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Spring break Thailand, worst ever

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Bangkok at night. Possibly the only view of a temple he experienced while in the city.  Photo by Lucas Stoffel.

“The scariest part about Bangkok was not the taxi driver getting me a hooker,” said Luke. “It was how drunk this other guy got me in the bar, and me jumping out of the tuk-tuk on the way back to his apartment.” On a spring trip two years ago, artist Lucas Stoffel made his way to Thailand en route to Laos, photographing temple architecture and local culture.  He almost got more than he bargained for.  In the spirit of my recent Worst Spring Breaks Ever article, sharing his story of Bangkok misadventure seems only appropriate. 

Bangkok, Day One: Race from the Cabbie and the Pimp to the Hotel
Our protagonist arrives at the airport confused, lost, hot, tired, and unable to speak Thai.  Waiting in a taxi line a million miles long, our handsome Luke is soon approached by a free agent driver.  In New York City, this procedure is referred to as “hocking a gypsy cab,” and not at all recommended.  Although Luke has lived in New York for almost ten years and knows the rule well, he tells the driver, “I’ll give you twenty bucks if you find me a hotel and take me around the city.”  Moments later, he’s in the cab.

After agreeing to a spooky hotel which the driver has procured, Luke returns to the cab wondering whether this arrangement is in fact a good idea. He asks to go see a temple.  Oblivious to conversation about architecture and culture---or perhaps inferring some unintended hidden meaning like “temple” means “whore house,” the driver becomes fixated on women in general, dropping less-than-subtle-hints about romantic liasons in dark-shuttered rooms.  “I’m not wanting to say, ‘Dude, I’m gay,’ because I don’t know how that flies in Thailand, and instead of a temple he takes me to a bar,” says Luke.  Once secreted inside a back-alley, deserted watering hole, our passenger is entreated to buy his driver and random barfly friend (later seeming to be the pimp) a round of beers.  It is about four o’clock in the afternoon at this point, and the trio are the only people in the place.  They sit in strange, poorly lit silence drinking warm-ish Thai beer.

Then, the girls start coming out.  “One sits right next to me.  I am thinking, ‘Oh God, oh Jesus, no.’  The taxi guy keeps saying, ‘She can show you the temples, she can take you around.’  I say no, and then there’s a second round of beers somehow on me.  I want to get out of here; I am dying to go.  So, I ask for the bathroom.  The girl, who is now sitting on my knee, shows me upstairs and around a corner.  I am thinking, ‘Oh God,’ and I run in and lock the door.  I pee and when I go out, she’s still waiting,” says Luke. 


Between Bangkok. Our protagonist visited cultural sites in the more serene Laos.  Photo by Lucas Stoffel.

Stranded in a strange bar and/or potential brothel in a remote Bangkok neighborhood with no replacement taxis driving by, Luke finally convinces his girl-happy cabbie to take him back to the hotel.  

However, the cabbie is one hundred percent pissed.  He repeatedly tells our hero that he has f’ed up this day by not helping out the (possibly prostitute) girl.  He’s angry, Luke’s angry, and the driver keeps asking for twenty more bucks.  Feeling that he has just bought this guy and random (possibly pimp) friend two beers apiece, and paid twenty dollars to be taken nowhere---certainly not a temple---Luke says, “No way.”  He says this while leaping out of the cab and racing to the aforementioned fearsome hotel room.  The driver and pimp return together and knock on the rickety wooden door for a long, long time.  Luke pretends not to be home and doesn’t answer, while hiding in the corner.

Bangkok, Two Weeks Later: Race from the Date-Rape Guy
Advance the plot, it’s 8pm and Luke has just landed back in Bangkok on a return flight from Laos.  He goes to a different, less sinister hotel.  Things are looking good.  After doing some shopping and dropping off his bags at a locker, our man wisely avoids further proximity to sensual Thai lady companions by making way for the gay club.  Once there, he sits outside feeling uncharacteristically nervous about going in alone.  Presently, an attractive Thai boy convinces him to surpass these instincts of foreboding and go inside. The boy gets Luke completely wasted drunk, and attempts to pull him into the bathroom where the night's more sordid escapades can take place.  Thankfully for Luke, and to The Makeout Man's chagrin, the bouncers kick them out of the club before anything can happen. 

However, our hero soon realizes he’s in the street riding in a tuk-tuk alongside The Makeout Man.  Like the other cab ride, this one does not seem to be headed for a temple.  They turn down a dark alley, and The Makeout Man says his house is nearby---at which point Luke realizes this is actually not The Makeout Man he is with, but The Date-Rape Guy.  Panicked despite his drunken state, Luke is freaking out.  As the tuk-tuk pulls to a stop, he throws himself over the side and bolts.  He runs like lightning to the main road as The Date-Rape Guy calls after him.  Vaulting into the first cab he sees, Luke hands over the card with his hotel name on it and returns again to safety.

