Thai By Night


This blog entry about the events of Friday, November 19, 2004 was originally posted on November 22, 2004.

DAY 398:  From what I’ve gathered, it seems that what the Thai hotel and restaurant managers do to keep out Thai touts and Thai whores away from their legitimate Westerner-catering establishments is to assume that all Thai people off the street are unfavorable.  A big sign at the front desk of the Sawasdee House where I was staying read:

NO Thai people permitted in the hotels rooms.

“That’s a bit harsh,” Paul commented.

Every time I went up to my room I anticipated getting stopped and questioned of my nationality, but fortunately it never happened.

AS THE SAYING GOES, “If the shoe fits, wear it,” and as a foreigner I played by the rules that day and paid the foreigner admission fees for the sites I went to, even though I might have been able to slip in as a Thai guy.  I walked passed the people feeding pigeons and Sanam Luang park, where a big health and wellness fair was going on, and arrived at the big must-see in the area, the Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace. 

The two huge complexes, which were adjacent to each other, were easily to navigate with the mini-disc audio tour available.  An English-speaking man with a Thai accent spoke into my headphones and led me around, first in the Wat Phra Kaew complex.  I walked amidst a huge crowd of tourists, from the statue of the Hermit doctor, to the murals on the wall depicting the epic Hindu story of Rama (basis of Diwali), to the golden bell-shaped Phra Sri Ratana Chedi pagoda, to the Phra Mondhop (the royal Buddhist library).  These were all parts of a bigger collection of structures, which also included a belfry, a shrine to goddess Kun Iam, statues of big guardian demons, statues of smaller “chicken demons,” and many other pagodas — some adorned with dancing guardian demons.  They all surrounded the main central building of the complex, the Royal Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which housed the sacred Buddha made of emerald, Thailand’s most sacred Buddha figure, discovered in 1434.

From the Wat Phra Kaew complex, the voice with the Thai accent led me across the way to the grounds of the Grand Palace, just beyond the European-styled Barom Phiman Hall where former U.S. president Bill Clinton once stayed during his visit to Thailand.  Nearby was the Phra Maha Montien sub-complex, used for public ceremonies, followed by the magnificent Chakri Maha Prasat Hall, the former royal residence of King Rama V, now used for state banquets but still guarded by stoic armed soldiers for that ever-present royal feeling.  Beyond the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall was the throne hall, the Dusit Maha Prasat Hall (guarded by stoic stone soldiers), and the Emerald Buddha Museum.

It took a good ninety minutes to see everything I just mentioned in the past two paragraphs, and so I sat down for a breather just outside the entry gates.  Nearby there were some Thai schoolgirls interviewing foreigners for some school project, and not surprisingly, they ignored me and only approached Caucasian people with their clipboards. 

JUST SOUTH OF THE GRAND PALACE was another notable site for tourists and locals alike, the Wat Pho, home of the Reclining Buddha.  I paid the 50-cent foreigner fee to enter the complex of temples and pagodas, and saw the temple of the big Reclining Buddha, which allowed for interior photos to my surprise.  Fifteen meters tall and laying 46 meters across, the golden Buddha “relaxed” for everyone to see.  From the western end of the building I saw that Buddha had really big feet — and you ladies out there know what it means when a guy has big feet.  (Big shoes.)

After my sightseeing I went back to the backpacker district to chill out.  I had an internet session and got my hair cut from a Thai lady barber who, not surprisingly, initially thought I was Thai.

“I’M REALLY EXCITED THAT I’M GOING TO SEE A MANCHESTER GAME with someone from Manchester,” I told Paul when we started the evening out at a sports bar on Khaosan Road to see his home team play on a big screen — he was a huge Man. U. fan and tried to see every game, no matter where he was.  For those North Americans who don’t follow soccer (football), Manchester United is akin to the New York Yankees in baseball (before the 2004 World Series), in that unless you are a fan on home turf, every other sports fan hates your guts because your team keeps on winning games to the point that it’s considered unfair.  (It should come as no surprise that Manchester United and the New York Yankees have a commercial partnership and sell each other’s merchandise in their respective stores.)

