Bangkok Girl – Falang (Behind Bangkok’s Smile)

I have been watching some movies with the residents lately, since noone has a DVD player and we are sick of HBO nonsense. I played them the Aussie classic “He Died with a Felafel in his Hand” by British writer John Birmingham (which none had seen, but all loved), and I played them Kevin Smith’s Clerks (who the Welsh and Bulgarian guys hadn’t seen).

But I wanted a Thai movie. I wanted to see more of Thailand. I’m in the middle of a great Indian Bollywood movie about Bangkok called Bangkok Summer which showcases the city beautifully, but I wanted an actual Thai movie. I found something different. I found a documentary by a Canadian who had visited Bangkok as a tourist and seen the pretty smiles on the girls here and thought it was such a happy place. Then he came back again, and he discovered another side. It’s called “Falang: Behind Bangkok’s Smile” but the English DVD version is just called Bangkok Girl.

He met a girl named Pla was 19 and had worked in a bar since she was 13. The bar was a pickup joint, run by a falang, a foreigner to Thailand. Guys could come there and drink, or pickup girls to take home. But Pla was not involved with that, she said. She just mixed drinks.

The amazing thing is, not only is she talking about the neighbourhood that she live in (she refers at one point to the main road outside my apartment building), but she is like so many waitresses I’ve met in South East Asia. Pretty girls who move from the countryside and have sick parents who they need to earn money to send home to. And sometimes, when Granny sick, well, maybe there’s a point where you need to put morals aside and do what you have to do to save granny’s life, whether it be a scam, a theft, or prostitution. If you’ve read my previous blogs about Vietnam, you will know that I was, seemingly conned and swindled and robbed by a number of girls in my time there. But I was overly trusting. I will trust anybody with a sweet smile, and the girls here, they all have sweet smiles.

But the director learns something by the end of his film. That there is a lot more behind that Bangkok smile than just happiness and a warm greeting to a stranger. There is a story. A story of sadness, and hardship. And I have to warn you now, the movie, for an amateur documentary that this guy knocked up with a cheap camera on a visit to Bangkok, turns into something amazing, and the ending will just punch you in the face out of nowhere like Chuck Norris’ fist.

This is a side of Bangkok that is sad. It’s a side of Saigon too and many other cities, it’s just Bangkok is well, the biggest social problem of this nature. But I know girls back in Vietnam who are just like Pla. Early 20’s, working in a bar to send money back home. Won’t tell mum where they work and don’t want any photos online. Paying a fortune for English lessons, university and rent in a filthy, tiny apartment they share with a co-worker, and maybe… maybe they need money sometimes. Urgently. That’s when the falang gets his way, and the Thai girl loses a little piece of herself.

I look back and I think so clearly. “This is Hoa”, or “This is Nhi”, or even “This is Twe”. My friends. I know, in a place like where they live, when it comes to the crunch, sometimes you have to make tough decisions and you have to do what you have to do to survive. Be it ripping off a friend, stealing, or selling your body.

When Pla talks about how falang comes to Bangkok and chats up a girl and promises her the earth and says “I will come back for you”, many girls are heartbroken. Because the guy goes home and never emails, never calls, and never comes back. And the girl is left with a hole in her heart. That was Nhi. I told you that story on my blog one day. How she couldn’t date another foreigner right now because she had been in love with a British guy who had captured her heart for four months, then returned home, and just never responded to her emails, never rang, and never came back. She thought it was love, but to him, it was just a holiday. I know these people. I may not have met her, but I know Pla. She could be the sad girl I met on the train last week. I don’t know. But I know her. I have met these people and this is real, and tragic.

Now, I shouldn’t do this, but this movie is only available on a very exclusive private site. You won’t be able to buy it. It was made for a documentary TV station. The chances of you finding this DVD are slim to none, but if you do, count yourself lucky and buy it. But instead, I’m providing it as a http download straight on my site here. It’s low grade VCD quality and 450mb in size for a 45 minute film. Deal with it. Use a resuming downloader if you can, but if you have a fast enough internet connection, you may be able to stream this as it’s not very high bitrate.

Falang – Behind Bangkok’s Smile (AVI) 450mb

“Behind Bangkok’s Smile”

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One Response to Bangkok Girl – Falang (Behind Bangkok’s Smile)

  1. Bangkok girl says:

    Thailand girl”

    ” Thailand girl”provides a glimpse into Thailand’s notorious and booming sex tourism industry through the experiences of a 20-year-old bar girl. Working in the bars from the age of fourteen, she has managed to avoid selling her body a remarkable revelation given her surroundings—but her refusal to take part in this all-too-common profession for young Thai women can’t last. The introduction of foreigners, to Thailand has forever changed the city, the economy.www.bangkoksexy.com

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