After watching the film "Bangkok Girl", a CBC Canadian television documentary, I decided to begin writing a series of articles about sex trade workers in Thailand. The reason the film inspired me to write my own stories, is because the film was such a one sided, distorted view of the sex trade in Thailand. I feel the other side of the story needs to be told. Before I begin this story I want to be clear that I do not in any way advocate prostitution or the use of prostitutes. My goal is simply to report the facts, and offer accurate information and my experiences, in order to allow readers to draw their own conclusions.
Today I am going to tell you a story about a girl that goes by the nickname "Natt". I have known Natt since July of 2000, and I lived with her for 5 years. The events of this story are not based on speculation and second hand information, but actual experiences that I witnessed first hand. This is one story about one girl, and is no way intended to suggest that this is the situation for any other woman working as a sex trade worker.
In July of 2000, my first trip to Phuket, I met Natt when she was working in a massage parlor located in front of the Patong Beach Resort. This was not your typical sleazy, full service massage parlor. The shop was catering to a high end clientele of mostly middle aged couples and Asian tour groups. If there was any doubt in my mind as to the services that were offered in this shop, it became clear when I witnessed a tourist come in and request an oil massage. I watched Natt escort this man upstairs, within 5 minutes I heard her scream, and the man was rushing out the door, blushing with embarrassment. Apparently he had misunderstood the services that were offered. This must have happened quite often, since most massage shops in Patong Beach are offering these types of services.
Natt was only a very young teenager at this time, and as far as I knew she was not interested in earning extra money by offering sex to tourists. Some of her older friends were into the nightclub scene and worked as freelance bar girls. I had the chance to go out with the girls to nightclubs and karaoke bars, dancing, drinking and having a good time. Some of the girls would be interested in hooking up with tourists, however Natt was not one of them.
Shortly after I met Natt, she began dating a Thai man that was working at a seafood restaurant near the massage shop. He was a university educated 25 year old man from the same province as Natt and her family. After a few years of dating, they eventually were married in their home province in 2002. I became quite good friends with Natt's husband and my wife and I would often go out to dinner with them or have them over to our house. Natt quit working at the massage parlor and started working as a hair stylist in a salon. After working in the salon for a few months she had an argument with her employer and decided to quit, this trend repeated itself several times over the next year.
In 2003 my wife and I opened a laundry shop in Karon Beach, and we asked Natt if she would be interested in working with us in the shop. The shop was brand new in a 3 story building, with bedrooms on each floor. We offered Natt and her husband free room and board in one of the rooms and we paid Natt a modest salary. We all lived and worked together for the next few years, and for the most part we got along very well. Natt and her husband would have the occasional fight, but they seemed to be quite happy overall.
After the Tsunami on Dec 26, 2004, we were forced to close the laundry shop. Phuket was suffering from a lack of tourism and many businesses were struggling to survive. In order to support my wife and family I returned to Canada to take a job on a deep sea fishing boat. I returned 6 months later and when I returned I was shocked that Natt and her husband had broken up. He had moved out and was no longer living with us. Natt had told me that they had been in a fight and she asked him to leave.
Natt was no longer a young girl, she was a very attractive 19 year old woman. She was no longer working for us, and since she lived with us free of charge, she was not in any hurry to get another job. She began to show interest in western men, and she dated a few of my friends. None of these relationships would last very long, as the men she would choose would be young tourists that were only traveling through town, and would not be looking for an unemployed girlfriend that wanted them to support her. Her boyfriends would normally disappear just shortly after she would start asking them for money.
In one case, she even faked a pregnancy in order to extort some money from a young man she was seeing. During this period in time, I also noticed that money and valuables were going missing from my shop, and Natt was the prime suspect. It was difficult for me to bring this up with my wife because her and Natt were like family. Eventually my wife caught Natt in the act and we had to ask her to leave. Natt then moved into a room not far away, and started working the local nightclub scene as a freelance bar girl.
Eventually my wife had forgiven Natt for stealing from us, and she would visit our shop on a regular basis. She would often arrive with different men that she had been spending time with, and she certainly enjoyed flaunting her newly acquired wealth. Of all the men that Natt introduced me to, none of them were more than 10 years older than her, and all of them were reasonably decent looking. These men had collectively financed Natt's new extravagant lifestyle. There were so many of them that I could not possibly remember the story of each of these men that I had a chance to meet.
