Thailand: A cautionary tale

The noise was exhilarating as we walked down Bangla Road famously known for being Asia’s designated Party Capital. The pleading cry’s of the hawkers fell on the mostly deaf ears of the shell-shocked tourists, and girls on either side of the road in various stages of undress cooed at passerby to come in and have a drink, surrounding us in a cacophonous cocoon of pitching voices and loud music.

Earlier that day we had planned our night’s adventure based on the drink coupons and fliers that promoters handed out, starting our night off with $2 wells at a lounge, then moving on to “buy-one get-one’s” at another quiet club, until, alas, the coupons were cut-off by that magical deadline when people actually go out to bars and the offers end, sometime around 11 PM.

Being frugal, we avoided the clubs with heavy-handed entrance fees, and decided to go to the go-go bars in the giant bar emporium underneath Tiger Discotheque, where the endless concrete bars lined up like horse stalls for the thirsty and sexually adventurous customers. We were neither, well, maybe thirsty, but what lured us to this place, this veritable Soddom & Gomorrah with stripper poles, was the fact that there was no cover charge.

We walked through the chaotic din of drunk tourists and dancing girls until our reserves were worn down and we finally settled in at a nameless and nearly empty bar toward the end of the row, where I was greeted by the largest iguana I’ve ever seen.

It’s Thai master behind the counter had encouraged it to claw its way up my arm while I unsuspectingly leaned back on the bar. After the initial shock of cold claws on my bare skin, we became good friends and decided to take a picture together. And of course, friendship’s never free, so it cost me 100 baht for the master to utter the magic words that released the monster’s cold, vice-like grip and give me back what was left of my arm. As I recovered, I watched in curious disgust as he began to stroke and kiss it on the mouth, muttering word’s of endearment into the holes it calls ears.

Unfortunately, that iguana wasn’t the only living being at the bar. There were also two working girls, who, not surprisingly, turned out to be ladyboys. And boy, there a lot of ladyboys around those parts, and some of them are incredibly hard to spot.

What gave the ladyboy away was the sudden voice change as he stormed after us onto the street after I refused to go home with him, her voice rising from a soft raspy whisper to an incredibly scary, deep raspy screech, building in intensity as she yelled “SOMETHING For MEEEE!”

Well, we weren’t fast enough to escape because she was quite swift. I saw her coming up behind me and turned to face her hoping to reason with him.

Then her hand shot out like a snake and ripped off my favorite necklace.

“You … bastard!” I shouted, “Leave us alone! I told you I’m not buying you!”

She didn’t speak much English.

“SOMETHING FOR MEEEE!” She screeched again. Taking off her 6-inch stiletto in preparation of another offensive. She took a small stumble as her shoe came off, then she attacked.

After several great blocks, and not wanting to get in a full-on fight in the crowded streets of Patong, I did the only sensible thing left to do. I ran.

But you know what they say, if a bear is chasing you, you only have to outrun your friend, and Sam was that friend.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the Thai Emergency Response Team, you were very fast.

Even though it looks like he really did get mauled by a bear, it ended up requiring only a couple stitches in his scalp to close up the stiletto wound. He’s fine now.

So, as a recap, here are some guidelines.

  1. Trust your instincts. “If you’re telling yourself, ‘nah, they couldn’t be.’ they probably are.”
  2. Don’t talk to working girls if you’re not interested in paying for their time.
  3. If you are being chased, throw money as a decoy, it will buy you time.
  4. If they catch you, don’t turn your back to them.
  5. If you get hit by a 6-inch stiletto, pray that you don’t get an infection.
Now, to be fair, not all of them are so volatile, and many are awesome people, just be aware.
Oh, and for some reason, Phuket didn’t turn out to be our favorite place in Thailand. There are much better, more beautiful, more peaceful, and less crowded islands.
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7 thoughts on “Thailand: A cautionary tale

  1. Joshua says:

    Getting attacked by a ladyboy makes my food poisoning in Cambodia seem OK. I’m glad he was fine!

    • j.young says:

      Haha, yeah it wasn’t one of our finer moments. Food poisoning is no good either, we’ve definitely experienced that as well.

  2. Nadia Quest says:

    Whoa! Quite a tale! I’ve been pretty lucky on my travels, and your story reminds me to never stop being very cautious…thanks for the tips. I’m thinking about teaching ESL in Thailand in about a year. Any hints on the best places to go or avoid for some of that beauty, peace and space you mentioned?

    • j.young says:

      I hear Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, etc.) are quite beautiful and less crowded, and most of the islands have beaches away from the popular areas that aren’t nearly as crowded. I’m heading back in a few weeks so I’ll let you know if I come across any more. Thanks for reading!

  3. Daaaang, looks like a rough night! Stitches are quite the souvenir…

  4. pvon says:

    Haha, What a great story. I really enjoyed this.

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