Joining us for the night was Neil and his new gal pal Carol, the Brazilian girl he met in Goa some time before that we were supposed to meet at the airport the previous night.  Born in Sao Paolo of Korean parents, her look was about as ambiguous as mine, with many features leaning towards the darker-skinned Asian one, i.e. the Thai look.  “I’m so glad I met you,” she told me.  “You know how it is [to have the Thai look.]”

As Manchester United proceeded to kick ass on the four television screens around us, we ate and drank many beers, trying to distinguish the difference in the local brands, Chang, Leo and Singh.  “After a while it doesn’t matter,” I told Paul.  After the game we went wandering Khaosan Road (picture above) to find some live music or something entertaining, but in the crowded street of pedestrians, Carol and I got separated from Paul and Neil — for so long that we just stopped searching for them and decided to go out for drinks by ourselves. 

Carol and I went barhopping, checking out the scene here and there and eventually ended up at another outdoor bar over a big bottle of Chang.  She told me about how annoying it was for her to be in Bangkok, particularly as a young female looking the way she did; often she was mistaken for a Thai prostitute and would be groped or hassled by Western assholes who didn’t know any better.  Bangkok, aside from being known as a mecca of backpackers, is also a mecca of sex tourism, enticing many old men to come and feel special by young Thai call girls pretending to be in love with them (and screwing their brains out) — all for a fee of course.  It was pretty common to see an old gray-haired (usually fat) European-looking fellow holding hands with a young Thai woman that you could tell was obviously in it for the money.  “No money, no honey,” as the saying goes.

I thought that my little support group with Carol might have led to something more intimate, but she made it clear throughout the night that she was with Neil — in fact Neil was slated to switch houses and move in with her the next day.  With that said, we went looking for the pair of Brits again, this time at Gulliver’s Travelers’ Tavern, a huge backpacker hangout on the corner of Khaosan Road and Chakrapong Road.  I walked in the front door and into the foyer, only to be stopped by a bouncer.

“No, not you,” he said.  It was obvious to me to why he said it.

“But I’m American,” I said politely.

He didn’t believe me.  “No.”  He hand was on my shoulder ready to shove.  Meanwhile, a Caucasian guy walked in hassle-free.

What the fuck?  How can Thai guys be racist against their own kind?  Wait a minute, I’m not even Thai!  I had enough beer in me that I was already put over the edge, especially with the stories I’d heard from Carol that night.  “What?!  Because I’m not a WHITE GUY?!” I shouted at the bouncer.

Of course at that point, the scuffle that started with the two bouncers wasn’t racially-charged anymore, but charged because of my drunken belligerence.  Then again, the belligerence probably wouldn’t have spawned if the asshole didn’t stop me in the first place.  HE started it.

“Please, let’s just go,” Carol urged, trying to pry me away.

“NO!  We can get in here!” I exclaimed, reaching for my U.S. passport.  “I’m AMERICAN!”  Again, my voice was raised, not really putting me in a favorable light for admission.  At that point it didn’t matter anyway; I just wanted to prove my point.  You can’t do this to me, I’m an American!  I tried to shove my way into the main door, only to be pushed back with their physical force. 

The two bouncers teamed up on me and shoved me out the door.  Carol followed behind me on her own will.  One bouncer closed the glass door and held it shut when I tried to open it again.  Whatever dick.  I followed Carol’s advice and we left the scene.  Needless to say, I was still pretty pissed off.

EVENTUALLY WE FOUND PAUL AND NEIL and explained the whole situation.  I was much sober by that time and we went back to Gulliver’s, this time with the two white Englishmen.  I followed in after Paul, but the bouncer recognized me and stopped me.  “No.”

“It’s okay, he’s with me.”

Still nothing.

“I’m not even that drunk now, I just want to know why,” I said.

