Saturday, January 02, 2010
"Why don't we go and see if we can find our friends who went to the party in that hotel," suggests boyfriend T, just after midnight on New Year's Eve.
It's now 2010 and I'm still on holiday in Thailand. The last few days have been great because boyfriend T has been able to fly in and join me, so we've all been staying with my Thai friend B at his house. The New Year's Eve party which we're at has been good fun, and the fireworks were good too, but it's all been a bit straight. The party that boyfriend T is talking about is taking place in a hotel where the guests are predominantly gay :-).
"It might all be over by the time we arrive," I warn, "but I guess it'll be interesting to see what that hotel's like."
We tell B and the other people that we're with where we're going, but no one else wants to come with us so we set off.
"Look, there's a tuk-tuk," I say as we're walking along the road, "we can save ourselves a fifteen minute walk if we can get him to take us there :-)."
We hail the passing tuk-tuk, and having explained to him where we want to go, I'm about to get in when boyfriend T has a question for him.
"How much?" he asks.
"80 Baht," replies the driver.
"What? That's far too for expensive for such a short journey!" says boyfriend T, "we'll give you 40 Baht."
"No, 80 Baht," replies the driver, holding his ground.
"Forget it then :-(," says boyfriend T, and before I can say anything the tuk-tuk is driving away from us.
"That would have saved us the walk!" I say with a slightly bemused tone in my voice. "Why wouldn't you let me pay 80 Baht?"
"Because we're being ripped off," answers boyfriend T confidently.
"So what?" I reply, "80 Baht is only about £1.60! It costs over £2 just to get into a taxi in London. Why can't we pay his price and make him happy?"
When I was younger and money was much tighter, I had exactly the same attitude as boyfriend T. But these days, now that I don't have to worry about money so much, I reckon that it's better to pay the asking price in that kind of situation. There's almost certainly a vast wealth gap between us and the tuk-tuk driver, and in that context it feels obscene to me to haggle for such small sums of money.
"Well," says boyfriend T after thinking about my question for a bit, "aren't you worried that you're causing inflation? That driver probably can't tell the difference between you and Westerners who're trying to backpack around the world as cheaply as possible. Your behaviour would make it harder for backpackers to get a good deal here!"
It's an interesting argument, although on balance I still feel that I should simply pay the asking price. We debate the issue as we walk along without reaching any firm conclusions, and by the time we reach the hotel where the party's meant to be we find ourselves discussing the issue of worker exploitation in emerging markets.
"That must be it, down there in the basement," I say once we're standing outside the hotel, wondering how to find the party. Most of the hotel and its surrounding garden look very quiet, but we can hear loud dance music coming from the basement.
We make our way down the short flight of stairs, but when we open the door and walk in, it's not at all what we expect. The room is some kind of cabaret bar, with most seats facing a stage which is full of cute young guys wearing hardly any clothes who're dancing around to some music which I vaguely recognise. The waiters, who're also cute young guys, spot us standing near the door so one of them comes over to us.
"Follow me please," he says, "nice table here for you :-)".
We don't resist, and once seated we look at the drinks menu that we've been given.
"Let's stay for one drink," says boyfriend T, fascinated by what we've found.
"Why not!" I answer, "so how about a glass of Champagne since it's New Year :-)."
On the drinks menu there's Champagne at 400 Baht per glass which seems reasonable, but it suddenly occurs to me that it might not be real Champagne. When the waiter comes back to take our order, I follow him back to the bar to check the bottle. It turns out to be Freixenet cava and not Champagne, but that's not a bad substitute so I don't argue.
Some of the acts just feature guys dancing around wearing only tiny tight shorts or swimming trunks, other acts include kathoeys miming the lyrics of whatever song is playing. Although the place seems a bit seedy, it's not like the show that I saw in Thailand last year where the guys got naked and played with each other, because here the performers never take off their shorts. We both find ourselves relaxing and enjoying the show, because the energy on the stage coupled with the waiters dancing around in the aisles and joking with the customers creates a fun atmosphere that's hard to resist.
After a couple more acts, the performers all congregate on stage and one by one take their bows and wave at the audience to say goodbye. The show must be over. But the music doesn't stop and as soon as the performers leave the stage, a few other cute young guys take their place, wearing only shorts but with various different numbers attached.
"Look at that," I say to boyfriend T, "all those guys are available! We just have to ask for them by number."
Just then, the waiter who served us the Freixenet cava comes back and sits down with us.
"How much does it cost to have one of those boys come and sit with us?" asks boyfriend T to the waiter. I'm quite surprised because normally he wouldn't ask that kind of question, but thinking back over the evening, he's had quite a few drinks so the alcohol must have lowered his inhibitions!
