Expat@Large

Some Old E@L Opinions, Observations and Tales

Posted in AEI, expats, Hong Kong, stereotypes, Thailand by expatatlarge on March 6, 2012

E@L was contemplating the implications for himself of the previous post so he went hunting for some of his previously stated opinions. Found these from his abandoned blog (it was crashing all the time locking people out, even E@L – moved to Blogger in 2008). Most of these snippets, if not all, are from posts in 2004 and 2005.

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One comment, not about hookers but about the legal system: Expat Nation – Farang Affairs

Ah Thailand. It’d be tragic, if it wasn’t so tragic.

Just seemed appropriate.

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A classic. One of E@L’s first concerning the scene… The Charisma Card

You see, with any (valid) credit card, E@L and the thousands like him, acquire the neon-halogen glow of true SuperStars, of party animals out to bring it all down! He pulls out the card and *Charisma* comes to him and flows from him, billowing behind like a cloak. Charm wraps itself all over his body – he is Mr Popular, he is Johnny Love. The crowds part, the band stops playing, the most beautiful girls turn to him, wonder who he is, whether they’ll be lucky enough to go home with him tonight. Their voices rise, entranced at the power of his presence, to call out in an irrestible song of the sirens…

“Hello. Welcome! What you like drink? Beer, Carsbuck, Hinick?”

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This post from 2004, Expatriatism! Easier to spell than antidisestablishmentarianismistically, (stupid title) is in response to the review (by Pico Ayer) of a book by an American expat in Japan. Pico, presumably paraphrasing, spoke of the expat who complained that wherever he was, he was not at home. E@L (who can count only to five in about four, no three, Asian languages [the number six just won’t stay in the LTM!]) took umbrage at this, somewhat unfairly in retrospect.

Expatriatism! It’s our favorite ‘ism!

What does it mean for the E@L? It means a chance to experience and explore different attitudes to life, to traffic, to sexual mores, to food, to work, to worry, to family, to pretty much everything. To see things being done differently and for different reasons. To realize that an incomprehensibly varied range of motives drive the people in those countries that are not our home reference point (if we have one!) It’s not in order to become like a native, for that’s merely exchanging one limited world view for another. As Joyce might say, to exchange a rational and coherent mistake for an irrational and incoherent one. (Not that Australia is rational and coherent, but I had to get that quote in somehow, somewhere in my life!) The idea is to gain experience and glean insight – not necessarily to judge, though one might criticize (just might!) – maybe in order to make some more sense of why things are as they are at everybody’s version of home.

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Apropos that, here’s E@L complaining that Singapore is not Hong Kong (let alone Australia). Going Troppo – it had to happen!”.

The fact that the restaurants and nightspots he wants to go to are shut on the weekend! The fact that it takes 7 mintues between trains and not 2 minutes. The fact that they say “6th Storey”, and not “6th Floor”. The fact that “Mannings” is “Guardian.” The fact that taxis disappear after 10pm. The fact that Singlish is nowhere NEAR English. The fact that those taxis have manual transmission and every drive-chain in Singapore is ruined because the drivers don’t understand how to use a clutch! The fact that there is nothing but a sticky, sweaty summer here. The fact that the ground is all horizontal and not vertical (there are no views!) The fact that it has the death penalty and the cane and no-one cares. The fact that the entire place looks like a golf course – step out of bounds and it’s a two stroke penalty. The fact that everyone is only concerned with getting E@L’s money…

The touts come at him… “Like some more?” says the one at the next restaurant … ” Have an Indian dessert., sir” … “Chinese, Thai, Chili crab.” …

“Get … out … of .. my … WAY!”

His voice rises…

“FUCK! I HATE THIS FUCKING TOWN!”

He hasn’t? He has. He has vocalised that. He said that out loud. Out VERY loud.

He smiles at some tourists, walking towards him, slowing down, staring at him… He frowns.

The touts step back. They’ve witnessed such breakdowns before.

Tourists think: “Mmm. The local madman. Gone troppo, not doubt. Every town out here has one. Yes, the humid charm of the Quaint Orient takes it toll and here is one of it’s victims! It’s all that gin, to fight the malaria, destroys the brain too! Say, let’s buy some chili crab, as this honest looking waitress is offering a meal at what promises to be a discount rate!”

Woah, stand back from this lunatic. No, it’s OK it’s safe to near him now, he won’t bite. His medication, not Inderal as mentioned in the post, but the mood stabiliser Lamitrogine, which fortunately and off-label kills 95% of his peripheral neuropathy agony, and perhaps seven years of acculturation have tamed this beast down. Mostly. Unfortunately for the popularity of this blog, he has calmed down a lot since then.

