Farang- A white, European looking foreigner. The origin of the word is from the old francophone word franc.
It was Friday night, the sun was just beginning to dip it’s head over the Mekong and “Bo Pen Yang” rooftop bar was full of all sorts of people, backpackers, ex-pats, sex-pats and working ladies mostly with a few locals hanging around at the pool table. Lou Reeds’ “Walk on the Wild Side” was playing over the loudspeakers. It was a typical tourist destination bar for a capital city in South East Asia. Johnny and Carl were sitting on a pair of high stools on the balcony of the bar sinking back some cold beers in the warm evening sun. They had just arrived in Vientiane, Laos that evening after travelling hours from Esan in Thailand. Johnny owned a recruitment company in Thailand called “Teach In Thai Schools” that recruited foreign teachers to come and work in rural Esan. He was only in his mid-20’s at this stage and had already lived in Thailand for enough time to get well acquainted with the language and the culture but unfortunately his naivety surrounding the Thai smile gave him an enormous amount of unguarded confidence,
“I’ll never get in trouble over here” he would arrogantly boast “I can speak Thai and know all there is to know about these people”.
Carl was a 6 ft tall, 40 something year old South African ball of nerves that Johnny was already cursing himself for hiring over the internet; He couldn’t even hold a beer in one hand without it shaking uncontrollably.
“Right so all we’ve got to do to is go to the Thai embassy in the morning, get the visa put in my passport and then we’re out of here is that right man?” Carl asked in his thick South African accent,
“No man, I’ve told you already ten times, we have to stay another two nights for your visa to get processed because the embassy don’t open on Sunday so we’ve got to wait until Monday” replied Johnny making Carl’s hands shake even more at his obvious irritation,
“Okay, okay man sorry” was all his retort was as he awkwardly began looking in all directions other than at Johnny’s face.
There were a pair of Laos girls sitting at the bar talking amongst themselves. The girl in the right was small and impish looking, with clothes on that looked too big for her, but the girl on the left was of a much bigger build, more full bodied and wearing an open backed black dress that showed off a large, black and white tree tattoo on her right shoulder.
“pfffwoooow, look at the one with the tree tattoo” said Carl ogling over at the pair of girls and puckering his lips,
Johnny paused to look over at the girls and screw up his eyes at Carl before calmly replying “yeah, I’m sure that one’s got wood”,
“what do you mean man? She’s lekker”,
“I mean it’s most definitely a fucking lady boy Carl, I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen an Asian woman with tits that big and hands to match”.
Just as Johnny finished pointing this out to Carl the pair of girls saw Carl looking over towards them and caught their prey right in their cross hairs.
“Fuck, Carl now they’re coming over, this should get interesting”.
The one with the tree tattoo sat down beside Carl and the other one, who Johnny realized was not un-pretty, sat down beside him. Johnny could speak Thai and Laos quite fluently but he didn’t let the girls know this, just in case they tried to say something to each other discreetly. The lady boy introduced herself in a name no other than “Ball” and the other girl said her name was “Gung” the Laos word for shrimp. They were polite and as they all drank more beers together everybody relaxed and began laughing at each other’s jokes. There was one incident when they were all admiring a Laos’s girls boob job from across the room that was all fun and games until she noticed their staring a took offence to it. She came over screaming and showed them the soles of her feet, raising them higher than their heads, something that is so offensive within the Buddhist society that people have often been shot because of it. Johnny and Carl nearly shit themselves with fear until Ball, true to her nature, stood up and started bellowing at the girl. They were like a pair of animals trying to make themselves look bigger. Balls’ voice had changed, when she was talking to the lads it was a very high squeaky voice of a girl but now it was deeper and scarier like the roar of a male lion defending its territory. After that the offended girl backed off and went back to her corner and the laughter resumed. The boys were still weary of the girls, but the alcohol, being the social lubricant that it is, started to knock down the defensive walls every man should have up when meeting women of their calibre. Carl and Ball started to get closer to each other, talking and laughing amongst themselves, Carls’ lips puckering and un-puckering faster and faster and his hands getting shakier as they made their way around the back of balls chair. This made it pretty awkward between Johnny and Gung. Johnny was wondering what the fuck Carl was doing, how drunk was he that he wanted to fuck a Lady boy, didn’t he know it’s illegal to fuck a Laos woman; he needed to talk to him before this went any further. He began talking to Gung in her own language which shocked her and made her laugh. It wasn’t long before she began to rub her leg against his underneath the table and flicker her fake eyelashes in his direction. As he was talking to her Johnny noticed how her make-up left a glob of black in the corner of his eye that made her look not unlike a female gremlin he had seen in movies as a kid. Eventually when the flirting from her side became too much he had to tell Gung straight out that he didn’t want to fuck that night but he did want to know however if she could get him some good high quality ganja. She assured him that she could,
“wait five minute” she said “I go get for youuuuu”,
“okay” Johnny replied “but take Ball with you, I want to have a chat with my friend”, “okay, don’t leave we back soon” said Gung as they skirted off high heels clicking on the steps.
