Celine has left + depressing book
Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
69Trip End Nov 10, 2011
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Where I stayed
Last night, we headed for an upscale thai restaurant close to Charly's bungalow, for our last dinner together. She was catching a plane for BKK at 10:30 pm and would sleep at the airport, waiting to catch her - dreadful - air India flight back to Paris. So, since last night, i am alone again. It feels really weird and I had a terrible night : I feel a bit sick from the oxygen (sore throat) and am therefore coughing all the time. Best remedies I eventually found : hot Ginger drink and tiger balm on my chest and throat. Worked like a dream but it was already 4 am. I woke up at 10:30 this morning, still exhausted, feeling much alone despite Papa Charly and missing Celine dearly.
I haven't left my room. It is now almost 5pm and I managed to make a few phone calls from Skype, especially to my Cot Cot who hasn't commented on my blog for a while and which made me worried a bit... She is fine but indeed, was caught up in some urgent stuff which prevented her to visit my blog for some days... She read everything now and was a bit in a state of shock... Which I can understand ! What mother wouldn't ? In a tiny voice she asked "are you going to go on diving ?"... When I said sure, her answer had a different sound : someone who knows he could not change my mind in a million years if he tried "sure my sweetheart..." :-)
I spent my last days reading, as well as part of my night and today as well... I therefore finished my book about the Thai sex tourism industry as well as an insight to Thai mentality in general. The book is called "Only 13". It is really badly written (apparently written by the Thai girl but corrected by westerners afterwards). You know what ? Despite the terrible style, I am shivering with disgust, horror, shame, you name it. This is appalling. Let me give you some insight. Of course what she says is really a worst case scenario and not all poor families are alike, not all thai women and men are alike and not all foreign tourists are alike... But still.
Lon (that's her name) is from Isaan, a poor agricultural region of Thailand. Ubon (the depressing town I passed through when leaving Laos) is the main town of the region. She was raised by an awful mother and grandparents who hit her all the time. Her father, the only one who truly loved her, was working in Bangkok to sustain the family and only when he was around would she escape the beatings. Her two sisters would get beaten too but much less an her, as she was the oldest. Her brother would never get beaten and would always get the best treatment at home. The family was very poor, only the boy was allowed to go to school after 12. The daughters needed to work. Especially Lon. Tired of being beaten all the time and feeling miserable she fled home at 11 for the first time. She did it again at 12. When her father went looking for her, he died I a car crash. She was held responsible and was repudiated from home, with 300 baht (less than 8 euros) in her pocket, 12 years old. She was told never to come back.
She explains at length that he isaan culture (80 to 90% of thai prostitutes are from Isaan) forbids her to hate her mother, and teaches her from an early age that she is the one, as the daughter, to sustain her family. Never her brother had to do such things. At 13, she was in Bangkok and became a prostitute. She sold her virginity for 30,000 baht (800 euros) to a middle aged swiss guy and then went with men for 1,000 baht from the age of 13 to the age of 20. She described all that she went through, believing rightly that she was better off than other prostitutes who, less pretty than her, had to go with thai men, for about 150 baht per round... She made a lot of money as she soon understood how it all worked out and went freelancing. She could make up to 80,000 baht per month, which only less than 5% of the thai population make... Most of this money though went to her family so that her mother could "make face" (the contrary of lose face which is probably where the expression comes from) in her village. The fact that the family could get a new house, a car, a TV, a VCR, that her sisters could go to school, etc... All of it because she would sell her body and soul to foreign tourists did not matter at all for the family : they were always asking for more. This never bought her the love of her mother...
"when my brother and sister had a serious motorcycle accident, Jimmy (one of her "boyfriends / clients") called all of my clients on my behalf soliciting donations for the hospital fees. Another client of mine was ahead on his payments to me at the time because i had borrowed from him but he still gave me 16,000 Baht. Jimmy gave me nothing, pleading poverty as usual whenever I needed anything above and beyond the large sums of money that I was already sending home to my mother. Everyone who donated instructed me to take the money home and pay for the hospital in person. I didn't listen and I deposited all of it into the bank. Of course, my mother withdrew it immediately. Later I learnt that she never paid the hospital bill. She kept it all, every single baht !
My brother's accident demonstrates just a few of the myriad of problems in Thailand. We have a lot of collisions on motorbikes and it is usually young men who are responsible for them. My brother caused this accident ; my sister Ying sustained serious injuries to her leg ; their medical bill totaled 16,000 baht - the equivalent of my income for sleeping with 16 old men. The motorbike was destroyed ; a bike which I had paid for by sleeping with 30 old men. My sister was injured ; my mother pocketed the money ; my brother bore no responsibility ; and I paid for all of it."
The book is filled with stories like this. That Thai men bear no responsibility whatsoever for anything, that thai women are an expendable commodity... The whole book is revolting. By the time she's 24 she lives in the UK, married to a guy that no western woman would ever want, taking advantage of her. She ends up in a psychiatric hospital after her baby has been taken away from her. That is where she writes her book from. A lifetime of misery and mistreatment eventually caught up with her mental health. I was about to throw up when I finished the book.
I have told Celine, before she left, that I learnt more about Asian culture through this book than in four months of traveling. I think that Thai's first English word they learn is "money" as this is the only thing that matters to them, that can buy "face". In a way, Lao people and Cambodian people seem different. Burmese people look definitely different, even more so. Vietnamese make me think of Thai people, only less hypocritical. I should ask my friend Darren from Phnom Penh what he thinks about what I am saying here... Whether he agrees, or not, what's his feeling... I'll forward the link to him.
Anyway, all this to say that overall, my feelings about Thailand cannot be more opposed... I don't know what to think, really. I am really shocked and do not feel OK in this country. Ko Tao is in Thailand but is not Thailand : it's an island populated by westerners who work with Burmese people. Hence its completely different atmosphere. There is no sex tourism in Ko Tao... People go to Ko Samui for this, a couple of hours away by boat... I therefore won't have a problem staying a long time in Ko Tao. Also, Chiang Mai, despite being also - according to the book - a highly well known place for sex tourism, I absolutely did not notice and was quite fond of this town... Anyway, these are my mixed feelings about Thailand. I think I even preferred Vietnam... !
I am probably leaving tomorrow or the day after. I will keep you posted. Promise !