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This post, A common HK expat pastime…, is also from 2004 (when E@L was almost articulate). Not so much in Singapore as domestic helpers do not necessarily get a day off (you should read some the tales told by domestics looking for new employment – damn, lost the link) as they do in Hong Kong, the following is more applicable up there. E@L has now heard of it as called The Tea-Party (nothing related to that misguided bunch of billionaire-funded tax-avoiders in USA – Note: E@L is legitimately not required to pay tax in Australia).

A good part of the Sunday afternoon and early evening of many a Hong Kong male expat is taken up with prowling Neptune II, New Makati, Fenwicks, Dusk Till Dawn and the like in Wanchai for prospective replacement maids. …

This sort of behaviour of the male expat does entail a fair whack of double-think, because he knows he is being used, just as he knows that he is doing a great deal of the traditional colonial-style, white-man’s-burden “using”. It’s not so much repicrocal altruism as mutual exploitation. No money changes hands in the usual scenario, but there is a debt incurred and a debt repaid. The girl gets a day in a decent flat, even if she does have to clean it up, she gets a bit of (let’s face it, girls need their lovin’) sexual attention and simulated affection – which is a lot more than she gets during the rest of the week (unless “Madam” has a headache and “Sir” is feeling horny) – and she gets the chance to plead her case for rescue. The guy gets his flat cleaned up and his seminiferous tubules purged. Win-win.

And so the world advances. Well it rotates anyway.

Never was successful there, never tried very hard. All that conversation… As the pundits sing: “You couldn’t score in Wanchai!”

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Here are E@L and Bruce, um, E@L means Bruce and another Bruce, trudging through Bintan in search of a mythical pub and finding an Indonesian version of the fish-bowl: The Quest,

L-G[aka Bruce], being a more hardened campaigner, checks out the age, looks, and size of the women on offer. He asks the eventual question and is shocked. Here in this grimy, peeling-paint, malodorous sex-slave camp, the broken-smiled, cigarette-reeking, oily-haired boys-in-charge are asking tourists such us E@L [aka Bruce] and L-G to pay for a forced shag on some stained and uncomfortable mattress in a noisome room upstairs a price that could be easily be negotiated in the comfort and sophistication (tongue-in-cheek) of Orchard Towers in Singapore and for much prettier, more intelligent and enthusiastic (the benefit of free-enterprise) companions de nuit at the accommodation of your choice. Even L-G abandons the idea of utilizing this offensive and unethical establishment and comes outside to find E@L seeking further enlightenment as to where the more conventional and somehow less tacky and exploitative local outlets of the Assisted Ejaculation Industry are located.

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E@L is again pinpointed as a sex-tourist. And he’s only at the airport! Scenes Of The Crimes:

Walking up to the counter for a Limo-taxi, the girl immediately asked “Taxi, Pattaya?” Yep, even disguised with a long-sleeve shirt, long trousers, socks and shoes, E@L still exudes the aura of a depraved sex-tourist.

Ah, the ineluctable tyranny of stereotyping for the foreign fat-man.

He fired her a rather fierce look and said, “Klong Tooee, Conrad Hotel, karp koon krap.”

“Oh, you bin Thailand before? Speak Thai?”

“Nit noi,” he mumbled, rapidly approaching the end of the line for his Thai language ‘skills’… He paid his 700Bht for instant access to a clean car that shouldn’t break down, and took off for town.

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[Addendum] OK. One more. Unscientific Research (slight return)

And so. Here he is. Fat, forty-something, bald, single. In a sexually charged environment. He is a stereotype. A cliche. Someone’s vision of all that’s wrong with Asia. His own vision from not that many years ago, in fact. He has become his own worst nightmare. At least he is not cheating on a wife somewhere. The X said recently to him that she was amazed that he could even contemplate doing the things he does now. He would never have gone into a brothel, she says, when she knew him. And she was right. There are early E@L stories of transactions declined, and anecdotes of great mirth concerning such exploits. He hates himself for exploiting women; he hates men who exploit women; he hates how men can cheat on their girlfriends and wives so easily so blatantly. He knows that sex is not good enough reason, no matter how one rationalizes it. Deep down he knows this. Is he right? Or is Dr Kinsey? …

… Anyone can look quickly into a crowd here and only see the old, fat guys with their chicks, because they are the ones that fit your prejudice, that fit your anticipated result… But if you try hard and actually COUNT them…

So, here are the stats for the first six guys that walk past with a slim, semi-dressed local girl :

Age:
20s – 3,
30s – 2,
40s or higher – 1

Weight:
Slim – 5,
Pudgy – 0,
Fat – 1

Appearance:
Normal – 4,
Little Bit Weird – 1,
Out There – 1 (Kris Kristofferson in Blade look-alike)

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Aiya, Jesus wept… E@L is crying here. OK, you get the idea. Giving up at this point, it’s lunch-time. How many of these post are there? Too many? Not enough? Put ’em into a book man!

