Thursday, May 3, 2012

Move like rock, river flow around you

I was molested in Saigon last month. 


I am not used to getting a massage, especially the ones I’m expected to pay for. Also, it’s been a while since I’ve seriously dated a girl long enough to say, “It’s been 15 dates. Can I have my free massage now, bitch? Please.”

To men, a relationship is like stamps on a loyalty card – one is entitled to a goody every third date. I hold your hand after the 3rd date, kiss you on the 6th, request to see your chest on the 9th, see it on the 12th and get my free massage on the 15th. If any of the dates involve the purchase of alcohol, I am entitled to a random bonus goody depending on how much rum is drunk. If you do not respect the rules of the loyalty card, I will be disloyal.    

The point is, my only spa experience before Saigon was a fully robed, zero skin-to-skin contact, significantly over priced massage from fairly ugly Thai woman in her early eighties.

So before a massage in Vietnam, when I was asked to undress and wear only a loin cloth, I was sufficiently shocked. For there is something about a grown man, naked but for a loin cloth, standing alone in a room with an 'Asian' girl that has dodgy porn video written all over it. 

The petite Asian ‘masseuse’ lays you belly-down on bed before dousing you with a gallon of oil. You are then rubbed gently from head to toe in a cyclical manner, with her hands choosing to take accidental detours around your waistline now and again. 

Dodgy porn video.

Just to be perfectly scientific about the dodginess – when a near naked heterosexual man, is put on a bed in a dark room and caressed piecemeal by a woman, there is bound to be natural response to dodgy stimuli. The sort of response that becomes evident when asked to turn over. The sort of response that causes tenting

Nether loin tenting. 

You turn over.

This moment - of a man turning over to face a masseuse - is possibly the period of maximum activity ever encountered by the human brain. In those three seconds, you first focus all cerebral energy to try and raze the tent. You fill your mind with as much disgust there is in the world, in the hope that since the mind is sufficiently distracted, the tent would collapse. Car pile-ups. Carcasses. Mick Jagger’s lips. A Camel on a treadmill. Dismemberment. Curb stomping. Michael Jackson. Rattlesnake. Rattlesnake. Rattlesnake. Ferret in a gunny bag. Industrial revolution.Michael Jackson’s carcass 

In the very good chance that it doesn’t, your mind then shifts gears while hurtling through a new set of questions – Can she see it? Well, I hope she can’t. Wouldn’t I feel really small if she can’t see it? She should be able to see it, right? I’m sure she’s seen this before? Of course she has. It’s her job, damn it! To turn men on? Why is she giggling? What did that mean in Vietnamese? Was that a giggle, or more like a snigger or a laugh? She wouldn’t laugh. What’s there to laugh about? A giggle – well sure. Not a laugh. Hah! Laugh it seems. What a hoot! Why is she talking through the walls to the other masseuse? Is she commenting? Judging? What did the other masseuse say? Why is she laughing again? What’s the joke? Share. Please. Share. Okay. Listen. I just happen to be a little more sensitive to foreign touch you know. I don’t mean foreign-foreign. Just anyone who is not me. Not anyone. I meant any woman. Any woman who is not me. But between the age of 18 and 40. Okay maybe 50. It’s the oil. And the music. Stop giggling you cheap masseuse whore. Stop!   

If you aren’t sufficiently mortified by now, she proceeds to straddle your lower body before beginning the rubbing cycles again. Only this time, she’s conveniently perched around the aforementioned loin cloth and I’ve become the pommel horse on which she performs her crude calisthenics. Given that she’s wearing a dress, not trousers, we have now graduated to generous amounts of thigh to thigh contact. My face has become the canvas which her hair strokes back and forth attempting to paint an abstract masterpiece.

She has me in a modestly uncomfortable position, I think. She has my clothes. She has my money. If she decides to run, I am a near naked, turned-on man, running down the streets of Saigon searching for a thieving massage girl.

I won’t look good. 

On my flight back to Singapore (which, my dear readers, is my new home) I’m left wondering what had I paid for. It didn’t look good. I had sex. Only I didn’t. I got a massage. Only I didn’t. 

30 dollars for dodgy foreplay and subtle molestation. 

Sounds just about right, I think. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Same same but different

I am a fairly non-violent person. The only people I ever want to harm or, at the very least, maim are the vegetarians – the ‘by choice’ idiots, not the my-God-says-so ones. But after backpacking through Cambodia, I wanted to bludgeon every communist in the world to death.

In high school the only thing I made of communism was that all commies had hammers and sickles for hands, ate the same boiled oats, wore the same grey pinafores and jute bras fashioned from gunnysacks, were all named Lenin or Svetlana. They were convinced that man did not deserve the luxury of choice or opinion. Commies had sex only when they ran out of Lenins to work in the field. Chess was their only vice.  

There was this other brand of communism that I was unaware of, active in Cambodia in the late 70’s. It involved a retarded man deciding that everyone in his country should be marched to the countryside to dig holes. If you protested, and were lucky, you were shot immediately. If not, you were specimen B for some grim experiment at a concentration camp. You did not attempt to escape the country for you would be blown to bits by one of the ten million landmines that this communist genius dotted his own country with. 10 million mines for 7 million people. In four years of communist regime, the population of Phnom Penh fell from 850,000 to a mind-numbing seven (not thousand).

Not just the commies. A visit to Cambodia and you would want to personally decapitate Henry Kissinger, the most astute diplomat since the guy who tried to come up with a partition plan for India. At his behest, just under 3 million tons of bombs were sneakily dropped across southern Cambodia in an attempt to kill Vietnamese guerilla forces that might have taken shelter there. 3 million tons of artillery as a ‘just in case’ seems fair enough, right?

I am not a fan of the rest of America either. Especially the sixty year old, pot bellied, sun tanned, ignorant pricks who travel to Asia looking for true love in the form of an underage, Asian, budget prostitute. I say Asian and not Cambodian, Thai or Vietnamese, because to an American they’re all the same – Thai.

“If you're a previously unemployable ex-convenience store clerk from Leeds or Tulsa, a guy with no conscience and no chance of ever knowing the love of an un-intoxicated woman, then Cambodia can be a paradise.”

– A Cook’s Tour, Anthony Bourdain

This ‘paradise’ leaves you a depressed traveler. You’re not sure what to make of the bus load of Cambodians laughing away at an inane TV skit only a fraction as funny as the Teletubbies. How pained does one have to be to find even this funny? Or the swarms of kids who surround you asking for a dollar for every knickknack you relieve them of. Or the prostitute who promises to love you long time. You cannot help but wonder if it’s allegorical that the biggest club in Phnom Penh is called the Heart of Darkness?

In a country playing catch up with the rest of Asia, however, it’s of some consolation to meet Hak, the 23 year old backpacker lodge owner who will give you the best room in the world that 5 dollars can buy. Serai, the 20 year old hawker who takes your email-id ‘just in case’ she learns how to use a computer in the future or Seah, a twenty something waitress at a rundown shack who wants to learn English so she can be my tour guide the next time I visit Cambodia.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be a next time Seah.