A strange night in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai Travel Blog

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a macho monk handling his snake

In Thailand no matter how far you steer clear of it sooner or later you’ll encounter the sex trade. Because it isn’t a seedy underworld. Here its as casual as the red neon it bars on the soi entrance with girls/ladyboys sitting outside, the dark tinted massage parlour next to the market, or the friendly girl chatting with you in the bar. You don’t have to go out looking for it it’s in your face on your lap.

Pietro and I were walking back to out hotel one night in a small town when we were called over by a group of ladyboys. Pietro was a typical eager old Italiano codger so he went over to chat with them. “They didn’t look very good” he returned disappointedly. “Of course not, they’re guys.” “What? No..” “Yeahh..” I don’t mind women being a bit cheeky but these creepy Michael Jacksons and their sick little moves really disturb me.

We were staying in a business hotel in Chiang Rai. It had a Nightclub on the ground floor that was totally empty. Up in the room I flipped channels on the telly. I was watching a local beauty contest with delicate young women weighed down with glittering brass headpieces and armlets. I was captivated till I realized they were men, ok great, change channel..click. Next was none other than the stage of the nightclub downstairs. Now I know why there was no patrons the guests could just watch the mini skirted singers (minus the sound) from their rooms. I thought it was a bit uneconomical but whatever, it was boring anyway so I changed channels and watched a film. Coincidentally it was the film “Boys don’t cry” (I’m not kidding), great just what I need now.

Coming back from the night market later in the evening I saw a girl sitting outside the nightclub. She was wearing tight black clothes, net stockings, and leather platform boots. She looked very bored. Though she looked like a hooker I thought I’d be nice and chat with her. “Hi, you’re a singer in the nightclub, right?” “Yeah” “I’m staying in the hotel. I saw you on the TV” “Oh..did you?” she started to smile. “Yeah you look quite good on stage. I’m sure you sing well too” “Thanks” I wasn’t sure about her voice but besides the outfit she was rather good to look at. “I’m sorry I don’t speak Thai so well but I’m a visiting from Japan.” “Oh..really? That’s cool”We chatted nicely for a bit. “Hey, do you want to go have a drink with me sometime?” it was an ordinary up-front offer. “uhh..okay” “When are you free?” “I don’t know. Anytime is fine.” “I mean, when are you off work? Like tomorrow. Is that good?” “Uhh.. I don’t know… maybe..why not” Either she wasn’t very bright or I wasn’t saying the right Thai we were both confused.

Just then a flitty looking guy with make up came out. “Hi there” he plonked down next to us. Another older woman joined us soon. They were all intensely interested in this young Japanese guy with his funny Thai. “Where’s some good spots to hang out at night?” I asked them. “Oh I know the best places. If you want I can take you around tomorrow night” the guy crooned. “Sure why not?” I thought it was a harmless offer from a friend.

The next evening I went back to the club and found the girl there. “Hey aren’t we supposed to go out tonight?” “Yeah..okay..sure..” “What do you mean? You’re at work now.” In the end I gave up on the whole idea, as a date seemed to be a foreign concept to her.  I decided to just hang out with Mr. Fruit. We ended up in a moldy beer garden having some drinks. “So how long have you been working in that club?” “About two years. It’s only a temporary thing.” “And what do you plan on doing in the future? “I don’t know maybe go to Chiang Mai, here’s to small town” “Wow that’s a real improvement” my sarcasm was wasted on him. We had more beers and I listened to the Thai pop music and his grand ambitions. “You like women here?” he asked. “Yeah, I like women not men” he giggled in a sick way but I was serious. “I saw a sign in the room for massage service. How’s that?” “Oh it’s for sex” he said casually, “but don’t use it it’s expensive and dangerous.” “Dangerous?” “HIV” “Oh, yeah that” Before we left for a club I told him again that I’m not a homosexual.  I don’t usually have to be so blunt, I don't act flitty at all and most people take hints, but I didn’t want to leave any room for misunderstanding. He looked a bit offended that I would suspect him after all he was only wearing an unbuttoned silk shirt and acting fruity all the time. At the club he wanted me to pay the entrance fee for him. I didn’t mind as I was supposed to be the rich foreigner. The Club was the typical Thai foolishness. I’ve been there done that before. They have a stage where they do some live act usually a Thai rock band and some pop dance numbers, nothing awesome. I was thinking we would meet some friends of his or something and have a party but he turned out he was a real loser with absolutely no one to hang out with in such a small town. Just my luck I am in a club with the only unpopular gay in town.

I was washing my hands in the bathroom when a small dark guy started speaking to me in Thai. “No thanks I don’t need a back rub.” “Ha ha but you are not Thai.” “You speak English” “I do. Where do you come from?” “Japan, and you?” “Mae Sot” “Oh were they do the barefist Mauy Thai, right?” “Yes we always beat the Burmese.” “Really” “Of course! The Burmese are scum, there’s not one good one I’m telling you.” “I’ll keep that in mind, Cheers!”

I was bored of the show and Mr. Fruit was not very interesting anymore. I decided to call it a night. When the tab came Mr. Fruit pretended he couldn’t read and handed it to me. I wasn’t so happy to pay for a bottle of scotch that he was polishing off in a contest with me but I decided to wink at it. Outside he called one of his friends and handed me the mobile. “Hi there” a girls voice said in Chinese. “Uh.. hi” this is curious I thought “what’s your name?” After some small talk I started to realize that Mr. Fruit was asking her to ask me something he was looking at me anxiously the whole time. “You know Mr. Fruit has been very nice to take you around town. You could give him a tip for his services, after all he had to take a day off work.” “What? Are you kidding? Service?” I’m thought this sounded more like a business transaction then just hanging out. Then it dawned on me, the club is a front for prostitution that’s why no one goes there the customers just pick and pay from their rooms. Of course, that’s why the girl didn’t understand why I didn’t just take her to my room, how could I be so obtuse? I started getting a bad feeling about this guy and his flitty tricks. I gave him back his phone. He was looking at me expectantly. “I told you before I’m NOT homo! Understand?” I said with finality to my tone. He grumbled but started his scooter.

Instead of going back to the hotel we stopped at a rundown bock of flats. “What’s this?” I didn’t want any funny stuff. “This is my place” “Ok, why are we here?” “I need to change my clothes.” I thought that was bit weird but whatever. “Come on up.” Inside was a total mess. The walls were bare concrete with peeling green paint. A naked light bulb hung down giving a flickering yellow light. On the floor was a shrine with a mess of red wax and incense ash around it. There were bowls, plastic wrappers, and assorted household items strewn around. Everything was filthy. I was standing there in the lounge kinda shocked by this all. “I’m going to my room” he said looking queerly at me. “Okay, you do that.” “Come with me.” yeeshhh cringe  “No way!” this guy was just too much! He went into his room. I stayed where I was, close to the front door, making sure I had an escape route. I held the whiskey bottle tight by the neck in case. I wasn’t too worried as he was a small man and I could easily knock him down if he tried to do a number on me. He came out shortly dressed in the shoddiest clothes. He grumbled the whole way back but didn’t try anything. When we got back to the hotel he made one more weak attempt. “Can I at least have the whiskey?” he whined pathetically. “No you can’t, goodbye.” I turned and walked away.

I was amazed how civil I was considering the gall of this guy. It’s a bit sad when you can’t have normal interactions with people without all this body bargaining and unwanted approaches. I try to be open and understanding with local people but when they are always out for something or have ulterior motives it’s a real damper. 

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a macho monk handling his snake
a macho monk handling his snake
Chiang Rai
photo by: Pearl510