Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 21
Like Tree12Likes

Thread: Notes from Paradise..

  1. #1
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    14,153

    Notes from Paradise..

    A bit OTT but still kinda fun..

    Notes from Paradise

    Walking alone, along Bangla Road, Patong Beach, at something close to three in the afternoon, the first hour of a holiday in Phuket:

    The bars are half-full with the previous night’s now ludicrously drunk drunks. There’s a slightly unstable carnival atmosphere. Bangla Circus: where the acts spill into the audience. Sober people walk up and down the road watched by the funny exotic animals, roadside attractions inside their Happy Bars. Some of the performers paint their grave faces, readying themselves for another night on the tiles, making money, getting by. If they’re lucky in the morning they’ll hobble home on scuffed high-heels with some cash to send back to a poor bastard and his gran in Issan. Thailand’s burlesque holiday paradise, ageless under neon lights – will it ever get old?

    I enjoy it, on a short time basis of course. I’m more of a spectator these days than I am a tourist. You can only be new once; innocence is a one-off deal, but it feels good to back in an X-rated reality. I can understand Philip Roth’s character Sabbath when he says:

    “For a pure sense of being tumultuously alive, you can't beat the nasty side of existence.”

    It’s not all that nasty, but there’s an element of immorality to it all: the good stuff that ignites the imagination. I could write poems from a bar stool for an entire month... if it weren’t so expensive.

    I brought Baudelaire with me, a fitting companion:

    And yet, among the beasts and creatures all—
    Panther, snake, scorpion, jackal, ape, hound, hawk—
    Monsters that crawl, and shriek, and grunt, and squawk,
    In our vice-filled menagerie's caterwaul…

    The cops look crooked, corruption prevails… hearts are torn to pieces, wallets that took a month to fill are emptied in minutes, there’s always a hustle, and fights break out by the hour as you’d expect when drunken men have less than reliable time-shares on their artificial darlings.

    “…plucked her eyebrows on her way, shaved her legs and then he was a she, I said hey babe, take walk on the wild side…”

    I was in search of a packet of Ritalin – I’d heard from a self-diagnosed ADHD friend that it was quasi-legally available at most pharmacies in Patong, and I’ve always wanted to experiment with it as a novel writing adjuvant. No joy – it seems regulations have changed since my friend was in Patong a few months ago. Crime is capricious in Phuket. Solly, no sell… If you’re up to no good in Thailand, don’t speak Thai.

    As I walk back empty handed to my hotel a man with a strong scouse accent leans over the edge of a packed bar, a huge muscular guy of about 40 (but he looks 50) shakes my hand vigorously. He's obviously extremely high on MDMA, and very happy.

    Gurning, grinning, he says to me, "'ave a fuhking greit dei maeit."

    He doesn't want to let go of my hand. He probably raved in the 90s and is experiencing forgotten elation. In 2013, almost anything is possible in Phuket.

    I’m still smiling when further down the street another Caucasian man of about 35 with sun-bleached hair and sun damaged skin, who could have been a surfer before he started drinking seriously, attempts to crawl along the pavement but he keeps collapsing onto his stomach, a skinny beached sea creature almost dead out of water. I think about helping him, but then I think he’s just part of the extreme process, the circus... you can’t take it too seriously.

    When in Thailand’s most dissolute hotspots I’m always reminded of this passage in Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night wherein he describes European soldiers freed of their usual constraints, lost in the tropics:

    “…we saw, rising to the surface, the terrifying nature of white men, exasperated, freed from constraint, absolutely unbuttoned, their true nature, same as in the war. That tropical steam bath called forth the instincts as August breeds toads and snakes on the fissured walls of prisons. In the European cold, under gray, puritanical northern skies, we seldom get to see our brothers' festering cruelty except in times of carnage, but when roused by the foul fevers of the tropics, their rottenness rises to the surface. That's when the frantic unbuttoning sets in, when filth triumphs and covers us entirely. It's a biological confession. Once work and cold weather cease to constrain us, once they relax their grip, the white man shows you the same spectacle as a beautiful beach when the tide goes out: the truth, fetid pools, crabs, carrion, and turds.”

