CAN A PLACE-NAME GET YOU A BAD NAME?

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How place-names can get us bad names

Can a place-name get you a bad name? The monosyllabic answer is “yes”. Other answers are “yes-yes” and “yes-yes-yes”. A place-name can get you a bad name!

I was on a plane flying back to Thailand and got talking to a couple. I said I lived near Bangkok so as not to give away my exact location — Pattaya! Later on in our friendship the guy (married to an English lady by the name of Liz) told me his daughters back in the UK complain that whenever they tell friends and acquaintances where mum and dad live, people say, “Oh, really?! Why?” Yes, Pattaya gives you a bad name. And until its seediness, vice, licence to “love”, are revoked, it will continue to do so. And that is how it should be. Those daughters I mentioned are middle-aged and work for British Airways so when they complain I imagine they do so with good reason. Their associates will know something about Pattaya. So will they.

A place-name with a bad name

Just as Pattaya gets you a bad name so too does Paris get you a good name (if you love croissant and café au lait). So too does Roma if you love pizza, piazza and artistic excellence. So too does London if you love bridge, business and beer. Yep, though I hate to generalise, places brand folks, and it’s the same the world over in my humble opinion.

Eat them in Paris and get yourself a good name.

Place-name branding gets to work in other ways, too. Say for instance I live in Bangkok. That’s sort of OK…but if I go to Nana Plaza on a Saturday night, that’s not so good. If I stay in Nana Hotel, that’s not so good, either, and so on. Soi Cowboy? Why would any decent guy want to go to a soi named Soi Cowboy?

Indeed, coming to Thailand in itself is not the cleanest of statements. Single males travelling here regularly are not seen as being here for the temples and Thailand’s beautiful national parks. At least, the ones I’ve met are not seen as that type of tourist.

There again, it’s where we end up – in that guest house just down the road from L.K. Metro, in a hotel off Walking Street. Or we go to Phuket but end up near the strip clubs. Now, why would that be? And what about Bangkok? Huge, overwhelming, hazed and phased out by purple pollution which you take in from the seventh floor of your high-rise hotel room while Onanong takes a shower or combs her hair in front of a long mirror. She will be as naked as the day she was born but at twenty-seven she won’t be making you think, “Oh, what a lovely, sweet baby.” She is honey-brown with a magnificent, curvy bottom, heavy breasts with large, brown nipples, and her pussy has been shaved. Her long, dark hair gleams in the late-morning sunlight which you decide to let in through an open window. “Nooo,” she complains, “mosquitoes.” “Really?” “Leally’” she clarifies. R can be L in Thai and in IngThai, too. So, where are you this time? Just off Nana Plaza. And what’s down the road from you, only one Skytrain stop away? Soi Cowboy as mentioned before — with its a go gos, bars and girls. I’m repeating myself, of course. For emphaisis. To make clear that bad names are forever.

Here's Soi Cowboy. Now how many good guys can you spot here?

And bad choices are forever, too, of course. Do not be a single male coming to Thailand regularly. Thailand itself gets you a bad name. No need to mention Pattaya or Phuket, and definitely do not say where your humble abode abodes.

Now, I know a relatively proud, English guy who is single, 73 and lives in Pattaya, in the klang part, the central part, and he swears it is a travesty that we are all tarred with the same brush and seen as sex-tourists. It is also an assumption we are here in Pattaya for sex. He implies, more than implies, he is not a sex tourist. And that’s great. I’m happy he’s not. I’m happy for him. I often see his bicycle parked near massage parlours and a go go bars.

Smiling bicycles in the Land of Smiles

I have known him for many years, and I was rude to him on one occasion and he ignored me for two years, thereafter patching it up. Patched up, we got talking again. He has been round to my house, has met my son, and knows my Thai partner. His Facebook page sometimes has photos of him at local church events. One time a Facebook photo got posted showing him sitting in his room. In the mirror behind him the photographer showed up, smiling, pretty, feminine, Thai, young. Very young.

Read and get yourself a bad name.

I told him about a novel I had published and I think he perused one or two of my blogs. Quite suddenly and for no apparent reason he ignored me as he had done when we definitely had quarrelled those few years back. I lamented that we were not talking and he sent me a Line message saying he preferred good company now that he was approaching death. He wished for inspirational role-models. That was the gist but with all the places in the world to choose from, he chose to come to Pattaya. He chose to fill his Facebook pages with female contacts. He parks his bike near massage parlours. He drinks in bars with bar-girls. He is seen on his bike or off it in Soi Buakhao just off L. K. Metro with its long, L-shaped street of a go gos, bars and eateries but especially with the Devil’s Den where allegedly girls stand on a divide, a yellow line, where on one side they do everything and on t’other side almost everything. I’m not going to go into details here because I have no first-hand experience. It’s hear-say. It’s a bad name.       

However, surely, I say to that guy looking for models, surely there are better places to choose if he really does desire inspirational role-models, but his life-statement has already shouted out loud and clear just why inspirational role-models are so dearly coveted! Most of us lousy guys here in Pattaya just settle for models – if we are lucky enough to get one on our arm for the right reason, affection, not the wrong reason, money.

Choices are roads we take, and our choices define us and indicate to others what we have chosen and what we have not chosen. I am not saying everyone’s choice is a free choice, far be it from me to say that, but choose we do. “Prisoners of our own device”? or not?

I for one will not choose to die in the UK in a politically correct room on my own, devoid of happiness and female company. Indeed, here in my house, it is my partner who tells me I am now surrounded by pussy – her, her daughter, and her daughter’s daughter (no Thai dad –a wopping, great shame). And I joke that because I am surrounded by pussy, I will only choose to go to gay bars in the future.

Ah, yes, to be surrounded by pussy in my own house, but that, to an extent, is the choice of destiny and not so much my own choice. Or am I being too simplistic? Yes, I’m being too simplistic. Another result of my choosing to live in Pattaya, to live with my Thai partner, to buy a three-bedroom house, is her daughter moving in, and Alicuccia coming along, a fatherless, Thai, baby-girl who I hope will make it against all the odds.

   

The place where my inspirational role-model lives (when I look in it).

It’s nine o’clock, and I need to cheer myself up by going in search of inspirational role-models. I say to myself looking in the mirror, “Shall I go out to the bars to find them?” A smug smile settles on the old fisog. “Nope,” I say aloud, “I’m looking at that inspirational role model.” I kiss the mirror and notice my head growing bigger. Na has been watching me. “Jon, chan huang maak maak. Khun ting tong maak kwaa. Nai anarkhot, maak kwaa, maak maak.” (Jon, I’m really worried. You’re crazy and in the future you’ll be worse!)

Well, who am I to disagree?

 

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