When a heart breaks

She walks out of the massage parlor with the sun-glassed man. Japanese, I think. He leaves quickly. She sits down on the bench, avoiding eye contact. Everyone around knows what’s just happened. As I’ve sat and listened to my friend teach English the past 30 minutes, she’s been upstairs in a room with this man,…

call me rude

Rihanna’s “Rude” plays in the background of a darkly silhouetted bar. Western men lean in to whisper dirty nothings into the ears of petite and scantily-clad Thai women. These women work in Thailand’s sex industry. Many come from eastern Thailand to find work in the city. Some come under false pretenses. Some know what they’re…

washed in the waterfall

“I’m so happy,” John* said, smiling and shivering a little from the waterfall’s cold water. Angie* emerged from the water with a smile I won’t easily forget. I’m still recovering from a recurring case of glorious goosebumps. Today, my two dear friends from the red light district followed Jesus in believer’s baptism. We went to…

Upchuck and Uplift

I upchucked into a yellow public trash can in front of a pool table in a street night market tonight. It was mortifying and humiliating. But after the spew, I made an instantaneous recovery and could continue on with my North Face backpack purchase and relationship building with Thais.