Thailand

Bangkok Hotel Refuses HIV Group Booking

A NETWORK of people living with HIV/Aids and their advocates yesterday asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to investigate alleged rights violations and discriminatory practices after a Bangkok-based hotel reportedly denied HIV/Aids NGOs’ requests to host events at the hotel.

Aids Access Foundation director Nimit Tienudom said there were still problems such as the hotel’s refusal to accommodate the HIV/Aids NGOs.

“We don’t know exactly what caused [the hotel ban] but [we] think, as a service provider, it should respect others and not discriminate against people living with HIV/Aids, because that is a very bad vision,” he added.

He praised as good policy the NHRC’s July 25 announcement that a job application requirement of an HIV-blood test was a rights violation.

Nimit said his foundation had used the hotel’s services on at least 10 occasions a year without problems over the past four years. But the Path2health Foundation’s planned event was turned down in July.

His foundation’s request to use the facility for 1663 Aids’ hotline volunteers’ training on July 14 was also denied, he said.

They were told by hotel staff that it was a new policy to refrain from taking Aids or anti-drug organisations following customers’ complaints, he added.

Nimit said the request for an NHRC probe was to find out if the decision was discriminatory – as well as urging hotel executives to get correct information about HIV/Aids, to improve services, and to refrain from discrimination or rights violation.

“If we simply accept the hotels’ conditions and find another hotel, it means we confirm to society that we cannot live together. We have to inform society that this is a bias, a wrongdoing, a rights violation and a discrimination that stemmed from misunderstanding,” he said.

Thai Network of People Living With HIV/Aids president Apiwat Kwangkaew said such discrimination stemmed from misunderstanding about the virus and they wanted the NHRC to probe them.

“We hoped this would lead to talks for better understanding and public awareness that Aids is not a disgusting thing, while the hotel would learn to see it in a new perspective,” he said.

He added that the network’s mission was to continuously campaign against HIV/Aids-related stigma so people could live together without rights violations.

NHRC member Taejing Siripanich, who took up the complaint, said the agency had no duty to judge who was right or wrong, but to determine if the action was a rights violation.

The NHRC would investigate and summon the hotel for explanation.

“I believe this kind of discrimination [exists] in society – due to lack of information or ignorance. Sometimes we accept it because we don’t want to cause trouble… If Thailand still has this kind of thinking, how can people living with HIV/Aids live? Where else will they go?” he added.
(The Nation)

Bangkok Barebacking Leads To HIV

Bangkok Barebacking Leads To HIV

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A survey of young gay men and transgender women (MSM) in Bangkok has found that HIV incidence amongst them is running at 9% a year in those who don’t used condoms consistently – and 2% a year in ones who say they do.

The survey also found higher-than-average incidence in MSM who lived alone or with flatmates rather than their family, and who had paid-for sex or sex in saunas.

In common with at least one other study, the researchers found that MSM who exclusively took the insertive role in sex – regardless of condom use – were less likely to become HIV-positive than MSM who said they used condoms all the time.

Presenter Presenter Tarika Pattanasin of the Thai Ministry of Public Health told the 20th International AIDS Conference that a previous analysis of the Bangkok MSM Cohort Study had shown that HIV incidence in young gay men and transgender women aged 18-21 was 8.8% a year, compared with 3.7% a year in MSM aged over 30.

A new analysis concentrated exclusively on young MSM who had been 18-24 at their time of enrolment into the cohort between 2006 and 2010. This allows for between three and five years of follow-up.

Criteria for entry into this study other than age included residence in Bangkok, having had sex (oral or anal) with another man in the last six months and being available for thrice-yearly HIV testing and behavioural questionnaires. The cohort recruited 494 men through gay venues, the internet, a gay men’s sexual health clinic, outreach workers and friends.

The study found that 47% of the young men/transgender women lived with their family while 44% lived alone or with a flatmate and just 10% lived with a partner.

Forty per cent said that they had used condoms 100% of the time for anal sex since their last clinic visit four months ago, 51% had had condomless anal sex and been ‘versatile’ (took both roles) or ‘bottom’ (receptive only); 8.5% said they had had condomless sex but only as the insertive partner.

Twenty-four per cent said they had had paid-for sex in the last four months and 28% casual sex in a sauna; 33% had Had sex with casual partner at home.

The results were expressed as the cumulative number of HIV infections over a specific time period or ‘incidence density’. A large number of longer-term participants was tested around the five-year anniversary of their entry into the cohort, so this provides a useful cumulative incidence measure.

The overall annual incidence rate in the cohort was 7.5% a year and 118 people have acquired HIV so far in this study; nearly a quarter of the cohort.

By the five-year mark, roughly 39% of those who lived alone or with a flatmate had become HIV positive compared with 19% who was living with their family at this point (NB these categories all apply to the four months preceding each follow-up visit – they are not baseline criteria. So if someone reported living alone for one four-month period, but living with family the next, for example, they would be sorted into different risk groups for those two separate time periods.)

About 45% of those who reported paid-for sex was HIV-positive by this time compared with 22% who did not. And the same proportion – 45% – who reported casual sex, either in a sauna or at home, had HIV compared with 21% who did not have casual sex.

In terms of sexual behaviour, men who reported condomless anal sex, either as the receptive partner or as ‘versatile’, had a 46% chance of HIV infection by five years; men who reported 100% consistent condom use had a 21% chance of having HIV by this time; and men who reported condomless sex, but only as the insertive partner, had a 14% chance of being HIV positive by this time.

Thus, in unadjusted analysis, self-reported 100% condom use was 54% effective as a preventative strategy against HIV in this cohort, and not taking the receptive role 70% effective.

In multivariate analysis people who lived alone or with a flatmate were 50% more likely to acquire HIV than those who lived with their family; those who did not or only inconsistently used condoms and who took the receptive role at least sometimes were 180% (2.8 times) more likely to acquire HIV than those who maintained condom use 100% of the time; those who only took the insertive role, regardless of condom use, were 20% less likely than those who used condoms 100% of the time but were not always ‘top’, though in multivariate analysis, controlling for factors like number of partners, this difference became statistically non-significant.

Also in multivariate analysis, having paid-for sex increased the risk of HIV 120%, having casual sex in a sauna 90%, and having casual sex 60% more risky for HIV than not paying for sex or not having casual sex.

It’s important to remember that the MSM at highest risk in this study – the receptive or versatile inconsistent condom users – actually formed the majority of the men in the cohort.

What can we do to prevent HIV in such a relentlessly accumulating epidemic, which is by no means unique to Thailand?

Luis Lloures of UNAIDS, who was chairing the session, commented: “It is a huge problem that young gay men today are coming out into a population where already a much higher proportion of their contemporaries has HIV than was the case 20 years ago.”

No one single measure would probably contain HIV in such a situation. The Thai Red Cross, who run the largest HIV clinic in Bangkok, are setting their sights on trying to get MSM to test as frequently as possible in the hope of catching early infections; this is the inspiration behind the ‘Suck. Fuck. Test. Repeat.’ campaign which has garnered praise for its videos but also criticism for not including condom use in its text.

Dr Sarika said that a campaign helping young MSM not to engage in commercial sex was also being considered. She acknowledged that this was a population that PrEP might be considered for.

Phuket Pride Finances Community Support

Phuket Pride Finances Community Support


Phuket Loves You Club would like to thank everyone who took part in Phuket Pride week 2014. The week’s events raised 330,000 Baht!

This means we have raised over 600,000 Baht in just 3 years to go to our charities to help fight against and support those living with HIV. Of this 600,000, 300,000 Baht is being used in our community programme called HARP – HIV and Aids Related Programme, which at present is targeted at helping people living and working in Patong town’s Paradise complex: Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (GBT).

