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Issue #16 (December 1982)
Bali -- my weekend reward after working in less pleasant environs.
Bali - the word conjures up visions of beautiful beaches, fascinating superstitious cultures, topless native women. I was disappointed with the over-commercialization: a Hyatt-Bali, discotheques such as the Bali Sand Bar, overrun with Australians, peddlers on the beach - just like Puerto Vallarta. The beaches rank as so-so and the fascinating superstitious culture has also been commercialized; the natives still believe, and follow their old practices, but they sell tickets to cremations to tourists. Just [quoteright]the thing; you get up for breakfast and are greeted with a sign posted at the hotel desk proclaiming CREMATION TODAY! Wonderful. Cremations are a big deal there, quite expensive as lots of food and incense are consumed and sacrificed. Sometimes they can't afford a cremation right when someone dies. They might wait up to ten years. I did not inquire what was done with the remains in the intervening period. Sort of a die now, pay later plan.
I did see a few topless native women out in the countryside. However, they were far outnumbered by topless Aussies laying about Kuta Beach. I have a wonderful picture of a group of Balinese crowding around a topless Aussie lass, peddling trinkets. It should be mentioned that the more traditional Indonesians in Jakarta tend to frown on the Aussie decadence that goes on in Bali.
Ipoh. Its distinguishing feature is that it has lots of massage parlors. Malaysia still has provinces that are ruled by honest-to-God sultans. The sultan of the province Ipoh is in apparently takes a fancy to having ladies around, and he allows the massage parlors to flourish. They are banned in most of the rest of Malaysia, which is a Moslem country. The girls in Ipoh are far more commercially oriented than their counterparts in Thailand.
Bangkok. Bangkok's most famous commodity is women: beautiful, talented, friendly, and available for a nominal amount. Tour groups from Germany and Japan go to Bangkok for two week "sex vacations." It is the favored rest and recreation port for expatriates working in the Middle East. I lived in Thailand for a year about eight years ago, and a lot of my fondest memories center about the ladies. This year, I did not find Bangkok's women as enticing in reality as in my memory. California Mensa women are better. The fact that I'm not quite as much a male chauvinist now as I was ten years ago might also contribute to the difference in my enjoyment of the Bangkok scene.
All that notwithstanding, the ladies for hire in Bangkok are far different from their counterparts in other places; they really want to have a good time themselves while working. The main reason for the difference is that in Thailand prostitution is not looked down upon too much. A lot of the girls work quite hard, sending money home to their villages. There is no stigma attached to this. After a few years of working they can go home and get married, raise a family, etc. In most other countries, once a girl has worked in that particular trade her reputation and chances of a decent marriage are shot. Because of this cultural acceptance, the atmosphere associated with the girls is one of pleasure and fun; most of the "seedy" qualities found in places like North Beach are missing.
The nightlife in Bangkok is spectacular. Just about everyone's tastes are catered to somewhere in the city. At one end of the spectrum, there are some very high class places. At the other end of the spectrum, there are night clubs where the proprietor and employees have no qualms about doing whatever they think will attract the attention (and dollars) they want. I saw a show where some of the ladies did the most incredible feats with their vaginas, including opening sealed bottles of Coke (factory-sealed, not tampered with -- I checked), pulling out a string with 10 razor blades attached, shooting a banana across the stage, and smoking a cigarette. After being entertained by these various solo athletic treats, a young Thai couple came out and copulated in a variety of positions such that my back went out just watching them. The young man seemed rather bored with the whole thing. There were a few European and American women in the audience (with their escorts); the stud jokingly offered some of them try. They all declined.