Happy Friday, websurfer. It’s your man Seven, just counting the minutes till the weekend and frowing you a little frowback. This one comes from the list of ten Top 10 tips published last year via BKKNites and Sweet3Mango. I can’t remember which one posted this treatise on bar girls but if I had to guess, it’d likely the former. Anyway, here it is for your perusal and bemusement (permusement for short, copyright BKK7). I actually wrote it several years ago when I was living in Phuket and hitting Bangla nightly, but the information is relevant for pretty much all of Thailand. It’s a list of tips for the tourist or casual sexpat looking to minimize any problems that might arise whilst fishing for tuna in that sweet sultry barrel we call the beer bar/gogo bar. And while they’re not exactly the same breed, the info below applies in most respects to both bar girls and gogo dancers.
- “Bar girls are not objects. They are human beings. You can’t walk up to a bar girl, ask her price, pay and leave like she’s a box of cereal. She has a brain, and feelings, and ultimately she is the one who chooses or doesn’t choose you, not the other way around. If she doesn’t like you, no amount of money will get her back to your hotel room (there are exceptions to this rule, but they are few, and those girls that are only interested in money turn out to be the dangerous ones in the end, so be wary of them). Because the fact is, there will be 1,000 other guys she can go with instead of you. So be polite, show some manners, and treat her like a person. Prostitutes in the West—both the Vegas kind and the fictional movie kind (which is what the majority of Farang think of when they think of a prostitute) bear NO resemblance to a Thai bar girl.
- Bar girls are not Farang, so don’t treat her like one. Western women expect to be wooed. They want flowers and chocolates and fancy dinners. They expect to be pampered before they go to bed with you. This is not the case in Thailand. You don’t have to seduce her, or use a line on her, or buy her roses. They find such trifles ridiculous. They want to smile, enjoy the moment, and make money. You don’t have to be Romeo. Just be polite. And be interesting, if you can.
- There are thousands of gorgeous bar girls in Thailand, so don’t fixate on one. If you do, and she goes home with someone else, it could ruin your night. The fact is, if you like one girl, there are easily 10 more within a stone’s throw that you’ll like just as much. If the girl you want is talking to another guy, don’t get jealous. Jealousy and bar girls are not a good combination. Instead, just move on. Or if you approach a girl and she gives you the cold shoulder, don’t get offended and don’t double your efforts. In less than 30 minutes you will find another girl who is interested. In fact you’ll find 20. The hard part for you will be choosing one. Plus, you have to remember that the girl you’re after has likely taken several men to bed this week alone. So obsessing over her is more than a little ridiculous. And don’t get negative. It’s possible that in a given 24 hour period, things may not go your way. The girl you want goes home with someone else. The masseuse you want ignores you while her husky friend puts on the hard sell. You buy six drinks for a girl who suddenly disappears never to return. These things happen, and the natural reaction is to let your mood darken. Don’t. Thailand nightlife is completely unpredictable. You might have a series of failures and then out of nowhere meet someone spectacular. Or maybe the whole night will be bad, but the next night will go fantastically. The important thing is to stay positive, keep smiling, chalk up any bad luck to just plain bad luck (because that’s all it is), and greet every new encounter like it’s a clean slate—because it is.
- Don’t expect monogamy. If you fall into something regular with a bar girl, you may be tempted to think of her as your girlfriend. She will help you by calling herself your girlfriend. But she’s not your girlfriend. Or rather, she is, but she’s also 5 other guys’ girlfriend. Monogamy is not commonplace for Thais, even among married couples. So don’t ever expect your bar girl to be. That’s not to say it’s impossible to have an exclusive relationship, but it’s unlikely.
- Don’t get angry. If a bar girl insults you, or cheats on you, or leaves you after you’ve spent a lot of money on her, you might feel a sense of righteous anger. And you’d be right to feel that way. But don’t do anything about it. A bar girl might mock you, laugh at you, make a joke about your small manhood, and you’ll be tempted to get mad. Don’t. She might coax several drinks out of you and then go home with someone else. Let it go. Getting angry with a bar girl will quickly turn your holiday into a nightmare. You can’t change her, and the list of things she could do to you if she also gets angry is long and bad. I’ll say it again for emphasis: let it go. In less than an hour you can find someone else who’s just as pretty and who won’t give you problems.