In 2008, Natt was engaged to an Italian man that she had only known for a short period of time. He had showered her with money, and for Natt, this was true love. I only learned his name when I saw it in the form of an enormous tattoo on her lower back. Ironically she had another boyfriend with a similar name, and she convinced him that she had the tattoo done for him, and the misspelling was an honest mistake. With her fiancée in Italy, Natt desperately needed a passport before she could apply for a visa to Italy.
There is no government office in Phuket for Thai people to apply for a passport, the nearest place that this is possible is at least a 4 hr drive away in Surat Thani. Natt would need somebody with a car to give her a ride to Surat Thani. The only person she could think of that had a car, was her ex husband. So she arranged for her ex husband to pick her up at my shop, and drive her to Surat Thani to get a passport, so she could go to Italy and marry this man she had only recently met. I had not seen her ex husband since they had broken up, and I was shocked to hear that he would have agreed to help her at all. When he arrived at my shop, I spoke to him about it briefly, he said that he was not concerned about anything, and that they were still friends regardless of the way she was choosing to live her life.
The night that Natt returned with her new passport, there was a party at my shop, and I had several friends over. The son of one of my close friends had just arrived, and this was his first night out in Thailand. I noticed that Natt was immediately interested in this 20 year old American boy with little experience. I had an opportunity to sit down and talk to him, and warn him that she was not worth the trouble and he should be aware that she was already engaged. Looking back on it, he was probably thinking I was "daring him". Within a few days, these two were joined at the hip, spending every moment with one another. After watching the two of them spend time together, I truly believe Natt had fallen in love with him, and he had certainly fallen in love with her.
Natt was waiting for her visa application for travel to Italy to be accepted, and she was receiving money from her fiancée on a regular basis. Her new American boyfriend was aware of the visa application, but he had hoped that she had fallen for him, and that she would eventually cancel her trip to Italy and call it off with her Italian fiancée. The reality was, the Italian man was showering her with money, and the young man from Florida did not have any money to offer. When the visa application was accepted, the young man from Florida was heartbroken.
The Italian fiancée eventually did learn of the relationship between Natt and her young American boyfriend. They spoke on the telephone and via email, and the young American insisted that he and Natt were lovers and Natt would not be going to Italy. Natt was able to convince her fiancée that she was not involved with the American and he was just a prankster trying to cause problems for her. She left Thailand on a flight to Italy only a few days after her visa was approved. Needless to say the young man from Florida was devastated, unfortunately his friends and family were less than sympathetic. He had been warned, he should have known better, but as we all know, love is blind. I think that this is a lesson everyone needs to learn, and the younger you are, the easier it will be for you. Many people learn this later in life when it is much more difficult to recover from.
Only a week after Natt had gone to Italy, I had thought that the drama was over. My young friend from America was already getting on with his life, and trying to put this experience behind him. Just when I thought the story was over, I was rudely awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night. My wife answered the phone at about 4am, I heard her speaking to a western man and I could hear that the conversation had become quite intense. I heard my wife explaining that in fact Natt was OK and her family was OK and nobody had died. I had no idea what was going on, I took the phone and spoke to the person myself.
I spoke to a man from Belgium, he was emotional and upset, he was very concerned about Natt. The man explained that he was Natt's boyfriend and he had spent time with her while he was on vacation a few months earlier. He was under the impression that Natt had passed away and her family was suffering from this and many other recent tragedies. The fact is that there were no tragedies. I explained to the man on the phone that Natt was alive and well, living in Italy. Her family was also healthy and doing just fine. He began to explain to me that he had been told that Natt's sister had died, and that Natt was suffering from a heart condition. He had seen for his own eyes that Natt was taking heavy doses of medication.
The fact is, Natt's sister was living in Northern Thailand, and the medication Natt was taking were only diet pills to keep her slim. She had apparently told him that her sister had committed suicide, and that she desperately needed to raise money to pay for the funeral. He was in love with Natt, so he was happy to help her in this time of need. He was young and inexperienced, and he wanted to help someone that was less fortunate than himself. After he had been generous enough to send money to help pay for the funeral of her sister (still alive), she decided to tell him that she was sick and dying from her heart condition. She would require an operation in a last attempt to save her life.
