Thailand and My Isaan Village
Where It All Started
Boontah was born female into a desperately poor family living in a small, humble, and sleepy village in Northeastern Thailand, ... In the West, her home would be considered not only shabby, but also primitive... This one-room wooden shack with dilapidated walls, no more than a shed, barely served as shelter from the scorching sun, stifling humidity, and tropical rainfall.
The death of Boontah’s childhood occurred when she was banished from her home and blamed for the death of her father.... Now, she also knew that she would have to find a way to earn the love of her mother, regardless of the cost to her own life, in order to ever return home. The sex-tourists havens were awaiting her with open arms.
Bangkok, My New Home
At the age of 13, I had known only housework and farming. I had no idea what I was going to do in Bangkok and I was very, very frightened. I had no idea what lie ahead, but I had already decided that I would not allow it to be further poverty.
Although I was young, I wasn’t going to allow my mother’s ignorance and prejudice to slow me down. I knew somewhere deep inside that I had potential. I knew that I could have a better life than that offered by remaining in my village of poor peasants.... I was not born to be a farmer, nor was I born to be beaten and oppressed. Most importantly, I was not born to be poor!
Isaan Family Values: A Contradiction in Terms
My life was little different from that of other young girls in the Thai sex-tourism industry. Once we travel to the “Big City” or tourist resorts, our families make never-ending demands for money. My mother drained my bank account daily. Her calls to me were never to ask about my welfare. Instead, they were calls insisting that I send more money. She wanted a new sofa, table, TV, or refrigerator. She gave my brother everything that she could afford-- purchased through my earnings. In Thailand, it isn’t uncommon for 14-year old daughters to prostitute themselves so that their brothers can have VCRs and motorbikes. When she gave my brother the VCR that I had bought for her, she expected a replacement. My mother demanded a noodle cart in order to open a “rolling restaurant.” After a brief attempt at being an entrepreneur, she decided that it took too much effort. She had no idea what effort was. I sold myself to 10 old men, at $40 each, to buy that noodle cart—with which she so casually dispensed.
It would take many more years and many bad relationships for me to fully-comprehend--and more importantly to accept the truth, that my only value to my mother was in the money I sent home.
Understanding Thailand is not an easy task for an outsider.
In the following chapters,
I will begin to expose the hypocrisy of my country
by sharing intimate details
deliberately hidden from foreign eyes.
To Work -- or Not to Work
Poor villagers from the province work hard when there is work to be found, if they are not fortunate enough to have a daughter working in the flesh-trade.... Often, there is at least one female in every family who knows intuitively from an early age that she is the chosen one. She is responsible for raising her family’s life from hopeless poverty while the rest of the family lives from her earnings. I have deliberately chosen the pronoun “She” not only because I was that “Chosen one” in my family, but to anyone slightly-versed in Isaan culture, it is traditionally the oldest daughter who bears that responsibility.... This reality can and does continue throughout the life of most rural Thais.
Education: Boys Only, Girls Need Not Apply
I was born female into this village of primarily poor, uneducated, Thai hillbilly folk. As with most poor girls, I was not allowed to attend school after the age of 12--or 6th grade. There was only enough money available for my brother’s education. “Education for boys only” has been the general policy in Thailand since the beginning of our civilization. This chauvinistic policy places girls at the immediate disadvantage of finding “meaningful” employment. It also increases the likelihood of girls seeking a way out of their desperate poverty by turning to prostitution. The decision I made many years ago is made every day, of every week, by thousands of girls—mostly from third-world countries—particularly those countries of Southeast Asia.
Tourism vs. Sex Tourism
Many tourists come to Thailand because very little cash goes a very long way. There is a lot of competition between airlines for the tourist’s business, so international airfares are inexpensive, as is domestic transportation once the visitor arrives. For example, a tourist from California could spend $300 on a round-trip flight to Hawaii; $150/night for a hotel; and at least another $150/day on food; transportation; and entertainment. Or, one could spend $600 on the flight to Thailand; $30-$60/night on an equivalent hotel; and $50/day would buy everything that $150/day would buy in Hawaii INCLUDING a beautiful young girl--like me! There is no reason for an American male tourist to go anywhere else. Many male Asian travelers agree. They come from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. They have as much money as any Farang; and they all can have a wonderful holiday without having to count Dollars, Yen or Won.
A Day in the Life of a 14-year old “Working Girl”
…I went into the bathroom and changed into my sexy clothes--purchased with the sole intention of attracting the eager male sex-tourist. I told everyone at work that I was going to a party. I went to work looking like a poster child for UNICEFand I left looking absolutely adorable—and highly desirable.
I walked four blocks to Thermae Bar on Sukhumvit Soi 13. Frequently, I would find a client during my short walk to Thermae. I normally received between Bt 700 and 1,000 ($28-$40) for a short-time. A beautiful 14-year-old, walking near the red-light district toward the most infamous bar in Southeast Asia, had no problem meeting the kind of men who visited Thailand just looking for girls like her. I was seeking them out just as they were seeking me. It took little effort on my part to leave them spellbound. After all, I was pretty, petite, and precocious. They generously emptied their pockets while I provided them with fun and fulfilled their every sexual fantasy with an exotic Lolita.
Pattaya: A Sex-tourist’s Paradise
“Jimmy the Switch”
“Jimmy the Switch” or “Jimmy the Twist” lived in Bangkok. I met him through “Bangkok John.” Sick men tend to have sick friends. He was the most sexually-perverted man I had ever met. He initiated nasty behaviors during foreplay that normal, healthy men would never even consider.
