Friday, May 31, 2013

Kindergarten teacher moonlighting as a stripper

Kindergarten teacher by day, pole dancer by night. Fortunately enough for me, Chinese entertainment managers are always looking for foreign talent. And what I lack in talent, I make up in foreignerness! One night, while the roommates and I were scoping out some new night clubs and I was perhaps a tad inebriated, we wandered into a really cool, well decorated night club. Trees seem to grow up through the ground floor and flourish onto the fourth floor where all the action seemed to be. It was like a little indoor rainforest lined with comfy couches and sporting a pretty good DJ, who I would later know as Jay. Lit up in the center of this intimate discotheque like a holy grail of dance floors was an elevated small stage surrounding a shiny new stripper pole. Naturally, as the attention seeking, crowd pleasing girl I am, I lept up on this untouched mecca and rocked some of my amateur dancing and pole tricks. I was drunk so in my head, I was a limber and flowing Esmeralda. And luckily sitting across from this spectacle, was the owner of the bar who may have been as drunk if not more than myself. He beckoned over my friends and me and insisted we drink with him. Free liq? Don't mind if we do! So shot of beer after shot of beer, he begged me to start dancing at his club on the reg. Every night from 10pm to 1am I was to come to the bar, my friends invited, he would provide us beers and we were to drink with the guests. Then twice for five minutes each, I would perform some pole dancing, don't worry, no clothing removal, just dancing. Payment, 200 RMB a night. This is only equivalent to about 30 bucks but to hang out and drink and dance AND get paid? Come up! I do that for free all the time!
           So I started working there everynight. At first it was awesome, and the mates came along. And because I am NOT a dancer but merely a crowd pleaser, if people weren't watching or cheering I felt like a limp marionette being controlled by a lazy and drunken puppeteer. Most nights, when no one would go with me, I would sit by myself for 30 minutes or longer, bored and waiting for someone to call me to their table to drink along with them. A pretty foreign girl seen at their table cheersing and playing Chinese drinking games with them, the Nirvana of social status. Due to this part of my job description, by the time it was time for me to get up and dance, I was often quite drunk, affecting the crispness of my moves and ability to do spins and simple pole lifts. I turned into a messy blob of movement and looked like a toddler trying to walk for the first time. Additionally, drinking sometimes heavily everynight was not setting my body up for quick recovery from all the pole bruisers I was incurring all over my legs. I looked like I a soccer player that couldn't afford to by shin guards. I imagined this is what Nancy Kerrigan's legs looked like post Tonya Harding.
 Luckily, my kindergarten classes were scheduled for afternoons so I had mornings to recover. But as an almost thirty, not so in shape alcoholic, this job was killing me. I started taking more and more nights off and was desperately seeking the break from the pole when I left for Thailand. Not so surprisingly, I was thrilled when I came home from my two week Thai sabbatical to learn I was no longer employed at Eleven bar. I picked up additional kindergarten classes in the morning, which at my age, is more my style. And having recently gotten engaged (!!!), this was more appropriate. Some nights at the club, guys would ask me to be their girlfriend, try to kiss me and one night I even got asked to "make love." I told the guy I wasn't that kind of girl and I had a boyfriend...he didn't seem to care. He grabbed my head and tried to ram his slug of a tongue down my throat. I turned and pushed but he was too strong so instead I got a horse lick up the side of my face! Yuck! I felt like a baby kitten getting a bath. I left immediately after that feeling both violated and like I needed a shower, this was the last night I had worked at Eleven. And I was only happy to return for the easy money, after all I have an expensive wedding to save for. But when I was dismissed, I was relieved. I do enjoy dancing and people being excited about it, even if my audience is white girl wasted and the only way I look like Beyonce is through their beer goggles. Plus, I was really beginning to dread that job, dancing wasn't fun anymore. It had become work. Now I dance for free and it's fun again. So good bye stripper Laura. Welcome back drunken attention seeker!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chiang Mai Vs. the rest of Thailand

In a post Hangover 2 world, I feel people only think of Thailand as a hot, smoggy Bangkok. And while early posts of mine talk the world of this City of Life, I can boast with confidence to future Thailand travelers to skip this bustling city of scam artists, tourist traps and more Europeans than the world cup and fly right into Chiang Mai. This crafty, quiet city has the charm of an old country city and somehow still the convenience of an international city. It's streets are littered with little massage boutiques, open air cafes and the occasional tattoo parlor and aside from the few touristy sites, less foreigners than most Thai cities. During the day, mopeds and pedestrians flood the simple streets and at dusk most venture to the colorful night bazaar or local lady boy cabaret show. The city hosts several elaborate wats (buddhist temples) and the only large buildings are resorts or hotels. Just outside metropolitan Chiang Mai lies stunning mountains and lush jungle. There is a tiger "kingdom" which is easily accesible by tour trips but I recommend renting a motor bike and following a map. The scenic drive is only a little hectic when first leaving the old city and soon becomes easier and peaceful once you pass the main highways. The whole trip seems to take about 45 minutes to an hour but is worth the time. Plus, when you find a place yourself and aren't accompanied by fellow tourists, the trip seems to be that much better! The tiger kingdom is worth the visit. Not overly expensive to pet and play with the debatably drugged felines and take trillions of pictures. The staff is incredibly friendly and the tigers don't seem to be treated poorly, with the exception of an obvious heroine addiction to keep them from mauling the tourists. Many times the tiger would snap out of his high and move a little to brisk for my
comfortability and I would quickly feel like a guest at Jurassic Park, but the staff knew how to bring the tiger back down so nobody was eaten that day.