She was able to convince him to send money for flights for her mother and father, so they could be with her before she died. He was told a few days later that Natt did not survive the operation. Needless to say, the family was asking for more money to cover the cost of Natt's funeral. He did not hesitate, the next day he sent 2250 Euro via Western Union. He continued to send money to help the family get back on their feet. When he lost contact with the family he decided to contact us and ask if we had heard anything.
As he told me these stories, I was shocked and horrified, but it all made so much sense. The stories he was telling me explained where Natt had been getting such large sums of money. The stories I was hearing did not sound as unbelievable as you might think. They actually sounded like similar lies I had known Natt to tell. I apologized to the man and explained to him that he had been the victim of an elaborate scam. We exchanged email addresses, and he filled me in on the rest of the details including sending me the copies of the Western Union receipts for the money he had sent. When all was said and done, he had sent a total of over 15,000 Euro.
Now 2 years later, Natt has not returned from Italy, she is now married and living with her Italian husband. She has never expressed any remorse for the pain she caused the people whose lives she affected. It is typical for some uneducated Thai people to justify taking money from those who they view as more fortunate than themselves. They believe that foreigners come by their money easily, so they should not worry so much if they lose it.
This is a story of a young lady that did not need money, but was overcome by greed and would do anything in her power to get her hands on as much wealth as possible. Her family did not receive any of this money, nor did they ask for any. You might read this story and think it is an isolated incident, and a poor example of what makes a woman decide to get involved in the sex trade. The fact is, anyone who has lived in Thailand and had any experience with bar girls can probably tell you a similar story.
DISCLAIMER : The story above is a true story based on facts about a sex trade worker in Thailand. The real name of the woman in this story is not mentioned in order to protect her Identity, however the nickname is given. There are thousands of women in Thailand that go by the same nickname, however based on the events in the story you may feel that you know the identity of the woman the story is about. Chances are if you are able to determine the identity of the woman by reading this story, then you are not learning any details that you did not already know. In order to protect the woman's identity there are no photos attached to this article showing the face of the girl in the story. The photos may include body shots, photos with the face blurred out or random photos of other women.
Western Union Receipt to Natt
Detailed Account Of Western Union Payments To Natt
Date Euro Baht Description 19-Sep 307.53 15000 Phuket, Patong, last day i was there, needed to pay the rent of her appartment(cash) 11-Oct 1297.06 55000 For buying plane ticket to Italy and some other things…she was in Pattaya with her friends and eldest sister ready to leave 31-Oct 1350.34 56000 After the suicide of her youngest sister, her mother needed lots of money to pay the whole funeral…(it was on the night of Halloween) 4-Nov 382.28 15000 For hotel payments and exceeding luggage(when she was about to go to Italy) 8-Nov 1392.89 57000 The rest of the money her mother needed to pay for the funeral in Bangkok 14-Nov 1339.84 55000 For the plane ticket for her mother back to Phuket, and plane ticket for her father to Italy. Normally it was 80000 in total, but her sister would pay 25000 of it 28-Nov 1194.69 50000 Her mother also wanted to go to italy, but the husband of her sister couldn't help, so i paid for the plane ticket 3-Dec 376.36 15000 To help her sister be able to buy and things, because her husband left her with her son to Canada 14-Dec 1391.61 60000 Helping her sister to go to Italy 20-Dec 2250 100000 For funeral of Natt in Thailand 7-Jan 1605.84 70000 For plane ticket to Canada to get her son back 27-Jan 2352.28 100000 Money for the maintenance of renovation of the house in Phuket of her uncle TOTAL 15240.72 648000
juliaeverheart from Kennesaw, GA on April 04, 2012:
I did read them all. You have an interesting perspective because you've lived in Thailand long enough to have a feel for the culture that tourists will never get. Of all your articles, my favorite was the one about Nicky. You mentioned that women's rights activists jump all over you, but I found that article to be balanced, maybe even a little bit feminist! While defending a woman's right to participate in the sex trade, you acknowledge that the sex industry often has negative consequences that overshadow the financial gains. There is no amount of money that makes the blatant commodification of women okay, and sooner or later women start to realize this. In my experience, the longer women are in the sex trade, the more disillusioned they become. I'm sure there are sex workers out there who would argue with me; we're all entitled to our own opinions.
