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.

30 comments:

Blu said...

crikey so it is true!..sounds like a great time was had leaving you with memories that will stay forever! Best wishes Blu x

Maternal Tales said...

Ooh I do love Patpong. It's such an eye opener. Have spent plenty of hours in those bars(!) I lived in Thailand for a while and still miss it now...Definitely take Mr FF back. You'd have a blast x

the fly in the web said...

Mr. Fly is so jealous! He remembers Bangkok for wonderful street food, buying a frogskin wallet which was later nicked in Brussels, and for an honest man who ran after him to return his old..and full...wallet when he dropped it in the street. Being Mr. Fly, he didn't make it to the ping pong area....!Being Mr. Fly, he only heard of it from his fellow passenger when back on the plane for Australia....!

Lulu LaBonne said...

I want to know exactly what the girls did with the ping pong balls etc.

I am very impressed - what a great prize, elephant racing wow!!!

I'd love to visit Thailand, It's my favourite sort of food.

Steve said...

Never seen one of these "shows" - the nearest I have been is that memorable scene in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert. You don't see a lot but, boy, do you get the picture...!

Elizabeth said...

Sounds beyond amazing!
I have never been to Thailand but long to go.
My daughter loves it.25 years ago it must have been the height of exotic!

Dumdad said...

My wife and I rewatched Priscilla, Queen of the Desert last night so we saw the Thai woman's ping pong trick. I've never been to Bangkok so haven't seen this trick live and I'm not sure I'd want to really!

A Super Dilettante said...

Oh, you've made me very nostalgic! How did you find Thai food? Some of my British friends find too hot and spicy. But it's my favourite!

Dedene said...

What a wonderful prize! I've been to Bangkok as well. I got offered little girls, little boys and everything in between. I didn't have the courage, however, to talk to any of the "performers".

Carol said...

Ah yes, the joys of Pat Pong night life...Soi Cowboy and Nana are not any better!!!

If you do ever decide to go to Thailand with Mr FF then do let me know....I can recommend a few places off the tourist trail that I know you would love and a few fantastic restaurants that only the locals know about!!

C x

Angie Muresan said...

Oh, that is one place I long to go. It all sounds so exotic and mysterious. Elephant races, indeed! Wonder how fast those elephants go.
By the way, thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your lovely comment.

French Fancy said...

Blu - it really is true and is a sight to be marvelled at - well I did anyway :)

Maternal Tales - I know it sounds odd but it didn't seem so squalid to me; I found it really interesting and not sexy at all. It was amazing how many normal looking husbands and wives were sitting watching the stage.

flyintheweb - well I was a bit silly. I didn't want to have the necessary jabs, so consequently worried about eating out. In fact I took most of my meals in the hotel's restaurant and also bought food at a nearby supermarket. Because I had a kitchen in the suite I was able to make snacks all the time. So I have to confess to not trying any Thai food at all (blimey, how daft this sounds now)

Lulu - I had the time of my life and spent an absolute fortune on clothes, bags and shoes. It was the days before I had a credit card though and I had to ring my mum to send me more money - which can be wired to the Thai (or anywhere really) consulate in 48 hours. There were all these hungry looking expats waiting for their food cheques from home to turn up and there was me desperate to return to the shoe shops. Good old mum - but I did take her back some lovely things for her too (which of course are now mine - yes, I still have them)

French Fancy said...

Steve - now I saw the Priscilla film but I can't remember the tennis ball scene - how weird. I must look into it.

Elizabeth - does your daughter live in Thailand? How fabulous. You'd love it there only you'd get a sore arm from continuously taking photos - there is so much that is beautiful and - to our Western eyes - so very very odd

Dumdad - I wanted to say how much I am enjoying Owen Meany - thanks to you and Carol.

As for the ping pong trick - I wonder if techniques like this are passed on from mother to daughter.

ASD - oops, (see above for the reason as to why I did not try any Thai food when I was there). I do love it now though - wasn't I silly not to try it there? - don't answer that
x

Dedene - yes, the downside of course is the trade in the youngsters. I actually had a verbal go at a man I saw who was with a very young girl - but the Americans pulled me away because it was beginning to get a bit unpleasant. If I see something 'wrong' though I've always had a job keeping my mouth shut.

Carol - it must have been the most wonderful experience in the world for you and Chris to have lived amongst the friendliest people ever for so long. I would love to do it - and if we ever go, and I would love us to go , we will seeking your tips.

Angie - it was fabulous and I was there in January and all the street statues of buddha had clothes on to keep him warm. There were many many WOW moments

Ken Devine said...

If that was 25 years ago, it's a place I'd avoid today. It was a supurb prize though and a great adventure for a youngster. You were brave to go. Great post.

Jennysmith said...

Fascinating, FF. Yes, I have often listened to Spalding Gray recount these tales of how these young girls can smoke cigarettes through their vaginas. They must be very tight and controlled. Good Grief! Another world.

And Fay Maschler! Have I been in awe of that woman or what? Just her on the phone would have been enough of a prize for me! You lucky lucky thing xxxx

French Fancy said...

