What is Living in Thailand REALLY Like?

Honesty, Gwat Jap, 150 Ladyboys Passable as Ladies

The following are two true stories about ladyboys in Thailand I found.

Perfect 10 Thai ladyboy

When I write, I’m writing the truth from my perspective 100%.

I’m not distorting things at all. To me it just doesn’t feel right to change what really happened.

On the other hand, I write selectively.

There are things that happen that won’t get written about.

There are things that I’ve considered writing about and then re-considered knowing that full disclosure wasn’t called for.

I get a special thrill out of revealing some of the whacky shite that goes on in my life. But, the wackiest material I tend to keep to myself.  I should spill it all as it would make the blog worth reading, but some parts of your life you keep secret you know?  Not that I have a whole part of my life that’s secret, you know? But just small things that happen that are not WHO you are, but they reveal something about yourself…

Ok, let me give an example of a small thing that happened that is sort of embarrassing to admit, but well, it’s not a big deal.

I went to sleep at 5pm today – just to lie down really and “rest my eyes” as my mother used to say.  It always meant she was sleeping, but in America we are embarrassed to say we need a nap so we say stuff like “resting our eyes”.

When I woke up it was 10pm. Holy hell!  What happened?  I was completely out for 5 hours. I’ve had enough sleep recently, maybe just the stress of things getting to me.

I lay there considering whether it was worth it to get up and go find something to eat for my missed dinner. There are plenty of places that are open to eat at night, it’s just a chore finding which one has the foodstuff I want.  Restaurants are nearly all closed, except restaurant/bar places which I don’t go to alone much. The other places to eat are the food stores that are all over the town. Some of these places are great. Some I know and love – the somtam place is the best I’ve had anywhere in Isaan.  There are places that make noodles and chicken over rice and just about anything at that hour. Trick was, finding the one I wanted.

I’m running solo for a bit, girlfriend is traveling with family and we may not get back in sync for a few months. That means the dreaded.  The almost unthinkable. I need to read and speak Thai to get things done.

This shouldn’t be a big problem considering I’ve been here about 2.5 years. However, do you know how difficult THAI IS?  There are 5 tones – that are virtually impossible to remember consistently. If one is not speaking everyday then one could forget speaking properly. It’s quite difficult and I’ve relied on my girlfriend to do ALL the things that require Thai language or speaking.  I’ve picked up quite a bit just listening, but nothing beats practice.

I drove around for 20 minutes and looked at all the usual places I eat som tam and bbq chicken but tonight I was in the mood for something warm and filling. No, it wasn’t cold outside and I don’t know WHY I crave hot noodle soup like I do, but I do.

That meant Gwit Diao or Gwat Jap.  I had almost given up when I remembered a place that a Thai friend had taken me to one night late. I thought it was gwit diao but the lady said gwat jap. Both are noodle soups and I don’t know the real difference between them except the gwat jap is darker. The noodles are a bit thicker and a bit overcooked usually. That’s the difference to me. They’re both Chinese based I think.

Anyway, so I spent 30 minutes talking in Thai to the owner of this food stand. She was insistent and kept talking and talking and repeating and re-phrasing… it was great practice, though at times frustrating. When trying to say simple things without any context, like when I think she didn’t understand and I repeat one word over and over – she didn’t get it. Thais’ use the context to understand us so when there isn’t any it’s quite hard for them to ‘get it’.

Me needing to speak Thai for half an hour isn’t the part I wanted to talk about.

When I went to fill up the gas tank on the motorbike I stopped at the ONLY open gas station in town at 10:40pm (it’s good to know where the ONE is in your town too if you’re out late because you’ll run out of gas before finding it on your own when you need it). As I stepped off the motorbike I saw this supercute girl – maybe 18 sitting with her obviously ladyboy friend and some of the other guys working the pumps. In Thailand they pump it FOR you. It’s cool! I haven’t had that since early 1980’s maybe back in the USA.

So – the girl filling my tank (yes, girls do it too) pointed at her friend – the cute one – and said, “Suay, mai?” (Pretty, no?) I said, Suay, Maa. (Very pretty).

The girl I thought was cute was looking at me and flirting with me and I thought – wow man, she is TOO good looking. Then it hit me after I looked away from her. She’s a ladyboy. My god, this one was almost a perfect girl! I was fooled for the first minute or so, but then I added it up.