I also watched the film "Bangkok Girl" (long before I read your hubs) and didn't like it. I felt like the filmmaker basically fell in love with a girl he hardly knew and was really falling in love with the idea of rescuing a poor foreign girl. I felt like it perpetuated Western condescension of foreign women.
Anyway, thanks for the interesting reading. I'm really interested in the sex trade, especially in Southeast Asia, so this was right up my alley.
TravelinAsia (author) from Thailand/Southeast Asia on April 03, 2012:
Thank you for your comments. It is not my goal to make sex tourists feel better about themseleves, and I don't deny that sex tourism is a big part of the Thai economy. In fact I have covered some of those subjects in some of my other articles, for example: https://hubpages.com/politics/Hypocrite-Johns...
This is one article in a series of articles, I think if you read the other articles in the series, you would have a better understanding of what I am trying to say. If you don't have time to read them all, try part 3, I think you would like it.
juliaeverheart from Kennesaw, GA on April 03, 2012:
I've been reading your hubs because I'm interested in Thailand and in the sex industry. I typically come from the position that in many cases sex work is bad for women because of violent johns, sale of girls by their own families, underage girls being sold for virginity, and the other horror stories we hear. I am smart enough to know that not every woman working in the sex industry is a victim of oppression, and many would be offended to be called as such. Not every man who falls in love with a Thai girl is a sex tourist, either. I do hope that people reading your articles don't use them as an excuse to minimize the damage being done to women who have been forced into the sex trade. In my experience, Thailand is a better developed country with a better social system than say, Cambodia. The sex trade in Cambodia looks different that that of Thailand because of greater poverty and government corruption. There are many situations of forced sex work in Cambodia.
You have no control over what people do with your articles, of course, and I understand your desire to clear up misconceptions about Thai women and the sex trade in Thailand. My only hope is that uninformed readers don't assume that EVERY Thai girl in the sex trade is a grasping, greedy opportunist. Sex work across the globe is a complicated issue, and one that certainly deserves discussion of all its many forms in various countries.
Raymond on January 06, 2012:
I had encountered one of this girls as well. She worked in the sex industry. Told me about her family situation and i took pity on her. Help her financially, in the end i found out i am just 1 of her sponsors. She had already flown to Germany to meet her present boyfriend she knew at Phuket. But he is a middle age man. I doubt it is love between her and the German boyfriend. She is quite attractive with a fabulous figure and perform sex very well. I believe after she drain the german man dried of his saving, she will go back to Thailand.
They really take it as taking others money just because they are more financially stable are nothing wrong. They can use lies like the family member is hospitalize, brother got HIV/AIDS to make up a story. They really can curse their own family to lead you into believing their lies. It is really terrible. They are not at all remorseful and still dare to blame on others for what she did. It is Unbelievable!
Freedom on November 26, 2011:
Thanks for the sharing this story. It's very interesting case. I am a Thai girl and i know some of these stories..Well,that's very sad!!! i am very sorry for all victims, i am sure men definitely feel disappoint when they lost their trust. For my own idea, most of thai girls who go for sex trade workers got their own reason like they have no education to get a good job that's why they decided to do that so the education is very important things to make them have a better life but sometimes it's not.Most of educated people get very low salary but they are honor and prestige of themselves. Girls dont wanna work hard to get money they always looking for the shortcut way to get lot of money without caring others feeling.
BangkokBonkers on November 06, 2011:
For the life of me, why would anyone want to 'date' a woman like that given her experiences and the amount of men she's been under. Seriously, too many tourists forget their brains when they come to Thailand.
Phuket Beaches on July 04, 2011:
Thanks for the good story. Unfortunately, I see this kind of thing every day. Too bad for the Belgium man, hopefully the money wasted on this Thai woman didn't put him in financial trouble. I guarantee that he will never do anything like that again, so it's a costly lesson, but a lesson nevertheless.