“What the fuck are you doing Carl? You know that’s a lady boy right?” Johnny barked across the table,
“Yeah, I know but she’s very sexy and I guess that’s what I’m here for, to try new things” replied Carl as a sly, perverted, grin sneaked across his face.
He was swaying on his chair now barely even able to lift his beer with two hands without slopping it all over himself.
“Did she ask you for money yet?”,
“yeah she said 4000 baht, I think it’s okay she looks worth it” Carl replied,
“No, no fucking way Carl, my advice is don’t do it, she’s over charging you and it’s illegal to fuck a woman you’re not married to in this country”,
“well it’s a good thing it’s not a woman then I guess, and I haven’t had a fuck in three years man, I need it” replied Carl.
Johnny was beginning to run out of patience with his new employee just as Ball and Gung strode confidently back up the stairs of the bar. Carl looked at them and smiled calmly in the know that he was going to get fucked that night finally after years of sexual frustration, that volcano was about to blow all over this fucking lady boy, he couldn’t hold his excitement back.
It was close to the 12 am curfew as they all strode out into the dark night where tuk-tuk drivers were clucking like deranged chickens looking for customers, Gung passed the bag of grass to Johnny, and left off into the night in search of other farang prey. Johnny asked Carl did he want to go down to the river to smoke a joint with him but Carl passed it off and said he was going back to the apartment,
“Be careful” Johnny warned him as Carl shuffled off swaying and leaning on Ball, her nearly being as tall as him in her black high heels and with this they separated ways for the night. Johnny walked the 200 metres over to the waterside and sat down and began rolling a joint, “What kind of a person have I hired” he thought to himself “What if he starts creeping on the kids in the school? I’ll be ruined”. He lit up his joint and cracked his last can of Beer Laos and his worries started to melt away “fuck it, it’ll be fine, he’s probably just getting it out of his system before he goes back, that lady boy will probably scare the life out of him tonight anyway.”
While Johnny was down by the river Carl was opening the door of his dilapidated box hotel room that remained bare except for a small single bed in the corner and a yellowing roof light that turned the walls a tobacco stained brown. As soon as the door was unlocked they burst through it, all over each other on the floor, sloppy kisses blurring the powdery make-up of ball and leaving half of it on Carls face. She put Carl sitting on the bed as she began to undress in front of him, slowly zipping the back of her dress down and taking it off shoulder by shoulder unveiling her great fake tits. Carl in his haste to get going grabbed for the titties but Ball batted his hand away,
“No! you shower first!” she told him forcibly.
With an innocence that portrayed his desperation he undressed in front of Ball, wrapped a towel around himself and sauntered out of the room and down the hall to the communal showers.
“fuck man I’m so lucky, they are the biggest tits I’ve ever seen, I wonder will she give me a titty wank, where else am I supposed to shove my dick? Oh a blow job would be great; lady boys are supposed to give the best blow jobs” these among other perverted filthy thoughts passed through Carls mind as he quickly showered and made his way back to his room. Smiling in anticipation he opened his door,
“What the fuck?” he thought “where is she?”, the room was empty and his stuff was thrown everywhere. He quickly searched around his room, his money was gone, his passport was gone, Ball was gone with everything and he was still standing there with an erection. His hands began to shake more than ever now and sweat began to roll down the side of his face as he became to realize the predicament he was in. He darted down to Johnny’s room as fast as his awkward shuffle could take him and banged on his door,
“Johnny! Johnnyyyyy! I need your help man come out quick!” he shouted, his deep South African voice getting thicker and shakier.
“Fuck, he’s not there, where is he the pus?” Carl mumbled under his breath.
He went back to his room cursing himself and his still semi- erect penis that got him into this mess in the first place, he dressed and ran out of his hotel in search of his belongings.
Johnny was just finishing his joint and slurping his can of beer when he saw two people on a motorbike parking 100 metres from him down the river side.
“Shit” he thought to himself, “its past curfew, the only people that are outside around the city are criminals and cops, each as bad as the other”.
The two people on the motorbike began to drive closer to him, he tried flicking the butt of the joint away as fast as he could but he made a bollocks of it and only flicked it a meter in the wrong direction towards the people that were coming towards him. They rolled to a stop where the joint fell and the man on the back bent down and gave it a curious sniff as he picked it up. Johnny was frozen solid where he sat, beads of sweat rolling down his face in terror of the scene that was playing out before him. The two people (who were both men) got off their motorbike and came over to him,
“You smoke ganja?” the one who was driving spat, the both were wearing plain clothes (Jacket, jeans, flip-flops) and looked young, maybe late 20’s early 30’s but they were scarred with the faces of poverty and lack of education,
“no, no, no, It was just tobacco, I swear” said Johnny, the two men looked confused and clearly didn’t understand,
“you speak Laos?” the second one barked,
“Yes I can speak your language, it was only tobacco” Johnny said switching to the local dialect,
“no its ganja, we know, you think we stupid? Very illegal in Laos, you go jail three years, we are policemen we take you to police station now” the driver said. He took out his short wave radio to call it in and as he did so Johnny saw the handgun strapped to the man’s side.