With the help of Patong Hospital and the Sabaidee Clinic, a series of focus groups were held to gather information from various groups of people within our community. The information from these groups is helping us to build the HARP programme.

We would like to thank K. Vikky and K. Ake from Andaman Power in helping to get these groups together.

Using the information from the focus groups and working with the Sabaidee clinic, we will be producing a series of posters aimed at promoting safer sex and providing current information on medical programmes Thai individuals can use to have a healthier life.

Partnering with the Director of Patong Hospital, we secured a memorandum of understanding (MOU) from Phuket’s Governor, Maitree Intrusud. This MOU will enable us to receive a large number of condoms from outside of Thailand.

We also secured 50,000 condoms and lube from Karex Burhad; a Thai company. These condoms will be with us within the next few weeks, so that once again, all the bars in Paradise complex will have free condoms and lube. It is
hoped that later in the year we will produce ‘cruising packs’ which will be able to carry safer sex messaging in Thai and English.

At present, Sabaidee clinic only has funding to carry out one free HIV test a year in Paradise. PLU have committed money to the clinic to carry out another 3 tests, which means all workers in Paradise can now have a free HIV test every 3 months for the next year.

PLU is currently looking at other fund raising events during the year, so that we can further extend the HARP programme and can therefore help to build a safer, more informed community on HIV & AIDS.

The remaining 300,000 Baht went to the Life Home Project to help pay for the education of children in Phuket who either have, or have parents who have, HIV, to help give them a good start in life. Without this money these children could be sidelined due to the HIV virus.

The full accounts from the last 3 years Phuket Pride weeks can be found on our web site:
www.phuket-pride.org. Click the ‘about us’ tab and then ‘finance’. The photo gallery from
Phuket Pride week 2014 will also soon be on the web site.

Thai HRC Calls For University Trangender Rights

Thai HRC Calls For University Trangender Rights

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The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has issued a resolution advising universities to revise regulations, permitting students to cross-dress at their graduation ceremony.

The NHRC has reportedly considered a student petition from an unnamed university in a case involving transgender students being unable to receive their diplomas while cross-dressing. Complainants claim that male students who live as females were part of the university and were being unfairly treated.

They feel like their rights are restricted and that they are being deprived of freedom and, as a result, are under stress.

The NHRC said universities that did not allow transgender students to receive a diploma under the premise that their clothes conflicted with the university dress code were disrespecting human dignity and violating human rights.

The organisation called on universities to revise their regulations to clearly specify dress codes for class attendance, exam-taking and graduation in order to foster human rights, freedom and equality.

The commission has no power to enforce any resolution and it is highly likely that many universities will ignore its plea.
(The Nation)

Gays, Dharma, & Society

Gays, Dharma, & Society

The documentation of homosexuality in Thailand is not a recent development. Apart from being mentioned in the Tipitaka, it also appears in Lanna religious texts and in the ancient Tra Sam Duang legal code. According to Prempreeda Pramoj na Ayutthaya, a transgendered researcher, the ancient Lanna texts mention the creation of the Earth and three genders – puri, itthee, and nuppoongsaka, believed to be men, women and homosexuals, respectively.

This corresponds with the Tipitaka, which categorises people who didn’t readily fall into traditional male or female stereotypes (bandoh) into five sub-divisions, in accordance with their sexual orientation, one of these being nuppoongsaka.

”This means the Tipitaka recognises sexual diversity,” Prempreeda noted.

There is also historical evidence of lesbians and gays. In the old palace, for example, only women were allowed to perform in dance troupes called lakhon nai, with some playing male characters both in plays and in their private lives, leading to lesbian sex being called len peuan (playing with friends). Dance troupes outside the palace, or lakhon nok, only allowed male performers, and some married princes were rumoured to sleep with feminine actors, said Prempreeda. Such sex among men was called len sawaat (playing with lovers).

And while homosexuality is nothing new in Thai history, nor is discrimination.

While the mention of homosexuality in the Tipitaka was aimed at warning monks what not to do, the ancient Kod Montien Barn legal code of the Ayutthaya period targeted homosexual members of the court. It imposed such penalties as being hit on the fingernails and neck tattooing for those engaging in homosexual sex, both len peuan and len sawaat.

Despite such discrimination, Assoc Prof Peter A. Jackson, senior fellow in Thai history of the Australian National University, argued that the situation is gradually improving.

According to him, the broader Thai community admires beautiful katoey, and people who are successful in their careers, and there is an increasing number of successful katoey performers and business people.

However, there is still a lot misunderstanding about different sexual orientations, he noted.

To help redress the problem, Prempreeda has written more than 20 research papers on transgender issues and has also been working as a consultant for researchers on the subject. Among her works are Ladyboys in Cabaret Shows, her master’s thesis for Chiang Mai University, and The Fluidity of Thai Queer Sexuality and Experiences of Accessing Sexual Health Care, her master’s thesis for her degree in health social science from Mahidol University.

‘The more I learned, the less I could turn a blind eye to gender inequality,’ she noted.

Many transsexuals who have faced discrimination have joined Prempreeda’s battle against discrimination. One of them is Suttirat Simsiriwong, or ‘Mod’, a brand manager for a French cosmetics company. She made headlines earlier this year when a famous hotel in Siam Square barred her from entering the hotel’s nightclub as a matter of policy. Her campaign (and pressure from the international gay community) resulted in an apology and the revocation of the hotel’s ban on transsexuals.

But due to misconceived stereotypes of transsexuals as untrustworthy, such bans are still the rule at many hotels and nightspots, especially those in tourist destinations such as Pattaya and Phuket, said Sitthiphan Boonyaphisomparn, an advocate for transsexual rights.

Without legal recognition for transsexuals, they also routinely suffer discrimination. When Prempreeda lost her ATM card, for example, her bank refused to cancel the card over the telephone because her feminine voice did not match the ‘male’ designation in her bank documents.

Another big problem for transsexuals in Thailand is the lack of Thai-language information on the pros and cons of gender reassignment surgery to help them with such important decisions.

“Policies relating to rights and laws for the transgendered are still overlooked in Thai society, even though the Thai transgendered culture is richer here than in many foreign cultures,” Prempreeda said.

First published in the Bangkok Post 5 November 2007

The Pink Baht

The Pink Baht

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“Travel broadens the mind.” This truism applies not only to the tourist, but also the host country.

Visitors naturally feel most comfortable where their hosts are welcoming and tolerant. Few nations have been as historically open to others as the Thais. That’s why in a polarising world, easy-going Thailand proves so popular with both Arabs and Israelis, traditionalists and hedonists, straights and gays. Thailand got its huge gay visitor-base without even trying, through word-of-mouth, private enterprise and by just being itself.

For over a decade, wised-up Asian websites have pioneered the promotion of Thailand to gays, who number ten per cent of any population, yet 15% per cent of all tourists. Now there’s more need for Thailand to cultivate the custom of this trend-setting sector, which prizes high value holidays from spas to eco adventure.

Corporations and world cities no longer find it prudent to be prudish; they risk losing market share to those that liberalise. Tourist boards hype Sydney’s Mardi Gras, ‘Gayfriendly Germany’ or Manchester’s ‘Home of Queer As Folk’. One official UK booklet asks, “Isn’t it time you came out… to Britain?”

LOYAL LONG-STAY VISITORS
Market research reveals that gays express preference and loyalty to brands that publicly associate with them, whether airlines, cars or countries. “What might seem a very brave step to make isn’t that brave, really,” says London ad agency Quiet Storm as quoted by Time magazine. It notes that compared to straights, gays are on average “more affluent, more interested in style and brands, and travel more.” And with same-sex marriage growing, a new honeymoon niche will benefit resorts that let two men or two women book a bridal suite.

In the past, social taboos had inhibited tourism policy from marketing gay attractions. Now an official rethinking of this issue sees it as a global trend that creates tangible benefits for countries that embrace it.

