Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Bangkok Vacation

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Assaf, 31

What's your relationship status?
I have a girlfriend.

Are you guys traveling together?
Yes, but she left four days ago, back to our home in Israel. When we took this trip, it was do or die for our relationship. I can't give you a straight answer if we decided to do or die. We got closer and we had our bad days too.

How did you guys meet?
Mutual friends. I was at my friend's house. I'm not much of a clubber, but I took her to the one place I know. It was a hard-rock club — Pantera, Megadeth. Then we continued to some place on a beach to get more intimate. I'm more of a home person though. I'm not a good role model for going out.

What do you think is unique about the dating scene in Israel?
It's a very loose, warm country. People are less uptight than in Europe, for example.

Are you generally more of a bachelor or a serial monogamist?
About fifty-fifty. I've had three other serious relationships. The longest was four-and-a-half years, on and off. I had another relationship for three years.

What is your relationship dynamic like? Did you guys move in together pretty quickly?
She moved in really quickly. I don't like having a girlfriend who lives separately. She moved into my apartment, and then three years ago we moved outside the city. We took that step of moving into the country.

How do you make sure you have time for yourself in your relationship?
I'm in a band. I think it's quite balanced. She's twenty-five, so she has some attention issues. But she's learned a lot. She admits there's some stuff she has to control with herself.

Does your band have any groupies?
No. And she trusts me. I am a very faithful person. Four years ago my parents divorced, after my dad had a romance on the side. I don't talk with my dad because of that. I have a lot of trust issues now. I keep myself on a short leash. I would never cheat, because it's not part of who I am, but I can't fully trust anyone either.

Any crazy hookups?
I've been to two orgies.

Tell me more.
I had a long-time friend, and she decided to make it happen. Smoking helped. Now, it would be too awkward. My girlfriend doesn't mind — we've thought of bringing in another girl to spice things up. All my friends are jealous — that's a fantasy girlfriend. But I can't imagine trying that anymore. The things I would have done five years ago look so absurd now.

Any other fantasies you have with your girlfriend?
I've always wanted to have sex with my girlfriend with someone watching. That'd be sexy.

What are attractive qualities in a woman?
I'm a really curious person. One thing I like about girls is that they're great listeners — they're interested. I like to talk about things that I know and things that I learn. Not from a point of view of, "Listen to this, see how much I know," but sharing. If a girl isn't patient or interested, that sucks. I'm an entertainer, so I have to know that I'm interesting enough. My girlfriend has ADD, so that can be a problem. She'll drift away while I'm talking, and I'll have to say, "Hello, am I boring you?"

What are your turn-offs?
Dishonesty, obviously. Lack of sense of humor. Do you believe in signs? I'm a Cancer. They tend to go through life pretty miserably, but I consider myself lucky.

Poppy, 22

What's your relationship status?
Newly in a relationship. I was seeing a guy for a couple months back home in England, but I had just gotten out of a serious relationship, so I freaked out and realized I needed to be a single for a bit. Then we started things up again in June. But we both were going to travel throughout the summer and fall. We had one month where we met up in Australia, and we spent ten days together there. We talked about things, and now I'm heading to Australia, maybe to make things more official. It's been about three weeks officially. Now I'm getting my work visa to try and make things work.

How long have you guys known each other?
About three years. We were friends first.

What about your previous relationship?
I was seventeen when we got together, and we stopped when I was twenty-one. It was quite a big chunk of time.

Are you guys still in contact?
Not at all, just because of the way things ended. He decided one day out of the blue he didn't want to be with me anymore. We had just booked a holiday in Rome. It was such a shock, I had to be as far away as possible from him. We're not even Facebook friends anymore. It was hard at first, but it's actually the best thing that's ever happened to me. Otherwise I wouldn't be here now, starting something new.

What's your policy towards monogamy while traveling?
I did my messing around before. It was kind of why we didn't make it official when we first started traveling. I didn't want to feel restricted. But I got it out of my system.

Any crazy hookup stories from your single mode?
I went to Fraser Island in Australia, and I hooked up with the tour guide. I thought he was quite hot, and the entire time he spent picking on me. On the last night, we sealed the deal. He was quite a bit older than me — thirty-nine — and I found out the next day he had a daughter a year younger than me. That was not good. He was Australian, which was kind of on my list — I thought it would be cool to get with an Australian while I was in Australia.

What do you wear when you're out on the town?
Lower-cut things, because I can. I have to wear heels, because I'm so short. I'm four-foot-eleven, so I have to wear heels to see over the bar.

