Seven’s Catch-22: When Tourists Don’t Suck

It’s true. Every once in a blue moon, I run across a tourist in the red-light who isn’t a complete idiot. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s somewhere around one in every two hundred. In situations like this, I admit I don’t know how to act. I’m befuddled.

Typically, I move through the red-light like a ghost, making no contact—eye or otherwise—with other foreigners. I guess it’d me more accurate to say I treat them like ghosts, looking right through them and paying attention exclusively to Thais. When a farang looks at me, I ignore him. If he’s persistent, I give the stink-eye till he averts his gaze. If he attempts to talk to me, I pretend I don’t speak English. And this modus has worked pretty consistently for over 10 years.

Sometimes, though, an interaction with a farang (farangteraction for short, copyright BKK7) is unavoidable. Usually these instances are excruciating. It’s almost always another expat, who like myself spends gobs of free time in the gogo. When they make contact, they’re violating a cardinal rule. Among the handful of regulars that call Patpong home, there’s a code. We don’t talk to each other. We don’t sit near each other. We don’t try to befriend one aother. Our interaction extends to a knowing nod, a quick thumbs-up, or curt salute as we pass in the alley or accidentally meet eyes in the bar. The ones who break this rule are typically expats visiting from other RLDs, or regulars who got it in their head somehow that we’re friends purely by happenstance of sharing the same whoring hobby.

These agonies pale, however, in comparison to run-ins with tourists. If expats are unbearable, tourists are an unholy scourge. They are the absolute worst of humanity—99% of the time. They’re often solo, lonely, lost, clueless, pathetic individuals looking for a tour guide, wingman, priest, or wet-nurse to coddle them through their red-light experience. They come from all over, but one universal common trait seems to be a shocking level of brain-dead stupidity. More often than not they’re crude, rude, unkempt, obnoxious, barbaric, pedantic, and gauche. Combine that with my natural hatred of and aversion to other people regardless of IQ, and you can get idea of just how much I abhor crossing paths with these dolts.

But sometimes, albeit rarely, one of these intruders into my world will turn out to be the complete opposite. Once in a long while, I’ll be approached by a Bangkok visitor who is articulate, intelligent, cordial, and interesting. Like beams of sunlight spilling through clouds of vapidity, this social unicorn breathes fresh air into my fog of seclusion and exchange words that don’t waste my time or make me dumber by hearing it.

One such encounter took place last week in Black Pagoda. It’s one of my regular Patpong gogo stops, a place typically I hit it early, before it gets too crowded. I like to sit at a high-top near the glass wall with a Singha draft and watch the people go by on the soi below. I’m usually joined by a couple of the dancers, friends I’ve known since their Electric Blue days. They act as human buffers, blocking any attempt some stranger might make to traverse into my personal space, or worse, attempt to converse. But last week, after giving them dinner money, my two half-naked pals abandoned to grab noodles, leaving me vulnerable to conversational assault. And sure enough, after sizing me up for a minute or two, a loner left his perch at the bar and sidled up. I stiffened, and mentally prepared to give my stock response, “Ohhh, no English,” when he rattled me with an atypical line.

“You’ve lived here awhile, I can tell,” he announced. His keen observation and coherent speech knocked me off-balance. I nodded. “How long?” he asked. “10 years,” I replied. “Wow, I’m so jealous. I come to Bangkok a couple times per year but I don’t have the courage to relocate. How would you rate the girls in this bar?” Without thinking, I said “Better than average. And great attitudes.”

“Anywhere else you recommend in Patpong?” “King’s Castle 1, Glamour, Pink Panther,” I said. “Great, thanks. Well I’ll leave you to it, have a good night.” He shook my hand and walked off.

I was beside myself. Not only did he not ask any stupid questions, he was polite and didn’t overstay his welcome. It positively made my night.

Since then, my close encounters of the tourist kind have been per the usual—annoying, inane, and mildly psychotic. But the dude from Pagoda has become stuck in my memory. Finding a tourist who isn’t a waste of oxygen is like seeing a unicorn. I’m not sure how many more such meetings are in my future, as I become more of a curmudgeon every day, and the world population gets collectively dumber. So when it happens, it’s worth pointing out.

I will say though, that there’s a group of dickheads who are even worse than the tourists: douchebags who’ve lived in Thailand for a few months or years who think they know everything, and who claim by virtue of their short stay here dominion over all of Bangkok. They think that coming to Patpong twice makes them a local, and strut around like retarded peacocks spouting to whoever will listen about how knowledgeable they are. Every word out of their mouths is hot garbage. They’re stuparrogant—that combination of arrogance and stupidity I’ve mentioned in previous blogs. These fuckwits actually make tourists look good in comparison.

For anyone reading this who’s planning to visit Bangkok, here’s a word of advice: locals can be very helpful, but we’ve had so many bad experiences with dunderheads that we’re gun-shy about talking with you. Also, we’re not interested in talking with you. If you need something (as long as it’s not a wingman), be polite, be articulate, and be brief. Everyone will come away happy. And if you’re in Patpong and you see a guy sitting by himself, who is wai’d by all the girls and staff, and who has one hand down the front of a dancer’s shorts, don’t engage. It’s me, and I don’t want to chat.

Swing by on Friday for a frowback, and cheers to every tourist who doesn’t bug the crap out of us mongers while we’re in our element, namely the gogo bars in the greatest city on Earth—Bangkok, Thailand. Peace!