The country’s reputation results in many gays becoming repeat and long-stay visitors. Gay-friendliness also over-rides factors that deter others, like SARS, bird flu or unrest. “Gays are more willing to part with their last baht here than a family is,” argues a Bangkok hotelier. “Even if they can’t really afford it, they will still come on a budget, just so they can come.”

GAY DOLLAR OUTSTRIPS MOST NATIONAL ECONOMIES
With their generally higher income, education and tastes for luxuries repeatedly proven in research, gays represent a grade-A consumer category. Same-sex couples earn proportionately even more, and without children cramping their disposable income.

At a staggering $610 billion, earnings by US gays and lesbians are more than three times greater than Thailand’s entire GDP. As Time noted, the UK fits a widespread pattern in that on average, gays earn 40% more and lesbians 25% more than straights. Of their total $130 billion earnings, gay Britons alone spend $5.6 billion a year on travel. That’s a lot of room service, facials and champagne brunches.

PINK BUSINESS
“Who actually pays for the deluxe suites at top hotels? It’s the gays!” exclaims the general manager of a Bangkok hotel seventy per cent frequented by followers of the rainbow-flag. Apply ‘gaydar’ to Bangkok’s five-star lobbies and you can see his point. Beyond room, restaurant and spa bookings, gays always mean business. Needless to say, Thailand’s fashion and design industries would wilt without gay sway over both production and purchasing.

Insiders admit that some buyers would skip Thai furnishing fairs were it not for the country’s R&R appeal to décor queens. And just count the clutches of pretty boys from elsewhere in Asia spending liberated weekends in Bangkok’s bars and boutiques. Many a gay Westerner exports Thai goods just so they can spend chunks of the year here, sourcing products and feeling sabai (relaxed).

PRIVATE FREEDOM, PUBLIC DISCRETION
“There’s not much of a gay movement in Thailand because there’s basically nothing to move against,” cooed the PlanetOut Gay Travel Awards in which Bangkok was the 2006 runner-up as Best International Destination. But foreigners wowed by the politeness, exoticism and diverse gay infrastructure often mistake tolerance for full acceptance. Like any personal matter in Thai society, private freedom comes at the cost of public discretion. Families often won’t discuss sexuality even if they suspect an offspring’s orientation, yet would never disown them. Thanks to that discretion, gays can rise high in society.

BANGKOK’S SOPHISTICATED SCENE
Just as Thailand has officially been shy about its gay appeal, queer venues tend to fringe fashionable locales so closets can enter unnoticed. Online portals like Utopia, Dreaded Ned’s and Fridae carry listings, as do free bilingual maps and magazines like Variety, Max, Sticky Rice, Thai Puen and PluGuide.

In downtown Silom Road, Sois 2, 2/1 and 4 brim with international style bars, restaurants, cafés, galleries, spas, clubs and shops, both male and mixed. Upmarket venues like Bed Supperclub have chic Pink Sunday parties and hosts Gyent, an elite gay club that runs trips, parties and other activities. Royal City Avenue now has a women-only club, Zeta. Asian visitors also find camaraderie in trendy Thai-Thai gay bar areas at Soi Sarasin, Kamphaengphet Road, Lad Prao and Ramkhamhaeng. As with their straight equivalents, host bars, escort services and massage parlours cater far more for locals, but are hidden in the suburbs, unlike the minority for tourists visible around Patpong and Sukhumvit.

CAMPING UPCOUNTRY
Sophisticated gay venues are also flourishing in the provinces. These include male-oriented hotels and tours, spas and bars. Pattaya is known for katoey (transvestite/’ladyboy’) cabarets, bars at Pattayaland Soi 3 and a stretch of Jomtien Beach favoured by gays. Phuket’s gay enclave centres on the Paradise Centre in Patong, while a new scene is developing at Chaweng on Ko Samui. Chiang Mai’s venues lag behind the city’s popularity among aesthetes appreciating the gentle Lanna culture.

REDEFINING GAY TOURISM
Capitalising further on gay tourism requires deeper consideration. Terms like homosexual (and its Thai equivalents) lead many to wrongly classify gayness solely by sexuality. Successful gay destinations recognise a broader definition that encompasses a camp sensibility, discerning tastes, community solidarity, and an outsider’s acute alertness to injustice.

Thailand is open to such values, albeit passively. Countries with the longest chapters in the Spartacus global guidebook cater to these needs proactively through help lines, sexual health provision, police training, anti-discrimination laws and hosting pride festivals.

Despite the genuine welcome to people of all kinds, taboos and unfamiliarity can spur false presumptions. Thais largely accept katoeys, but there’s less understanding of butch toms (women partnering ladylike dees) or straight-acting men-who-like-men. Some confuse saunas with prostitution despite them being the opposite: cheap yet opulent refuges where men can socialise specifically without buying a partner. Most problematic is inaccurate equating of tourism for gays with the bogeyword ‘sex tourism’.

LOVE, ACTUALLY
The catch-all term ‘sex tourism’ unleashes defensive emotions that can fuel a hysterical conflation of innocuous holiday romance with disturbing but marginal instances of exploitation. Most criticism seems reserved for the many elderly tourists finding Thai hospitality preferable to the ageism back home. As one Pattaya restaurateur remarks, “Thais are very nice to the older generation, whereas in Europe and America they think old people at nightclubs are almost immoral.” The nascent global trend in health-assisted housing for gay retirees will surely boom in Thailand.

Of course, travel has always led to cross-cultural relationships, proven by how few degrees of genetic separation relate all humanity. Provincial governors in Isaan encourage the economic benefits of non-Thai spouses. Inward investment from Thai-foreign gay partnerships is just as profound. Travel agents report high visitation to Isaan by gay tourists and long-term support of families there.

INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
Fortunately, reputable gay travel operators observe professional ethics, avoid sleaze, and earn endorsement from organizations like ILGTA (International Lesbian & Gay Travel Association). By the same token, destinations not meeting globalised gay standards can lose income overnight.

When Singapore liberalized its laws to tempt the lucrative new niche of nightlife tourism – which overlaps gay tourism – it lured custom from Bangkok during its social order crackdown. But when Singapore banned the massive gay Nation festival, post-tsunami Phuket welcomed Nation partygoers. According to Nation organizers Fridae.com, the last Singapore party generated US$5.8 million. Now Thailand gets that revenue. “We were 100 percent full,” Phuket’s Crowne Plaza hotel spokesman told Bloomberg News. “There are a lot of high-end gay tourists, and I think Asia-Pacific slowly but surely is discovering this.”

ONE GAY DAY
In growing its gay market share, Thailand doesn’t need to institute attractions, rather to facilitate conducive conditions, so that unwary organizations don’t inadvertently alienate the market. Nightlife rules and police briefings are two examples, festivals another. Gay magnets from Sydney and San Francisco to Berlin and Brighton base marketing around pride parades, which the wider public can enjoy. Pattaya and Patong officially support their gay parades with big success. However, Bangkok Pride is perennially hampered by lack of consensus, so organisers baulk at investing more in floats and festivities.

A delicate balance must be struck. Inappropriate promotion could ironically endanger qualities that gays prize in Thailand: privacy and sensitivity. Gays delight in the alternative character of their subculture, a cachet lost in even positive media glare. Constantly singled out at home – whether for oppression or commercialization – gays relish time spent in Thailand without intrusion or labelling, ensuring a more liberating and carefree holiday than the majority population would imagine.

If Thailand’s deserves its fame as a “gay paradise”, it’s because to many gays “paradise” is being treated normally.

Reproduced by courtesy of and copyright by Tourism Authority of Thailand

First Impressions

First Impressions

Mark Kiakai Writes: No, that’s not my first impression, but just too good not to post. More about that a bit later.

