Same Same, But Different

Reading this post at Vagabonding (a great travelogue, BTW) was like reading Off The Rails In Phnom Penh: Into The Dark Heart Of Girls, Guns, and Ganja all over again (this is a great book by Amit Gilboa that talks about his personal experiences and goes over the crazy history of Cambodia. before reading this book, all I knew about Cambodia was Angkor Wat).
I really wanted to go to Cambodia after reading this book- not because it romanticized the place, quite the contrary in fact. This is a place where you can pay to fire RPGs and large caliber machine guns at livestock, live very comfortably while employing servants and AK touting body guards to serve you on a meager salary, buy the “services” of underaged girls for the price of a pack of cigarettes from their parents, do any drug you could possibly want, and pretty much do whatever you feel like without fear of getting in trouble or being judged by society. Add in the explosive political past (with such players as Pot Pol, Hun Sen, and the Khmer Rouge) and cartoonish present with the unfamiliar culture of the Khmer people, add in a pinch of truly lost expatriates, and you have the makings of some good pulp fiction style stories. I am inclined to believe people when they say that their trip to Cambodia, and Phnom Penh in particular, was a wild time. This looks like a place to visit for a couple of days, have a wild adventure, and then to go back home- a place to get some perspective.
Dunno though. After seeing the fat German dudes in Phuket walking off with teenage girls, she-males (this I found sort of amusing), and on one occasion a young boy, I don’t think that I would like visiting a country that makes Thailand look like Disneyland. Reading “Hello My Big Big Honey!”: Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews made me really think about these things deeply. Seeing all of these perverted losers walking around with girls (who, if approached back in the states by these guys would be methodically hosing them with pepper spray) made me feel queasy to the point where I could not finish my pizza. Then again, some of the couples in the book ended up getting married and supposedly living happily together. Life is strange.
I don’t think that the sex trade is bad in general. In fact, I think that it is an important service, just like therapy, massage, and other treatments that people pay for to remain happy and in good health. Hell, legalize it and throw the money raised from taxes into our educational system. Then it could be regulated like any other legitimate business and held to higher standards while at the same time, contributing to our society.
What I do have a problem with are the pedophiles. Seeing these disgusting people openly paying to have sex with children, especially when they are obviously feeling comfortable about it, is one of the worst things that I have ever seen. It made me angry and sick, and really want to do bad things to bad people.
So maybe I will just visit Angkor Wat if I make it around to Cambodia. After all, I can always go hunting for water buffalo (or hopefully a bus full of pedophiles) with my RPG-7 on the way to the airport…

5 thoughts on “Same Same, But Different”

  1. RE: Hello My Big Big Honey
    Do you still have this book? I was looking for it all over and I figured T still had it, so if you’ve got it, it’s a big load off my mind. I HATE losing books.

  2. Alas, sorry, your book is almost certainly a victim of Mimi’s evil totalitarian regime. I read the whole book at T’s house, and left it there. Sorry.

