Fon.

“Yes” I replied.

“Girlfriend of Chris, she’s not good lady. She plays cards mak maak (very much) and she has a pua noi (Minor husband) who is Tumbra Wat (Policeman). Noot, she sell yaba (methamphetamine) duay (Also)” she said as she looked at me squarely again.

“Yaba, are you sure about that?”

I wanted to be sure that it wasn’t just idle jealous chit chat that you hear so often amongst bar girls.

“Many Thai people know that Mike but farang, they don’t know” she said.

I turned back to Brian to comment on what Fon had just told us when I noticed Mint giving her a stare that would melt bitumen off the road. Fon was staring back at her and I got the impression there was some ill feeling there. Mint stood up, barked out something in Thai and then strode off towards the girls’ changing rooms. I looked at Fon for an explanation of what had just occurred.

“Bpen arai (What’s the matter) Fon” I said.

“I think she’s a friend of Ning. She tell me I talk too much”

There it was again. The glitz and the gloss of the go-go bars, that short term tourists only encounter, is just a façade. Scratch below the gloss and the real life stories of these girls are revealed. Suddenly I felt wary; the jet lag and the beers had kicked in. But, it was more than that as well. There was something about this town, and this way of life, that just wears you down in the end. Guys on two week blow outs could go ballistic and then go home and dream about their next trip while they recovered. When you live here though the whole equation changes. Being surrounded by, and immersed in, the world’s largest sex industry gets to be mind numbing after a while. The noise, the scams, the drugs, the crime, the bevy of insincere, shallow people just becomes too much. I was getting tired of the whole deal with Pattaya and I knew that sooner, rather than later, I would have to move on.

I looked at my watch, it was ten p.m.

“I think I’m just about done for the day” I said to Brian.

“Yeah, I’m out of here shortly as well” he replied.

I looked at Fon and she looked at me. I was tired but a hot bath and a massage would go down well.

“Do you want to go with me tonight Fon?”

“How much you give” she said almost instantly.

The eternal question. Fair enough, she needed to make a wage.

“Well, I’m feeling a bit tired. I came back from work in America yesterday. I want you give me an apnam, smoke and massage. Then we sleep, okay. Easy work”.

“How much” she said with an engaging smile.

“Pun ha (One thousand five hundred Baht) and I buy breakfast ahaan farang (Western food) for you in the morning”

She pouted. The normal sign from a Thai bar girl that she expects more.

“Okay, song pun (Two thousand Baht)” I said.

The smile returned

“Okay, you pay bar now” she said.

“Check bin. I’ll take care of this Brian”

“Thanks mate. Maybe see you at Tony’s tomorrow afternoon then”

“Yeah, a swim sounds like a good idea”

“Have a good one. Pop garn mai (See you again) Fon” said Brian as he stood up to leave.

“See you Brian” she said.

I paid the bin (bill) and Fon collected her things. We exited the bar to find there was still a light rain falling. I’d decided not to go back to my digs in Naklua as it was just too far.

“We go your room Mike?” she asked.

“No babe, it’s too late. We’ll go to San Sabai Resort” I replied.

I’d stayed there before and it had just what I wanted; a large comfortable bed; good air conditioning and a bath tub. We flagged down a Baht bus on second road and sped off into the drizzle. A few minutes later the baht bus stopped opposite the San Sabai Resort. I paid the driver and we made our way towards the lobby. I hadn’t booked but I knew that at this time of year there wouldn’t be any problems getting a room. After a quick transaction, with passport and cash, I was handed a key and we made a bee line for the room. Once inside, I adjusted the air conditioning and Fon, as any Thai woman worth her salt would, reached for the TV remote control.

“Fon?”

“Yes Mike?”

“Apnam (bath) and massage first”.

“Kao jai (understand)” she replied with the cheeky smile of a child caught doing something it shouldn’t.

The remote was placed back on the TV set.

“Fill up the bath tub with hot water” I said.

She smiled and gave me one of those Thai homs. It’s something that they do to show affection. Instead of kissing they place their face next to yours and sniff.

“Men maak (bad smell)” she said as she walked towards the bathroom.

I sat down on the bed and began to relax; I was in another hotel room with another pay for pleasure lady. I’d given up worrying about it years ago. Now, I just enjoy the ride; take it for what it is and nothing more. The fact is Fon didn’t consider herself to be a prostitute anyway; she was just doing what she could to make ends meet. The moralizing wowsers of the west, with their preconditioned WASP view of the world wouldn’t agree with that of course. Thankfully this country is Buddhist and they’re of a lot more forgiving, and tolerant, mindset. As for me, I’d started to have a greater appreciation of Buddhism and, as such, I had none of those religious driven, guilt hang-ups that seem so prevalent in the west when the idea of paying for sex is on the agenda. I was in a nice hotel room with a beautiful, sexy Thai woman. Unless you’ve ever experienced that then you’ll never know just how good it is. Is it little wonder that so many foreign males come to this country and never want to leave?! The equivalent of one hundred dollars is not a lot to pay to be washed from head to foot, have your toenails clipped, have some great sex and fall asleep while you’re being massaged.

“Apnam (Bath) Mike” said Fon.

I stripped off my clothes and headed to the bathroom. The bath tub was nearly full with steam coming off the water. Fon was in her ‘birthday suit’. She had a beautiful body; she was tall with a narrow waist and nice firm, silicone enhanced breasts. I looked down at her pussy; it was shaved.

“Khun suay maak (you are very beautiful)” I said.

“You not so tired” she replied as she pointed to my erection.

I got into the bath and stretched out. Fon got in and placed her feet either side of my hips and, with the great flexibility that is synonymous of most Thai woman, she squatted down and pushed her pussy down on my solid erection.

“I horny duay (also)” she said.

I smiled; it was good to be back in Paradise again.

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