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As Asiaout’s new editor, I thought it might be interesting to tell you guys about my impressions of returning home to Thailand after spending many years in the UK, where I went to school and uni, and more recently worked for a while in the back room of a media company – that’s a back room, not a dark room :-)

I’ve only been back a few days and I guess its a mix of culture shock and enjoyment; the culture shock is not about traditional things Thai, but about how tatty and grubby things look after London (although that fair city has its issues too), how bad the traffic is, and how much litter gets thrown onto the streets. The enjoyment is being back with friends and family, and feeling comfortable in my environment; even after living in London for so long and getting a cockney accent (so I’ve been told), I was still sometimes made to feel out of place there.

Even if its not always genuine, you can get a ready smile and easy chat with anyone in Bangkok, unlike London where they think you must be up to no good if you break a smile on the Tube (MRT) or on the street – except of course when the other party is a handsome hunk!

One of my main impressions on getting home, surprisingly, was Facebook. Yes, I know Facebook has billions of members and yes its big in the UK too, but for some reason I’ve never joined, until I got back home a couple or so days ago.

Its been an education; lots of friendly guys, both Asian and western, all happy to interact, all happy to be friends. Initially it seems that my Thai FB friends are more willing or more likely to reveal their inner feelings of the moment, while the westerners are generally a bit more concerned with day to day life, trivia, and politics. Of course, this is an early impression taken from a small group.

What amazes me is that some guys have many thousands of FB friends – it must be impossible to interact with even half of them, and some of these guys seem to want to build big numbers of friends just to show off. Others are a bit more selective allowing only ‘real’ friends to add them. My other shock about Facebook is the amount of nudity and even porn you can see openly, which I thought was against the rules.

Now back to the vid at the top of the page. I couldn’t resist this silly but fun lipsinc vid from a very cute guy on Facebook, the title of which roughly translates as “White Legged Dancing Girl”. If I didn’t have a boyfriend I’d happily want to date him, “dancing girl” or not!

While it happens everywhere, it can be a shock sometimes to return to a place you haven’t seen for a while and find that it has changed so much. I come from Nonthaburi province, just outside Bangkok, and while some places look just the same, other places have changed so much they are almost unrecognisable, with new skytrain lines running above many of our local main roads, and tower blocks of offices and shopping malls where there used to be rice fields. And, and, the cost of living is much higher than before. In some cases I think some things are about the same price as in the UK!

Of course arriving home in the middle of the rainy season might not be the best idea but, for me at least, the rain is refreshing in the heat I’m not used to.

I have to get a driving license, and unlike the UK where it can take a couple of weeks or more, I can get one at my local Land Transport office in an hour or less, and I can update my ID card in about the same time or less. I’ve already got a local SIM for 3G service, and a new smart phone.

So now, my job is to post and edit news stories for myasiaout and prepare some features for the main Asiaout site right here. If anyone reading this thinks they have an interesting story to tell, about their lives or anything else, then please contact me.

The Encounter

The Encounter

“The Encounter” is a work of fiction!

Lek lay on the hot sand under a thatched beach sunshade, his brown eyes half closed against the glare of the afternoon sun, and slightly propped up by his arms which he had folded under his head. He occasionally opened his eyes a little wider to look around the almost deserted beach, his glances unseen through his sunglasses.

After some time dozing quietly, Lek noticed a figure walking slowly along the water’s edge and could see immediately that it was a Farang, his hair still damp from a recent swim. Lek watched idly as the foreigner walked slowly towards the beach shades where he lay. The stranger dropped onto a towel a few meters to Lek’s left and pulled off his white T-shirt, revealing a lightly matted, firm chest and a loose pair of blue shorts. The man must have been about 35 and quite ordinary looking, but he seemed to be in good shape.

After a few minutes, Lek lost interest and slipped back into the half doze he’d been in before the farang had arrived. He drifted away, until he felt the heat of the sun lessen and a breeze from the gently rolling ocean told him it was almost time to go. He opened his eyes just in time to see the farang look quickly away. The man had been watching him while he’d been sleeping! He sat up and stretched leisurely, letting the breeze caress his slim figure. He glanced again and saw that the farang was still looking at him, but this time he did not avert his gaze. Lek smiled at the man, as he smiled at everyone, and his smile was returned.

Lek stood up and began to put his few things into his bag, and adjusted his swim suit, which had allowed sand to irritate slightly around his thigh. He pulled on his shirt and as he did so the farang got up and came across to him. “Hello, do you speak English?”
“Yes,” replied Lek, glancing into the man’s eyes and being taken aback by their brilliant blue colour.
“Can you give me a light, please?” asked the man, holding cigarette to his lips.
Lek rummaged in his bag and produced a lighter.
“Thanks, what’s your name?”
“Lek,” Lek replied, looking him over discretely. He’d never met a farang before and had heard conflicting stories about them, but this one seemed to be polite and was reasonable looking.
“Hi, my name’s Mike, I’m from England. Do you live here?”
“Hello Mike. No, I’m here on vacation, like you I think.”
“Yes, that’s right. Look, can I get you a drink or something? It’s quite hot.”
“Thank you, but I’m just going back to my aunt’s house, my family expect me now for a meal.”

“Oh.” Mike looked quite disappointed. He hesitated for a moment and then said, “Well, could I meet you tomorrow? Maybe you can show me around.”
Lek considered quickly; he had no plans and it might be interesting to find out more about this foreigner. He looked up into those sharp, blue eyes.
“Yes, that is nice. Do you stay in a hotel?”
Mike smiled, “Yes, I’m at the Ocean, do you know it?” Lek nodded.
“Why don’t we meet there at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning?”
“That would be nice,” said Lek. “But now I have to go. Goodbye.” And with that he threw his bag over his shoulder and walked off up the sandy track. He wanted to look back but he was sure that the farang would be watching him. He walked to the end of the track to the parking lot and climbed into his car, thinking about the blue eyed stranger.

The next morning, Lek arrived at the Ocean Hotel dressed in a blue silk shirt and dark pants, and took a seat in the foyer. The hotel was a typical tourist hotel catering mainly to westerners. Within a few minutes Mike appeared. Lek smiled broadly at him, showing his brilliant white teeth.
“Good morning,” Mike said, “I’m glad you came.”
Lek smiled again, “Where would you like to go?”
“I don’t know how much time you have, but I’ve heard about a place called Nation’s Park – have you been there?”
“No,” replied Lek, “but I know where it is. It is about one hour by car.”
“OK, I’ll get a taxi,” said Mike, getting up to go to the reception desk. Lek jumped up a touched him lightly on the arm, saying “No, please I have a car, we can go in that.” Mike seemed surprised for a moment, then smiled cheerfully.
“Oh, well, fine. Are you sure you don’t mind?”
Lek just smiled again and lead Mike out of the hotel to where his car stood waiting. As Lek opened the door he said, “And it has air conditioning, so you won’t be too hot.”
They got in, and drove out into the heat and surging traffic.

They exchanged small talk as they made their way slowly through the busy streets towards the outskirts of the town, finally coming to a straight but dusty road running alongside a palm lined canal. Mike commented how about how peaceful and pretty it all was after the hustle of the town, and Lek nodded in agreement. He felt pleased that that they seemed to be getting along easily, and the Englishman made him feel relaxed. As they drove, he tried to explain to Mike about some of the things they passed on the side of the road, and a little about his country’s history. Mike listened, and asked a few questions. Lek noticed that most of them were about him, but he didn’t mind too much.

Eventually they arrived at their destination, Nation’s Park, which spread over several square kilometers of jungle and contained reproductions of some of the country’s finest temples and historical monuments. When they arrived, the park was deserted as the road leading to it was of poor quality, and on a weekday few people made the effort to get to it.

