After a couple of days in Bangkok at the Lub’D hostel I ventured out on my own for the first time and headed towards the Silom station to get the monorail somewhere, I didn’t have a plan, just wanted to see a bit of the city at night, which is when cities look their best in my opinion.
“Massage!!” the girls on the corner shouted, as they always do when you pass a massage parlour, I gave them a smile and continued as I always do, navigating myself around the cones covering the broken pavement. I’m not sure how many people decide on massage spontaneously, but it’s obviously enough to keep 4-5 girls paid sitting outside them shouting their English lessons at everyone passing by.
Anyway, one street corner (or soi corner) away from the station a mid-40s man asked how I was then seemed to join me walking. He wore jeans and a white shirt with rolled up sleeves, and was about 5’4″ tall with a haircut that made him look like a school boy done by his mum with a bowl over his head.
‘Hi, are you having a good day?’ He said.
‘Yes thanks’ I replied.
‘So, are you busy tonight?’
‘Not really, just going for a wander’ (admitting this was my first mistake).
‘Ah, good, lots, of time! I show you something, What’s your name?’
‘Lob, nice to meet you. I am Paul, come this way, you want good time? I got girls’
‘Oh right, erm… no thanks, I got to get going’
We’re now close to the train station, and I should have gone in that direction, but he blocked me, and suggested carrying on, I don’t know why, but I did, I was after something to do after all. There was a night market close I was told about so I figured I could look at that too. So we continued…
‘Come this way my friend! I have good women, sucking, fucking, anything you want!’
‘No!’ I was a bit embarrassed at this conversation getting so casual with many other people around.
‘Just take a look, no charge for that’.
‘OK, what do you want? I can get you it’.
‘I don’t know’.
‘That’s ok, just follow me!’
Now he walks ahead of me and keeps looking back to check I’m following. The crowd is large and busy so we are cutting through everything. Street side market shops line the sidewalk reducing the space available.
We came across the night market and Paul being a local expert carves through the crowded streets without the issue of bumping into hundreds of people like I had. He managed to get ahead a few metres, so this was my chance to get out, I headed into the night market (which as it turns out is the centre of the silom red light district hosting many go go bars) and thought I got away.
Of course about 1 minute later I had someone tapping on my shoulder, a non-upset Paul thought I accidently lost him and apologised for walking too fast.
‘It’s ok! Come this way, not good in this place.’
So I followed Paul again, and once again with him in front. I decided to shoot off down another side road (or soi as they are called in Thailand). When Paul stopped me with a different angle.
‘Ahh, you are gay?’.
‘It’s fine, I can get man for you too, this is the gay road!’
‘Erm, I guess I’ll carry on down the main road then’.
‘Follow me for good lady! Or man if you want’.
‘I’m not gay, I don’t want a man’.
So I try the same tactic down the next road, power walking down it.
‘This is the wrong road for you, only for Japanese tourists. We can go down to somewhere better though’.
Looking up the road, there didn’t seem to be any further places of note and the crowd had gone. I decided I needed to go back with some other strategy to get rid of the pesky Paul.
‘Shall I show you the girls now?’
‘Fine, I’ll take a look, but I don’t have any money on me’
‘No problem, we can stop off at ATM machine’.
‘Er… lets just go’ – I was thinking I may have an excuse to get away with this later now.
So we walked a bit quicker back, this time on a parallel road to the original one, passing the gay road and the night market. Paul took me down another smaller soi, a bit darker, but it had one brightly lit bar. About 5 women sat outside on stalls in saffron robes, similar to what monks wear, which is ironic, considering they are hookers.
Paul pointed me inside and I went in, surprised at what I saw: It looked like a typical seaside cafe. The rectangular room had 4 seat tables lining each side, and at the back was a sort of bar. To my right when I went in was a Thai girl singing on a karaoke machine. From what I could tell, this was just an unloved karaoke club. One other guy was in there talking to a girl at a table, in the same saffron dress as the girls outside, and one other guy was at the back behind the bar. Paul pointed at the table near the back, and sat me down.
‘Do you want a beer?’ He said.
‘How much?’ Thinking I’m very vulnerable to getting ripped off here, I insisted on paying with cash straight away, I didn’t want to be in debt in this room. But after walking around humid Bangkok, a beer is indeed what I needed.
Paul gestered at the man when I asked for a Changi and brought it over in the bottle immediately, and I paid the man straight away, Paul had a toothpick hanging out between his lips as he grinned at me.
Paul said something in Thai to the girl next to him walking by and she nodded walking to the back, turning back to me, he grinned and squeezed me knee. I looked down at his hand and saw him rubbing his thumb across his index and middle finger, he wanted a tip, so I slipped him 50 baht (about £1 or US 70 cents) purely because I wanted his hand away from my genitals, I didn’t see what else the tip was for.
All of a sudden, Paul leaned back, grinning more tucking the 50 Baht note into his shirt pocket, when the curtains covering the front door opened and the girls outside walked in, although it seemed like there was about 8-9 walk in now, the girl singing joined them. From behind the bar, another 10 girls started walking along the corridoor, from a room I didn’t notice before behind the bar.
So I was sitting there, and all of a sudden about 20 prostitutes in saffron robes are looking at me with half their faces filled with a smile, apart from one girl who looked utterly miserable. I noticed they all had a badge on with a number in the middle, the sort of badge you’d see on a birthday card.