    I know that’s very cynical, but there’s some truth in the assertion that a tropical steam-bath does seem to have a quota of how many white men it drives to self-destruction. Better to burn-out… than do the washing-up?

    Phuket, or rather Patong, is going through something of an identity crisis of late. The shameless circus has a relatively tame side-show, and in comparison to the frantic unbuttoned western man escaping quotidian bores, the new tourists seem rather tepid and restrained. They can be seen dodging trucks and stepping over the shadows of giant cranes, overtly ignoring locals with goods to sell. They walk in straight lines, in their hot pants and floral dresses, and don’t ever seem to seep into the nefarious crevices where the old style geezers are filling their guts with beer and praising the past when you could fuck for the equivalent of five British pounds. I’m talking about the Chinese and Russian tourists. The nouveau riche from those predominantly poor countries seem to be on a different trip altogether.

    Hedonism, decadence, is, from what I observe, a western thing in Phuket, while the new consumerism is more branded. New money buys goods – not girls, booze, drugs.

    On the streets around Patong malls are being erected, as are (more) expensive hotels. The streets are caked in mud and full of pot holes, the nascent outline of a congested, branded future. I listen to complaints from locals about the new tourists, street workers not keen on the Russians and Chinese, whose spending power offers scant alliance to their homemade trades.

    “I don’t like Russians,” says a girl working at a bar I’m having a beer at.

    “Why?” I ask.

    “They use the toilet, but don’t pay the 10 baht or buy a drink.”

    People talk about a crisis looming for the island of Phuket. Congestion, corruption, over-development, ecological catastrophe... One man’s progress is another man’s poison.

    If you read Thai web-forums you’ll hear Phuket expats use the appellation ‘Murder Island’… I was buying a kebab on the street next to the Muay Thai complex when a man with a southern English accent starts angrily ranting to me.

    “This place is finished, mate. All they fucking want is your money. Saw an argument the other night… tuk-tuk drivers… there’s two of ‘em, one fucking puts an axe in the other’s ‘ead… a fucking axe over a few baht.”

    He’s right about high tensions. The money, the very huge sums of money Phuket makes, is not exactly being evenly distributed. The scramble for cash is sometimes a little fractious, hysterical. But the tourists just want their fun in the sun, they’ve paid for Thai smiles, and so they resent locals banging on about money.

    How much smiling can you expect from a minimum wage earner in Phuket who is forever playing desperate host to the demands of so often belligerent tourists who seem to see look right through them?

    Owners of bars, clubs, and restaurants have stated in the press that they just can’t afford to pay the huge under the table payments to the scores of government agencies and mafia. Not paying is not an option. That’s why a beer on Bangla can cost up 300 baht a bottle

    An excerpt from a novella I wrote for the literacy journal EastLit. Patong Beach 2011:

    The streets bundled drunken sun burnt tourists from one bright light to the next, balls tightly packed into a tired pinball machine bouncing off touts, prostitutes, and farmer’s daughters who had been packed off to what they thought was the end of the world by desperate elders, with a 3rd class one way bus ticket to sell cigarette lighters that talked and flashed. Cripples crawled around under the feet of over-indulgent tourists who were unable to differentiate a show from a catastrophe. Russian girls drifted casually, disdainfully, in-between the football jerseys of proud-to-be-English almost-alcoholic men who had come to Thailand to fuck and ultimately fall in sloppy love with girls that liked to say the word ‘love’ but had never experienced anything more than cold survival. They were born losers in the game they played, the survival of the poorest. There were lurid scenes of exploitation and manipulation in every bar, though in the guise of something benign. Poverty and wealth, hustling in the streets, the needy and greedy fighting for notes and travellers checks with as much tenacity as dogs dig holes in the ground where they sense bones. But people came in hordes from all over the world, like martyrs on a pilgrimage to worship a filthy stinking shrine, giving themselves, their money, to the photo-shopped images of smiling Thais who found these foreigners arrantly repellent, but also frustratingly indispensable.

