As cumbersome as typing out the entire phrase is, I try to use ‘sexpats and sex tourists’ in my postings to be all inclusive. But I’m lazy and sometimes use only one of the two designations to stand for both. There is a difference, but not much of one. Sex tourists may only be visiting the kingdom, but dwell full time in a Pattaya state of mind; Sexpats are those who’ve made the move to their idea of paradise but spend the majority of their time in pursuit of boys in the bars and on the beach, just like sex tourists do. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with either. But the mindset is the same. Looking to get laid, getting laid, and thinking about looking to get laid rules the day for the sexpat and the sex tourist alike.
They also share in common the characteristic for coming up with some wild justifications for the things they do and to explain a culture totally foreign, one never to be assimilated into their daily lives. Whether it’s due to wearing rose-colored glasses or blinders, it’s a common enough trait amongst tourists the world over. Sexpats and sex tourists just seem to take it to a whole new level. There’s an excuse, a rationalization, a defense for everything they do; an explanation, a reason, an interpretation to resolve the unfamiliar, the foreign, the different. They’re justifications, but in honor of the sex tourist I call them justavacations. They’re the asinine excuses for tourist behaving badly, the insensitive expedients for explaining a foreign culture. And there is no place you’ll find better – or more – examples than on the gay Thailand message boards.
Years ago, although undoubtedly still a popular idea today, was the belief professed on the boards that bar boys preferred one star hotel rooms over 5 star accommodations because they were a more familiar environ. Ditto for eating at a noodle stand for dinner rather than a sit-down restaurant that actually had a printed menu. Typical of a justavacation, it actually sounds like it makes sense; the fish out of water syndrome is a believable phenomenon. But in reality, it’s a justavacation used by cheap bastards to excuse their frugality.
Before I wised up enough to remind myself that advice coming out of Pattaya should be taken for what it’s worth, I fell for that ‘book a cheap room ‘cuz your boy du jour will love it’ line. It was the first time I was taking Noom to a far-flung destination. Okay, so Chiang Mai isn’t really that flung, but for him it was and I wanted to ensure he was comfortable. The look on his face when we checked into the room was enough to tell me I’d just made a grave error. When he discovered there was no TV, he made sure that look alone wouldn’t have to stand on its own to make sure I never went downscale again.
It’s kinda like those who claim a one-star hotel room is all they really need ‘cuz they don’t spend much time in the room anyway. Which flies in the face of what being a sex tourist is all about. And totally disregards the fact that a one-star room comes in a one-star hotel. Which usually means no amenities, bad service, and no respect. Not to mention decor tacky enough to turn a gay man straight. It’s another sex tourist justavacation. That makes no sense. Unless you are a cheap bastard. One of the pluses of Thailand is that you can get a room that would run you $200 back home for under $100 a night. Just because you can find a room for $20 doesn’t mean that you should. No matter how you justavacate it.
But it’s not just about being cheap. Okay, so it is often about being cheap, but justavacations are popular for how and why sexpats and sex tourists treat bar boys the way they do too. Even when they call them boyfriends. Horror stories about bad bar boys abound, bad boyfriend tales are common. And so we hear, yet again, about a young Canadian’s failed relationship with a bar boy he turned into a boyfriend after knowing him a week and then spent the next several years living together in misery all because of the boy’s lack of ambition and drive. Which is, in this case, the justavacation for everything that went wrong with their doomed romance. Because a sexpat will never concede that he too may have been at fault, that he never was the white in shining armor the boy envisioned him to be.
Currently there’s a thread on Jabba The Butt’s board, the most popular in ages, about the most recent raid on Sunee Plaza. It’s a treasure trove of justavacations. King Butt himself starts the thread off with rumored reports a raid is underway, noting that it appears to be focused on drugs but that Jabba doesn’t know if “other matters will also be checked.” Wink, wink. Jabba’s big on reminding everyone that Sunee Plaza’s problem with underage shenanigans is a thing of the past. As in the good old days. Even though ‘the past’ means a major bust for underage sex occurred less than two years ago. Granted, for a Pattaya sexpat that’s like eons, if not a life-span ago. But among Sunee fans, claiming pedos in paradise is a problem of yesteryear is a popular justavacation. Even while a raid is going on.
The thread quickly dissolved into the usual. There was the justavacation that the raid wasn’t about drugs or underage sex, but that the police were targeting gay bars because it makes for good publicity. Which ignores all the other raids over the last few months at the straight bar areas. Because facts never work well with a good justavacation. Jabba concurred. And then reminded one and all how it is “rare for pedophile arrests to occur.” Anymore. Just to keep the thread on subject. But despite his best attempts, forum threads have a mind of their own and this one turned back to the Boys in Brown. Kinda, sorta. A long-time poster offered up the justavacation that the problem with Sunee Plaza’s rep for being a paradise for child molesters is/was not the fault of the boy lovers but rather the root cause is/was the police themselves.
His was an amazing bit of justavacational logic, all centered on how corrupt the police in Thailand are. In short, he professed that if not for the greedy cops demanding tea money there would never have been a problem with underage sex workers in Sunee to begin with. And even if you need to place the blame elsewhere, the fact is the boys are but pawns. That’s the fault of corruption. Not the pedos. And, obviously, “nothing short of total cultural transformation will get at the root” of Sunee’s problem. ‘Cuz when you have an entire culture to blame, there’s no need to justavacate the acts of those who’d be thrown in jail for diddling the country’s youth back home.
I’ve always gotten a kick out of Dodger, who personifies the bar boy as a boyfriend experience. His Pollyanaesque exploits in Sodom By The Sea always make for a good read, despite the trials and tribulations he often goes through during his annual romances with a string of boyfriends and husbands in Thailand. His is a never say die attitude. Even when some of those boyfriends have died. So I probably would have given him a pass on his lengthy comment blaming all of Sunee’s notoriety on the cops, but never knowing when to quit beating a dead horse too, he wasn’t finished offering justavacations for the ways of the world of the sexpat.
After providing a primer on Thailand’s love motels, and professing that the country’s ever popular Second Wife syndrome is about nothing more than prostitution, he went on to explain the Thai concept of mai pen rai has a much broader and deeper meaning in Thai culture than the common interpretation of it meaning no worries, it’s okay, it doesn’t matter, no problem, don’t worry about it, it is what it is, don’t sweat the small stuff, life goes on, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Dodger says it means don’t see, don’t speak, don’t think too much too. And so when the police are conducting a raid on places like Sunee Plaza, in their cultural view they are standing in the middle of a road filled with love motels and ignore that fact because of the don’t see, don’t speak, don’t think too much mai pen rai aspect of Thailand’s culture. I’m not sure how tea money, corruption, and underage sex works into that justavacation, but now you know.
But wait! There’s more! Dodger likes to consider himself a good Buddhist. And according to Dodger that’s not so much about what you do but how you do it. The problem – and the need for a good justavacation – is that by ‘it’ he means prostitution. No problemo. Or mai pen rai if you prefer. The Buddha still has your back. “As long as you show respect for the boys who are servicing your needs and treat them well then you are identified as having “good thinking”…”good actions”…”good karma”…”jai dee” all of which are key components of Buddhism and considered far more significant than any hand-written laws” according to the gospel written by Dodger.
I’m not sure the local Buddhist abbot would agree that hiring a male prostitute to suck you off quite qualifies under the good thinking, good action precepts of his religion, but as a justavacation that surely reaches a state of enlightenment. Kinda like how the ‘pro-life’ folk justavacate being pro capital punishment too. Because a good justavacation doesn’t require that you actually be on holiday, a vacation from reality works just as well.
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