Back-stabbing, low-life, lying, stealing, cheating scum is a description often heard in Bangkok. Yes, the Farang residents of Bangkok have an unsurpassed reputation. Seen frequently in their favourite haunts of skull bars, freelancer joints and late night disco's they trawl through the night looking for their most prized catch "the all night freebie". Never mind that the girl in question may have spent a considerable portion of her youth servicing the troops on "R and R" from Vietnam, not having to pay is their ultimate accolade. When harsh reality kicks in, and they realize that this night (again) they will have to come up with some hard cash, they delve deep into their wallet to come up with a tattered 500 baht note, and settle for a quickie, consoling themselves that "tomorrow is another night", and the hunt will be on again.
During the day, they will sit in small bars, nursing a beer for hours, exchanging "life stories" with others of their clan. Vietnam vet, CIA superspy, Mafia Kingpin, drug lord, wheeler-dealer, man about town and could you spring for a beer? Old or young, fat or thin, they all have a story to tell you, about the deal they are making, the cheque that is coming, the inheritance on its way, the pay off from the government for their silence, and do you have a spare 500 baht or a 1000 or 10,000 to invest in a joint venture making edible tampons for bar girls?
Until the day that they hit the jackpot, these farangs have no visible means of support. They survive in Bangkok by involving themselves in all kinds of shady deals, scamming other farangs and bar girls, and when all else fails, teaching English in one of the many schools set up to separate the more gullible Thais from their money. The fact that they themselves may have dropped out of school at 16, and could not tell the difference between a preposition and a proposition is of little hindrance. If the accent fits: Teach.
With their 37 carefully honed Thai phrases, each one relating to parts of a girls anatomy, ordering a beer, asking the price of a girl, telling her she is too expensive or describing a sexual activity, they see themselves as Lords of the Jungle, Kings of all they survey. They sneer at tourists and newbies, deriding them for spending 2500 baht all night for a stunner when they know she will still be on the scene in 10 years time and available for the knock down price of 500 baht. They are the ones who have coined all those phrases to make themselves feel more secure "You can't take the bar out of the girl", "you never lose the girl, only your place in the queue" easily forgetting that their place in the queue is right at the back.
Despite eeking out a miserable existence on the fringes of society, they view them selves as far superior to the lazy, shiftless Thais. Although happy to move in on a bar or massage girl and sponge off her, sending her out to work each day or night and staying in and drinking the beer her labours have provided, they in no way equate themselves to the "Mangdas" those worthless Thai guys that move in on a bar or massage girl and sponge off her, sending her out to work each day or night and staying in and drinking the beer her labours have provided.
Invariably these farangs have a string of failed relationships with bar girls. It never seems to occur to them that the fact they are out for a "short time" as soon as the girls back is turned is a contributory factor in the failures. Instead they convince themselves it is because the girls are "whores" and "sluts", mindless beasts whose only aim in life is to get laid and make a quick buck. Mr. Pot, meet Miss Kettle. No one is safe around them. Roommates, sisters, cousins, nieces and if all else fails mothers or daughters, are seen as fair game for a quickie if the chance presents. When faced with the sudden fury of a bar girl who finds out that he has been shagging her younger sister on the side, he will laugh it off as another case of overly emotional Thai girls, while ensuring the sharp knives are hidden and being careful to sleep face down at night.
Long term residents maybe refer to themselves as a "60" or a "70" or even a "90", which refers not to the number of STD's they have caught or to the number of bar girls they have sponged off, but rather to the number of times they have crossed the border to get yet another visa chop in their passport. Ultimate experts in the "visa run", they will be able to tell you the exact price of a round trip to Nong Khai or Penang or one of the other god forsaken places that are astride the border.
Despising themselves and all around them, why do they stay? For the same reason as the bar girls that they so look down on do. No hope, no future and no way out. One day they will scam some one who should not have been scammed, smoke something best left un-smoked or cross one bar girl too many. They will be cremated in one of the many Wats that cremate the bodies of the lost. Friendless, family-less and un-mourned, they will pass from the scene with as little impact as if they had never been there.
Who are they? Maybe one day you and I.
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