No response.  He just gave me the evil eye from behind the glass door.

“Fine.  Whatever.  I don’t even want to go anymore.”  I was sober enough to keep calm amidst the new hostility, but still had enough alcohol in me to start ranting about how I was a journalist from New York City and that I’d slam them in anyway that I could. 

If you have any plans to go to Bangkok (all estimated 38,000 of you readers), PLEASE BOYCOTT GULLIVER’S TAVERN — or even better, get in there (if they let you) and set the place on fire.  “We don’t need no water, let the motherfucker burn… Burn motherfucker, BURN.”  (How’s that for belligerent?)

PAUL AND I SPLIT UP from Neil and Carol and wandered around some more.  At the end of the night we randomly bumped into Carol again, who was a bit hysterical from something that just happened — I assumed another grope from a nasty old man.  “I’m sorry you guys, I have to go.  I can’t take it anymore!  I really have to get out of here.”  She seemed to be on the verge of sobbing and ran off.

I don’t know who wrote the lyrics to the famous 1980s pop tune — “One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster…” — but whoever it was, it was obviously a white male.

Next entry: Mallkings

Previous entry: All Roads Lead To Bangkok

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Comments for “Thai By Night”

  • Erik - get out of the pit aka Khao San…
    The pics from Wat Po and the Grand Palace bring back such good memories (Those of you who watched AR1 should recognize Wat Po).  Were there workers replacing all the glass and stuff on the walls of the Grand Palace?  Apparently they continually work on keeping it new and shiny - if I remember correctly it takes them 7 years to make a full circuit of the temple.

    Posted by Liz  on  11/22  at  08:49 AM

  • LIZ:  Actually yeah, there was construction on the little “gazebo” things (I forgot the term) surrounding the temple.

    I’ll be out of the pit soon enough… I’m just waiting on visas and plane tickets…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  10:16 AM

  • blerghh..  it’s such a shame how the Thais discriminate against Asians but then again, you see that everywhere in Asia in various doses, where white travellers/expats get more special treatment than Asians.  I get really annoyed myself when friends/asian chickies go ga-ga over white guys just because they’re WHITE.  please.  give me some brown sugar anyday.  lol

    Posted by cayce  on  11/22  at  12:19 PM

  • lol.  “let me in i am an AMERICAN!”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  12:48 PM

  • Double edge sword my brother ... on the brighter side you should check out “RC” as it is called “Route 66” for a club experience you won’t forget.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  01:24 PM

  • Wow Erik it’s hard for me to picture you so angry.  But that is messed up.
    And I actually feel for Carol, last time I went to the Philippines I was mistaken for a prostitute.  LOL Ew

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  02:06 PM

  • OK, I promise not to go to Gulliver’s Tavern.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  03:15 PM

  • BTW - if I don’t read another entry or am not online again before Thurs.  Happy Thanksgiving Erik & Co!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  04:27 PM

  • hell yeah, erik just pulled a ron artest!

    btw - the fish crew is upset because they changed the software for the computers at bowler we can’t do the funny names anymore.  booo.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  04:45 PM

  • can’t sit here…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  04:47 PM

  • CAYCE:  Same goes for South America… one guy tells me “it’s so easy to pick up women; all you have to do is say ‘hi.’”... in Banos when I was with Hugo the Dutchman, such was the case when we were out scoping for chicks…  really, not being a target for touts means not being a target for the good stuff too…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  05:26 PM

  • SCOTT:  Don’t worry, Gulliver’s isn’t worth pulling a Fallujah…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  05:29 PM

  • burn that motherfucker!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  05:33 PM

  • RINA:  Yeah, I’ve heard similiar stories:  one from an Indian-American co-worker who got mistaken for a prostitute in Morocco; plus Cristina (Zambia) got the same thing in Philippines when traveling with Jens; his hotel thought she was a local call girl.  Shame, isn’t it?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  05:33 PM

  • SARA:  Thanks… met a Scotsman tonight that just arrived in Bangkok and also has my back!  GULLIVER’S IS GOING DOWN!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  05:37 PM

  • WHEAT:  Boooo…  what will we do next Thanksgiving then?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  05:39 PM

  • That’s funny… the Guliver bouncers didn’t seem to have a problem with Thai women hanging off their patrons. Holy, double-standard!