E@L

"My Boyfriend The Sex Tourist."

Posted in Bruce, hookers, stereotypes, Thai girls, Thailand by expatatlarge on March 6, 2012

Something of a stereotype breaker – at least as far as the “trafficking” situation of some of the working girls in places that cater to mostly westerners is concerned.

At least you can see that not every bar-girl in Bangkok has been dragged off the farm by marauding snakeheads and chained to their beds in a cardboard dungeon. Well, yes, no, not every bar-girl…

via

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It would be an interesting exercise to study the expectations, feelings and motivations of these boyfriends in more depth (say, to the bottom of three bottles of Hennessy) and in a less stereotypical way… If that is, um, like, possible. Nah.

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Bruce of course has had some experience of less salubrious working conditions

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It is depressing and frustrating to wander the streets by yourself in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, browsing in the shopping malls or checking out the temples. You are old, fat, bald, generally unattractive. You are wearing cargo shorts, a loose shirt or tee, and sandals. You know that everyone in the world is making the assumption that you a sex tourist.

It is even more depressing and frustrating when you admit to yourself that this is exactly what you are.
Bruce (in a more contemplative mood than we are used to.)

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Gustave Flaubert, the man who was able to look so profoundly and convincingly into a woman’s heart, was a completely sleazy sex-tourist on his trips to Egypt, reveling in his debauchery… Not that this is any form of excuse…

E@L

Say It Right In Thai

Posted in Bruce, hookers, pathetic old man, romance, sad old man, Thailand by expatatlarge on February 25, 2012

E@L has a book of this title in the desk in front of him. Nothing to do with the previous post.

Without wishing to bore you with the maudlin regrets of a superficial, middle-aged, single man, he wishes to bore you with the maudlin regrets of a superficial, middle-aged, single man. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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Say it right? Say it RIGHT?

E@L can never say anything right to women in whatever language of love you suggest. Thai, English, Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog or Hindi. He is completely hopeless at preventing his hopes of love from being dashed on the rocky shores of lust whenever he opens his stupid mouth. Which is why he never gets to fuck can seduce the women (should there be any) he might wish to.

Even with all silver-tongued the advice from that super-experienced chat-up man, our Bruce, he does not succeed. Because, as when packing his bags for a trip, he gets all anxious and leaves something out, or brings the wrong item. “I find you very attractive, enjoy your company and would like to get know you (or ‘your body’ – optional) better,” as advised by Bruce, somehow comes out of his mouth as, “Let’s fuck like they do on the Discovery Channel,” with gestures and body language to support the unintended effect – of a blank look of terror, followed quickly by drink over the head and either a kick to the scrotum or a standard dose of pepper-spray to the conjunctiva to finish E@L off.

When E@L approaches a lady and is feeling romantic, it’s stand back and avoid the shrapnel as his improvised seductive devices explode. Lines like that might be OK when you are in midst of each of each other and unmaking the bed (or couch, or kitchen table), but in a bar at 7pm with someone you’ve just met? In all likelihood, nope.

Say it right? E@L? Blurt it right out, more like.

So the conversations people like E@L might prefer to implement, after having made fools of themselves time and time again in legitimate circumstances, becomes more appropriate to the expectations of their intended female companions when augmented by the alluring soft plonk of a ping-pong ball falling into a glass, to the crisp slap of a mock-truncheon on various glutei maximi, to the just-audible hiss of a body slithering up-side down on a chrome pole, to the alluring perfume of cigarette smoke and alcohol fumes.

When these things turn his thoughts to thoughts of love, out pops the perfect Thai phrase, finally. Here are words that exactly express his feelings and carry no offence, quite the opposite. As the purloined letters of Cyrano De Bergerac did for Christian and Roxanne, these words will have the lady swooning her loins into his loins…

“เท่าไหร่ดีบาร์คืออะไร? Charisma Card(tm) ok, krup?”

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Getting married at 19? Don’t do it if you are contemplating getting divorced 20 years later. They’ll remake Swingers all about you. You’ve never done the dating thing as a kid, and now you’ll never scale-up enough chat-up skills before it gets too late for you, you’ll never shrink to the right kind of small talk, you’ll never polish away the rough edges of your wannabe smooth lines.

You’ll be paying someone else to do the polishing instead when and if you make it to E@L’s age.

E@L.

* How much is the bar fine?

* OK they weren’t “stolen” as such, but purloined is a great word and needs to be used more often, though with proper syntax whenever possible.

Utilize?