    I am having a great time, me, on my holiday. But I’m aware that people are driven by necessity out of their hometowns – you’ll find the majority dream of return to the countryside – to work in Phuket doing things they’d rather not do, like swallow a stranger’s sperm, or wai all day long to people who resist recognizing their autonomy. That’s just the reality of the developing world I guess. Tough shit, the spoils, and the progress, is not for all I guess. We can always fantasize about a happy ending.
    JimCA2 likes this.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    14,153
    I’m sure however that there are plenty of happy, content, fulfilled people in Phuket enjoying their jobs, their lives. I think I met some of them. My fiction above is exaggerated, bombastic, but I wrote it to serve a point, which was to address the daily dog fight for cash in Phuket, but also the mentality of tourists who can tend to treat locals like slaves, or duty bound artificial intelligence. Locals, whose culture and identity, whose well-known hospitality and grace has been packaged and sold to tourists who’ve been promised a virtual Sybaris by invisible suits and PR departments driven only by fiscal objectives.

    It remains to be seen how long the lowly will exude their flaunted grace under pressure.

    Grace under pressure: I think Earnest Hemmingway’s three moving words will be particularly resonant as Phuket and Thailand heads into an uncompromising future devilled by a widening distribution of wealth.

    Rolling around in the ocean on Kamala beach, watching the sunset, riding around hills on a hired scooter: yes, it is a fantastic island, even if it has contracted the tropical malady. I love the place, and what I like most is the feeling of being lost, finding something still pretty much untouched, the little bits of undeveloped beach from where you watch the ebb and flow of nature not demarcated by jet-ski operators.

    Is anything is sacred?

    When you over-sell, over-do, what is natural becomes artificial, and therefore loses its real value. When that happens at some point the system crashes, just as economies do when they are artificial. When nature, or culture, when space itself, is sold-out its destiny is almost certainly disaster. Let’s hope the short-term profiteers of Thailand’s natural wonders are always circumscribed and watched by those with a social and ecological conscience.

    As the flight takes off to Chiang Mai I pick up the Air Asia free magazine. On the back page there’s a glossy King Power full page advertisement.

    Feel the wondrous touch with the very first step at King Power. You chose to shop world class brands at our boutiques, be epicurious. Enjoy the wonderful Thai culture and masterfully crafted Thai gifts and let the very Thai hospitality embrace you at King Power. We give you the experience complete with the endless and refined splendor.

    My first thought is of a professional nature: maybe a drunken copy writer (goes with the job I suppose) raided a fridge full of stale adjectives and puked them up in the morning along with bits of prepositions and chunks of nouns.

    What was the meaning, or hidden meaning of this ad?

    The mish-mash of words says a lot about the consumer climate, it says it’s mindless. The fact that Epicurean philosophy has been hijacked by brand consumerism is proof enough of the idiocy of advertising. Epicurus must be spinning in his modest grave.

    Nonsense is the language of the new consumer paradise. Pretty, empty, adjectives. Words themselves have been sold out by the engineers of public relations, and so it’s hard to say something like you mean it, even when you mean it.

    I’ve experienced Thai hospitality. I’ve been treated by the wealthy, and been fed by kind hosts who don’t have the money to feed themselves half the time. The checkered King Power enterprise exploits this better part of culture to sell its products. It’s putting Thai culture up for sale, and yet the people who constitute this culture are hardly in on the deal. The community spirit I think is alive in Thailand, and that I greatly appreciate. The commoditization of this spirit, especially seeing as it pays no dividends to the community, will in the end defile it. This is one reason why old expats lament the passing of time. The best things in Thailand are still free, but paradise it seems must be sold at any cost. Something at least has to be given back, to the people whose virtues, or cultural identity, has been sold down the river.