- Be aware of the double standard. It’s perfectly fine for your bar girl to have many boyfriends (or “customers”) and to go home with more than a few guys when you’re not around. But don’t think for a second that you can take home, or buy drinks for, or play pool with, or even flirt with another girl—at least, not in that town. Your bar girl lives a life of pure hypocrisy. She expects you to go with her and only her, while she freely (and quietly) sees whomever she wants whenever she wants. If you want monogamy, put a ring on her finger. If you want another girl, get on a bus and go to a different town (and even then you’re probably not safe. They have spies everywhere!).
- Wear a condom. This seems like it should go without saying, but for some reason there is a large swath of the Farang population that plays a dangerous game of sexual roulette. You should know that not every girl will insist you wear one, and if they don’t, that’s not a green light for safe unsafe sex. Your chances of catching an STD in Thailand are better than in your home country. Don’t take the chance that your holiday ends up killing you—always always wear a condom. Even if fortune smiles and you don’t get herpes, you might still end up with a child whose mother is a bar girl and whose father is an idiot.
- Learn some Thai—but not too much. If you don’t know any Thai, you come off as insensitive to the culture. It makes you look like an ignorant tourist, and it means you can be easily taken advantage of. Learning some pertinent Thai phrases (to be listed later) will help you have better success, not just with bar girls but with taxi drivers, food servers, merchants, etc. It will also make the girls in the bar think twice about talking about you in front of your face, since they won’t be certain how much you do or don’t understand. However, knowing too much Thai can be a liability. Bar girls like men who haven’t been in country too long. It means there’s less of a chance that you’ve whored yourself around, or that you’ve got a girlfriend stashed away in some other town. They like to think they can be your first (and hopefully only) girl in Thailand. So while knowing some Thai is charming, knowing too much is—whatever the opposite of charming is.
- When you want to take a girl home from the bar, you will have to pay a “bar fine” to the bar to compensate for the business she’s not generating while with you. It’ll be between 200 and 1,000 baht (Phuket’s Soi Tiger prices have gotten outrageous of late), depending on the bar and the aesthetics of the girl. This is an additional charge on top of what you’re paying her for your time together. Once you pay the bar fine, don’t go anywhere but straight to the hotel, and don’t go out with her and her friends. You will be expected to buy all their drinks. Before you pay the bar fine determine whether she’s going with you short-time (1 hour) or long-time (overnight). The prices are different.
- Don’t fall in love. It’s true that there are real cases of men finding a bar girl and taking her home a few times, which blossoms into a relationship that ultimately ends with marriage and a “lifelong soul mates” type scenario. It happens. But not often. The majority of the time, it goes like this: a man meets a bar girl he really likes and takes her home. She’s sweeter, kinder, more innocent and accepting, more caring and selfless than any woman he’s met in the West. He immediately realizes what he’s been missing all his life, and wants to keep this wonderful thing as long as possible. He mistakes this feeling for love, and tells her so. She agrees to be his forever girl, even when he goes home, and will keep in touch and stay faithful to him until his return (on his next annual holiday). He sends her money every month so she can stay off her back. He misses her every day and counts the hours till he can get back to her. Meanwhile she takes his money and still works at the bar and still goes home with other men because in the end she has to send most of what she makes to her family back in Isaan or Chiang Mai. It doesn’t mean she feels no love for him, but her love for her family supersedes whatever she might feel for him. Also, in Thailand, sex is like any other activity. It’s like playing badminton or watching a movie, so Thais see no problem with doing it recreationally.
The main point to take from this list is, a Thai girl’s mentality—even a Thai bar girl’s mentality—bears no resemblance to the mentality of women you’ve known in the West. It’s a different world here, and you’re the weird one. The best thing you can do is be a quick learner and a good listener. The least you can do is be polite at all times. It covers a multitude of sins.”
I must say that, in the time between writing the above list and now, my perspective has changed a bit. The bad news is, thanks to Tinder and Chinese casinos in other countries, the herds of really hot bar girls has thinned considerably. They’re still out there, plus new ones arrive from the countryside daily. But they’re not as plentiful as half a decade ago. Apart from that, things are basically the same.
Check back Sunday for the weekly, and between now and then, I’m off to stake my place in the gogo bar. Because poon is the drug for me. Cheers to anyone who gets that reference, and to all who wade into that shark tank better known as the red-light district in the greatest country in the world–Thailand.