Belinda on July 04, 2011:
Thank You for this article. I felt that it was well written and very balanced. Unfortunately, this is not only a problem in Thailand, but also in many other countries that are not industrialized. I've never been poor, but I can only imagine what it must be like to struggle for the basic necessities on a day to day basis. There is no excuse for immorality, crime and corruption, but unless one has a very high sense of morals and/or spirituality anyone could fall prey to that type if life style. I feel remorse for the victims and the victimizers !!
Peter Pattaya on April 30, 2011:
Thanks for the interesting read. I was in Pattaya a few months ago and met the most beautiful Thai girl. A girl I could only dream about back in the states. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world. Yet something seemed odd. We would go to a movie and she would disappear. One time for as long as twenty minutes. When she came back she said her stomach was upset. I wanted to be with her 24/7 but she seemed to always find a reason to go home. I also was never invited to her home. She had a motorbike and was going to school but no job that I knew of. She asked me for money to get her hair done or a new outfit. No problem I gave it to her and probably more. I figured it was expected of me plus I really wanted to be with her. When I left she cried and asked for me not to forget her. I assumed she had another boyfriend(s), I didn't ask and she didn't tell. I have not called her since probably because I've heard too many stories like the one you wrote about. I met an old Greek man and we sat down and talked over breakfast. He told me you would never find love in Pattaya. Your thoughts or others comments would be appreciated.
Sam on April 02, 2011:
I noticed that Natt is back in Phuket, with her Italian husband. All you guys that want to have a piece of her, now is your chance. I am sure she will be peddling her wares when her husband isn't looking!
TravelinAsia (author) from Thailand/Southeast Asia on March 12, 2011:
I am not sure if you noticed that Thailand's government is also making it more difficult for tourists to stay long term in Thailand, and the Prime Minister recently was quoted as saying "Thailand needs to focus on higher quality tourists". I think the PM should spend a weekend in Pattaya or Patong Beach, and then tell us what kind of "higher end tourists" will want to stay there?
Chang Noi on March 12, 2011:
The problem is that this attitude is not only with the one's that become "Bangkok Bargirl" but with many people in Thailand. Greedy as hell!
David on February 16, 2011:
These girls usually do this type of thing for sure. They are generally uneducated and poor farm or factory workers and then they get to associate with peers at the bars that earn relatively astronomical (her parent's annual income per month) incomes. They are quickly mesmerized by the money and all the trappings. Some take a few weeks some a few months but they (attitude and morals) are all changed to a point where they'd be nearly unrecognizable to their families back home. This is not just a Thai issue.
vietnam vet on January 14, 2011:
I remember meeting Natt a few years ago in Karon Beach, and she was nothing like the girl in your story. I do not doubt that the story is true, as shocking as it is. I suppose I am lucky she didn't cast a spell on me.
TravelinAsia (author) from Thailand/Southeast Asia on November 25, 2010:
Tatjana, Thank you for taking time to read my articles. I can tell by your comments that you actually read them, however I am not certain you understand them. I will try to clear a few things up for you..
You referred to my series of articles as a "sex trade serial about Bangkok", in fact the series is called "Phuket Girl" and the stories are true stories about girls in Phuket, more than 500km away from Bangkok.
The young man in this article was a handsome (naïve) 21 yr old boy from Belgium. He was not a sex tourist, he had never used the services of a prostitute. He simply fell in love with a young girl roughly his own age, whom he met in a night club.
As far as your justification for Natt's behavior, I can tell you that her family does not buy it! Her younger sister works in a factory in Bangkok, and is relatively poor, but always has enough to eat, and would not dream of choosing the same path as Natt. Her parents are ashamed of how she has earned her money, and they do not want anything to do with her.
I would also like to remind you that when you or anyone else make the argument that Thai women resort to prostitution because of poverty, it creates a stigma that all Thai women that are not already rich are prostitutes. And that they are all for sale. I can tell you from my experience, Thai women (rich or poor) do not agree with this.
I think the next time somebody wants to write about, or make a movie about Thailand and prostitution, they should talk to middle classed Thais, and not just prostitutes. And they should also be careful not to paint Thailand as a country full prostitutes, because there is so much more in Thailand. There are great beaches, great food, historical temples and plenty of positive things to talk about.
