Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cheeseburger Ladyboy

Waking up with that familiar feeling.  A feeling I haven't had in years.  The room is spinning and my insides are melting.  I am in a hotel.  In a bed. Safe.
I roll over and my girlfriend is sleeping next to me.  Knowing her as well as I do, she may sleep another 10 hours.  In her former life she was a cat.  Sleeping all fucking day, awakening only to eat, and go back to sleep again.
I stumble for the bathroom and let it fly.  Things I don't remember eating are coming up perfectly intact.  All those hours of watching Forensic Files has put my digestion time-line at only a few hours ago.  I look at the clock in the room.  8 AM.
I try to piece together the previous night.  We are in Bangkok, Thailand.  That I know.  I don't even know the name of the hotel we are in.  The room is ugly as fuck though, and I can't imagine choosing this place. I walk to the window and look outside.  I can tell we are in the Sukhumvit area because of the familiar high rises surrounding us.  This isn't the hotel my suitcase is at.  The hotel with all my shit is on the other side of town.
I try to wake up my girl. "Nok.....Nok wake up."
I shake her arm.  "Nok, wake up...wake up...NOK WAKE UP!"
"Where are we?"
"Yeah, I get that.  Which one?"
"Nana?  We're at the fucking Nana Hotel?  Why are we at the fucking Nana?"
"Sleep."  Is all she says.

My skin starts to crawl.  If one Hotel in the world could talk, it would be the Nana Hotel in Bangkok.  Located across from the Nana Entertainment Complex, which is a 3 story building full of GoGo bars.  The Nana hotel is where most of the monger's take their bar girls for an all night shag.  My mind goes back to Forensic Files.  If I had a black light and a bottle of Lumanol, I would be seeing a room where 90% of it's surface area is covered in body fluids.
I reluctantly sit down in a chair and reach for TV remote, then think twice.  Elevator buttons and hotel remotes are supposed to be the dirtiest things you can touch.  A remote at the Nana gets you an instant case of Herpes.  
My mind is a total blank.  I have blacked out before.  Once, in Puerto Rico, I was slipped some roofies and then robbed at a nightclub.  It took 6 months for the details of that night to come back.  The blackout scarred the shit out of me.  Waking up covered in dirt and blood.  Wondering if I had killed somebody.
Knowing my girl is, and was with me is somewhat comforting.  I couldn't have gotten into that much trouble.
I check my wallet.  I'm down $800.  How the fuck do you spend $800 in Bangkok in one night?  I have lived a month in Thailand on $800 before.  Even if a guy was shagging everything in sight, he might only be down $200.  Being that my girl was with me, and how conservative she is, I know she wouldn't have let me run off with another lady.
My girl is a devout Buddhist.  To the point of being a zealot.  She doesn't drink, smoke, or do any drugs.  Seeing her innocent face resting on a greasy pillow at the Nana Hotel is giving me chills.
I try again, 5 minutes of shaking her doesn't wake her up.  I consider dumping cold water on her, but then decide against it.  She is suffering enough just by being here.

I look around the room.  Hideous, brown, wood panel walls.  Velvet paintings of naked ladies.  A phone from the 1980's, and a vibe so heavy, you could cut it with a dildo.  I remember the line from the Graham Greene novel, The Quiet American:  "Every house has a ghost, if you make peace with it, it will leave you alone."
I ask the spirits of all the dead hookers that haunt this place to forgive us our presence.  We will be here only temporary.  I pray that all the human suffering that has passed through this hotel with find peace in another life.
I try to wake her up again.
"Cheeseburger."  She says.
"What?  Cheeseburger?"  You want a cheeseburger?  Nok, what happened to all my money?"
"Cheeseburger... Ladyboy."  She mutters.
"What the fuck are you talking about?  Baby, wake up.  We gotta go."

My girl gradually sits up and opens her eyes.  It's like watching the hatching of a sea turtle.  She is still in her clothes from the night before, so I can rule out that I got lucky.
"Nok, what happened last night?  All my money is gone."
"Jam dai mai ?(Do you remember?)"
"No, Jam mai dai (I don't remember)"
"You drink too much last night.  Maybe drink 20 Tiger beers.  I try to stop you but you don't listen.  Iet you have fun because you say you never drink at home your country."

The good part of having a Thai girlfriend is they pretty much let you do whatever you want.  The bad part is that they pretty much let you do whatever you want too.  The Thai word Sanuk means fun.  Everything that is sanuk is good to the Thai people.  As long as you are having fun, and aren't hurting anybody, nobody fucks with you.

"OK, I drink tiger beer then what?"
My girl crosses her arms, and her face forms a scowl.  She looks like an angry baby.
"Then you say you want to go to Soi Cowboy to look at the lights.  You tell me you only want to go take pictures of the bar...."
Soi Cowboy is another girlie bar area of Bangkok.  It is unique for it's Vietnam war era neon signs.  It is a miniature Asian Las Vegas.  My favorite sign is of the Super Pussy agogo,(*I was wrong about this, it's in Patpong, but hey, I was fucked up.  See Rick's comment below*) with a 1970's sign featuring a Asian woman wearing a Cheongsam, and a beehive hairdo, riding a Vespa.  Pure kitsch.
"...Then you say you want more beer, but only bar have lady in it, and I don't want to go inside but you make me go.  Every lady dancing no clothes and you forget I'm with you.  Then lady come to you and you touch her boob, and I get angry and leave."
I couldn't help myself, and I start laughing.  Mainly because I have zero recollection of it.
"Really? God, I'm a total dick honey.  I'm so sorry.  Are you angry still?"
She smiles, and shakes her head.
"No.  I love you.  Maybe you angry at me still?"
"Why would I be angry at you?"
"Because of joke I play to you last night."
"What joke?"
"You don't remember?"
My forehead is sweating now, and I can feel my balls shrink up inside my stomach.  Stories like this always end up bad.
"I can't remember shit."
"You say you only touch boob on lady and it's no big deal, and you mao mak (really drunk), so not your fault and I say OK, you want to touch lady boob, I take you to place with many beautiful lady and you can touch all the boob you want.  So I ask taxi to take us to Cascade bar."
"What's Cascade bar?"
"It Ladyboy bar, Very beautiful ladyboys sit next to us and we talking and you drink ten more Tiger beer, and they show you her boob"

My head sinks.  Ladyboy's, for those who live in a cave, are extremely passable Thai transsexuals.  So passable that the US Navy briefs their men before shore leave that "If she's really pretty, it's probably a guy."

