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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Miss Bangkok

Another new release with a Thailand connection from the Irish publishers Maverick House. “Miss Bangkok, Memoirs of a Thai prostitute” (ISBN 978-1-905379-43-9) is written by Bua Boonmee with Nicola Pierce and is the story of the Thai girl’s life in Bangkok, at the seedy end of town. Is it ‘fun’? Is it as financially rewarding as you think? And what does the supplier of horizontal gymnastics think of her clients? And what does the Thai population think of those who practice the oldest profession?
The writer, Bua, describes the archetypal dysfunctional family, irrespective of nationality. Her father was a wife-beater and her mother an addicted gambler. In that family household, she grew up, with neither parent ensuring that she received an adequate education. It was a subsistence existence.
As she grew up, her future without education could only be bleak. Menial jobs were her future. Again with an easily predicted outcome, she took the first offer of marriage as the escape, but again easily predicted, she took up with a wife-beater in the mold of her own father. From the psychologist’s viewpoint, this was a classic case. Wife-beating was the ‘norm’.
She drifted into hostess work in the Japanese soi next to Patpong and there she was the favorite of one wealthy Japanese businessman who paid her not to sleep with other clients of the bar, as she had told him she was a virgin (who already had one child, now being cared for by its gambling grandmother). The lies continued as she had to maintain the charade, to maintain the ‘face’ so sacred to Thais.
Despite having been well cared for financially, when the relationship finished, she had saved nothing. She had to move down the social ladder and find a cheaper room. She also took up with a Thai motorcycle taxi rider, who equally as predictably was a wife-beater. However, she shows in the book that she really had no idea what being responsible in a relationship entailed. She took off with friends to watch the solar eclipse in Khorat, but neglected to tell her live-in boyfriend, and wondered why he was so angry when she turned up a few days later! So of course she received another beating.
To ensure she fell further down into the morass she became pregnant to the same man - not once, but twice. It was only after this that she knew she would have to go to work to support the now unemployed husband and the two children, and there was only one well paying occupation that was open. Prostitution.
The husband was quite happy to agree with her working in Patpong as a prostitute, but only if she serviced farangs, not Thais, giving an inkling of how foreigners are perceived, and how Thai males do not want to lose face in front of other Thais.
At B. 495 it is in many ways an eye-opener. Not so much in what happens in the life of a Bangkok prostitute, but how the downward spiral can be predicted. In many ways it is an indictment of Thai society, not of the bar girls themselves.