"Just buy the boy a drink :-)," answers the waiter, "and if you want boy go home with you, 300 Baht for bar and minimum 1000 Baht for the boy, discuss with him."
"Do you really want one of those guys to come over?" I ask boyfriend T, curious to see how far he wants to go. "They'll all be straight, and I bet they don't talk any English!"
"Are the guys gay or straight?" says boyfriend T, talking to the waiter.
"Which one you want?" replies the waiter.
"Which do you think?" says boyfriend T to me, "how about the one on the far left?"
"Actually, he's definitely the best looking guy on stage at the moment," I remark, "all the others look far too skinny. They need a few decent meals inside them! But even the guy on the left isn't as gorgeous as my boyfriend :-)."
"Or mine :-)," says boyfriend T smiling at me, "but that guy might fun!"
"Is that guy on the far left straight or gay, and can he talk English?" asks boyfriend T to the waiter.
"That one gay and he talk good English."
Before I can discuss with boyfriend T what we'd do if the cute young guy on the far left were to come and sit with us, the cute young guy has been summoned over and is sitting between us with a big smile on his face. Rather than "Champagne", the guy only wants a drink which costs 250 Baht, so while the waiter is fetching his drink boyfriend T starts chatting to him.
"Are you gay?"
The guy looks at him blankly.
"You talk English?" asks boyfriend T, now speaking very slowly.
"Little," replies the guy.
"You gay?" tries boyfriend T again still speaking slowly, touching him on the chest with his finger.
"Me straight," answers the guy, at last seeming to understand what the question is.
Boyfriend T looks slightly perplexed when he hears the answer, so he asks another question.
"You have sex with men?"
"Yes," and with that the guy puts his arm round boyfriend T and starts rubbing his knee.
"Gay for pay," I explain with a big smile on my face, leaning over the guy to talk to boyfriend T. It seems unnecessary to say 'I told you so'!
A little later the guy starts rubbing my knee too, and while the guy's focussing on me, boyfriend T runs his hand down the guy's chest. When he reaches the guy's shorts, he tries lifting them up to see what's inside. The guy looks over at boyfriend T and smiles, not at all worried by what's going on. But underneath the guy's shorts there's another smaller pair of shorts! Still smiling, the guy winks at boyfriend T and briefly lifts up the tight elastic on the shorts which previously had been hidden, before letting it snap back into place.
"How come he's wearing shorts underneath his shorts?" boyfriend T asks me, as though the cute guy wasn't there.
"Probably to protect himself from lecherous guys like you!" I laugh.
"Don't you want to touch him at all?" asks boyfriend T, lifting my closest hand and placing it on the guy's chest.
"He's not bad," I admit rubbing the guy's nipple, "but I'd rather touch the man of my dreams!" and with that I lean over a bit further and try to slip my hand underneath boyfriend T's shirt.
Boyfriend T smiles back at me, but removes my hand and places it back and the guy's bare chest, perhaps anxious to make the guy feel welcome.
We continue like this for a while. The guy alternating his attentions between the two of us, not sure who he should be focussing on. Then for a few minutes, the guy disappears, and on his return it's clear that he's removed his outer shorts. Sitting back between us again, he smiles at boyfriend T and pulls down the elastic on his undershorts, this time just enough so that we get a glimpse of this flaccid cock!
"Why's he doing this?" asks boyfriend T, "is he trying to get us to take him away with us?"
"Yeah," I answer, "I guess so!"
But after a few more minutes we decide to leave alone. We've bought the cute guy a drink, we've touched his body and even seen his cock :-). Taking him home with us would be the next step but it doesn't seem sensible, after all, we don't know where he's been!
Outside there's a tuk-tuk, so I go up to him and ask how much to take us back to B's house.
"80 Baht," replies the driver.
"Will you take us for 60 Baht?" asks boyfriend T hopefully
However, I climb in before the driver can reply.
"OK," I say, "60 Baht plus a 20 Baht tip!"
This time boyfriend T doesn't argue.
"Why didn't you get more involved with that guy?" boyfriend T asks me as we're speeding back home, "Don't forget, I know what you're like!"
I think about the question for a short while. It's true that I did find that guy attractive, although he was definitely a bit young for me. But when I think about, I suddenly realise what the real answer is.
"I'm not sure what I'd have done if I'd have been on my own," I answer truthfully, "but the fact is, when I'm with you I honestly don't need anyone else :-)."
"Good answer!" says boyfriend T, "and although it was kind of fun having that guy sitting with us, now I think about it like that, neither do I :-)."
Although we didn't find the party that we'd been looking for, it was a fun excursion anyway!