What's your current beau like?
A ginger! He's younger than me, by a year, which is a bit strange. I've never been with someone younger than me. He might like to drink more than me. There might be a clash of the ages.

What qualities are you attracted to in men?
Everyone I've been with is different. Either we click or we don't. Looks and style fall to the wayside once I'm into them, but I don't know what makes me into them in the first place. I don't tend to go for manly men. The Australian was probably the most manly man I've been with. I'm attracted to arrogance, but I can't be in a relationship with someone like that.

Have you ever been offended in bed?
There was a guy who I met when I first got here who asked me to put my fingers up his bum. And there was no way I was going to do that. He said, "Okay, just thought I'd ask," but it was our first time. If he'd been my boyfriend and he had led up to that, it would have been okay.

Do you have rules about when you're willing to hook up with a guy?
Every relationship I've had, we've started out as friends. The guy I'm with now, I didn't want him to think that our hookup meant more than it did. But we were able to hang out together, and I explained to him that it was an isolated incident. He was quite happy that something had happened, and he was willing to have anything, whatever it was. And then eventually things led to a relationship.

Roberto, "immortal"

Where are you from?
Miami, Florida.

What do you do for a living?
I've been panhandling, for about the last twenty years.

Do you have any crazy panhandler hookup stories?
Just regular girls I meet on the streets. Sometimes they go all the way, sometimes they don't. I'm just standing here, taking what I can get. I'm really poor. My passport's about to expire — that's why I need money. I've been here for two years. I came here from Europe. That means a lot of visa runs.

Have you met many girls' parents?
No, not really. I knew it would be over after they met me. I knew once they saw how I lived, that's how it would be.

Have you been with any Thai women?
Yeah, too many [laughs].

How do Thai women compare to American women?
America's got the best looking women, but Thai women are beautiful too. When I was in America, most of the girls were pretty cool. But the Thais are happy to see you. What can do you? You have to go where you're wanted. If somebody is coming to you and they want to see you, it's much better than having to ask people to see you.

How many nationalities do you think you've hooked up with?
Fifteen or twenty, I can't remember.

Have you had public sex?
I've been seen with a lot of women — what can do you do? I lived in a girls' dorm in Sicily. It was pretty fun — I was happy to come home every night! I still don't how I got away with it. But it was cold in Sicily, so I needed a place to sleep. The food was pretty good.

How did your upbringing influence your views on sex?
I never thought about sex as a kid. I just looked at Penthouse. Girls were pretty tough — it was hard to get them to my house. But my parents weren't strict.

What age did you first have sex?
In college. I was nineteen.

Have you done anything crazy to get laid?
No, I just beg for change all day long. Things are slowing down now — it's getting tough to pick up women. You could stand there for two or three weeks and no women at all. Sometimes after one minute, a woman will offer money and place to sleep. But I don't count on that now.

Do you have any fantasies you want to fulfill?
I fantasize about making a lot of money really fast. I've been a lot of places; I've heard South America is cool. I heard you could go into a restaurant and play guitar, but I can't play guitar. But I'd have too much competition. I don't think any South American women are going to come running.

Catuk, 45

Where are you from?
I'm from Barcelona, but I'm living in London. It suits me a lot better — I like the energy. It's clean. It's anonymous.

How long have you been traveling?
I came to Bangkok some time last week.

What's your relationship status?
Single. When I'm home in London, I don't go out that much. I do have friends, and I meet people occasionally, but when I travel is when I have little relationships. Inviting a person to your home is more compromising. When you travel, you're in a hostel, you have a relationship for a few days. It's a different kind of freedom. It's easier.

What are you attracted to?
Obviously, I have to be visually attracted to her. Also, she has to be someone I can have a conversation with. We have to speak the same language.

Tell me about your travel romances.
I met this Thai girl who was absolutely stunning. She worked in this French restaurant not far from here. She had a big face, lovely eyes, dark skin. One day we went out for a drink, and I couldn't get over how stunning she was. It was a dream come true. You never know what's going to happen, but three hours later we were in bed together. She was smart — she had a degree in economics. When we met, I only had two days left here. But we kept in touch and we met again to go traveling. What happens with Thai girls is that they really want to get out of this country, and I had to be honest with her and tell her it wasn't my intention to take her with me. We split. Funnily enough, a year later she met a German guy and now she's living in Munich. I only know this because of the restaurant. The girl, Mimi, doesn't want anything to do with me, because she was really mad about how things ended. But the owner of the restaurant showed me her wedding pictures and her baby pictures.