    I know it’s the principle that’s in contention here, but if it’s of any consolation, Gulliver?s is nothing special, just dregs of backpacker hell.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  05:59 PM

  • TDOT:  That’s what I figured… I’ve had a blast tonight just drinking on the streets in the open air…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  06:13 PM

  • That’s good!

    Somethingsabout the “pit” you gotta love: the outdoor drinking and 24/7 Internet!

    Erik, you gotta have a fruit shake from the stand just around the corner from Gulliver’s to the left. There are stolls at the front, you can’t miss it.  The lady there makes the best! I recommend the watermelon.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  06:26 PM

  • Oh… and take a picture with her and the blender! That’s your mission, should you choose to accept.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  06:28 PM

  • How about the “Asian Elvis” in Patpong !?! fun show however avoid the go-go bars next door - don’t fall for the “shows” either its all a scam ... for a a classier night out try “Narcists” on Sukumvit where all the hot actress’s hang out .. wooohooo !! to all the beer bunnies !!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  07:07 PM

  • so are the chicks there mostly all prostitutes?  that sort of sucks…its more fun to meet the local real chicks.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  07:14 PM

  • LIZ - have you seen this show on TV there?

    NOTE: need winmp to view this link

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  08:22 PM

  • Damn, what a shame that they discriminate against their own kind. But, then again, what is the bottom line with life? Money talks, BS walks…

    Funny image of you standing there screaming you’re an American, showing your passport… wink

    Word Life.


    Posted by Supreme Moman  on  11/23  at  02:56 AM

  • 38,000 wow, i knew this blog was popular but 38,000.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  03:59 AM

  • SCOTT:  I heard that during Carnivale in Rio, all the “good girls” skip town because they can’t walk around normally without being considered a hooker.  (On the flipside, some girls freelance hook just for Carnivale time, and no other time.)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  04:16 AM

  • yeah, I’ll make sure I stay away from Gulliver Tavern when I am in BKK in january. Actually, my plan is to stay away from the gringo alley alltogether and stay in another part of town. I was reccommended the guesthouse Suk11.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  05:36 AM

  • Are you really surprised to see Asians discriminate against other Asians? Asians are some of the worst racists in the world. They hate everybody, especially other Asians.

    Posted by Anthony  on  11/23  at  10:58 PM

  • MARKYT - don’t think that I’ve seen that show.. and have to download WinMP to double check… but have to delete some stuff on my harddrive to make room for it .... to many movies, not enough time to see them all…

    Posted by Liz  on  11/24  at  04:48 AM

  • Hey kid, happy thanksgiving!  Kenneth and Geeta made us a turkey dinner which was really sweet of them.  Is Manchester Utd the team that Michael Owen once played for???

    Sorry about that unfortunate incidence at the pub…f#$% them. Tell them to shove their pad thai where the sun don’t shine.  Spoken like a true Brooklynite.

    Ok…must get back to work!  Gobble gobble.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  05:41 AM

  • So, when I get to Bangkok, you’ll be able to direct me to the best places to go, eh?

    Dude, that is MESSED UP - hopefully you won’t get mistaken with a tall redhead. smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  07:39 AM

  • I know that feeling, I was 15, dressed to kill in Manhattan—yes pathetically hoping to see Duran Duran appear on SNL—and a busload of Swedish tourists appeared. My friend Ellen and I were immediately approached as prostitutes. It’s awful. And worse. Thank heavens it was broad daylight. I’d have freaked in Bangkok.

    That guy’s a prick. Rat bastard for denying you entry into their BS establishment. Go be Gulliver and walk all over him!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/03  at  10:20 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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