‘OK’ Said Paul, ‘Which one do you like?’
Of course by this he meant ‘Which one do you want to pay me to have sex with?’
‘I guess they are all pretty’ I replied, wondering if I really could get out this. I mean the only exit was blocked by 20 hookers from a country’s who national sport is bashing each other with your elbows and knees until the opponent is unconscious.
‘Which one do you like the most?’ He said, like some sort of script he read and I didn’t get. There was always a way for him to win a conversation, even though I am an educated man from England, and he is a pimp from Thailand.
I looked around a bit more, I had to make a decision so I picked number 21, as she was the most attractive. Although if I picked the only who looked miserable it would probably have been easier to get out of this predicament.
I looked at Paul, still grinning at me and chewing on his toothpick. The girl sat down next to me, pushing me along closer to the wall. All the other girls turned and went back to wherever they came from, and Paul followed some into the back.
‘Hello, I am Zen’ said the girl.
‘Hi, I’m sure that’s your real name’. I can have a bit of a sarcastic sense of humour at times. Zen didn’t get it though.
‘What is your name?’
‘Lob ^_^ nice name, how old are you?’
‘Same me! We will be good together’ she said, carrying on with her Thai smile. She probably thought I was some sort of alien with an unpronoucable name, an alien with money anyway.
‘Are you going to sing a song?’ I asked her.
‘No, I’m scared!’
‘Scared of what?’
‘I scared you leave if I sing! You can sing, you want?’
‘Listen, I’m not sure I’m in the right place’.
Paul came back at this point, taking his seat opposite me.
‘Do you want another beer?’ He asked as I had finished mine in about 3 gulps previously.
‘Yes, same again please’ Because alcohol and getting drunk was clearly the best option for me at this moment in time.
‘One for lady too?’
‘Yes I guess so’ Zen put her hand on my knee and started rubbing it after I said I’d buy her a drink, and I felt I just went even deeper into a trap.
Paul nodded at the barman, who brought over the drinks, I looked at Zen who just smiled at me, I think she had exhausted a good chunk of her English capability already.
The barman turned up with 3 drinks, I had a beer, Zen had what I assume was water with a lemon on the rim to look like it was actually vodka, and paul had a coke and whisky.
I paid the barman for my and Zen’s drink, and then Paul hit me with ‘You pay for my drink too?’
This annoyed me as it was an add-on after he got the drink. The barman just stood there looking at me to hand over more money, and I had already given Paul a tip tonight.
‘No, pay for it yourself’. I had enough at this point and decided to stand up for myself, so I said this in a more angrier tone.
‘OK, no problem’ Paul said, taken back a bit, knowing he had lost some points here. He nodded at the barman who left without taking any money from Paul.
‘How much you give for girl? She’ll give you good time’.
‘I don’t want the girl’.
‘Oh, I get you different one then!’
‘No! It’s just that I don’t have the money, I just spent my last money on those drinks’.
‘Ah, that is too bad, but if you have card, we can take card payment here’.
Now there is no way I was going to hand over my card and bang away my pin number in a Thai brothel. It wasn’t ‘Pauls pimping parlour, Bangkok’ on my bank statement that bothered me, but the chance of my card being cloned and a lot more taken out.
‘I’d rather pay with cash taken from an ATM machine thanks’.
Paul seemed a little annoyed, but I would expect this isn’t the first time that someone has refused to hand him their card in such a dodgy place.
‘OK, it will be 2500 Baht for the lady, is that ok with you?’
‘No, that’s too much for me, I think I better go now’.
‘How much you pay?’
‘I wouldn’t want to say a figure, and I need to go now, I am tired’.
‘How about 2000 Baht?’
‘I need to go meet my friend, he will be waiting for me’.
‘It’s ok, she can be quick for you, I can take you to ATM machine now’.
I didn’t reply but finished off my beer and nodded at him. Paul got up and Zen shuffled out the way returning to the back room.
We walked outside, the girls in the saffron robes were still there and ignored us this time. We continued down the road and I realised we was right at the corner where I originally met Paul, close to the monorail stop.
‘OH MY GOD! Is that the time?!?’ I exclaimed looking at my phone as I didn’t have a watch on, It was about 8pm.
Paul turned to me, not really impressed ‘We go to ATM now?’
‘Sorry man, I have to meet my friend, he is waiting for me to have drinks with’.
‘I come with you!’ said Paul, which took me back. For a start I didn’t have a friend to go have drinks with, and secondly, if I did… how would I explain Paul? ‘Hi mate, this is Paul the pimp, he’s been trying to sell me hookers for the past 40 mins, mind if he joins us?’
I walked quickly and up the stairs to the station, Paul stopped as I was paying for a ticket.
‘I need to go quick, maybe I’ll see you another time?’ I said
‘OK, I will get you better girl next time that you like’
‘There is nothing wrong with that girl, I just need to go’ I lied.
Paul then started his stupid grinning, and put another toothpick from his pocket into his mouth. He hit me lightly on the chest and turned to the side looking around then nodded down to his hand, once again he was rubbing his thumb across his 2 forefingers suggesting another tip.
‘Words fail me’ I said to him as I turned around and went through the stations ticket check machine as I heard the monorail arriving, my escape route had arrived.