“No, is there another way we can fix this?” Johnny pleaded, the two men took a quick glance at each other before they dragged him into the brush beside the river,
“fuck, FUCK, what are they going to want” thought Johnny having flashes in his mind of having to blow these two guys to get out of jail time,
“you give us money, we don’t tell other police” said the second man, Johnny relaxed and thought,
“okay” he said “we have to go ATM to get more money, I only have 1000 baht on me now, how much do you want?”,
“Everything” the driver said in a cold, cutting gaze “empty your bank account and we want your phone too, you go with my friend now to the bank and I wait here, don’t run or he will shoot you”,
“no, I will give you my money but I can’t give you my phone I need it for my work back in Thailand” said Johnny brazenly, It’s not like he was in a position to negotiate. They said nothing; the second man shoved Johnny out of the brush and walked back towards the city centre. It was a ghost town, nobody to be seen only the far off sounds of scooters driving around. They walked the five minutes to the ATM and he put his card in, he checked the balance, he made the rough translation of Laos kip to Thai Baht and came to the conclusion he had 12,000 baht,
“I hope this will be enough” he thought with beads of sweat still rolling down his face and his hands shaking as he entered his pin code and withdrew his cash, his escort smiled as they made their way back to the brush and the other man. Johnny was hoping that the brush wouldn’t be his final resting place as he handed the cash over knowing that they could butcher him now and nothing would come of it.
They took the cash and said “now your phone and the 1000 baht in your wallet”,
“I’m not giving you my phone, you have all my money already” Johnny said as he handed over the last of his cash,
They just smiled and walked away laughing as they counted his money. Johnny breathed heavily and relaxed knowing he was out of trouble, he kicked the rest of the bag of weed into to Mekong and made for home.
He was cursing himself on his walk back thinking what an idiot he was, how naive he had been, thinking he could do no wrong because he could speak the language and had been living here for years, thinking he knew these people and this place. As he turned a corner he bumped into a group of late night Laos revelers obviously making their way back from one party or going to another one. They started speaking to him in very broken English asking him questions in their giddy drunken state, it was a group of young all sorts, men, women and lady boys, about 7 people in all. He couldn’t make out a word they were saying so he began to speak to them in Laos and they all gasped with astonishment that he could speak their language so well, the questions came flooding in and laughter took over. He was just about to leave the group when Ball ran up, not noticing him standing there, he was small in stature and blended in well with Asians, “Mee passport farang, mee passport farang, I’ve got a farang passport” Ball shouted with delight. She took it out and showed it to the other Laos people and low and behold there was Carl’s sullen mug on his South African passport.
The other Laos people laughed saying things like “stupid farang, you will sell that for a lot of money” and congratulating her as though she had done a good job.
As the passport was being passed around on show Johnny snatched it and ran. Ball took after him the second she recognized what had happened. Johnny was a short guy with a stomach that only four years of drinking in South East Asia could give you and Ball being tall and slim with long legs was obviously fitter than him, her only downfall was the massive high heels she was wearing. Johnny was running through the streets, taking sharp corners trying to lose her when he came upon a black skulking shadow 50 metres in front on him that he recognized,
“fucking run Carl” he bellowed, Carl looked up not knowing what the fuck was going on “what?” he turned and said in confusion. Johnny ran into him nearly knocking him over but started him running. They came to the door of their hotel and it was locked as all hotels are at that time of night, they started banging on the door for the door boy to wake up and let them in all the while Ball was coming towards them like a bat out of hell, they didn’t even look to see her coming they just heard the fast “clack, clack, clack” of her heels on the pavement. The door boy opened the door and they fell through on top of him nearly crushing him. Johnny was the first up and closed the door just as Ball reached it, they looked at each other through the tinted glass window of the door, both out of breath and heaving when Ball all of a sudden let out a deafening scream that pierced the ears of everybody around and would have put fear into the heart of the bravest of men.
Carl stood up and hugged Johnny “thank you so much man I was so lost; I couldn’t find my way back to the hotel and that bitch outside stole my money and my passport, why was she chasing you?”,
Johnny slapped the passport onto Carls’ chest and said “you’re a fool man, I’m going to bed, we’ll talk about this tomorrow”,
Carl shrugged his shoulders and followed him towards the rooms, sweating but happy that it was all over. The door boy had stood up and was watching what had happened,
“fucking farangs” he thought “they think they can come to my country and fuck it up more than it already is”,he walked over and looked outside the door. Ball was still standing there staring dead at the door boy as her chest heaved up and down. He opened the door wide and let her in,
“rooms 47 and 56” he said to her “I want half the money you get for the passports, I won’t have a job after this”.