    Protestors this week hold up placards in Bangkok accusing certain politicians of kai-chat (ขายชาติ) – sell the country, or sell-out the country. Who exactly do they have in mind, and what part of the country are they referring to? It seems to me that a lot of people want in on the great Thailand For Sale scheme. Economic progress that widens gaps, expands societal fractures, and deepens critical fissures where unhappiness is concerned, or in Aristotelian terms prohibits people the freedom to ‘flourish’, is not progress, but regress, or at best stasis. Phuket is a glaring example.

    However… I had a ‘nice’ holiday.

  3. #3
    Senior Member nelsonone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    2,862
    problem with critically analysing this "circus" as an outsider is it reeks of WASPish morality and you come off as a snob...
    Mr Rooter likes this.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    14,153
    I dunno.. he didnt seem too judgmental.. Maybe a bit cynical but over time that comes as standard.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    23
    From the opening tone i kept expecting Phillip Marlowe to make an appearance...555
    Last edited by pavlov's dogs; 29th November 2013 at 19:17.

  6. #6
    Senior Member WarProfiteer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    2,031
    I could've written something like that if I were more sober and slightly more cynical...

  7. #7
    New User
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    4
    too much education..Takes some of the fun outta life.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    930
    Written by yet another failed intellectual who feels he has to scoff at "the common herd" who fail to pay him for just being so brilliant.

    Is he really stupid enough to think that the ugly girl back in the village, the girl with one leg short, wouldn't swap her place in the paddy field with that of her sister in high heels, a miniskirt and sitting listening to rock music every night?
    Mr Rooter likes this.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    1,490
    Anytime someone trots out their literary quotes when describing Bangla I roll my eyes. Its always overdramatized and framed to somehow look profound.....


    Its not.
    Mr Rooter likes this.

  10. #10
    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Vancouver BC
    Posts
    10,632
    Quote Originally Posted by TLandHim View Post
    Is he really stupid enough to think that the ugly girl back in the village, the girl with one leg short, wouldn't swap her place in the paddy field with that of her sister in high heels, a miniskirt and sitting listening to rock music every night?
    why would you say that?
    millions of thai girls could easily decide to work in the bar and they don't

    and i agree with him more than i don't
    Patong, Bangla was a phase for me
    I have very fond memories of the place but ain't rushing back and not because of any perceived negatives, it just doesn't do it for me anymore

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    930
    Quote Originally Posted by marc26 View Post
    why would you say that?
    millions of thai girls could easily decide to work in the bar and they don't
    Of course they can and there are millions who work elsewhere, but it doesn't mean that working bent over all day in a rice paddy is the career choice for most Thai teenagers if they got to choose for themselves.

    You sound disapproving of working in a bar etc and all that may entail
    We do find the US a bit strange and very double standard as far as sex and sex workers are concerned.
    If that is the girl's choice then so be it and not for us to judge.
    The great thing in Thailand is that there are very little evidence of pimps not like in the US. The Thai girls have the say as far as we see it
    Mr Rooter likes this.

  12. #12
    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Vancouver BC
    Posts
    10,632
    Quote Originally Posted by TLandHim View Post
    Of course they can and there are millions who work elsewhere, but it doesn't mean that working bent over all day in a rice paddy is the career choice for most Thai teenagers if they got to choose for themselves.

    You sound disapproving of working in a bar etc and all that may entail
    We do find the US a bit strange and very double standard as far as sex and sex workers are concerned.
    If that is the girl's choice then so be it and not for us to judge.
    The great thing in Thailand is that there are very little evidence of pimps not like in the US. The Thai girls have the say as far as we see it
    i am not disapproving, i just think it is not as glamorous or fun as people seem to think
    i also think there is a lot of good relationships coming out of the bar
    but there is some real damage these girls are incurring

    i also think people think a lot of these girls aren't "forced" into bar work
    they are not trafficked like we associate with working girls but a good % of these girls are mentally forced into it by financial demands from their families

    and who says the friendly beer bar owner isn't a pimp? he/she may not look like what we think a pimp looks like but a lot of them are every bit the pimp that we think about. sending their wife/gf to scout and entice girls from the village to come work in the bar(that happens plenty), setting quotas for bar fines
    i mean if you get into the gogos where the girls are driven to the gogo and have to be back at the bar house at certain times, how can that be described as anything but pimps?

