A Comparison of Prostitution in Amsterdam and Bangkok, or The Tail of Two Cities
Amsterdam Travel Blog› entry 1 of 13 › view all entries
By the end of my first day in Amsterdam, I had managed to complete both primary tourist bits; I bought some Lebanese blond, then an Amsterdam blonde. To properly set the stage, allow me to revisit an event thrown for me by my parents a few weeks prior to the onset of my trip. A bon voyage party was held in their oversized, and highly floralized, garden on a bright sunny May afternoon. A fond farewell from my friends, family, and other assorted well-wishers.
Ilse and Tass Matalon, the parents of my dearest and oldest friend Lonnie, pulled me aside at a quiet moment. They were like a second set of parents and were constantly looking out for my best interests. They slipped me a fifty dollar bill ( a decent sum in 1977) and instructed me not to mingle their gift with the rest of the cash I had put aside for the impending odyssey. Rather, I was to segregate the money and use it to treat myself to a special night - on them - during my time abroad. “This will take care of dinner, a bottle of wine, and a hooker when I get to Amsterdam.” I instantly advised them. There were no objections to my plans. The Matalons were always cool.
Skip forward to Holland. I had apparently mis-budgetted. It seems that drink, dining and a dalliance could not be had for a mere fifty. I immediately decided that the wine would have to go. A further cost/benefit analysis led me to the rapid realization that dinner would also have to be removed from the evening’s agenda. That left me and Bianca.
It was my first experience with a lady of the evening. I was always of the opinion that there were four inalienable rights that everyman was entitled to. I referred to them as the four P’s. Free Parking, Pay Phones, Pay Toilets, and Pussy. Nonetheless a promise is a promise and I would never do anything to let the Matalons down.
My bargaining skills were not yet honed to the sharpest level, so the $50 Bianca insisted on went without a struggle.. She led me upstairs, unwrapped her skirt, revealing what I thought were milky white thighs, but upon closer examination turned out to be some type of lotion or ointment. She proceeded to advise me in some form of Dutch or English to get it over with. The romance went out the window along with my libido. “What about the passion?” I asked. “Passion?” was her one worded answer. That singular response spoke volumes. I would have left right then, but there was both a question of principal as well as a fifty at stake. I got it over as quickly and painlessly as I could. She then tried to hit me up for room fees, pimp fees, sheet fees and anything else she could think of. I wasn’t in the mood. On my way downstairs, I reflected on my brief and summarily unpleasant interlude and realized that in one fell swoop, I had managed to bring both sex and money down to their lowest common denominator.
Eleven months later I’m in Bangkok. After spending the day seeing the sights, I decided that the time for cultural exploration was at hand. Off I strode down fabled Pat Pong Road in search of the seamiest, seediest sex club I could find. Tough choice. I entered the ninth one on the first block and ordered a drink. It did not take particularly long to learn the locale customs. All of this travel had broadened me, so to speak. I sat at the bar and watched various movies being projected on walls, ceilings and other flat surfaces of the establishment of which there were not many. The multi-screened video presentation reminded me of some groundbreaking cinematographic effects pioneered a few years earlier at Expo ’67. But there the similarities ended. Tearing my eyes from the movies was easy since the live show happening on the bar in front of me had its own merits. Personally, I have always been partial to theatre over film and nothing I saw in that bar did anything to dissuade my preference.
Up until that night I thought that chop sticks were meant to be held in one’s hand. I also thought that ping pong was meant to be played on a table. I also saw the pre-cursor to the twist off bottle cap with a spin that Coca Cola’s marketing department, in its finest hour, could not rival The orient succeeded in opening my eyes wide to cultural variance. I now know why they call us round eyes.
By the fifth hour or so I was tiring of the plethora of on stage exhibitions, I turned my attention to the dance floor. It featured a bevy of hostesses dancing together. Always the gentleman, I felt badly for the unescorted escorts and began dancing with them. They all wore number tags rather than name tags. I took a cotton to number 44. In keeping with my only other experience in a room full of Orientals, namely, our local Chinese restaurant in Montreal, I went up to what would have been the equivalent of the head waiter and proceeded to order by number. Apparently, this particular dish went for 200 Baht, or 20 dollars. By now my negotiating skills had been considerably sharpened, having survived the markets of Istanbul, Jerusalem and New Delhi. “One Hundred and Fifty Baht, my final offer”, I stated with the right mix of confidence and belligerence. “No problem, Joe”, the pimp replied with a smile, obviously knowing that he’d been bested.
Number 44 and I returned to my one and a half star hotel. I feared a repeat performance of the Amsterdam disaster. My fears were rapidly allayed. As soon as the financial transaction had been completed, Number 44, or 4 as I was calling her romantically by then, and I were just two lonely (and may I add sexy) people looking for some compassion and a damned good time. What was a twenty minute ordeal in Holland translated (loosely) into an all night escapade in Thailand. I was great. She was pretty good too. I got my passion and a pleasant good bye the next morning to boot.
Two nights later I was packing my things and preparing for my flight to Hong Kong scheduled for the next morning. I had cashed in my remaining currency, pre-paid my hotel room, and put aside enough baht to cover dinner that night.
I had met up with a couple of American guys and while not inclined to spend the entire time with them, did agree to get together for dinner and the like. That night the three of us went out to a local eatery where I mistakenly ordered a dish that had been cooked with fish, my mortal allergic nemeses. Fortunately I quickly caught my mistake and limited my ingestion of the vile substance rapidly enough to prevent an instant round of puking, diarrhea, hives, swelling, itching and a bunch of other symptoms that people would pay money at a side show carnival to see me suffer through.
I was feeling rather lousy and excused myself from dinner to head back to my hotel room to sleep off the remaining symptoms. By 9:00 I was sound asleep but was awoken by a timid tapping at my door. Sleeping au naturel as is my custom, I draped a towel around my waist and opened the door a crack. A crack indeed. There was 44. She wanted to know if I had a girl friend in the room. I asked her how she knew about Sheryl.
She was obviously frightened so I let her in. She explained to me that she had been rented for the night by a European staying at the fancy hotel across the street. I wanted to ask her if he had paid full price but it didn’t seem appropriate at the time.
Apparently, when they arrived at his room, he started smoking some powerful Thai stick and got very abusive. Petrified, she bolted from his room and went back to her manager. Pimps, being the kind and understanding people that they are would have none of her story and ordered her to go return to the customer. She was too frightened to even consider it. “May I spend the night with you?” she asked me. I explained that I’d love to have another night similar to the one earlier in the week, but unfortunately, had no cash and was leaving the next morning. I offered her Travelers Cheques. 44 said no problem, she wasn’t there for the money. I invited her in for another night of passion and left Bangkok the next morning, not needing a plane.