Posted in lol, sigh, sign, Thailand by expatatlarge on February 24, 2012

I think I know what they’re trying to say.

Sign in one of the washrooms at the Paolo Nawamin Hospital here in Bangkok.

The Bludger says they mean “exploit”.

I’m hoping not.

E@L

Need Help

Posted in allergy, Bangkok, cockroach, Thailand, translation, WTF by expatatlarge on February 13, 2012

… in getting a decent translation of the following. One of my many lovely friends/colleagues (see above) in BKK is unwell. At least I think she is unwell. She posted this on Facebook:

จะบอกว่า ร้านดอกไม้ร้านใหญ่ที่อยู่ใกล้ๆกัน มีความคิดสร้างสรรมาก ขนดอกหญ้ามาจัดร้าน theme valentine ประหนึ่งว่าอยู่สวนป่า อีเดนท่ามกลางธรรมชาติ โรแมนติกค่อดๆ วันดีคืนดี ลมพัดมาหอบละอองเกสรปลิวว่อนเลย เซ็ง~ ไม่รู้เลยว่าอิคนอยู่ใกล้ๆ จะตายเอา 5555 [at least I know that these numbers are a Thai emoticon for LOL. Why? Because the number five in Thai is pronounced Ha. Hahahahaha.]

… and Bing (the FB default for some reason) translated it thus:

The art of flower shop is telling me to usurp tuttu shops near the capital. There are many creative ideas to optimize your store organized grass heart valentine theme is comparable to that in the midst of a natural park Eden. Robert semantic khot propitious day. The wind blows coming en masse swiftly carry pollen. Bored ~ I don’t know that the ikhon near to death removing LOL.

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Also need to learn the Thai characters for WTF.

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… and Google translated it thus:

It is a flower shop near the well. There are many creative ideas. Feather grass is a free theme valentine, as though the forest. Eden nature. Haddock and romantic fine wind to carry pollen carded ~ I do not know I was close to death I 5555.

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… and Yahoo BabelFish doesn’t do Thai.

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Response from the victim herself after I assumed she was having acupuncture or something silly like that:

It’s a procedure of Skin test, not a treatment. They drop 13 allergen solutions on my both arms and then prick my arms with special needles. finally, leave them for 15 minutes. if there are skin rash and itch at any position, means I got allergy them. The result is cockroach and pollen.

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Cockroach?

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In BKK for 10 days, will be that is, coming up from this Thursday. Could try aversion therapy, but E@L hasn’t got much of a roach.

E@L

Kamala Beach – The Sense Of A Holiday

Posted in books, sunsets, surfing, Thailand by expatatlarge on November 10, 2011

As E@L flatmate, P, said on FB – “This Phuket trip is looking like victory already.”

o

Not really because E@L has had two fights with taxi and tuk-tuk drivers already and done bugger all writing.

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He has been reading though. We have to admit that we enjoy the reading experience of the Kindle. For some reason or other E@L can keep reading without falling asleep and can read much faster, certainly more rapidly than he has been in the past few years (falling asleep doesn’t assist the pace, either)…

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It only took one day to finish the Booker winner, Julian Barnes’ ‘A Sense Of An Ending’. I presumed foolishly – the only way to presume things these days – that the ending in a novel so titled would therefore make sense. MMmm. ‘Atonement’ this ain’t.

More about The Sense of an Ending

I can’t say that the emotions driving the underlying story really made sense [*** slight spoiler alert***] and for the life of me I can’t see how he (the author/protagonist) could be held responsible for the not quite as bad as that climax. So why her anger and why his guilt and angst? And seriously, how the fuck could he ever “get it”, if it didn’t really involve him (or only marginally) in the first place, he had not heard from or seen any of them (those still alive) for forty years? Is he supposed to be a psychic? OK, he turned to have been a prick, vindictive and nasty (well, she had just dumped him for his best friend), but he didn’t really cause what happened to happen. Or was the fact that it didn’t make sense, the true sense we are to make of this ending?

Admittedly the observations on growing up, making you so wonderfully comfortable inside the mind of a smart – but maybe not smart enough – late teenager, and growing old in the mind of a slightly snarky old man were astoundingly good. Barnes is very practiced at this confessional stuff, these meandering reminiscences, and he hits the nail on the head about the vagaries of memory and the resultant unreliability of history, and what this means for his author’s story here. “If we were in a novel, this wouldn’t happen…” someone, the author Anthony or the author Julian, keeps meta-fictionally observing.