Lek drove slowly along the rough road into the park. “Take some photographs if you want to, he told Mike. “We can stop any place.” A short way inside the park, they came to a re-created traditional village. They parked and Lek led the way into the main street which, although perfectly reproduced, was totally deserted. Mike look along the street and said, “It’s the most beautiful place, and so peaceful; why don’t you stand there in front of that house and I’ll take some pictures.” Lek obliged him and dutifully posed where Mike asked, and it seemed that the man was taking more pictures of him than of the scenery. They walked slowly around the village for a while until Lek said, “Mike, we should go on, there is so much more to look at, even in one day.”

They drove further on, stopping to look at ancient houses and temples that appeared through the undergrowth at every corner. They made small talk, commenting about some of the sights, until they came upon a huge temple ruin, approached by a long flight of stone steps leading up through the jungle to the remains of a fabulous building high above the trees. At the foot of the ruin was a small refreshment stand selling cold drinks. They sat down facing each other, and ordered a cold lemon drink each. Lek realized that Mike was looking directly at him with those blue eyes again. Mike smiled broadly as he took a swig from his drink without taking his eyes off Lek’s. The meaning seemed quite plain; Lek took a drink too but looked away. He found Mike quite attractive but did not know how to react to this open behaviour. They finished their drinks and began to slowly climb the steps. Lek felt quite warm but he could see that Mike was beginning to sweat; the farang was not used to the heat.

Lek slowly undid his shirt, and then decided to take it off in the hope of catching some of the breeze filtering through the trees as they climbed. He noticed that Mike was looking at his body and smiled inwardly. He knew that he had a good physique and was happy to show it off. Mike kept shooting glances at him, running his eyes over his smooth, youthful chest. Halfway up the stone stairway, they came to a small side temple and stopped to admire the carvings, and to take a short rest. They sat together for a while in silence, listening to the jungle noises.

“Aren’t you afraid of getting bitten?’ Mike’s question bought Lek back to the present.
“The mosquitos usually come out in the evening, and I’ve never been bitten much anyway.”
Mike wiped the perspiration off his face, and asked, “You have a good body, how do you keep it like that?”
Lek smiled and quipped, “Climbing temples!” and they both laughed.

They stood up and continued their slow ascent up the long stairway until at last they arrived at the main temple building at the top of the hill. It was above the trees and a viewing platform gave a breath taking view across the countryside for many kilometers, with the town just visible away in the far distance. They explored the ruins for a while, then sat down on the wooden platform and admired the view. Lek was gazing into the distance when he suddenly realized that Mike had just kissed him on the lips. He looked around in surprise.

“I’m sorry, I hope you don’t mind.”
Lek looked at him for a moment, weighing him up; then he smiled and said softly,”I don’t mind, Mike, it was just unexpected.”
The man looked relieved and said, “Well, what if it’s not so unexpected?” and moved closer to him. Lek leaned against him and their lips brushed once again. Lek felt Mike’s arm on his back as they kissed more firmly. Lek liked the smell and taste of the man and relaxed, putting his arms around Mike’s neck. He felt the soft touch of hands exploring his back as they embraced.

Lek gently disentangled himself and smiled at Mike so as not to offend him, but it was after all a public place. Mike looked at him and said, “You know, I find you very attractive. I’d like to spend more time with you after today.”
Lek shaded his eyes to look up at Mike. “I’d like that. I’m on holiday for a short time.”
He felt happy to know that this pleasant farang was interested in him, and he was now certainly interested in Mike too. The rest of the day passed delightfully, with Lek receiving many a gentle kiss on neck and lips as they continued their tour of the park, eventually driving back to Mike’s hotel in the early evening. Lek politely refused an offer of dinner, saying, truthfully, that his family were expecting him to eat with them, but he agreed to meet Mike later and show him some of the night life.

At the appointed time, Lek arrived at the hotel foyer to find Mike already waiting for him. They walked together, chatting about their respective meals, and as they walked Mike asked Lek where they were going.
“The clubs are all near here, only a few minutes to walk. What kind of place do you want to go to?”
“I don’t know, we hear a lot in Europe about what goes on, but I don’t know where any of the places are.”
Lek smiled; he knew exactly what kind of place Mike want to see. They walked for a few minutes until they turned off the main road into a narrow street crowded with people, and suddenly there were dozens of neon lit frontages offering all kinds of exotic thrills, with pretty young girls, or handsome young men, standing outside each one attempting to lure the passers-by inside.

“Come on, Mike, we go in here.” He led Mike into a dark doorway, up a narrow flight of stairs and through a door at the top. They entered a large, dimly lit room with a small stage at the far end, to the right a small bar had a cluster of young men in shorts sitting around it, and a large crowd was seated facing the stage. Loud pop music played while colored lights flashed across the stage, and young waiters dressed only in g-strings and bow ties served drinks to the waiting audience. Lek watched Mike’s face with amusement – he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, and was pretending not to look at the very cute, and near naked, waiters.

Lek led the way to the last remaining seats facing the stage and they sat down.
“Mike, relax. You can look at everything, that’s why we are here!”
Mike smiled sheepishly, but relaxed and began to look around properly. Lek touched his arm.
“There’s more to come.”
“Like what?”
Lek laughed, “Just wait!”
After a short wait, the MC came on stage to a fanfare of music and made a witty announcement, which Lek translated as best he could. Then a bevy of dancing girls appeared and began a very passable show routine. Lek grinned at Mike’s bemused expression, then said, “You know that these girls are really boys, don’t you?”
Mike shook his head, and looked back at the stage with added interest. “They don’t look like it,” he said.
Lek squeezed his arm, “You’ll see.”
As the dance routine progressed, one of the ‘girls’ came to the front of the stage and, still singing, began to strip very slowly and erotically. Lek watched Mike’s face as the last piece of clothing fell away and the performer’s true sex was revealed amid ribald laughter from the audience.

Lek watched Mike during the performances; he could see clearly that the evening had proved to be an eye-opener. As the shows ended, Lek asked Mike wanted he would like to do next. He had deliberately asked to see what Mike would say.
“I think I’m quite tired now,” Mike said. “Perhaps we should go back.”
Lek led the way out, and even though it was after 1am it was still very warm, the streets were filled with vendors busy selling food, clothes, souvenirs, and all kinds of things. They strolled slowly through the crowds looking at the various offerings, and Lek bought a small snack but Mike declined when Lek offered him some.

As they arrived back at the hotel, Mike asked Lek if he would like to have some coffee with him. Lek took a chance, “Why don’t you show me your room and we can have our coffee there.”  Mike seemed quite happy with this suggestion as he collected his key. They stood in silence as the lift took them up. Lek had already decided how he wanted the evening to end, but was still not sure if Mike wanted things the same way. As they entered Mike’s room, Lek could see that the man was very tidy as nothing was out of place. As Mike rang for room service, Lek on the table light and turned off the overhead light. “It’s too bright, late at night,” he explained, as Mike smiled at him. They talked a little about Mike’s trip and his work in England until the coffee arrived.

Once the waiter had left and a few minutes had passed, Lek plucked up his courage and put his arms around Mike.
“This is for being a nice guy.” He kissed Mike full and hard. Mike responded eagerly and ran his hands over Lek’s back. Lek felt the man getting hard, which in turn made him do the same. Within a few minutes they were naked, locked in a passionate embrace on the king-size bed. Lek began to explore every inch of Mike’s body. He was turned on even more now that he could see the hair on the firm chest and well muscled arms. His mouth and tongue found every part of the pale body until Mike could no longer control himself. He pushed Lek down onto the bed and he, in turn, explored the young man’s smooth brown body.

Lek awoke to feel Mike’s arm across his chest, the white hairy arm contrasting vividly with his own dark and smooth skin. He lay quietly watching the early morning sun creep slowly across the hotel bedroom, highlighting the clothes that had been hastily scattered as their night lust had mounted. Lek savoured the memory of the sex they had enjoyed; Mike was the first farang he had been with and it had been a good experience, so far.