Girl sitting around gas station + with her obviously ladyboy friend + that looked TOO good + that had perfect skin, a cute outfit, and some makeup + is flirtatious without even having said hi = is always a ladyboy.

Ladyboys hang with other lady boys.

When I see a drop dead gorgeous girl here my ladyboy meter usually kicks on automatically. Being a perfect girl is hard to do, I consider one out of 1000 to be perfect. Ladyboys for some reason have the uncanny ability to be in that elite group just as often as real women. Go figure. It doesn’t add up for me – I don’t have a notecard that explains it – but it seems to be true for some odd reason.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m speaking of “perfect” only in the sense that all OUTWARD appearances BEFORE she starts speaking.  Once they start speaking I can pick 99/100 as ladyboys. Still – that one percent is tricky – especially if you’re drunk.

If I’m ripped off my azz I still can pick 95/100. But then there’s 4% sneaking into the equation then, aren’t there?  5% with the possibility of fooling me.

I’ve probably told this story before, but here it goes again in shortened form.

I was in Patong staying with that friend I told you about. This guy gave me some sound advice that I thought was hilarious when he said it. I thought, yah, thanks for the tip smart guy, but uh, I won’t be having any trouble in THIS department.

The advice he gave me was…

If you find a girl you like and you are taking her home with you – if it’s gotten to that point, you need to ask her if she’s a ladyboy.

If you are unsure, ask again and again. Get it out in the open before you get into the room.

I had almost forgotten that advice which was given just 2 days prior to the night I found this beautiful little spinner girl that was flirting with me at a bar in Patong. I was mildly inebriated (shitefaced) having had maybe 8 drinks in 4 hours. I had only talked to her about 15 minutes before we were on my motorbike and headed towards a night of bliss.

As we were riding she was sitting behind me on the bike. She grabbed my left hand and put it on her crotch. That was an odd thing that I hadn’t seen a Thai girl do yet. Thai girls, even bargirls are naturally a little reserved about any public display of affection. Even at 2am+ and with the streets deserted.  This girl wasn’t a bargirl and wasn’t an old timer so I thought – something’s up.

Yeah, more than I knew.

I asked her then as we were riding – are you a girl?

She said, YES!  I am Lady!

I asked again… are you a ladyboy?

NO!  WHY do you ask me that?

I started to get scared as these were the usual responses from ladyboys.  If they ask WHY do you ask that – it’s a frequent response.

We got to the house where I was renting a room. We got off the motorbike. I was ready to go, thinking I was just being paranoid. I was looking at her just 2 feet from my face in the strong streetlight by the house and I could plainly see she was absolutely a cute, no gorgeous young girl – about 20 years old.  I told her let’s go…

She just stood there.

I said, come on…

She said, “If I told you now that I’m not a lady would you just let me walk away – and no problems?”

I said, yeah, of course.

She turned around and started walking down the hill.

I was dumbfounded.  I watched her go and kept saying, ARE YOU SURE? ARE YOU SURE?

I wasn’t sure, but he was.

So – that was part of the 5% that can sneak into the equation. It’s a dangerous 5 % that can speak with an acceptable woman’s voice AND fool your eyes from just 2 feet away.

Since then I’ve learned a lot more about the mannerisms of ladyboys (katoeys) and I think that even if I’m drunk stupid I could flush out 96/100.  Not bad odds, but think of the consequences if you’re wrong!

It has been estimated by others with much more applied experience than me that there are around 10,000 girls in Patong Beach that are available in bars, massage places, etc.  How many ladyboys are there?  1000?  I’ll guess that there are 1000 just for the sake of a round number that I don’t think is too far off the mark during high-season.  1000 with a probability of 5% error means that there are 50 perfect ladyboys running around Patong Beach that might be giving you oral magic before you have the slightest idea what is happening or HAS ALREADY happened.

In Pattaya that number would be 3 times higher – if the ratio of ladyboys in Pattaya to Patong is the same as the girl ratio.  150 ladyboys that you COULD NOT TELL.

Scary numbers if you’re ladyboy allergic, eh?


I created this site to focus on expats living in Thailand, and tourists visiting Thailand. Don't miss the blog - Thaipulse.com/blog/. I hope you come away with something positive as a result of visiting Thaipulse.com. Feel free to leave questions or comments at the contact form under Home | Contact above. All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+. Cheers!

2 thoughts on “Honesty, Gwat Jap, 150 Ladyboys Passable as Ladies

  • June 13, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Mate the girl in the pic is stunning…. I love Thai LB’s!!!


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