    and what do you mean if they could choose for themselves? it is as easy as walking into a bar instead of a factory
    my SIL sees everything my wife has gained from working in a bar but still chooses to work in the factory
    Last edited by marc26; 19th January 2014 at 23:08.

  13. #13
    New User
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    4
    well said.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    930
    Quote Originally Posted by marc26 View Post
    i am not disapproving, i just think it is not as glamorous or fun as people seem to think
    i also think there is a lot of good relationships coming out of the bar
    but there is some real damage these girls are incurring

    i also think people think a lot of these girls aren't "forced" into bar work
    they are not trafficked like we associate with working girls but a good % of these girls are mentally forced into it by financial demands from their families

    and who says the friendly beer bar owner isn't a pimp? he/she may not look like what we think a pimp looks like but a lot of them are every bit the pimp that we think about. sending their wife/gf to scout and entice girls from the village to come work in the bar(that happens plenty), setting quotas for bar fines
    i mean if you get into the gogos where the girls are driven to the gogo and have to be back at the bar house at certain times, how can that be described as anything but pimps?

    and what do you mean if they could choose for themselves? it is as easy as walking into a bar instead of a factory
    my SIL sees everything my wife has gained from working in a bar but still chooses to work in the factory
    i am not disapproving, i just think it is not as glamorous or fun as people seem to think
    Of course not or it wouldn't be a job, people would do it for free

    i also think people think a lot of these girls aren't "forced" into bar work
    they are not trafficked like we associate with working girls but a good % of these girls are mentally forced into it by financial demands from their families

    Not that much different to the west, what about the suicides of kids forced into university by well meaning parents who fail to get a job and in some cases suicide.

    and who says the friendly beer bar owner isn't a pimp? he/she may not look like what we think a pimp looks like but a lot of them are every bit the pimp that we think about. sending their wife/gf to scout and entice girls from the village to come work in the bar(that happens plenty), setting quotas for bar fines
    You really can't see the difference between some scumbag feeding drugs to a teenager and then putting them on the street to support his lifestyle??? The girl being forced to take any punter that comes along, the beatings etc??? You have lost your perspective.

    i mean if you get into the gogos where the girls are driven to the gogo and have to be back at the bar house at certain times, how can that be described as anything but pimps?
    Pimps? trying to look after staff more like it, the same as air hostesses used to have to put up with in a supposedly less enlightened age.

    and what do you mean if they could choose for themselves? it is as easy as walking into a bar instead of a factory
    Not if your an ugly girl and that was my point

  15. #15
    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Vancouver BC
    Posts
    10,632
    Quote Originally Posted by TLandHim View Post
    i am not disapproving, i just think it is not as glamorous or fun as people seem to think
    Of course not or it wouldn't be a job, people would do it for free

    i also think people think a lot of these girls aren't "forced" into bar work
    they are not trafficked like we associate with working girls but a good % of these girls are mentally forced into it by financial demands from their families

    Not that much different to the west, what about the suicides of kids forced into university by well meaning parents who fail to get a job and in some cases suicide.

    and who says the friendly beer bar owner isn't a pimp? he/she may not look like what we think a pimp looks like but a lot of them are every bit the pimp that we think about. sending their wife/gf to scout and entice girls from the village to come work in the bar(that happens plenty), setting quotas for bar fines
    You really can't see the difference between some scumbag feeding drugs to a teenager and then putting them on the street to support his lifestyle??? The girl being forced to take any punter that comes along, the beatings etc??? You have lost your perspective.