He carefully slid from Mike’s embrace and gathered up his clothes. After a long shower, he scribbled a few lines of hotel notepaper, worrying that his English wouldn’t be good enough. He wrote to tell Mike that he had to go back to his job in the capital today, and left his office phone number in the hope that he might get a call. He let himself out quietly and went downstairs to the reception desk where he ordered breakfast and flowers for Mike.

As he drove away from the hotel back to where his family would be waiting, he couldn’t help thinking about his brief time with Mike, but he knew the chances were small of seeing him again, and he knew nothing of the man’s plans.  For a few kilometers he drove in a mild daze, until he reached his aunt’s house. The family were all at breakfast and as he joined them his mother gently scolded him for not letting them know where he was.

After breakfast, he helped to load his and his father’s car with the vacation bags, and eventually moved off for the two hour drive to the capital. Lek went alone as he had to go direct to his office by 8.30am, and he didn’t like being late. He drove effortlessly, but at speed, along the three land highway, musing about the prospects of seeing his farang again.

He arrived in the city without incident and weaved his way through the dense traffic to his office. He worked for a tour company based in one of the big luxury hotels, where he welcomed foreign visitors, arranged sightseeing tours, airline tickets, pills for upset stomachs, and generally catered to their every whim, or almost. While he was always polite, he found most of these foreigners to be boring and generally ignorant, but occasionally someone came along who was more interesting, and he had even managed to become a penpal for a couple of these former customers. He was fascinated by western culture and longed to have the chance to visit a western country.

The next few days were routine and uneventful, as the usual mixture of tourists’ complaints and staff problems kept him busy, and his thoughts of Mike gradually receded, until on the Friday afternoon he was talking on the phone to a tour bus driver up-country who had broken down. The office door opened and a farang came in, Lek waved him to a seat without really looking at him.

After a moment, he looked up, intending to indicate that he would not be long; his heart jumped as he saw Mike sitting there looking straight into his eyes, just as he had done on that first day. They exchanged smiles, and Lek waited impatiently as the bus driver laboriously explained his problems in fine detail. Lek made a few notes as he listened, smiling at Mike as he did so. Eventually, the unfortunate bus driver ran out of words and Lek was able to hang up.
“Mike! How are you? It’s so nice to see you.”
“HI Lek. I’m fine, and you?”
“Oh, Mike, I’m very well. What are you doing here? It’s such a surprise.”
“I’m staying here in the hotel. I’s part of my vacation booking. I have a week here before I go home. I was looking around the hotel and I was in the shop next to your office when I saw you through the window. I rang your number a few times but couldn’t get through. Now I’ve found you I feel much happier.”
“Mike, I’m very happy to see you. Can I see you tonight? I have a lot of work to do, and I have to see my sister in the evening, but I’d like to meet you after that.”
“I’d love to. What time?’
“About nine thirty. I’ll meet you at reception.”
As Mike left, Lek felt elated; he was really beginning to like the farang a lot, but was disappointed that they would only have a week more together. He tried not to think about that, only to anticipate the few coming days and the time they would spend together.

As the day wore on, he became absorbed in his work, with no time to think of other things, until eventually he was able to lock up the office for the day. As he made his way to the hotel parking lot, he began to anticipate the evenings events. As he drove across the city he allowed the surging traffic to to carry him along to the city hospital where his sister worked. He drove into the compound and managed to find a place to park between two ambulance, one of which seemed to have hastily abandoned, it’s rear doors hanging open. He made his way up to the third floor where his sister, a charge nurse, worked. He spent a few minutes talking to her and took a bag of food from her for their mother. He said ‘goodbye’ and left.

He arrived home about 40 minutes later, pulling into the front drive of the house where he lived with his father, mother and two sisters. The dogs ran barking a welcome as he let himself in. No-one was home, so he left the food in the kitchen, then went upstairs to his room and ran the shower in the bathroom. He stripped off his sticky clothes, stepped under the spray and began to lather himself with perfumed soap. He stood and stretched himself in enjoyment as he washed. He soaped his firm chest, then his slim, flat stomach, and between his legs. He thought about Mike and began to get hard; he played with himself gently for a while, lost in thought. Then he briskly showered off the soap and stepped out, looking for the towel hanging behind the door. He felt excited now, wanting to bed Mike as soon as he saw him, but he knew he would have to wait if Mike wanted to go out somewhere. He tried to think about something else as he dried himself and got dressed. He scribbled a note to his mother to let her know he would be out very late.

As he came down the stairs from the hotel parking lot, he could see Mike sitting in the reception lounge waiting for him. Although the hotel was busy with people milling around, he walked silently up behind Mike and covered the man’s eyes with his hands. Mike jumped slightly, then pulled the hands away and looked around. He broke into a wide smile and said softly, “Hello sexy.”
Lek smiled back. “Do you really think so?”
“On yes, certainly,” Mike confirmed. “Where would you like to go? Have you had dinner yet?”
“No, I didn’t have time. And you?”
“No. I was hoping we could eat together somewhere nice. Can you suggest something?”
“You want to eat inside or outside?”
“Let’s try outside. Do you know a good place?”
“Yes. Come on, I know a place you will like.”
As they entered the parking lot, Lek saw Mike looking quickly around, and then felt himself being grabbed as Mike kissed him hard and passionately. He eagerly responded, enjoying the feel of the foreigner’s body. A car squealing up the ramp caused them to jump apart suddenly, and they both burst out laughing, the sound echoing around the concrete walls. As they got into the car, Lek turned up the air conditioning, remembering that Mike found the heat uncomfortable.

Lek listened to Mike as he chattered, trying to make sure he understood every word as Mike asked him the kind of questions westerners always asked. After a drive of about an hour, through the nose-to-tail evening traffic, they emerged into the city’s outskirts along a broad boulevard lined with restaurants and houses, so generously spaced out that they looked as if they were relaxing under the night skies. Lek turned into a parking lot at the edge of the road and stopped. Several car jockeys vied for the right to park the car, and he handed his keys to the best looking boy he could see, and then they were escorted by another young guy to the side of a small lake, where a boat was waiting. They climbed in and Lek sat closely beside Mike, feeling the heat of his body against him. When the boat was full, the oarsman at the back began to weave towards an island about 200 meters away, where traditional houses had been linked together, with seats inside and out, to create a restaurant. Music drifted across the water as the boat rocked gently towards the island, and Lek felt himself being carried away in a mood of romanticism as he pressed against Mike in the dark.

They arrived at a small jetty and clambered off the boat; the restaurant seemed to be very busy but there were still a few tables free, so Lek led Mike to one in a quieter spot away from the main crowds. Mike was just about the only westerner there and he attracted a few glances from curious diners, unaccustomed to a white face in such an out-of-the-way place. They settled themselves at the table as attentive waiters lit the candles and presented the menu; they picked a selection of dishes, with Lek trying to find dishes that would not be too spicy, as the chef here made no concessions to western tastes.

They ate slowly with just a little conversation as the air of romance and relaxation overcame them both. Lek moved his chair closer to Mike and their knees rubbed; Lek had no awareness of anything other than Mike and his strong blue eyes. He hardly noticed what he was eating and could only see those eyes. He was ecstatic and wished for the moment to last forever. They talked softly and held hands under the discrete veil of the tablecloth, while waiters sensed their mood and left them alone in the dreamy world inhabited only by themselves.

All too soon, the meal ended and they had to leave, softening the deep mood, but still Lek felt dreamy hearted as the boat slowly moved back towards the jetty where the car jockeys waited. As they reached the jetty and stood to disembark, Lek pretended to stumble and fell against Mike, holding onto him as long as he dared. They stepped off the boat and found the car waiting with the engine running. Mike handed the attractive boy a generous tip and they pulled out into the night. Lek felt Mike’s hand on his thigh as he asked, “What would you like to do now?”
“Bed,” came the answer, “with you.”

