So you’re planning to meet some ladyboys in Pattaya? Read this.
The whole of south-east Asia is remarkable for its highly visible populations of transsexual women. These are not at all the same as you may be used to thinking of, if you are a Westerner. They’re not like Bruce ‘Caitlyn’ Jenner. (See my discussions on Ray Blanchard for more details.)
Ladyboys in Thailand and across Asia are not like that at all. They are
beautiful and very sexy. They are extremely feminine in appearance and manners. From their early teens they use female hormones, often birth control pills which are freely available without prescription. These can turn them into staggeringly beautiful women. And the fact is that many men are powerfully attracted to them.
My plan had originally been to make my trip to Asia after Christmas, but Crissy had told me that she was unlikely to be available then. I was in contact with a number of girls, but only she had that spark, and I knew I wanted to meet her. She was lively and enthusiastic, but had an edge about her and a depth too, that I liked. She had a way of just knowing what I was thinking, even before I said it, that always bodes well for a new relationship.
So I rearranged my schedule. In fact, November is the best time to go to southeast Asia in any case. The typhoon season should have come to an end, and the temperatures are relatively low, with lots of sunshine. In addition, flight prices are twenty per cent or so cheaper then, than in March or April. I readily persuaded myself that making the trip sooner was justified on a whole raft of counts; other, of course, than my interest in getting to know Crissy a whole lot better…
‘It’s as if a couple of jumbo-jets of Western culture crashed into a container-ship of Asia and the wreckage is still settling.’ These words jump out at me as I read over my notes. And it’s true; the Philippines is a cultural conundrum, a Rubik’s Cube of interlaced and interlocked themes, memes, images and sensations.
It’s not like India, where the veneer of Westernism added by a couple of hundred years of British domination is so thin it seems as flimsy as a bride’s veil, yet definitely attached, as if the bride herself is shy about lifting it, nor Thailand, where Western cultural influences seem grafted on, bizarrely co-exiting with something older and fundamentally opposed. Instead, the Philippines is a genuine melting-pot, a sculptor’s crucible where metallic elements are alloyed to make something completely new. The roots of European culture here go deep, deep into the fertile soil of Asia, and the resulting foliage is strange, at once familiar yet surprising.
Manila is huge. Apart from Manila itself, the conurbation of Metro Manila includes other cities that would themselves be enormous by any other measure: Makati, Pasig, Quezon, Cavite, and others. So transport is a major part of Manila life. But this is Asia, and unlike Europe, there is no organised public transport. There are no service buses, no trams or metro systems oganised by local government. Everything is run privately, and the sheer amount of private transport provision is staggering.
Given that I have not yet see anyone carrying a passenger on his shoulders, and horse-and-cart solutions are reserved for the tourist area of Intramuros, the old part of Manila, the most basic, though not always the cheapest, means of transport is the gloriously named ‘pedicab’. This is a bicycle with a side-car.
The main problem with this solution, leaving aside the thorny moral issue of whether it can be right for a 14-stone Scotsman and an admittedly much lighter Filipina to be push-biked around by a sweating 9-stone Pinoy, is the complete lack of suspension on these contraptions. Since the roads in Manila resemble the Somme after a barrage, this means a bone-jarring ride that risks lumbar impaction.
Boracay is a bouquet of impressions. Triangular sails silhouetted against the sunset, tropical forest all around, an avenue of palms along the beach. Pure white sand, clear, unpolluted tropical water, adventure excursions, fun night-life and a laid-back atmosphere—not to mention exotic dancing girls. All this at prices that remain very reasonable. Does this appeal? Well, instead of Phuket or Bali, consider a trip to Boracay instead.
Boracay (pronounced bor-AH-cay) is an island in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. It’s a popular resort amongst Filipinos and other Asians. It has an amazing beach, lots of eco-tourism and adventure sport, and great night-life. However it is relatively unknown by Western tourists, and remains fairly unspoiled and friendly. Plus, for Brits and other anglophones, English is almost universally understood and very widely spoken in the Philippines.
I met Denis Poulot by the old lavoir as I ambled down to the Salle des Fetes. We’ve known each other for 24 years now; we’ve never been especially close but we share a relaxed camaraderie. We paused in our journeys to shake hands and exchange formalities, then carried on. Inevitably, this being Bastille Day, 14 July and we were both going to the ceremonial vin d’honneur, we chatted about Bastille Days past.
Denis drew up and looked into the distance. ‘It’s not the same any more.’
Molinot is a village deep in the Arriere Cote of Burgundy, has been a part of my life since 1993. In those days, the village was famous for the extravagance of its Bastille Day celebrations and people would come from miles away to enjoy them. Indeed, ours was so popular that many villages around had their celebrations on another day, since all the locals were at ours; and of course we reciprocated, making for a thoroughly convivial week.
I’m back from the Philippines again. As many of you will know, I’ve been going there every winter for the last few years.
I started in 2012, with a short 3-week stay; 2013 was longer, with a 6-week one. Then in 2014 I went for just under 4 months and in the next two years, just under 5 each, with this last being the longest. Although the last visit was not without its difficulties, I now know that I love the Phils. It seems like the place I always wanted to live but never knew where it was. Continue reading I’m back from the Philippines. And I don’t like that.→
It’s Easter. In fact, this is the 60th Easter I have passed on Earth, although I don'[t remember the first few. Or, for that matter a good selection of those that came after. However, Easter is an important time. It is the beginning of Spring, officially defined as the first full moon after the Spring Equinox and, perhaps more importantly, the moment when the year comes into bloom. I know this might not be apparent in Canada and suchlike airts, but still. You should have left them to the Indians.