    A non-fiction book of interviews, documentation
    and investigative journalism, titled:
    “Hello My Big Big Honey!”
    Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls
    and Their Revealing Interviews
    has been published in San Francisco and
    is available in any bookshop and
    “…an intimate portrait…does love conquer
    poverty, cultural barriers and the fear of AIDS?
    — TIME magazine
    A “masterwork” of “feminist research”
    — The British Library’s Oriental and
    India Office Collections, London
    “A Freudian whirlpool of sexual fantasies and
    frustration, of damaged egos and haunting
    super-egos, of dreams of pure love and acts of
    cold calculation, and a milieu of cross-cultural
    — Far Eastern Economic Review magazine
    This book appeared at Columbia University’s
    Graduate School of Journalism *Book Fair 2002*
    252 pages, illustrated with 25 color
    photographs. ISBN: 0867194731
    free: 20 pages of text and six photos, online at:
    Lonely Planet’s *Guide to Thailand* and Lonely
    Planet’s *Guide to Bangkok* both recommend this
    book in their *Culture and Society* section.
    “A number of themes run through the book:
    prostitution, love, family, cultural stereotypes,
    AIDS. The most prominent, however, and
    perhaps the most interesting, is money. ‘Hello
    My Big Big Honey!’ is interesting and readable,
    surprising and engaging… intriguing…
    — The Bangkok Post
    “…a collective scream of longing, loneliness,
    despair and delusion…For many men, these
    dangerous Thai liaisons are no laughing matter.
    They become obsessed and cannot let go.”
    — The South China Morning Post
    “This book is essential reading for anybody who
    wants to try and understand the attraction Asian
    women have…”
    — Budapest Week
    “Besotted…passion can make men lose their grip
    on reality…What’s love got to do with it, when
    Bangkok bar girls offer ‘hospitality’…these
    intimate letters reveal true feeling between
    Western men and their Eastern girls. Bangkok’s
    notorious girly bars attract businessmen and
    lager louts alike, to live out their sexual fantasies
    with hostesses with the mostest…Thai women
    seem passive, but are capable of fighting
    back…wives back home are rarely
    — London’s News of the World Sunday
    “A study of the bar girls”
    — Le Monde newspaper, France
    “‘Honey!’ is an obsessive look at romantic and
    financial need…The letters from these men to
    their paid companions are sometimes
    delusional and sometimes quite practical…it’s
    better to have cared briefly than never to have
    cared at all. (And that might even be the
    moral of this book.)”
    — Tracy Quan, Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl
    Researched in Bangkok — and now published in
    San Francisco — this documentary book contains
    verbatim love letters written by American,
    European, Australian and other foreign men to
    bar girls in Bangkok.
    The foreign men’s letters explain their emotions,
    demands, dreams and fears as they try to
    convince Thai women of their feelings.
    The book also includes extensive “Q and A”
    interviews with Thai bar girls about their
    relationships with foreign customers.
    The Thai women also express their personal
    views on the problems of AIDS, poverty, abuse,
    tradition and the search for true love in red-lit
    streets and rented rooms.
    Interviews with three blunt bar owners —
    American, British and Thai — and others probe
    the harsh depths of Bangkok’s commercial sex
    This book has been acquired by the British
    Library’s Oriental and India Office Collections as a
    manuscript of unusual romantic relationships
    between East and West.
    Columbia University’s Graduate School of
    Journalism in New York City offers this book to its
    journalism students and others through the
    Lehman Social Science Library.
    The University of California Berkeley’s Main Doe
    Library also presents this book for professors,
    students and the public interested in
    women’s studies and related subjects.
    252 pages, illustrated with 25 color
    photographs. ISBN: 0867194731
    free: 20 pages of text and six photos, online at:
    Bookshops / Universities / Distribution
    Publishers Group West, the book’s Berkeley-
    based distributor, offers this book for U.S. and
    international distribution.
    Publishers Group West also provides “Hello My
    Big Big Honey!” as a university-level textbook for
    teachers and students focusing on Women
    Studies, Travel, Society, Third World issues and
    related topics.
    To read 20 pages of free excerpts, view six of
    the 25 color photos, see all of the book reviews,
    and examine readers’ responses and university
    thesis papers which reference this book,
    simply click on the book’s website:
    This website includes links to the book’s San
    Francisco publisher, Berkeley distributor, and other booksellers’ sites
    throughout the world — plus information on
    how this book was written.
    This book has also been translated into French,
    “Bonjour ma Grande Grande Cherie!”
    Lettres d’Amour aux Filles des Bars de Bangkok
    et Interviews Revelatrices
    (In addition to reading the website’s excerpts
    and viewing the photographs, please feel free
    to link the book’s homepage to your website
    and display/distribute the free 20 pages of
    excerpts, six photos and this media release)

  4. Unleashing Your Inner Loser

    This proves that just about anybody can publish a book these days: How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men This is so pathetic on so many levels, I don’t know where to start. I think…

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