The mood persisted as they headed back to the hotel, and once they were safely in the room, Lek could not hold back any longer. He threw his arms around Mike and they kissed passionately as Lek began to pull off the man’s clothes as fast as he could, his tongue finding each inch of flesh as it was exposed. He hardly noticed tearing off his own clothes but very soon they were both naked, with Mike flat on his back as Lek lay across him, tickling his nipples with the end of his darting tongue. For hours, they caressed and kissed each other, and as they did so Lek knew his passion was mixed with love for his gentle farang. He felt as if he was flying above the clouds with Mike, away from the world. Eventually they made love; with passionate violence, and with gentle compassion. It went on seemingly endlessly until finally, as the dawn began to show across the city, they exploded together in an orgasm the like of which Lek had never experienced. His mind was a whirl of rushing colors and noises, that swept across his whole body, and left him suddenly sweaty and exhausted. He could feel himself shaking as they lay together and waited, unspeaking, for sleep to claim them. Lek drifted away, holding onto his man.

He entered a new realm where became a kind of angel walking across soft multi-colored fields. There were other people about, but they seemed to be only undefined shapes that he caught glimpses of out of the corner of his eye. He was walking towards a glorious golden temple; the movement seemed effortless, as if he was on the Moon, but although the temple came nearer as he progressed, it never seemed to get as close as it should. He speeded up, he had to reach the temple because inside he knew he would find what he had been looking for, the one thing that he needed to go on living. He didn’t know exactly what he was looking for but would know when it saw it. He began to run now, the ground just a blur under his feet as he sped along, the initial euphoria replaced by a slight anxiety as the temple still did not get any closer. He could feel his chest ache as he increased his speed and then, suddenly, he was there, the brilliant golden doors glistening in the sunlight and stretching high into the sky above him. He pushed at one of the doors, which slowly, but very slowly, opened inwards, the weight pushing back at him as if reluctant to let him enter. He forced an opening wide enough to squeeze through and came into a golden room, the ceiling so high it was lost in the wispy clouds. Across the room rose a high curtain of shimmering colors, behind which Lek knew he would find what he had been searching for. The feeling of euphoria began to rise again as he approached the heavy material, that moved as if alive in the still room. He reached out to touch it and, as he did so, felt a shock of energy that found his very bones. The curtain vanished; before him stood a mighty god, clothed in gold and silk. As he watched in awe, he saw the hazy face gradually take form. It was Mike’s face, but with an indefinable difference. His heart lifted, “Mike!” he cried, reaching out, but as he did so the god-Mike looked down at him and a thunderbolt shot from his eyes driving itself deep into Lek’s body.

He awoke with a jerk, feeling fluid on his abdomen. He saw the real Mike lying close, watching him with a smile, and realized that the man had bought him to an orgasm whilst he had been asleep. The dream disturbed him a little, but he shrugged it off as he thought with pleasure how he had been woken. He kissed Mike gently on the lips and got up to take a shower.

When he came out of the shower he realized that it was midday already,  and that he should have been at work. He called his office, telling them he’d been feeling unwell but would be in soon. Mike was still dozing in bed as he dressed. Lek shook him gently, saying, “Mike, I have to go to work now. Please wait for me at seven when I finish.”
Mike smiled at him, “OK, I’ll see you in the coffee shop later.”
They kissed, and Lek slipped out, trying to avoid any of the hotel staff who knew him, and he managed to get to his office without being spotted. The day passed in a haze, and his colleagues took the strange mood as a sign of his feigned illness and said nothing.

When seven o’clock came, he waited for the other staff to leave, then locked up and made his way to the coffee shop where Mike was waiting. Each time he saw him now, his heart soared as if given fresh life. As he sat down, Mike took his hand and squeezed it. “Lek, I’ve been thinking a lot about us; we’ve got to know each other well, and I think we feel the same way about each other.” Lek smiled into his eyes and wondered what was coming next.
“You know that I have to go back to England quite soon, but I don’t want us to forget things when I go.”
Lek looked down, not wanting to think about the future, even though it was very close. “I won’t forget you Mike.”
“I know. But we can do better than that; how would you like to come and live with me in London?”
Lek could hardly believe his ears, he began to say something, stammering in surprise, not really knowing what to say. Mike stopped him.
“Don’t think about it now. It’s a big step to take to go to a foreign country. I want you to think about it for a while and let me know how you feel.”
Lek was stunned. Much as he felt he loved Mike, he had not expected an invitation to live with him in his country. His head was spinning with so many thoughts about what to do, or how it could be done. He sat silently sipping at his coffee.
“Are you all right?” Mike asked.
Lek nodded, confused. He smiled and said, “Mike, you are kind to me. I have to think about what you have said, about what my family will say, so many things…..”
Mike touched his arm gently. “Don’t be upset. Just take some to think about it. I’d like you to see my home and my country, and I hope we can share our lives together. I know it would be a big thing for you, so think about it carefully. If you say ‘no’, I’ll understand.” They drank their coffee in silence as they both considered what had been said. Finally, Mike touched Lek on the arm and said, “Let’s have dinner.”
“I know a nice place,” remarked Lek.
“Come on then, sexy, lead the way.”

They walked slowly up to the parking lot which was busy with people coming and going; they climbed into the car and once again  drove slowly down the ramp into the hot evening air. The traffic, as usual, was snarled into an almost continuous line of seething metal, crawling along at a snail’s pace, with small vehicles suddenly darting out of small side turnings, and trucks groaning under the enormous loads they carried. Despite the fumes and the noise, everyone was used to it, and competition for each inch of space was fairly good natured. Lek was lost in thought as he drove and hardly noticed what was going on around him. He couldn’t stop thinking about what Mike had said to him, and how he could arrange to go to England, what his parent’s would say, what Mike’s home would be like, what England would be like; he felt dizzy thinking about it and was glad when they got to their destination and he could relax again.

They went into a small, intimate restaurant on the second floor of a shopping mall and found a quiet table in the corner. Lek’s evening passed before it knew it, being so lost in thought. He suddenly realized that they had finished their meal and he had hardly spoken to Mike.
“Oh Mike, I’m so sorry, I’m thinking about everything. I didn’t mean to ignore you.”
“I know, don’t worry. I’ve filled you head with all this, I understand.”
They drove back to the hotel; this time Lek made an effort to chat with Mike and it brought him back to earth a little. When they arrived, Mike asked Lek if he would like a coffee.
“Mike, I don’t want coffee, I want to make love with you.”
“I think that’s what I meant,” said Mike. “Let’s go up.”
They went up to the room and were quickly in bed. They made love urgently but gently in the darkness with only the rustling of the sheets and their heavy breathing betraying their presence. Afterwards, as they lay in each others arms, Lek felt that he had found someone to take care of him and to protect him. He had made his decision and it only remained to sort out the logistics of how to achieve it.

Over the next few days, Lek spent as much time as he could with Mike, knowing that once Mike left, it would be a long time before they would see each other again. As the fateful day approached, Lek felt his heart aching at the thought of being parted from his lover, who had been so strong, and so kind to him. Inevitably, the day dawned; Lek had spent their last night with Mike in the hotel, and helped him to pack his bags in the morning. He checked the room thoroughly to make sure Mike did not leave anything behind.

They went down to the coffee shop to have a last breakfast together, and chatted about inconsequential matters, neither of them really knowing what to say. Lek took a note of Mike’s email address and phone numbers and had memorized them almost as soon as he had read them. They sent a bell boy up to the room to get Mike’s bags while Lek collected his car and drove it around to the front of the hotel, where the bags were loaded into the trunk.