"Please don't tell me I banged a Ladyboy last night."
"No honey, you don't.  I just play joke because I angry you want to touch lady boob and I thinking, OK let him play with ladyboy boob, but then very ugly ladyboy come talk to us and even though you very drunk, you look around you now know they not real lady and I think you going to get mad but you just drink more beer.  You are very happy when you drunk.  Maybe too happy.  You tip every lady in the bar all night long.  You say it so nice to go to a bar with no fighting, and no old man want to ask me how much for sex.  You say ladyboy bar the only place in Bangkok where you can relax and just have fun."

I am relieved.  I'm strangely amused that my simple little country girl is a devious little shit and would pull a prank on me like that.

"That's it?"
"No...then the bar close and none of the ladyboy have customer, and you feel bad they don't make any money so you try to give them 1,000 Baht each but I stop you."
"Apparently not.  All my money is gone."
"Then you say you want to get Water Buffalo cheeseburger, and you say Nana Hotel restaurant have one and you want to go eat.  Then you invite all the ladyboy to come eat with us at restaurant.  You big man now.  They say you jai gwang (Generous) because you tip them so much and buy them food."
My girl reaches for her purse and pulls out her digital camera.
"Here.  I show you picture from last night."

I brace myself and look through the photos.  It is a montage of a drunken idiot on a rampage in Bangkok.  Everything that I tend to hate about tourists, I managed to encapsulate in one evening.  The only difference is that I was with my girl, and for the most part, she kept me out of trouble and watched my back.  She then reaches into her bag and pulls out a wad of napkins, and hands them to me.  On them are scribbled about 10 phone numbers with lipstick kiss marks on them.

"After we done eating, you too drunk and fall asleep in restaurant.  You say you want to stay here in hotel because you don't want to take taxi for an hour to your hotel.  When all the ladyboy say goodbye I take you upstairs and help you undress.  I find all of the phone numbers the ladyboy put in your shirt pockets."

I look at the pile of phone numbers.  One of them reads:  Next time come to Bangkok alone, and call me.

I grab my girlfriend and hug her...really fucking hard.


The Nana Hotel remains a monolith to all the misery a human life can experience.  It's rooms, and those that frequent them, create a black hole of negative energy that remains long after they are gone.  To this day, I pray for all the human life that lived and died under it's roof.  Especially for the Poltergeist, that I know followed me home.


  1. Joel no one shares your experiences; I have been around the places you talk about though. Let me offer a different view of them. The Nana hotel is always open, always has a room and is right off the expressway from the airport. It is pretty cheap and they have a huge buffet for breakfast. It is an excellent first stop when you get off the plane. Lots of blind drunk German skinheads in groups if you think you can fight. When in the Nana hotel or Cambodia I never let ghosts bother me. Super Pussy is in Pat Pong, a tourist dive I wouldn’t take my worst enemy to, there is an excellent knock off purse stand in front of Queens Castle however, what they sell looks exactly like the real, Gucci, Prada, etc thing. I believe Joel means Suzie Wong in Soy Cowboy the old sign looked exactly like that. The modern interpretive dance exhibition is at midnight in that bar. I have never been there either; I’m not a cowboy guy. In Long gun or Angel Witch you don’t get hassled and it’s more “ flash dance “. Cascade is on the second floor of the Nana plaza on the left of the escalator. To the right of the Escalator there used to be an open-air restaurant called the Big Mango that had free Internet access and the best burger in Bangkok. I eat there every night after I lifted weights on the nights I lifted. Knowing where Cascade is, is a vital survival skill. Many have gone down a road they did not want to go down there. The “girls” really do look pretty good, it’s dark and thank God I do not drink. Your GF really has a good sense of humor. Now ask yourself a question. Does she have cell phone footage of me she is saving for a “rainy day”?

  2. Yeah, you are right. I meant Suzy Wong, I think...I don;t remember...I was hammered. Maybe wasn't Suzy Wong either...this chick was on a Vespa. The SW sign is bitchin though. I tried explaining who Suzy Wong was to my girl....it is that old movie with Nancy Kwan called "The world of Suzy Wong", about a Chinese hooker in Hong Kong, I think. Shit, gotta watch it again. All part of the molding of my young, delicate mind in Chicago. Wait, you mean there are graceful, beautiful women on the other side of the planet, that aren't NOW activists? I'm there.
    It seemed like 80% of the people in Cascade bar are just lookers. I don't know how Nana can support the 4 Ladyboy bars it has. Do that many guys really take them out?
    It was a fun experience. Gotta say I wouldn't go alone. It was nice to have my girl be able to go to the restroom without getting her ass grabbed, asked how much for short time, or otherwise degraded. Nice, also, to not get into a fight. I think I could handle myself against any of the visitors in there. Wouldn't wanna fight one of the LB's though.

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsYFuDksgZ0
    recognize anybody?

  4. Yeah, girl at 1:02 was part of our cheesburger club. Think she worked downstairs though.