“Jimmy the Switch” earned his name because he went both ways. He equally enjoyed attractive young Thai boys and Thai girls. He was also called “Jimmy the Switch” because he liked to hit his victims with a stick or a switch. His other nickname was “Jimmy the Twist” because he was a twisted and sadistic man. As with Bangkok John, he not only liked S&M, he relished it. I didn’t like being hit with a switch; it hurt a lot. But, I put up with it for the sake of money. I couldn’t think of any other way that I could earn as much.
“18 Rain” speaks of 18 rainy seasons
In my life, men have been solely a means to an end, and I do not expect my views to change anytime in the near future. I have always pushed them as far as I could in the knowledge that any one of them could be easily replaced around the next corner. Once I tricked men into giving me every baht that I could, it was still never enough. I was never satisfied. Regardless of how difficult, inconvenient, or even painful it was for them to satisfy my insatiable lust for money, I didn’t care. I always wanted more!
Cedrik and Switzerland
Cedrik had a friend who worked in Bangkok. On the occasional weekend, he would venture down the two hours of highway to Pattaya. About a month or two after Cedrik left, his friend told him that he had seen me walking with another man in Pattaya. I immediately received a phone call from Switzerland. I quickly assured him that I was just talking to someone and that I was faithful. I told him that I was in love with him and that I would never return to the GoGos. I would keep my promise to him. The only promise I will never go back on is the one "To take care of my family.” As long as Cedrik continued to send money, he believed that I would not cheat on him. That was the greatest error in his thinking; it is the flaw in the thinking of most Farang. They believe that we hold the same value system as they do and that prostitutes are faithful. I can’t imagine where they get this idea. I doubt that they would have the same confidence in prostitutes in their own countries.
Broadening My Horizons
Returning to Pattaya
I arrived in Bangkok the next morning and in Pattaya that afternoon. I dropped my suitcase at an apartment that I liked and quickly darted over to see Dave who was very surprised to see me. “What the hell happened? I expected you to be in Switzerland longer than 12 days,”were the first words to come from his lips. I told him that I really didn’t know how long it would last, but that I would have stayed as long as the money continued to flow. It didn’t, and neither did I! Instead my income suffered a reversal; therefore, so did my stay. I was there to maintain monthly payments to my family--and for no other reason!
So Many Suitors, So Little Time
Johan from Sweden
The first time I saw Johan, he was eating with a friend outside of the 19th Hole Super Pub near Walking Street. Although I wasn't working that night, I still went to that location to buy fruit and to watch Farang. I saw Johan watching me and we exchanged smiles. I knew that he was new to Pattaya because of his lack of casual attire and his apparent discomfort. I had seen his friend who sat by his side many times before. I offered some bananas to Johan, but he refused. I was not used to being turned down, and I really wanted to meet him. I decided to push over my motorbike, hoping that he would help me stand it back up. Before he could get up, a Japanese tourist came to my aid. I was angry that Johan didn’t have the opportunity to help me. I was also angry with myself that Johan had not “taken to me” right away. Men generally did!
I could not have been happier. I had just arrived in Sweden, a rich European country, and I was with a young, attractive man who really cared about me. But, no sooner had I walked outside the airport than I was numbed by the biting cold. This was not even winter, but the bitter and icy winds chilled me to the bone. I never knew that it could be this cold anywhere on the planet. I knew that I would probably never again leave the warmth inside of my new home.
Home Sweet Home?
Returning to Thailand
I returned to Thailand on August 29, 2003. I had arranged for my brother who was living in Bangkok to meet me at the airport; he didn’t appear. His behavior was typical and should have been expected. The responsibility displayed by men from the village leaves everything to be desired. If he had thought that I had brought something for him, he would have been at the airport on time. Still heavily medicated, I managed to reach a hotel on my own from where I contacted him. It wasn’t long before I found myself paying the round-trip transportation costs for my brother and his wife to travel to Ubon to visit my mother. In the 11 hours that it took for me to travel from Sweden to Thailand, I became my family’s “Walking ATM” once again—nothing had really changed! I had returned to become the same major source of income they had known for over seven years and their financial savior!
Andy and Me in Pattaya
Andy and I have been married only a couple of months and we are getting along worse than usual. The other day, I asked him to get me some water from the kitchen. I could have easily gotten up to get it myself, but I was used to simply asking him to do everything for me. I knew that I was just testing him to see how far he could be pushed before he had had enough. It took less than a moment for me to find out. He returned with water and poured it all over my head. I was furious and told him I wanted a divorce. I stormed from the house to stay at a friend’s apartment that night. I thought I could pressure Andy into learning that everything would go my way, and that if he didn’t do as I asked, he would return to England a single man. He would also return lighter by Bt 30,000 and the small amount of gold that he had given to my mother as a Brideprice. My temper tantrum intimidated him and he called almost immediately to apologize. I returned to his apartment the following night, fully-satisfied that I had both him and our relationship under control.
On Reflection: A Decade Later
When I think about my seven years in the sex-tourist industry, my pain is often unbearable. I want no part of my past. I desperately want to sever my memories from my mind, my mind from my body, and the body that I sold for so little—from the truth of who I am.
My life has been exceedingly difficult since I decided to turn it around. I live in the constant belief that the worst will befall me, and that everyone will cheat me in the same way that I was cheated of my youth—and in the very same way that I cheated so many men.
I never saw it coming