Mike appeared with a huge bunch of red roses and presented them to Lek, who was embarrassed but delighted, discretely kissing his cheek. They set off from the hotel towards the airport, trying to keep the conversation cheerful. As they approached the airport entrance, Lek could feel his spirits slipping fast and made a real effort to hold back the tears. He parked the car while Mike found a baggage trolley; after unloading Mike’s bags they entered the terminal building which, although busy, was uncrowded and spacious.

Lek waited as Mike checked his bags in at the airline desk and double checked his flight departure time; he smiled at Lek and said, “We’ve got time for a coffee, would you like one?”
Lek nodded. He didn’t know what to say; he couldn’t stand it now and almost wished they’d never met, only to be parted by such a vast distance. They found a seat with a view of the runway, Lek struggled not to cry as he watched the aircraft taking off outside, knowing that very shortly another one would take off carrying his Love, bound for a strange country on the other side of the world. The tears began to come now, he wiped them away hoping Mike wouldn’t see. He turned away just as Mike’s flight was called, and was thankful that his Love had been distracted before he saw Lek’s tears.

The next few minutes were a blur. A brisk walk to the departure area, a quick hug while being jostled by departing passengers, and Mike was gone. Lek was devastated, felt empty and alone, and helpless. Tears streaming down his cheeks he ran out to his car, angry at the world for taking his man away. He struggled with the key and started the engine, wiping his eyes as he made his way towards the highway outside the airport. He was briefly blinded by his salty tears and as he turned onto the busy highway, he did not saw the fully loaded gas tanker as it ploughed in the side of his car. Lek was thrown violently through the front windscreen, the glass shredding his face and body, then landed with a sickening thud on the concrete road, cars and trucks screeching to avoid him and the wreckage of his car.

As his life slipped away, Lek looked up into the heavens and saw a British Airways jumbo jet pass overhead in a halo of sunlight.

Confessions Of A Moneyboy

Confessions Of A Moneyboy

We met a guy who works the bars and discos around Bangkok’s Silom and Suriwong Roads, and he agreed to anonymously talk about his lifestyle as a male prostitute. We’ll call him Art (not his real name).

When I Smile And Show Some Flesh, They Do Things My Way

Where are you from, and how old are you?
ART: I’m 23 and come from Korat in [tooltip title="" content="Isaan = North East Thailand" type="classic" ]Isaan[/tooltip].
How long have you been in Bangkok?
ART: About four years.
Have you been selling yourself all that time?
ART: Yes, a friend told me it was a good way to make some easy money.
Were you a virgin when you first started out?
ART: No, but I didn’t have much experience, and I’d never met a[tooltip title="" content="Farang = Caucasian." type="classic" ] farang[/tooltip].
When you first started, what did you think?
ART: I wasn’t sure about going with foreigners, but I quickly found out that most of them were easy to control.
What do you mean?
ART: When I smile and show them some flesh, they do things my way.

I Have It All Going For Me

Do you work in a bar, or are you a freelancer?
ART: I’m a freelancer, I like to please myself.
Do you enjoy what you do?
ART: I’m used to it, I don’t mind, and I can work when I want to.
Do you think you are successful?
ART: You mean do I make good money, or do I make my tricks happy?
Do you make good money?
ART: Yes, pretty good, but some months are not so good. Better than working in a bar or office.
Some moneyboys don’t do so well, why do you do well?
ART: I have a big personality, and I know that farangs think I’m cute, so I have it all going for me.
How do you find your customers?
ART: I have some regular guys that call me up, and I work the bars around Silom at night.

I’m Not Sure I’m Gay

Do you have a regular boyfriend?
ART: No!
Why not?
ART: I’m not sure that I’m gay.
So do you have a girlfriend?
ART: No, but sometimes I play with a girl if I’m in the mood.
How many guys do you have sex with in a week?
ART: That’s difficult to answer, sometimes six or seven, sometimes more, sometimes less.
Do you go with anyone who asks you?
ART: I did when I first started out, but not now unless I’m short of money, and that’s not very often.
Do you ever have problems with your customers?
ART: When I first started out, I had a couple of difficult guys, one would not pay even after we agree how much. But now. I don’t pick up guys that are drunk of seem weird in some way.
Do you make your customers happy?
ART: I think so, I try to judge what the guy likes, and keep him happy, and not rush too much like some of my friends do.
So what kind of guy will you go with?
ART: He has to be clean and neat, and if he looks like he has plenty money, that’s great.

I Don’t Think It’s Right Or Wrong

Why does it matter as long as he pays you?
ART: I don’t like smelly or untidy guys.
I mean, about money.
ART: Oh, if he has some money, maybe he would see me again, buy me some gold, take me to a nice place for eating, things like that.
Sounds like you want a boyfriend.
ART: Not at all. Like I said, I’m not sure that I am gay. I just want some nice things and a nice lifestyle.
Do you get gifts from your customers? What kind of things?
ART: Mobile phone, gold jewelry, a trip upcountry, a TV. Guys have given me all these things before.
Do any of these guys consider you as their boyfriend?
ART: Yes a few do, and I’m happy to play them along while I can earn something from them.
Do you think that is right?
ART: I don’t think it is right or wrong. They are happy and I’m happy.

Have You Ever Had An AIDS Test?

Have you ever felt that one of your customers was something special, something different?
ART: Hmm, yes, there’s a couple of guys who are like that, almost like an uncle. They understand what I’m doing and don’t judge me for it.
When you have sex with a customer, will you do anything he asks you to do?
ART: Most of the time it’s just f**king and sucking, I’m fine with that. Sometimes a guy might want something a bit weird, if it’s something I’m comfortable with I might do that for extra money.
Do you prefer to be a king or queen (top or bottom)?
ART: At first I was only a king (top) but now I can accept being f**ked I do both, whatever makes my trick happy.
And do you practice safe sex with your customers?
ART: If I’m going to f**k him, always, but if he wants to f**k me, then it’s up to him. I will tell him to use a condom but if he doesn’t I don’t say anything.
Why not?
ART: I don’t want to upset my trick, I don’t want to lose my money.
Have you ever had an AIDS test?
ART: Yes, a couple of years ago.
What was the result?
ART: I was clear.
And what about now?
ART: What do you mean?
Don’t you think you should get tested more often?
ART: What for? I’ve been tested.

Are You Ever Asked To Do Strange Things?

Do guys ask you to do strange things?
ART: Sometimes, like three or four guys together, or ask me to slap them.
Slap them?
ART: Yes, you know, on the ass. Some guys like that.
What else?
ART: I had some guy ask to piss on me, and one guy want to tie the rope around me.
And did you let them?
ART: I’m not saying.
When you are in a bar looking for a customer, do the bar managers know what you are doing?
ART: I think most do, but they don’t bother me if I behave well, and don’t hassle their customers.
So you just sit and wait for someone to talk to you?
ART: Usually. Someone will smile, or come up to me. I will smile at any likely trick, but if he doesn’t show interest I don’t push it. I don’t want any problems with the places I’m working in.
What do you do with the money you earn?
ART: Well I have to eat and pay my rent, but I send money to my family every month too.
Do they know what you do for a job?
ART: No, I told them I’m a tour guide.

I Hear That You Are Buying A Condo

I heard that you are buying a condominium.
ART: Yes, I just put the deposit on it last week. It will be finished in about a year, then I will have my own place.
That must be expensive, how can you do that?
ART: I saved quite a lot of money that guys sent to me; I want to have a comfortable life. My home was in a small wooden house in the ricefields. It’s not very nice way to live, and now I can do better..
Do you know many other money boys who can buy a condo or house?
ART: No; most of my friends just spend the money when they get it. I want a nice place to live, so I saved my money.
What do you do in your free time?
ART: I love to karaoke, or play bowling and watch a movie with my friends.
Who is the most important person in your life?
ART: My mother. She means everything to me.

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