Friday, October 09, 2009
Thai girls and their ping pong balls
It was just after midnight in the French Fancy parental household about 25 years ago and the phone went. My parents were out and I answered the phone to find Fay Maschler on the other end. 'You've just won a competition', she said, a first class trip to Bangkok, staying in a suite at the Imperial Hotel. Well,imagine my amazement and surprise.
It all came from a lucky dip 'write your name on a card' promotion that a new Thai eaterie in Knightsbridge had been running. I'd been going out with a foodie boyfriend called Eddie and when it came time to write my name on the card I'd offered to put his but he said 'no, we won't win anyway - put your own name' - but I did win and the trip was only for one person. Now, Eddie and I were no longer a couple but I had in the meantime got engaged to Derek (fiance number two - I've been engaged three times in all) - only he was in another country trying to do something or other and he didn't want to spend the money on accompanying me to my suite at a swanky hotel in the posh end of Bangkok. Silly boy, the engagement got cancelled but that's another story.
So,to precis this down, I set off with my first class air ticket on Thai International Airways and booked into my suite with two bathrooms on a hotel floor that had personal maids sat outside one's room. ready to go in and tidy each time you vacated the place. It really was flashy and brilliant and I felt like a film star. Oh, I'd forgotten to mention that I arrived on New Year's Eve and there were elephant races outside the hotel that evening - which naturally I had to go and see. Whilst outside and feeling desperately sorry for these two elephants who were being spooked by the fireworks, I got talking to two American chaps who were also staying at the hotel. We all got on and agreed to become a little team - a) to save me being hassled as a woman on her own and b) to save them being hassled by Bangkok ladies - they took it in turns to pretend I was their wife.
Now the three of us had a merry old time in Bangkok but the most memorable evening was when we went to the Patpong district. I found it absolutely fascinating and mesmerising to see what these girls could do with ping pong balls/ cigarettes/ coke bottles and all manner of implements. I got talking to one or two during their breaks and found them funny and sweet and some of them began flirting with me, which made me slightly concerned. I am by nature a very friendly and outgoing person and sometimes it can be misinterpreted. When these girls found out I was 'married' to whichever of the Americans it was, there were various suggestions made and I decided to take a tuk tuk back to the hotel and leave the chaps to it. I'd had it with pretending to be their cover story - although the main reason for wanting to escape was the state of the toilets at this club.
I've never forgotten my week in Bangkok and one day want to return with Mr FF where I won't have to pretend to be married and we'll probably pass on seeing the various cabarets for which the city is famous.