I haven’t spent much time with other expats in Thailand since giving up alcohol seven years ago. It is not that I try to avoid these people – it is just that I have no interest in going to bars, and this is where expats like to socialize. I’ve also tended to live in areas where there are very few other foreigners – or at least I did up until now. Last month we moved to Rayong, and there is a substantial expat community in the local area. The other day I met one of my fellow expats, and it turned out to be an uncomfortable experience.
Flashbacks to Sitting on a Bar Stool
In an old post on here I discussed the dilemma of acknowledging other westerners in Thailand. I tend to smile at anyone who makes eye contact with me, but there are many expats who do not like this type of acknowledgement from other foreigners – it’s all a bit strange.
The other day I was on my walk when I happened to make eye contact with another foreigner – instinctively I offered him a smile. He was good enough not to return my acknowledgement with a blank stare, and we ended up having a conversation. We’d barely said hello, when he launched into this long story about his sex life. He filled me in about his exploits with prostitutes in Pattaya and about how he had moved to Rayong in search of a “good girl”. He was using words that I hadn’t heard in years – words like ‘short-time’ (going with a prostitute for a few hours) and ‘bar-fine’ (the money that punters pay to the owner of a bar to take away one of their bar girls).
I would have dismissed this guy as some kind of sex-nut, but I remembered having had thousands of similar conversations like this. During my drinking years, this would be the main topic of conversation among expats. I remember 12 years ago arriving at my first teaching gig in Bangkok, and the first words out of the mouth of the other foreign teacher was to invite me to go along with him to a brothel during our lunch break. I said ‘no, thank you’. I was far from a perfect teacher, but I knew that such school-break activities went well beyond unprofessional. The odd thing was though, that at the time his request didn’t seem that strange – I’d already become used to expats talking openly about their sexual exploits.
Maybe I’ve turned into a prude, but it just seems odd to me that other people would be so open about their sex life with complete strangers. My guess is that most of these guys would not behave the same way back in their home countries because there is a taboo about against paying for sex. I suppose the thing that bothered me most was the fact that this guy just assumed that I was the same as him – that I was another sex tourist. I found the conversation to be embarrassing, and I was just happy to get away from him in the end. I’ve no interest in being reminded of the type of conversation I had while sitting drunk on a bar stool.
Sexpats in Thailand
There are many people who come to Thailand for sex, but it would be wrong to suggest that this is the motivation for most expats. I’ve talked about this before in another blog post (People Move to Thailand to Escape Dissatisfaction and Not Just to Have Sex ), the sexpats tend to burn themselves within a couple of years, and they will then return home with their tail between their legs- that guy I met on the beach yesterday sounded like he was on his last legs in Thailand after just one year.
Update – I met one of my foreign neighbors yesterday evening, and he turned out to be quite a character. We had barely started chatting when he asked if I would give him the password to my WiFi – I said ‘no way’.