Having been reading Tolstoy opinions on Shakespeare on the Kindle as well, (c’mon, it was $0.99 and I was just skimming) I see that the Great Novelist thinks that the Great Playwright is crap, and that his plays make zero sense and miss the point all the time (the source materials were always better, he says) and what he makes the characters do is simply not how people behave – therefore Shakespeare’s famed intuition into human nature is a pile of crock and everyone is wrong except Tolstoy. And I have to admit he makes many good points.

So Barnes is claiming with this meta-fiction stuff, that what the people in his novel do is not what people in novels would do… So as Beckett said, “No symbols where none intended”, it makes you wonder, if this is not meant to be a novel, why do we keep harping back to The Mother tipping out a “broken” fried egg… Symbol? Intended? I think so.

Oh never-mind, I am probably way off the loop here. I probably have missed the point due my infernal obtuseness, or I have overlooked some crucial adjectival phrase that would have gelled it together for me.

Please, don’t listen to me, it is a GREAT read for the wonderfully funny and piercingly accurate evocations of those smart kids in school thinking themselves smarter than their teachers, the mating game back in those days (60’s, about 10 years before E@L fucked it all up, as it were, for himself) and how not to handle re-unions with ex-girlfriends later in life.

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The reason it only took me a day (talk about the compression of time – as Barnes does in this book) is that there are only 150 pages or so in the physical novel. Speaking of senses and endings, it is weird to end a novel and not be able turn the book face-down. Looking at the rear of a Kindle is not the same thing. Closure?

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But one cool thing with this book on the Kindle is that it came with the best of Barne’s observations on life already highlighted so I didn’t have to think for myself.

E@L

Instant Phuket

Posted in holidays, packing, Thailand, writing by expatatlarge on November 9, 2011

Just quickly (which means he’ll probably write for the next three hours), E@L has decided over a period of not very long, to drop tools and fly to Phuket. Internet, Wotif, Tripadvisor, Singaporeair, all dot com’d and here he is, packing (and what essential item/s will he forget?)

Work is quiet as a Bangkok trip has been postponed (duh) as has the replacement trip to Kuala Lumpur. And the rain here at breakfast time yesterday meant E@L couldn’t get a taxi to frackin’ Tampines, so he spat the dummy and sucked it up, emailed his intent (the boss is in Vietnam, so no-one really cares if he is in the office or not, plus he has 40 days of leave to shed) and did all those bookings.

Over the next few days he will be working on writing (it’s that immensely disheartening period of NaNoWriMo again, and fuck E@L/Fyodor writes like shit when he tries hard and he comes way too close to the true stories of his buddies and himself, and are probably libelous as well) and reading in a comfortable hotel in a quiet part of Enchanted Isle (Surin Beach), as opposed to reading and writing in a comfortable apartment in the Disenchanted Isle (here).

OK, look, E@L has finished this post already! Like an effort for his NaNoWriMo efforts, it’s shorter than expected and leads to nowhere interesting.

Well, moderately interesting…

E@L

A Typical Morning’s Work

Posted in breakfast, Thailand, travel trouble, work by expatatlarge on June 27, 2011

What is it with breakfast?

Take the breakfast buffet as the Pullman in Khon Kaen. There is enough food here for the hungry German participants in a major convention, but there is no major convention. There are about four of us. Huge serves of veggies, salads, meats, soups, cheese, fish (last night’s sushi? no thanks) are lying untouched in bain-maries and on plates all around the place. Who is going to eat all this?

Let E@L think of the mathematical description of this inverted homeopathic situation — How about the ratio of unnecessary food to guests decreases according to the inverse exponential of the number of guests. A graph that slides from a number approaching infinity at the Y-axis (when there are zero guests) in a curve down to the X-axis (Y=0) as the number of guests approaches an appropriate number for the amount of food, and it then goes -Y when there is not enough breakfast. (Tom, am I anywhere near right?)

E@L makes barely a dent in this Siamese Babette’s feast. He has a bowl of muesli, diced fruit and yoghurt, and he dehydrates two pieces of wholemeal bread in the “toaster”. (What? No Vegemite?) The seventeen staff give him a Sawadee as he leaves for his 9am pick-up.

Outside, the poor struggle for 30Bht or so to get a bowl of noodle soup or a som-tam at the roadside stalls (and bloody delicious they are too).

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E@L’s sales guy has a gleaming black Beemer. It looks new, but shows 260,000km on the clock. He drives like Mark Webber in pole position, and E@L is thrown several centimetres into the faux leather seat as we accelerate up the nearly empty main street. This is OK except that the dashboard displays a *CHECK BRAKE FLUID LEVEL* warning in read-me red. E@L points this out.

“Fluid leaking, ABS dual system,” he says.

“Are we able to stop?” E@L asks, somewhere between amused and fearful for his life.

“Yes,” he replies and smiles. E@L wonders about emergency evacuation to Singapore.

