the butterfly

My nightlife on this trip has included a lot of billiards, mostly because a game like billiards provides a good venue for a solo traveller to meet and chat with people. The billiards tables in southeast asia – in Singapore, Thailand and Laos anyway – all seem to serve the same mix of clientele: travellers, ex-pats, working girls and non-working locals.

As a side note, Vietnam is thankfully a bit different. I haven’t seen working girls in the bars. Late at night here, they seem to lurk in alleyways – on their motorbikes. When they see a passing prospect – like a white guy on the back of a motorbike, a chase ensues. In my case, when I reach my destination – my hotel, for example – they pull up and make their sales pitch. At this point, it’s easy for me to simply duck indoors.

Anyway, In Bangkok, a working girl called me a butterfly, because she said I didn’t stay too long in conversation with any one girl. She told me I flitted from person to person – not just girls, by the way. It’s a somewhat accurate observation, but I actually tend not to move around the bar.

I’ll engage anyone for conversation or a game. Since I stand out as a passing traveller, however, a working girl inevitably strolls up, and conversation will hover around a little harmless flirting. Eventually, some version of the standard “will you take me with you tonight” question comes up, and I make it clear that I’m interested in pool and conversation but no more. After a while, the girl usually goes seeking another prospect, and another steps in to take her place.

I suppose with the “Eligible Bachelors of Singapore” thing, and some of the other stories that I’ve heard are floating around (with some significant embellishments by the way), I’ve created the impression that I’m trying to relive my teenage years here. Not true. Sure there’s been a certain amount of flirting combined with loud music and alcohol, but mainly I’ve made some friends on this trip – female and male – each of whom has shown me something new and different about my temporary home in Asia.

I may be a butterfly, but I’m no playah.