Tatjana-Mihaela from Zadar, CROATIA on November 23, 2010:
Wow, this was an excellent story.
I could write hundreds similar stories when women were victims of "poor men in deep troubles"...so nothing new on horizon, and certainly not remorse for their victims.
Natt just used opportunities she saw in her life, as well as many men do it for thousand of years (and women who can). This is sad - but people call it "survival instinct".
Well, I wonder, would the men from your Hub be so sympathetic, compassionate and generous with money if the person who asked for it was not sexy and attractive young lady?
I doubt it. Sexual attraction makes people blind, while knowing that, some women or men are better then the others in (mis)using that fact.
While earning 100-300$ per month in Bankgog, "the land of many opportunities" for young, not educated women from rural areas, Natt would need to spend 5-15 years of her life to work "honest" job as cleaner or waittress, to earn so much money she got from one western guy for few weeks of entertaiment and for the fairytale she told him. In addition, all these years she would need to rent a flat, buy a food and clothes - so maybe even 25-30 years of life would be spent for saving such amoount.
What one can do really with 15000 EUR? Buy the house? Pay university ? Become rich and never work again (just joke). If one needs to work 5-15 years (or 25-30) for saving 15000 EUR for that nothing much can be done, something is really rotten in human societies. Not only in Bangkok.
It seems that your sex-trade serial about Bangkok has much deeper roots in poverty then you are ready to admit.
Thanks for entertaining Hubs.
IslandQueen on November 22, 2010:
I would just like to thank you for your view of the situation. I find it all very fascinating to read and yes the media etc is very one sided, so your point of view is much appreciated. I don't condone prostitution but I do think if you are old enough you make your own conscious choices and I have also heard stories of elaborate scams from some of the "bar girls" there. I look forward to reading more.
TravelinAsia (author) from Thailand/Southeast Asia on November 16, 2010:
The movie was very touching, unfortunately it is not a true story. The film is not my work, it is the work of an amatuer film maker from Canada. The death of the main character was apparently falsified in order to give the film more value. If you had of read the article, you might realize this! It is clear from your comments that you watched the film, and did not read the article.
Bettyboop38 on November 15, 2010:
I am so saddened by Pla's death. She was a beautiful girl. She seems to be overflowing with controlled passion for life but made the best of the life she had and did what she had to do with no excuses and no contempt. Her smile was so beautiful, her eyes mesmerizing. She didn't seem to see herself as a victim nor did she seem like someone who was angry because life didn't come easy for her.As I watched your video, I decided I wanted to reach out to this young girl but after I yelled for my husband to see her and tell him what I wanted to do, I came to the part where you said she was dead and when my husband got to the bedroom where I was, all I could do was cry. This piece was beautifully portrayed. A good bit of your commentary was inaudible because of the level of the music that was playing,and I wasn't able to hear a lot of it, and it still broke my heart. Kudos to you for a beautiful piece that portrayed a beautiful soul.
TravelinAsia (author) from Thailand/Southeast Asia on October 29, 2010:
Most people who have lived in Thailand and spent some time in bars will know somebody like Natt!
@MagicBoy from Qatar on October 27, 2010:
OMG, it is shocking to me to read this story..very interesting, but also sad for the men who succumb to their lust and greed…considering the back ground from which Natt haled from, her intentions were certainly extravagant...moreover, knowing that this is a common trend there is even more appalling…a very eloquently written article…thanks for sharing…cheers…
peter connor on October 27, 2010:
sounds like a lot of thai girls i have met !!!!!
TravelinAsia (author) from Thailand/Southeast Asia on October 27, 2010:
I don't think the young man from Belgium has forgiven Natt. I think it is strange how popular media refuses to tell stories like this, instead broadcasting garbage like "BANGKOK GIRL" made by a tourist that did not bother to verify any of the information that he used in his film.This is a true story, and as you mentioned, you know of similar stories. I hope that readers will learn something and realize that there is another side to the story, and this is what you don't see on CNN,BBC etc.
Peter Dickinson from South East Asia on October 27, 2010:
Yes. I know a few like Natt. But isn't it strange how we men are prepared to forgive Thai girls anything? Thank you for the hub.