That conversation was a lot of English for him. Almost everything E@L says to him is answered with a faux smile and “Yes.” E@L is not saying this as a criticism, as his Thai, despite 13 years of visiting Thailand is a pathetic nit noi, mak.

“I couldn’t get to sleep last night. There is a club somewhere, boom boom boom, music,” complains E@L as a way of making conversation in the dreadfully quiet car.

“Yes.”

“Are there girls there?”

He is silent.

“Girls, ladies, at the club?”

“Club? Ladies, yes,” he says and smiles again.

E@L’s evening is sorted.

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True to form for E@L’s hospital visits to inconveniently distant places, the customer will not be available until tomorrow. “You free morning,” he says. “I pick you afternoon, we go KKU.”

They head back to town, but E@L sees the turn-off to his hotel whiz by.

“Where are we going?” E@L asks.

“Service. Car brake problem.”

“Well, do you really expect me to sit and wait for your brakes to be fixed?”

“Yes,” he says. It that yes, I do want you to wait, or yes, as in I have no idea what you just asked?

“Can’t you take me back to the hotel?”

“You want go hotel?”

E@L nods with an incredulous eyebrow raised.

“OK, I pick you up afternoon.”

“What time?” E@L asks.

“Yes,” he answers.

E@L holds up his watch and tap it. “What time will you pick me up?”

He smiles and nods, he gets it. “Seven,” he says. He corrects himself, “Twenty o’clock.” Then again, “Twelve.”

E@L smiles and pats him on the shoulder. “OK, see you midday.”

“Yes,” he says.

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E@L has time to write this blog and to charge all of his gadgets. Excellently typical morning on the road in Thailand.

E@L

The Fishbowl

Posted in Bangkok, Bruce, hookers, Thailand by expatatlarge on January 14, 2011

So there we were. Smashed in Bangkok. Again. Bruce narrowed an eye even further, if that were possible, and said, “Let’s go for a massage. I know a place that gives a great soapie.”

“Oh Jesus, Bruce, not Annie’s again. Anyway, I’m hammered. It’s late. It’s what – 4am? Everything will shut. I am so way past all this. I’m going back to the hotel,” said Stuart.

“One more, one more,” said the grimy faced urchin (who claimed she was twelve) to Stuart as she restocked the trays with pink and yellow disks. “I beat you, I beat you good mistah. You not so smart, but I like you!” Stuart, having been out-thunked six consecutive times, knew that he had met someone more than his intellectual match and that at this point, going back to the hotel and throwing up the toilet was the better part of valor. And that Connect-4 was way too complicated for him and that he was going to sell his chess textbooks the minute he got back to Hong Kong. He picked up his plastic cup and drained the last of his sour gin-tonic. He patted the disappointed girl on her head and said goodbye with a 50baht note.

That left Bruce and E@L. Again. Stuart was always crashing early (well, relatively early).

But it was hardly a minute, or hardly another futile move in Connect-4 against the determined-to-win street savant, before a revived Stuart was back. He was escorting a large green dress which contained a goodly proportion of, but certainly not all, the body of a hair-braided freelancer from Africa. Stuart could barely contain his glee. The street kid stared at Stuart like he was yet another inconstant lover.

We invited her to sit down at the small tables on one of the remaining fold-up chairs. Her face was a soft, shiny velvet-black. She was very pretty, thick-lipped, not so broad a nose and her forehead sloped back roundly into the back-cut braid, but her tits were enormous and overflowing in the too tight dress, her belly bulged out (not that we are slim, eh E@L?) and her butt ballooned out the back.

‘Mo-anie’ shrugged and spoke softly in a strong African accent when we asked some polite questions about herself (28, Sierra Leone, no kids), and then about her preferences in film (which was her favorite Harry Potter?) and politics (red shirts, yellow shirts?). Eventually she realized we were just drunk funny-guys all taking the piss, mildly enough and in good fun, but still there was no tricks to turn here. She excused herself and hustled off, rather shaken by the experience if he movement of her large bubble-butt was anything to judge by.

“Massage!” said Bruce. He called for chek bin khrup and Nit, our young waitress for these early mornings libations at the yellow trolley-bar (which would be folded up neatly into itself and wheeled away in a few hours – assembled and open 6 till 6) brought over a scribbled reckoning. Bruce paid. “It’ll all work out over the weekend.”

We scuttled the 12(?8,?16) year-old girl off with an initial offering of 50baht, but she pointed out that Bruce owed her another 10baht each for the five games he had insisted on gambling against her and lost. She had won at least half our Connect-4 games. She left with 100baht, probably enough to live on for three days, or for her mother to go gambling with.

Amazing kid. Sharp mind. Good at Connect-4.