As the beginning of the year of fertility, Easter is a great Goddess festival and was such, long before it was hijacked by Christians. Indeed it was celebrated in ancient Sumer, 7,000 years ago, when the High Priestess would take a young man as consort for the year. We do not know what his fate was at the end of it. Still it is a time of giving thanks, when we should express our gratitude. And so I do.
I am grateful firstly for my four wonderful children, without whom my life would have had no real meaning. I am grateful that I am still here myself, with all my faculties intact and even a full head of hair; so I must also thank my Martin forebears, who all went to their graves with luxuriant thatches. (The Flemings are all bald as coots by 40; I am grateful to have avoided that particular gene.)
I am grateful for something else too. I came to the Philippines in December to meet a particular woman, who regular readers might recall. However it was not as I had hoped and on Christmas Day 2015 we parted forever. For some weeks I dated girls here and really enjoyed it. It was like being at college again, only better. As a mature and sophisticated man, I have confidence that I lacked back then. Dating was a real pleasure and had you asked me in early January I would have said that I would have been happy to go on doing it as long as I had breath.
But at the end of that month I met a girl — well, she met me, to be honest. And the upshot of that is that now, on this Easter Sunday, I am grateful that I am passionately and completely loved by an incredibly beautiful young woman, with the face of an angel and the body of Botticelli’s Venus rising. She asks nothing of me; I even have to persuade her to go shopping for clothes. All that she asks is that I have time for her and return the love that she so willingly and generously extends to me. And I am very grateful for that.I do not know where this will go but I can tell you that I have never felt so loved by a woman in my life.
Any man who, in later life, finds himself alone and yet desires not to be, will discover, as I did, that there are many beautiful women who will make themselves available. Young, glamorous and sexy. And as long as the flow of money towards them is maintained, they will remain so. Some people call these women ‘high maintenance’.
But the fact is that not all women are like that at all. And the harpies who preach from the wings about ‘age appropriate’ relationships are wrong. There are no ‘age appropriate’ relationships. There are only people. If you love someone, that’s it. As I wrote in The Warm Pink Jelly Express Train, your soul is as old as the hills and as young as the dawn; and even curmudgeonly old atheists like me have soul, though we know we don’t have souls.
So my advice is this: ignore the Politically Correct whingeing of bitter old people whose lives long since ceased to have meaning, who are winding down into their long wait for death and seize the day. Yes, you’ll meet gold-diggers, but even that’s not all that bad, you know. The rewards can be considerable. Even if she only sees you as a way to have a better life, or to provide for the children fathered by another man, that does not mean she won’t be good to you, nor does it mean that you will not enjoy the experience. In the end, she might love you too.
Then again you might, just might, run into the real thing, as well: a woman who really loves you, who doesn’t care that the years have taken their toll and who will nurse you when you’re sick. Who never asks for money, and who says her old clothes are fine, she doesn’t need new — but who will be gracious when you insist. Who goes to market and shops thriftily, so that you and she can eat well together without spending a fortune. Who is as happy to stay home and watch a movie as she is to be dined out — as long as she is with you. Who is smart and will talk about religion and philosophy with you, if you so wish; or whatever you want to discuss, because whatever interests you, interests her. Who is so mesmerisingly beautiful that just looking at her brings tears to your eyes, and who refuses to go to sleep at night without caressing your face with her fingertips. Who even, incredible though it may seem, says she likes to hear you snoring because it reminds her that you are there, beside her, in bed. Who will turn your sexual dreams into reality and enjoy doing so. Who will staunchly defend you against all criticism and be your protectrice in the face of life’s travails.
If you are so lucky as to find a woman like this, then I advise you to give thanks. There is no ‘god’ and even the Goddess is a metaphor; but there is love, and it is precious. Happy Easter.
A couple of weeks ago I went to Mount Arayat National Park in Pampanga, here in the Philippines.
I’d been invited by some friends to spend the day, with a walk in the mountain park in the morning followed by socialising later. This meant first taking a bus to San Fernando and then another, local bus. We wanted to be there for sunrise, which is why I found myself sitting in a taxi at 3.30 am, hurtling through Quezon City at speeds in excess of 100 kph. It was a good adrenaline rush to start the day. Continue reading Arayat Escapade→
Almost all credible authorities, according to GIRES in the UK, now agree that the baseline minimum for gender non-conformity as ‘at least 1%’ and this has been borne out, again according to GIRES, by recent studies in New Zealand, The Netherlands and Belgium.
Now ‘gender non-conformity’ is a broad church and by no means all of these would identify as transgender. However, research carried out by Professor Lynn Conway and also by the Williams Institute for Law, part of the UCLA, suggests about half of these are, for a prevalence of around 1:200. This is supported by census results from Malaysia, which put the incidence there — a country that is officially very hostile towards transgender — at 1:170 of male-born individuals.
This should tell us two things: transgender is innate and appears in all populations at roughly the same rate; and that as such it is a part of normal human variation.
Of these transgender populations, the vast majority are what is called by science ‘Blanchard HSTS’, ‘Early Onset Androphile’ or ‘transkids.’ These are almost always, uniquely, attracted to men. They appear as transgender very young and frequently begin dressing as girls, wearing their hair long and, in recent decades, taking feminising hormones, in their early teens. They should not be confused with another, much less frequent type of MtF transgender, known as ‘autogynephiles’. These latter are fetishistic transvestite men, for whom dressing and pretending to be a woman is a sexual thrill: think Bruce ‘Caitlyn’ Jenner. (We will deal with these elsewhere; they are almost entirely restricted to white, middle-class Western men and globally are a tiny population.)
But why are MtF transgenders so obvious, and so open, outside the West?