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Monday, December 20, 2004


Samui nightlife

Somebody, I think it is Tyler, has a thing he says to men who complain about the bitchy attitudes of good-looking women:

You have to imagine yourself in the reality of a beautiful woman. She has all these strangers coming up to her and kissing up to her because they want something out of her. The only way she can fend them off is to put up the bitch shield

Or something to that effect. Anyway, I recommend that every dude who has ever wanted to try that exercise but lacks the empathy or imagination should come to a Thai beach town and walk about for a few hours. You'll quickly get the hang of how it feels to be forever being pestered by people who want to be really, really nice to you. There are, for instance, the tailors who want to give you the World's Best Deal on suits, and street vendors who are convinced their teak elephants are exactly what your home needs. (They are very, very well carved teak elephants, I will admit). And then there are the bar-girls.

You have never, ever, seen anything like a Thai bar-girl. They are typically about four foot six, speak two dozen words of English and have just arrived from a small town in deepest Isaan (the north-eastern region of Thailand). They generally claim to be in their mid-twenties. Crowds of them lurk outside at least half the bars in town (there are not actually very many gogo bars in Chaweng, but quite a lot of what it's polite to call "hostess" bars). And they will do anything, almost literally anything, to get you into their bar.

The last time I was in Thailand, in Phuket, I got used to being grabbed by tiny women cooing "Hey, sexyman, you come with me", although I admit it was a surprise the time I had this done to me by a T-shirt vendor. The bar-girls in Samui, however, make the ones in Phuket look positively demure. Last night in addition to being grabbed, I was goosed, several times, and spanked more than once for daring to walk past their bars. The idea of being sexually molested by cuties is initially attractive, but it gets very old very quickly.

Aside from bar-girls, Chaweng seems to be a fairly target-poor environment. Last night I saw I think three sets of Aussie girls and that was about it. Most bars in town fall into either the "bar-girl" or the "sports variety". There is also a widely promoted "reggae bar" on the other side of the lagoon, which I plan on checking out this evening.

Last night I spent several hours in Chaweng, then on a whim I went to Lamai. I'd been warned that Lamai was wall-to-wall sleaze, which is true enough; it is, however, Thai sleaze, which means a whole load of girls in not especially revealing clothes sitting around more-or-less open-air bars cooing "Hey, sexyman, you come with me" and playing a variety of simple boardgames with the punters. (The reason they play the boardgames rather than, say, talking is because they don't speak much English, so presumably this is their way of connecting with potential tricks. From the point of view of meeting regular girls, Lamai seems entirely useless.

I am glad I went however, for two reasons.

One was the drive there. In addition to regular car taxis, and motorbike taxis, Samui also has a lot of songtheow. This I'm told is Thai for "two benches", and that is just what a songtheow is: a pickup truck with a couple of benches bolted onto the long sides of the back. The market for songtheow is profoundly inefficient: in the course of two minutes four songtheow came along, which charged between one hundred and two hundred baat for the same journey. Of course I picked the one that charged one hundred baat for the ride. And boy, was it a ride. Let me tell you, I have never seen such contempt for human life in a driver. (Not even in Italy. Not even in Brazil). You have to wonder what kind of fucking lunatic drives at one hundred and sixty klicks an hour round a curve above a 200 ft drop. It's one thing to do this in a tuk-tuk at street level, but up in the mountains it's something else. This was by far the most fun I have ever had on a bus.

And when I got to Lamai I met another of the colorful characters that seem to inhabit this part of the world. There was a Thai guy twirling what I can only descrive as a rope made out of fire-crackers. Literally. He was twirling a rope above his head, and fire-crackers were going off. Loud fire-crackers with a lot of smoke. In London all they do is toss the odd fire-cracker around in Leicester Square: the Thais have sooo much more style....

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