“Imagine what she could have done with her life if she had ever gone to school,” mused Bruce.

“Or been born in another country,” E@L countered. (Frackin’ social conscience, E@L’s Achilles testicle.)

“Like Sierra Leone,” double-whammed Stuart.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Everything’s shut, Bruce. Nothing will be open. Stuart is right,” E@L said. Indeed the whole strip was much quieter than just 45 minutes before when we had first sat down at the street bar.

“We need maaaSSSSAAAAaaaaaage!” cried Bruce.

“And I know where we can get a fuck at 4;15 in this god-forsaken megalopolis!” He may have thrown a few extra “ol” and “al” syllables into that last word.

He led the charge across the legendary shifting pavers of Sukhomvit, over the legs of stacked-away stalls, of chairs at other temp bars and those of sleeping soi-dogs. We turned the all-too familiar corner where the fried locusts stall had been two hours earlier. The Nana clubs and bars were supposed to be closed by now. Even the trolley for the best hamburger in town was packed away and gone.

“I know a place,” he said. “Open 24 hrs, but don’t tell the police. You’ll wake them.” Ho ho. Bruce always had some new snippet of knowledge of the local debauchery scene to amaze us with, and a joke to follow.

Stuart, earlier adamant that he been heading for bed, was with us E@L realized, however his energy was fading fast after the fun of bringing the exotic hooker to our little table. We waved to the last of girls who called out to us from bars that were obviously shutting up shop and dodged the crotch grabs of the last of the katooeys still manning(!) the front of the Nana Hotel. After a few short blocks of the typical Bangkok shops (tailor, laundry, foot massage) stepping up and down at pavement and road, Bruce unexpectedly turned down a soi to the left. We had expected to go right, didn’t know there was anything to the left.

“If this placed is closed, I’m heading straight back,” complained Stuart. “Seriously, I’m fucking tired.”

At the entrance to the soi, Bruce hesitated at first. “This is the one” he said, unconvincingly. “C’mon mate, nearly there.” We walked slowly to the end of the soi, where it progressively became darker as we moved out of the street-lights and glowing signs on Soi 4 and moved behind the rear of the taller buildings on the left. Finally, maybe two hundred meters in, we made out the low rise block on the right side that E@L guessed Bruce was looking for. On the very last verandah a dim, solitary red light hung in front of a door and it silhouetted a row of pot-plants. “Here,” said Bruce, quickening. We stepped up. It was dark but not dark enough to miss the four-foot high electric sign with a plastic sign and curly fruit-loop Thai script on it and, tellingly, the outline of a naked lady in a bath-tub. But the sign was up on the verandah behind the plants, turned off. The place looked closed up. Bruce shrugged and walked up to the door confidently. “It’s always open. The locals know about it,” he said.

A knock, a wait, the sound of foot-steps. A look. A female face. “You wann massagee? Welcome!”

The welcome lady, maybe a kind fifty, maybe a harsh twenty-five, hard to tell in the dim light, was wearing a light-colored evening gown with a low-cut top. She gave Bruce some directions which he hardly needed as he was already on his way up the stairs. We walked up on worn red(? – also hard to tell) carpets to the third floor, behind him. There was a bar directly in front of us as we reached the top. It was almost pitch dark in here as well, but with the blue-tint of ultraviolet lights that reflected from the mirrors behind bottles of spirit (Mekhong, SongSam, Johnny Walker Red, cheap but expensive gin and vodka) and liqueurs (two of them, both Baileys) and empty beer bottles (Heineken, Tiger, Chang). The strange light made the dandruff on our dark t-shirts light up, our teeth glow and our eyes go smokey, but didn’t really help illuminate much around. We could just make out large-hewn, darkly lacquered wooden stools at the bar. As our eyes adjusted, down at the far end we made out the form of a person in a brown uniformed leaning forward on one of the seats, his peaked cap on the bar, his head on his cap and his arms outstretched around them both and a half full/empty bottle of Johnny Red. Bruce and E@L raised eyebrows at each and gave a silent high five! There WAS a sleeping policeman here!

The lady who looked up over her reading-glasses from behind the bar where she was toting up large pile of thousand baht notes, a lip-balanced cigarette wavering in her now-smiling face, greeted Bruce as an old friend. After a soft catch-up chat in pigeon-Thai, Bruce introduced us to Mrs Samathinporn or something like that, or not like that, and ordered more gin-tonics. Stuart’s face dropped. He really did not want more alcohol. But the tonic in our gins lit up, electric in the blue light and Stuart took a long sip. And then Bruce asked something that sounded like “Is the bowl still open?”

“Of course, Mistah Brut.”

