There’s love here in Bangkok.
Various types of love… Varying levels of love… But, there IS love here in Bangkok.
There are places you love… Familiar locations that you just find yourself gravitating toward on a semi-regular basis… It could be a park, a bridge or just one single place that you find yourself at, where all of your worries seem to melt away… A calm place… YOUR place.
There’s the love you feel for and indeed FROM your friends… The recent lockdowns and stresses related to the COVID outbreak I feel have bought us closer to our friends and have made us all appreciate our friends so much more than we did before.
Then we have good old fashioned hearts and flowers love.
The love they make movies about… The love they write songs about… The love that can make you feel on top of the world one minute… Love that brings you down, crashing and burning the next.
I want to talk about THAT love.
More specifically… Love and Bangkok.
People come to Thailand for a variety of reasons…
Some folks come here for business… Some folks come here to find themselves… Some folks come here to lose themselves… Some folks come here with a full wallet looking for sex… And I suppose some folks come here looking for love.
When I first got to Bangkok two years ago, I was amazed by the number of older European/ American men I saw walking hand in hand with beautiful, young Thai women.
Over time I began to understand it more… I saw it as a transaction… It was business.
60 year old “Bob from Kansas” will walk hand in hand with 20 year old “Apple from Bangkok”… She’ll make him feel young again, he gets to spend a few weeks here in a land of make-believe, where (If he can put the fact he’s emptying his wallet out of his mind) he is that virile Bob of 40 years ago… The Bob that might just have a chance with a girl as attractive as “Apple”… And Apple? She has to endure a few weeks of old Bob pawing at her so she can get some money in her pocket… Money that may be feeding her family, helping to get her sister through university… Apple is a business woman… And as the planes (pre-COVID obviously) flew in week after week, bringing in the multiple “Bobs from Kansas”, Apple used those men, she let them live the fantasy.
Just sex… No love.
There are men who slip a little deeper into this life… Men who meet a girl like Apple… Men who, over the space of a week will fall so hopelessly in love that they lose any level of common sense… And a large amount of money in the process.
The process os simple… He will come to Bangkok (or any other town in Thailand) he will go to a bar, he will meet a girl, he’s probably not looking for love… He’s just looking sex with a beautiful girl… However, at some point during his adventure, she gets under his skin, before he knows it, she’s no longer just a girl he picked up in a bar… Suddenly, she’s all he can think about… The poor soul has fallen in love.
Last year we were at the airport… Our son had visited and it was time for him to head back to England… I saw an Englishman saying goodbye to his Thai girlfriend… They hugged, he walked toward the departure area… Then, he ran back to her, holding her tight… He said his goodbyes again and headed toward the departure gate… She turned to walk away… But, again he ran to her, tears streaming down his face… He held her tightly, he didn’t want to leave… He was a mess… A fool in love… I looked at her face… I looked right at her as he held her tightly… Her face conveyed ONE message… “Oh for God’s sake will you just get on that plane and fuck off”.
I have no idea what happened to the teary Englishman… I can guess that he sent money to his “girlfriend” on a regular basis… Money, he believes will keep her just for him… Money that will keep her out of the pick-up bars, money that will stop her selling herself… Money. That’s all he is to her… Money.
I’m not saying every man who falls in love with a girl here is nothing more than a walking ATM machine… I know there IS love here in Bangkok… But as it is all over the world… Real love is a very rare thing to find.
There is another side to this tale… What if the bar girl is the one to fall in love?
I know of a bar… A bar filled with women… An amazing little bar, a bar we spent many nights in, a bar that, over the past couple of months we feel we’ve gotten to know the girls, during some of those nights in the bar I’ve watched those women wander off into the night with customers… I know full well what those women do… It’s a job… It’s business.
A few nights ago I saw one of the girls wander off with a customer… Nothing strange there, after all the bar is indeed one of “those bars”… This weekend we chatted with her, she seemed upset… It transpired I had read her wrong… She actually doesn’t “work” the bar… She is a hostess, her job is to bring customers in and get them to buy drinks… In her words, she doesn’t go home with customers… However, one man got under her skin… He’d been to the bar a few times, they had chatted, he’d wormed his way into her affections… She broke her rule, she left the bar with him… He hasn’t been back since. She was devastated… Devastated and embarrassed.
Jo hugged her as she cried… We drank, we talked… Eventually, some of the other girls in the bar took her home.
It was horrible to see her like that, the Thai way of never losing face has probably made her wish we had never seen her that way.
I know love exists here… Love exists everywhere… I’d asked Jo in past conversations “what if sometimes the bar girls actually DO like the customers?”… Has there been a bar girl who has kept her word to the man she leaves at the airport? Did he return, sweep her up in his arms and do they ever live happily ever after? Surely it must have happened… Right?
The girl in the bar thought her man was her Prince Charming… “I thought he was a good man” she said to Jo through her tears.
I hope, one day she will meet her Prince Charming, I hope he will appear on his white horse and sweep her away…
There is love in Bangkok.