Thailand At Work is a mini series that looks at the working lives of three Thai women who are striving to better their future in three very different industries within Thailand. The first of these posts looks at a woman who is trying to snare a rich foreigner to secure a better future for herself, and her three children, by working as a Pattaya bar girl.
If you asked a cross-section of bar girls in Pattaya how long they had worked there, you would quickly become accustomed to the answer – one week. The way most bar girls think, is that every western man wants a bar girl who’s blind to the sharp practices of Pattaya, and has little experience and time, working the bars.
To them, a one week quote is a better bartering tool than five years, because face to face with a customer who has money for honey, a small white lie may nail them a ‘higher price’, a better restaurant meal, and possible relief from the mundane life of your average Pattaya bar girl. Dawan has only worked in Thailand’s wild child resort for one week, and I can only report what she told me.
Dawan’s English language skills were very basic, but my basic instincts told me she’d done the rounds a little longer than the seven-day cycle she relayed. The interview was aided by the bar owner’s Thai wife, whose English was of a slightly higher pedigree.
The Shark Rider Bar is located on Soi Buakhao, and is one of those same same type of bars that blend in with the many ‘businesses’ and other bars that are currently struggling in this sex tourism city. If Pattaya’s streets are paved with gold, then Soi Buakhao’s road is peeling, and a nasty green rash has started to show.
The road from Ban Lad Ya in Kanchanaburi Province, to Pattaya, is one that Dawan may have helped to lay as a road worker on 200 baht ($5.50 US) a day. Dawan quit working in a road gang a few months back, as the lure of Pattaya, overpowered the smell of hot tar.
Dawan is separated from her Thai husband and with three children to school and feed, she has swapped road gangs for bar life and entrance into the Theatre of Teens. At 41 years of age, Dawan has to overcome and win, the serious competition that fit, lean 18-year-old bar girls will bring, and more so, from their slightly older and vastly experienced Pattaya long-stays.
Darwan’s work duties are bar cleaner and hostess, all for the princely salary of 2000 baht ($55) a month. Customer tips may add 500 baht, but that’s hardly enough to keep the wolf from the door, a door that’s thirsty for a knock from a baht bearing western male.
Dawan’s two days holiday a month will give her little time to visit her children who are being taken care of by her elderly parents in Ban Lad Ya. Dawan realises she needs to quickly improve her basic English skills, as that should help boost her salary, and better fund her children’s education.
Dawan is a smoker, and enjoys an occasional shot of lao khao rice whisky, luxuries barely affordable to a hard working road worker, but ones beyond reach to a low income Pattaya bar girl.
Dawan misses her two boys and daughter, she also freely admits to being a staunch yellow shirt supporter, and would you believe, her dream is to marry an Englishman. My basic instincts kicked in once more, and I knew if my passport spouted German, then Dawan would have pidgin-toed about Munich, Jurgen Klinsmann, and flushed at the thought of writhing on the back seat of a BMW. Pattaya’s seven-day cycle has some fast learning curves.
Beyond The Mango Juice wishes Dawan all the best in her quest to find the perfect western man, but somehow I think that on my next visit to Pattaya, Dawan will have swapped the smell of Pattaya’s sewers, for the sweeter smell of burning road tar.
Good luck Dawan.
© 2009 – 2013, Martyn. All rights reserved.