She smiled warmly(?) at Bruce and put out her cigarette. She made a phone call that needed only a single number and then screeched rapidly into the handset. We heard a sudden loud scurrying behind the walls, like mice playing basketball, like girls putting on high heels.

“Solly, take time, girls rest, watch TV.” Practice Connect-4, thought E@L.

To the right of the bar, at the end of the room, the wall flickered into light. This wall was in fact made of two full-height glass windows that looked into into another room that was where the fluorescent globes were coming awake. There were three rows of stepped seats, up against the three walls in the room, all painted white and with cushions and stuffed toys on them. The cause of that scurrying sound became obvious as fifteen, maybe twenty, girls walked in quickly from an adjoining room and took their places in a well-understood arrangement.

“The fishbowl,” said Bruce.

Mrs Somethingporn led the three of us over.

Several of the girls were looking out towards us through the glass walls. Some were waving, some adjusting their low-cut dresses even lower to their push-up bras and some smiling falsely as if they were listening to a bad joke, but some sleepy-eyed ones were quite sullen and had just plonked themselves down. E@L noted that the welcome lady was sitting there as well, unambiguously older in the harsher light. Many of them appeared stunningly beautiful, but it was well after 4am and Bruce, Stuart and E@L had been drinking since lunch (oops) dinner.

“Is OK,” said the bar-lady to reassure Stuart and E@L, as we must have looked uncomfortable, “they cannot see you.” E@L, even now and having been back a few times, has no idea if she was lying or not. “Take you time. You look, you look. Take two lady Mistah Brut? Very pretty tonight.

“Girl this side of room,” she explained to Stuart and E@L, “are model, very beautiful, 2500baht. One and half hour massage, you very clean. Girl this side, very pretty also, special price, 1700baht. Take two for massage, only 3000baht.

“Please take a look. Very new girls. All very new.”

Bruce smiled. Stuart blanched. E@L wondered where the hell they got the idea for this!

~~~~~~~~~~

Harem, Thomas Rowlandson, 1812.


Caged Prostitutes in Japan, 1890-1900 via Flickr

~~~~~~~~~~

All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
Ecclesiastes 1, 8-10. ~250BCE.

E@L

Typical Thailand Story – Bruce again!

Posted in Bruce, ladyboys, sex, sex-change, Thailand by expatatlarge on October 27, 2010

Hi E@L

I have to tell you something. The reason I haven’t written for so long is that I have been in Thailand ever since forever and something has happened, well two things actually.

Firstly I have fallen deeply and madly in love. She is a lovely woman… well, she’s a not technically woman at the moment. Almost is. She certainly acts like one, the walk, the coquettish smile, despite her deep voice and immense hands and feet. Adams apple too, you know the drill. Like I said, she’s sort of almost a woman at the moment and you wouldn’t know she’s not, not when look at her through the eyes of love as I do, apart from the anatomical stuff I just mentioned, or if you read the gender thing on her ID card, which the concierge at my hotel seems to find so amusing. (She must be a popular girl, because he already knew her name.) She comes up really cute in an LBD (and out of one too, so long as she keeps a towel draped across you know where). She is so shy! It is cute. She hasn’t got any bosoms yet but when the hormones I am buying for her kick in, whoah, eh?

And there’s the jewelry I pay for, she looks great in it with her LBD, though I haven’t seen her wearing that diamond bracelet recently, maybe she has misplaced it… Her Thai brother (obviously a close family as they kiss a lot) has a new motorbike, maybe she dropped it from the back of that. And it is so sad, her father needs another operation, his fourth in the past few weeks, and there are those new tyres for the village buffalo, etc… The drama never seems to stop up there in Isaan (or did she say Laos?) so I chipped in a coupla thousand dollars for those emergencies too. Funny, I thought she said she was an orphan when I first met her, when I she was writhing under all that wax in the BDSM bar.

She will be a real woman when she has the chop: I can’t wait. I have been storing up on KY for those first tender moments. Some very good hospitals for that sort “aesthetic” surgery here in Bangkok by gum! At the moment though, it is pure love, platonic and profound. I do get a bit worried that she is still sleeping with about 400 older German and Australian men, men who don’t seem as sensitive to her emotional needs as I do. But she is pulling in heaps of money I guess, so who cares, right? She says she doesn’t get “paid” much, and I am not sure where those meagre earnings go but sometimes she has this white powdery crystalline stuff under her nostrils and she acts a bit weird, but I doubt that has anything to do with it.

~~~~~~~~~~

The second thing is that I have decided to go through the change with her. Who needs penises, right? Half the world gets on without them already. Why shouldn’t my lady and I get rid of ours? …

We’ve decided that I should go first. She said she’d wait for me up in Isaan. Or was it Laos?

regards

Bruce.