Standard swim gear for women out here in Buriram isn’t on par with the West, nor with the tourist areas of Thailand. Country chicks tend to wear a t-shirt and shorts. The community pool in the city has a regulation against this, so most girls wear full piece swimsuits. Full piece swimsuits I couldn’t imagine wearing when I’m sixty. Full piece swimsuits I couldn’t imagine wearing if I was sixty in 1960. Bikinis seem to be out unless you’re a hooker with the Farang-of-the-week-you-picked-up-in-Pattaya-and-brought-back-to-meet-your-family-to-prove-you-really-do-love-him. And even that’s rare. They usually cover up too.
So, I’ve taken to wearing a mock turtleneck, a fully sleeved rashguard and a pair of bikini bottoms. I show less skin than the Thais. I’ve done this for a few reasons: 1. to respect the culture I’m living in while not resembling a polyester table cloth, 2. to protect my skin and 3. as a deterrent against the screw face meanness thrown my way by a lot of Thai women and the sketchy leering scumbag jeers from some Thai men.
I enjoy my time at the pool and often attract crews of Thai kids. This is normal. So are the discussions about my ass.
Boys, girls, it doesn’t matter. The onset of discussion is often the same. Some of the most common:
“You have a big ass.”
“You’re not fat. Why is your ass so big?”
“You have a small face and a big ass.”
“Is it normal for Farang women to have big asses?”
I’m writing this with a tape measure beside me. My hips are currently a little over thirty-seven inches. That places me at a North American size 5/6.
I pay no mind to this. I realize most of these cats have never spoken to a Foreign (Farang) female before, perhaps never to a Farang at all. And the feel is never one of malice or judgment. It just sort of is.
This was pretty much going on when I met a crew of twelve to fourteen year old Thai boys recently. Didn’t think much of it. I’d swim laps, they’d wait for me armed with questions, chase me down the side of the pool, laugh, joke, ask me to teach them how to swim…all pretty standard.
Then one of them caught me alone. He was standing above me on the concrete.
He leaned in, “Have you ever had sex before?”
I told him I didn’t understand the question.
I’m not schooled in the Thai art of politely telling someone to Fuck Off. Literally telling a Thai to Fuck Off seems to validate a ten Thai on one Farang beatdown. So, at the time, I did what I’ve often seen Thais do. Evade. Evade. Evade. I also thought, ‘Wow, this kid has no idea how old I am’ and continued my laps. The other kids came back. I thought the moment had passed.
Eventually, he was waiting for me alone again. Crouched in the shadow of a diving podium, his tiny wet body was curled low. His voice a fevered whisper.
I had no idea what he was on about. He was too excited. I asked him to repeat the question. And he did…….as he whipped down his lycra swimshorts and showed me the top of his penis. He then proceeded to beat off. Quickly.
“Have you ever seen a kid’s dick before?”
Not being prepared for this situation I shouted, “OOOiiiiiiii….I’m not interested” then swam away. Half way down the Olympic sized pool I thought, ‘Did that just happen?’
There he was, waiting for me at the other end.
Again, fevered discourse I didn’t understand. Partially due to the rate he was speaking at and partially, I believe, because he was talking street dirty to me. They don’t teach you that in any Thai language course I’ve come across. I’m starting to think they should.
Regardless, I picked up one thing he had said…he offered his services for 2,000 baht, approximately $65 USD. The average Thai farmer out here makes approximately 150 baht a day. Do the math.
I was still in some sort of shock. Oftentimes, due to language barriers, I think…Nah, maybe I misunderstood. They couldn’t have said THAT. I answered in English before I turned to swim.
His response carried no anger. He simply asked,
The tone reminiscent of one who has just offered what they think to be the chance of a lifetime and can’t remotely understand why you wouldn’t be down.
The denial in me crept up. This kid can’t be serious.
“Wait, maybe I didn’t understand you. What do you want?”
Confusion on his face. A call from the other side of the pool. A polite good-bye and off he ran.
Some people have asked why I didn’t tell the desk at the pool. Language and culture. I didn’t know the word for masturbate. Picturing myself up at the front trying to mime or draw what had happened provoked a few scenarios:
1. the guy wouldn’t understand what I was on about,
2. he would think I was offering it to him (more bent things have happened here),
3. if he didn’t think I was offering it, the act may provoke him to ask for it anyhow, and
4. even if he did understand, my experience with the Thai way of dealing with such issues is generally to either have a laugh at it or tell me it didn’t happen. That I don’t understand Thai culture and he probably meant something else.
Evade. Evade. Evade.
And if I did get my point across and he wanted to know who it was? I had little more than, “One of the black kids that just left”. Which describes every boy in the pool. Every day. Light skinned Thais generally don’t swim here in Buriram. They’re afraid of being black. But I’ll save that subject for another time.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
For Thailand solo travel and safety tips, in addition to Thailand information you won’t find in traditional tourist guides, please visit my post Tips For Women Traveling To Thailand.