What are Mr. Stoffel’s thoughts on Thailand after these two races to escape sexual peril?
(1) “It was wild crazy nightlife, including the best drag show I ever saw.  The streets were busy, the town was full and wild---like the song, "One night in Bangkok and the world is your oyster.”
(2) “I never had Thai beer before. It was good.”

Footnote:  In case the humor wasn't obvious enough, please note that this is a story of what not to do in Bangkok in many ways.  These activities are probably not safe, certainly not typical, and definitely not recommended for the average traveler.

Enjoy the "One Night in Bangkok" 80's Music Video by Murray Head:

Go to Thailand:
Bangkok tourism
Thailand tourism
Bangkok nightlife (If you dare.)

More awful spring breaks:
London, now there's a bad one

What this intrepid traveler does in his spare time, when not running from sexual peril:
LucasStoffel.com, Heart the Art

Reads:
I know I have already recommended this for Mardi Gras,
but have to mention again The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson, full of graphic recollections of carnival season in Puerto Rico, including scenes of disturbing sexual peril.

Film:
Party Girl with Parker Posey, a look at early 90’s club kids in New York, also rife with frightening makeout scenes.

Comments

  • Luke 5 years ago

    OMG. Can you write the story of my LIFE? You're amazing! Love you.

  • Chris Bale 5 years ago

    Sorry to hear you had such a bad time. I travel to Thailand a lot and I've never had a problem such as yours nor anyone that I know.

    I'm from New York City too and I don't even talk to strangers let alone a Thai cabbie.

    There are plenty of guide books and information on the web about traveling to Thailand particulary Bangkok so you don't need a personal guide.

    You should use a bit of our world famous New York street smarts where ever you go.

  • Meg 5 years ago

    I had almost the same experience in Bangkok! Don't you love sucking exhaust while riding in a tuk-tuk? Too funny!

  • Chad 5 years ago

    I have been to Thailand on several occasions but yet on such obscene and outrageous events ever happen to me. You reap what you sow.

  • Nancy 5 years ago

    OMG - just read about your 'worst ever spring break' - thank god it was about your days in B-kok and NOT referencing our time in Laos! Forgot about the hookers - what a great story!

  • Bren 5 years ago

    Luke needs to be more careful! 'One Night in Bangkok' is a Jazzercise song :-)

  • David Higgs 5 years ago

    Less than 6% of americans have been outside of the USA and the same percentage own passports.When many Americans travel to places like Thailand they find it hard to understand why the population don't live 'nornal'lives like Americans do. American culture is not the only game (culture) in town . wake up my friend and smell the coffee. Asia is your future just like Napolian said 150 years.Napolian was a french general. FRANCE is in Europe.

  • Paul 5 years ago

    Next time you're in Thailand give me a buzz - that horror story was seriously the result of not planning ahead at all. Showing up at the airport in a foreign country and trusting a Gypsy cab? Seriously? I mean seriously? That's bad advice for NYC much less BKK where you don't even speak the language.

    BKK is a great place for both straight & gays as long as you put some effort into your trip itinerary, use your common sense and avoid the shadiness (Just say no to Patpong man) :-)

  • Kristin 5 years ago

    I think it's spelled Napoleon :-)

  • Heidi 5 years ago

    Mom, don't read this one!

  • Heather 5 years ago

    That's how I spell A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E! Thanks for a great story!

  • Kristin Carlson, Albuquerque International Travel 5 years ago

    Thank you, all concerned commentators, for your sound travel advice. You have to admit that our intrepid voyager's lack of planning and rule-following did give him one hell of a good story, though, which we wouldn't have otherwise. I for one am glad there's someone willing to live on the wild side and provide the rest of us with exciting and amusing tales.

  • Ed Walsh 5 years ago

    Thanks for your comments on my story (sf gay travel examiner). This is a great article. Very well written. Look forward to reading the rest of your articles next. Watching the video now.. :)

  • peter nolan 5 years ago

    New Yorkers are squarer than they used to be

    maybe you should have gone to Singapore for shopping at a mall

    Make you feel more like Gucci home

    L7 stands for America

  • B 5 years ago

    People have to be very intelligent to understand critique, especially, in context. It is a shame that those not intelligent enough to do so are so quick to comment. Keep writing and informing. Let the negative and the ignorant blather away. We'll know to ignore them.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    I lived in Thailand for a year, what a sh*t hole. It was full of people like he described, and I got asked to move out because as they said, "you are white, you have money and a Thai person wants to live here" Screw that country, you only think it's nice for about 6 months then you realize how phony people are, and that they call whites "walking ATM machines" and try to get their daughter to marry a foreign man who can financially support the entire extended family. Saw too many of my guy friends put into financial ruin by their thai girlfriends and wives. Plus, it's the number one country for jealous women to hack off men's penises.