Ken - I can imagine parts of Thailand now would make my blood pressure soar in anger and I'd have to be sedated to avoid starting fights with pederasts

Jen - my parents came back just after the phone call to find me burbling in excitement and mentioning Fay Maschler (my mum knew who she was, my dad was clueless)and Thailand. Then followed - in my over-excited state - the most ridiculous explanation ever about what had just happened. Of course my parents were worried about me going all that way on my own and were very annoyed at Derek being too mean (and he could have afforded it) to pay his own air fare out there.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

What an experience! That sounds like an excellent topic for your creative writing class ... :)

LadyFi said...

Ah yes - Patpong and the Thai ladies! A real eye-opener for any young backpacker, although I was more interested in the street markets and the beaches!

Phil Lowe said...

sounds like a great experience FF. My step mum has been after my dad died (he would never have gone bless him - he wouldn't eat 'foreign muck' or curries. My step mum loved the experience and couldn't get over the intense colours. She is off the acid now!!!

I would love to go. I have travelled in many parts of the world but not that kneck of the woods.

Berowne said...

A fascinating adventure, FF. Thanks for sharing it with us.

French Fancy said...

ContemTroub - the trouble with perhaps using this as an assignment is that my student page links to my blog so perhaps many of my fellow students have already read it.

In fact you have to be careful what you put on your blog if you are going to then reproduce it in class - they have plagiarism software that is automatically run and even if it came from my (virtual) pen into my blog, it will still come up that I've copied it from somewhere.

Fi - those street markets were incredible and I must admit to purchasing a fake Yves St Laurent bag - that was so like the real article you would be hard pushed to know the difference. I never had time to go to any of the beaches though - I'm not really a beach person although I did relax by the hotel pool - to recover from all the shopping.

Phil - you'd love it there, indeed I think most adventurous people would. The Thai people are lovely, quiet, kind and very respectful.

Berowne - ah, you want adventures- I've had lots of them. Perhaps during the rather quiet winter ahead I will write about past adventures

Owen said...

Now there's a fabulous FF story ! Hope we'll get to see some elephant race photos some day. Not sure we need to see the coke bottle photos however, imagination is more than enough... :-D

Funny, people call us on the phone all the time, or send us e-mails saying we've won all sorts of things, millions of dollars, free vacations... and it always turns out we didn't win squat...

marc aurel said...

Gosh. Golly.
My god father lived in Bangkok,but he never invited me to pop over for even a short stay. He visited London once when I was fourteen and gave me two and six. Some god father. My first real girl friend had been engaged several times and had a good collection of rings to prove it. Gosh. Golly.
:)

French Fancy said...

Owen - well, following my lucky win I decided that I must be going through some sort of fortunate streak and began entering competitions. Nothing else came my way though

Mark - I gave my three engagment rings back and also some wedding presents (one got broken off nine days before the wedding)

HER ON THE HILL said...

Have heard much about the ping pong ladies but funnily enough don't have strong urge to go watch!! Must do wonders for their pelvic girdle...

Great story - specially like the bits about Eddie and Derek!! Am just a little weary with regard to Thailand at the moment tho' because my hairdresser has gone and married a Thai girl (she lives out there in the middle of nowhere somewhere, he lives in Buxton - argualbly also the middle of nowhere somewhere) and bores me to death on the subject everytime I get my hair cut! Still, beats discussing the weather I suppose ('gosh, have you seen the rain today/this week/this month/this year/the last 10 years?'), so I mustn't be churlish. Don't give the 'marriage' too long though...

Thanks so much for dropping by at mine and commenting. Much appreciated!

A Super Dilettante said...

My dear, just saw your little status! Good luck with the dentist! I hate going to the dentist. Why do we pay so much money to be tortured?? I don't know if you notice, the heartbeats on my blog has decreased since I started to talk about the "g" word in my last post.

Cynthia said...

What a wonderful chance vacation. I rarely participate in contests...and avoid answering the phone unless I know the phone number or I'm expecting a call. I have hear of strange encounters with pingpong balls...recounted by slighly drunk sailors...stories I'd rather forget! But the place sounds exciting! You have had and are having a full life!! xx00

French Fancy said...

HOTH - hairdressers and their chat, eh! When I use to work in central London I went to quite a fancy salon and my stylist would try and seat me next to a celeb so that I (and he) could earwig the chat. I heard some fascinating stories and it took the pressure of me having to have mindless drivel banter.

Now I'm here it is just another chance for me to practice the langue francais.

ASD - well I saw the dentist yesterday and he is trying to save my wobbly tooth. I had some root cut away back in May and it is that tooth that is now the proble. I'm going again Friday week by which time he will know whether his plan worked.

Re the 'g' word - yes, I also noticed that. How strange people are. Yours is still one of my favourite blogs in the world.
x

Cynthia - hello you, I've been thinking about you a lot lately and hoped I didn't offend you with what might be perceived as a coarse remark. I was just being silly.
x

willow said...

Hello?! Anyone home? I'm here to see your gown and date for the Manor Ball. Maybe I am early?

French Fancy said...

oh, was I meant to post it on here? Ooops (blush)