Thai Bar Girls – Food, Phones and Thumbs
I recently spent a few days in the city of Udon Thani – something I do on each of my holidays to Thailand. I look at Udon Thani as my barometer of how well tourism in Thailand is doing. In Bangkok, the long tail boats on the Chao Phraya River are passenger-less, and nearby tuk-tuks stood still, but what about Udon Thani and my real barometer test. Is business for the bar girls good? If Udon Thani bar girls are making good trade, then I think it’s likewise for the Land of Smiles too.
Udon Thani has an excellent parcel of expats, but take away the peak Christmas season, and Udon has only a gentle ebb and flow of sex-hungry tourists for the remainder of the year. And any spike in numbers is easily noticed because Udon Thani’s bars become busier and the bar girl smile broadens and grins.
Media reports suggest Thailand could lose over five billion US dollars in lost tourism revenue this year,’ Big Trouble for Thai Bar Girls in Tourist Thailand’ could be another crass TV series about to happen. On second thoughts, who would have the ‘Bravo’ to produce that one. If you believe the media buzz, then there are more lucky charms rubbed in Thailand bars than breasts in hotel rooms.
My stroll down Sampantamit Road in Udon Thani’s city centre started at the Irish Clock Bar, and I headed back to the main road stopping for pick-me-ups (beers) at the New York Bar & Grill and the surreal sounding Orange Moon. There may be life on Mars, but Major Tom would discover the Moon and the lonely planets nearby had very little.
The Irish Clock has its regular fill of expats – its excellent food pulls in a steady crowd throughout the day, but your easy-to-spot typical tourist was thin on the ground. The ‘Clock’ has bar girls, but they solely serve food and drinks and do not come on to customers.
The New York Bar & Grill is one of Udon’s newer bars and is smart-looking with the added pull of a pool table and a Nintendo Wii game screen, but very few customers. The approach by the bar staff here was straight forward and head-on.
A young bar girl immediately placed herself next to me, and her intentions were soon straight-forward clear. I whispered a few kind words in her ear, and she backed off to where she’d been. When a punter doesn’t want to shunt her, and there’s nowt else about, a Thai bar girl gets back to the basics of food, phones and thumbs.
If you ever come across a charity with the slogan, ‘Thai bar girls are starving ‘ keep your hands out of your pockets and don’t believe a word. No matter what fix the Thai economy might be in, a Thai bar girl and her food will not suffer. A stroll around Udon Thani’s Nutty Park is proof of that. Thai bar girls always find the time and money to eat. Udon Thani girls are no different.
I had a chat with the New York Bar & Grill’s owner. He was American (I’m terrible with names) – New York Bar & Grill kind of gave it away anyhow and what he told me I knew. Udon Thani bars were struggling, just like the rest of Thailand. He expected foot traffic to pick up toward the year-end. I hoped so for his sake because he struck me as a genuinely nice man.
The Orange Moon had one customer, me, and this time there was no rush to sweet talk – just backed-off politeness, and as always, a show of respect. I guessed I was past my sell-by-date, or the girls had given up. I think my passport held the clue – food, phones and thumbs.
I’d guess an Udon Thani bar girl’s phone call to her Boonie mom and pop, now goes as such;
‘I’ll send more money next month, mama, now the factory has no OT (overtime).’
I could guess what juice they produce at the Orange Moon factory, but stocks must be running low. I drank my beer and paid my bill, my barometer read dead, and I was late for my date with my partner.
I met my girlfriend at the Steak Sizzler on the fourth floor of the Charoensri Shopping Mall, and as we ate, I couldn’t help wonder if life on Soi Sampantamit Road had picked up. My guess was it hadn’t, and Udon Thani bar girls would still be busy with their food, phones and thumbs.
I have a feeling it’s going to be a tough year for the Bar girls of Thailand. I know how slow it is in Bangkok and Pattaya so I can’t imagine Udon Thani will fare any better.
Another thing we can blame the boys at Goldman Sachs for. Hopefully President Obama will come up with some sort of stimulus bill that will have a trickle down effect that can help the girls out in a roundabout way.
Until this economy breaks it’s going to be a rough ride for a lot of people.
.-= Talen´s last blog ..Remembering Those Who Served in Thailand =-.
Thanks Martyn I enjoyed that one!
By the way remind me where is Udon Thani?
.-= Mike´s last blog ..Road Safety in Thailand =-.
Talen it will be a tough year but right now they will all be looking forward to the December peak season. I wonder if the price of a bar girl will rise to compensate for previous lost earnings, I think not. It will be interesting to hear how busy Pattaya is this Christmas. I am heading for Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and possibly Loei.
Mike I not sure if you mean the city or Province. The city is in the north east tip of Thailand about 55 kilometres from Nong Khai and the Laos border. It is about 550 kilometres from Bangkok. WW’s village is a further 65 km west.
BTW your Google Friend Connect thumbnail seems to have disappeared from the box, have you been tweaking again.
Not guilty, I’ve just put it back!!
I was joking about UT but thanks for the info since it puts it in perspective as I am a mere 330km South of BKK.
.-= Mike´s last blog ..Lucky Numbers Thailand-Lucky Sticks =-.
I just came back from Kanchanaburi and it was the same there. Dead. Makes you wonder just when this down time is going to turn back up again.
.-= Catherine´s last blog ..Learn Thai with Psycho-Cybernetics =-.
Catherine – Kanchanaburi was fairly dead during my short stay and talking to some of the bar owners they weren’t to hopeful of things picking up until Christmas. There’s a world money crisis going on and it ain’t gonna bypass Thailand.
If only I had the money I could help a few of these girls out! lol I’m sure Christmas will have quite a few stocking filled with gifts of a kind.
Hope you are well of course, your writing continues to entertain to the hilt.
.-= Martin In Bulgaria´s last blog ..More TIme To Write At Weekends In Bulgaria =-.
Martin nice to see you have found some time to write again, I have been looking in and read your latest post. Christmas stockings in Udon Thani, I don’t think Wilai would be too happy if I dipped my hand into one of them. Thanks.
Chrsitmas has just gone by and business must have been on the serious up, considering how busy things are in Koh Samui.
.-= Camille´s last blog ..1st January, 2010 =-.
I used to live in Koh Tao and I have, the best things in Thailand are the food… and mmm yep, the girls…
.-= Gab´s last blog ..Breast Reduction Operation – An Advanced Surgery =-.
Gab – Anyone specializing in breast reduction in Thailand would have a lot of time on their hands and not a lot of breast.
Id love to go to Thailand… Lol @ Hoo Don… Cheeky but very funny…
Floor Cushions – Is that a male or female name.
Thailand needs you right now so book up a flight. Boost tourism.
Sad but true reflection. I wonder where Major Tom is now! You know what worries me more than the current tourist downturn and or low seasons is what happens to these beautiful girls when they are past their use buy date? The lifestyle must play havoc on their health and looks eventually unless they are “saved” by the over weight, old though somewhat wealthier, foreigner. How does a women who has used sex as a point of sale settle into a sedentary life after “bars”. Have you not seen the older Thai ladies in these bars?
Mr Samui – I’ve seen plenty of older bar girls in Pattaya and some older men do prefer them. They are generally a little smarter and appreciative but as a rule they do tend to get left on the shelf.