    i mean if you get into the gogos where the girls are driven to the gogo and have to be back at the bar house at certain times, how can that be described as anything but pimps?
    Pimps? trying to look after staff more like it, the same as air hostesses used to have to put up with in a supposedly less enlightened age.

    and what do you mean if they could choose for themselves? it is as easy as walking into a bar instead of a factory
    Not if your an ugly girl and that was my point
    i don't know how to multi-quote

    so you are comparing being pressured to go into prostitution the same as being pressured to attend university, and comparing their job that involved sex acts to any other job
    talk about losing perspective

    i do see the difference but that doesn't make them not pimps. maybe nicer pimps?
    i actually think Asia, and to some extent Latin America, have the right attitude towards p4p and it lends itself to not being working situations
    but there is still a darkside to it, one that some don't seem to want to admit there is

    so demanding that someone keep certain hours to make sure they are not getting cut out of any earnings, is now "trying to look after them"

    some of the pictures i see posted on these forums, ugly girls seem to do ok 555

    PS- i think someone like yourself, TLH, that enjoys their p4p and is a gentleman about it can forget there is a downside to it all.we are all guilty of that at times
    Last edited by marc26; 20th January 2014 at 02:49.

  16. #16
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    14,153
    Quote Originally Posted by marc26 View Post
    PS- i think someone like yourself, TLH, that enjoys their p4p and is a gentleman about it can forget there is a downside to it all.we are all guilty of that at times
    As a cynic or realist depending on perspective I would fall more in line with Paulies side I guess but..

    Lets not forget theres a downside to working in a factory too.. Sex work takes a toll, to some more than others, in some situations more than others.. Real work takes a toll, to some more than others..

    Thailand has a kind of tolerance to sex sex work, that means it has less stigma than in other countries. That lower level (not none by any means) of stigma reduces the toll somewhat, leaves less of a mental burden and it then is simply the physical burdens, the lifestyle, the parts of it that are unpleasant. Even neighboring countries that have bar scenes I think they feel psychologically more bothered by working bar than Thais do. Thais have a clear love of money that washes off all sins kind of thinking which I would say is why they tolerate or understand sex work.

  17. #17
    Senior Member nelsonone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    2,862
    ^ that and a largely buddhist philosophy in life.....no "original sin" concept like most religions

  18. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    930
    Quote Originally Posted by marc26 View Post

    PS- i think someone like yourself, TLH, that enjoys their p4p and is a gentleman about it can forget there is a downside to it all.we are all guilty of that at times
    Marc
    Just to set the record straight. P4P is not my thing. I and my 65 year old European wife have both always enjoyed sex and erotic times and our holidays have always to places that have an edge to it. Tigerlady (my nickname for my wife) is my focus and I still find her extremely attractive after 20+ years and we enjoy Bangla Rd etc as spectators and have talked to bar girls and massage girls and in 20 years of visits have heard a cross section of stories, some sad, some not.
    The sex industry is a fact of life and we find the sex workers we have spoken with, certainly as moral and honest as most lawyers or politicians.
    Mr Rooter likes this.

  19. #19
    Senior Member nelsonone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    2,862
    Quote Originally Posted by TLandHim View Post
    Marc
    Just to set the record straight. P4P is not my thing. I and my 65 year old European wife have both always enjoyed sex and erotic times and our holidays have always to places that have an edge to it. Tigerlady (my nickname for my wife) is my focus and I still find her extremely attractive after 20+ years and we enjoy Bangla Rd etc as spectators and have talked to bar girls and massage girls and in 20 years of visits have heard a cross section of stories, some sad, some not.
    The sex industry is a fact of life and we find the sex workers we have spoken with, certainly as moral and honest as most lawyers or politicians.
    Gee...that's a bit harsh...I like most of the BGs I meet....555
    Dkdude, TLandHim and Mr Rooter like this.

  20. #20
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    541
    I would say the sex workers are a lot more moral and honest than lawyers and politicians.
    fiddler, TLandHim and Mr Rooter like this.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •