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I managed to get myself sunburnt whilst snorkelling. Normally I wear factor 30 sunscreen, but on this occasion I didn't bother and suffered accordingly. I really should know better considering my fair complexion. I'm now the colour of a ripe tomato and my shoulders are afire and glistening with 'after sun' lotion. We had spent the day at
, a mere 2 hour boat ride from the mainland. To call the island, 'A paradise', doesn't really do it justice. The boat stopped off at a cove which featured in the film, 'The Beach', starring Leo DeCaprio and the evocatively Elfin featured, Tilda Swinton. I snorkelled to the beach accompanied by shoals of gaily marked fish. Once ashore, several monkeys came down from the surrounding cliffs and regarded me with frank disdain. I tried to stay outside faeces throwing range but they were fast, cunning, and surprisingly accurate. Sadly Mrs FS had forgot to charge the batteries in her camera and therefore our memories will always remain in sepia and eventually fade away once our suitably primed brain cells are no more.......I've digressed. Phi Phi Island
On the night we sampled one of the ubiquitous 'Ladyboy Shows' which are thrust upon you as you weave through the hectic main thoroughfare, Bangla road. I'm not aware of the collective noun for 'Ladyboys', so I'll just call them a 'Bollock'. We entered a darkly lit bar which sported a small stage. Including our party of four, about 20 customers be-speckled (steady, flaxen) the bar area. Just to mention, before I receive moral censure: This was not one of the seedy shows which also abound in 'The Strip'. No nudity; no ballistic ping pong balls and no small rodents were harmed during the performance. You don't pay an entrance fee as such, but are obliged to purchase a drink at an inflated price. A beer costs 300 baht. This is about 4 times the cost of a beer in a standard (is there such a thing?) Bangla road bar and is equivalent to $NZ 13. The 'girls' were dressed up in Carmen Miranda-esque costumes and pranced and mimed about the stage to popular songs. The 'cabaret' was interspersed with comic dance routines performed by an overweight, middle-aged, Ladyboy. All very amateur but strangely entertaining and beguiling, nonetheless. At the end of the 30 minute show we got up to leave; too slow, sexy Western boy! Suddenly we were surrounded by a gaggle of Ladyboys (a bollock, perhaps?). It reminded me of when I was a lad at Skegness beach throwing chips to the gulls. I was that chip. This is where the 'girls' make their real money. A photo with miss 'Mimi' will cost a couple hundred baht. All escape routes are blocked and we were barraged by a cacophony of noise and movement. Some of the other punters knew what was coming and made a rapid exit. And they needed to be very quick as the performers were lightning fast and rapacious once the final note died away. Being of a naturally curious disposition I took the opportunity to observe the 'gulls', sorry 'girls'. Most you could tell were men, although I'm talking through a haze of hindsight. They all wore very heavy makeup to disguise any traces of masculinity. Two of the 'girls' were very convincing, indeed. But I wondered if this would be the case with a lighter application of foundation and lip rouge. Luckily, I will never know. Eventually, we fought our way out of the bar. The whole experience, for myself and Mrs FS, totalled about 13 hundred baht with the drinks and 'photo tax'. Sounds a lot, but works out at $NZ 25 a head. Not bad for an interesting and unique experience.
Although the 'ladies' were amateur performers there is no doubt they were professional hustlers. I have a certain sympathy and respect for these folk. It is not an easy life and the actual takings from the punters was not that great when you consider the number of 'girls' involved. Not a great deal of money to be made for their hard work. And at least, whilst fleecing us, they had the courtesy to smile.
|Not a girl in sight.......|