Any crazy hookup stories?
Recently, no, probably because I'm getting older. But when I was younger, I had sex in a pub in Barcelona. And I remember with Mimi, she wanted to have sex all the time. The first time was crazy — we had sex five times in a row. But then she wanted that every single day. I couldn't keep up!

Any major fantasies?
Depending on the girl, once you are in the privacy of a room, you might like something that you might not like with another girl. I like anal sex. It's… wow. Normally what I do when we get into a room is have a shower, so we're nice and clean. Just to see a girl naked and brushing her teeth can arouse me. Her just doing her thing, walking around.

How does your upbringing influence your views on sex and sexuality?
I was born in Catalan, and there was a dictatorship. It's a very Catholic country. So it's very restrictive. I didn't learn from my parents. They could only joke about things.

Gabriel, 21

Where are you from?
Munich, in Germany.

What's your relationship status?

Any crazy hookup stories from while you've been traveling?
There was a girl I met in a club. Normally, when you meet, you talk, drink, dance. I brought her to my hotel, and we had sex. And then afterwards, she wanted money. I didn't know she was a prostitute, so it was really hard. I didn't want to pay for sexual services. It ended up really badly.

Did you end up paying?
Yeah, I had to, because she said she was calling this Muay Thai fighter.

Do you have any crazy ex-girlfriends?
Yes. I think for some relationships, it's only a matter of time before you begin to act crazy. There can be too little distance.

What's the dating scene like in Munich?
I think German girls are like princesses. They are very traditional. When you're the boy, you have to go and buy all the drinks in the bar. But I was living in Mexico, and it was totally the opposite. When you're the boy you're the shy one, and the girl is the one who approaches and says, "Let's go dancing."

Some guys tell me that after they go home with a girl and they have sex after their first time, they don't see the girl as dating material anymore. Do you agree?
Normally, if I can have sex with a girl on the first night, I find her too easy and I don't want to date her. But interestingly, with my last girlfriend who I had a relationship with for the last three years, we had sex on the first night.

How did you guys meet?
I work in a bar in Germany. She was my customer.

Have you had a lot of long-term relationships?
When I was younger, I had a few one-night stands. Then I had a lot of relationships. Now I like something in between. I take a girl out to dinner, we hang out, but it's nothing too serious.

Why do you prefer this arrangement to just hookups or a relationship?
I think a girl needs to be very special. In Germany, a lot of girls are too materialistic.

A lot of the German girls I met are less materialistic than American girls.
That could be true. I live in Munich — it's a conservative place, and also the richest in Germany. So that makes it different.

At the bar, do you give them free drinks?
Yeah, sometimes. But I hate when they assume it. Sometimes, I'm flirting with a girl, and she'll say, "I'll have this drink," and it's not cool. When I invite somebody, I make it clear. I'll always pay in a restaurant. That's how I was raised. When you meet a girl and you're just flirting a bit, you don't have to pay for her drink. I'm not macho. I like things equal, but I also like things old-school.

What are qualities you're attracted to in a girl?
I like the weird girls. The ones who are interested in art or music, or who work in a kindergarden, or in a garden. There are a lot of boys who like the bad ones, but for me it's the opposite.

A lot of girls are attracted to the bad boys as well.
I feel that too. When I do some push-pull — give them a compliment and then push them away — girls like it more. But I don't like doing it.

What do you do to impress girls?
I have a good trick — I play guitar and violin. When a girl is in my place, I play something nice, as an icebreaker. Afterwards, it's much easier.

Maria, 36

Where are you from?
Aarhus, in Denmark. It's our second largest city.

Are you traveling alone?
At the moment, but I'm going to join up with my family in Australia for my mum's birthday.

What's your relationship status?
I'm married — five years. It's going well.

I've heard of the three-year hump, where after three years you have to change things up. Is that true?
No, we change things all the time. We have to adapt. In high school, we dated. Then we went our separate ways for ten years. Then there was a Christmas dinner my family has every year, and we went from there. We knew right away we were going to get back together. He's easy-going, and he likes to travel. We travel well together. We got married in Hawaii. I always said from the beginning, if I ever get married it will be in Hawaii… just the two of us. We traveled around the islands for our honeymoon.

Did you have any other intense romances before your husbands?
A couple serious boyfriends.

What are your plans for the future?
No kids. We'd like to live abroad for a few years after we've sold our house. Maybe Australia or South America for a few years.

Do you have any advice for couples to help sustain a relationship?
Make room for each other. If you want to do something, you do that, and let the other person do whatever they want to do. That works for us, anyway. Marriage isn't as bad as people say!

Do you spend a lot of time apart then?
Not in everyday life, but when I go traveling we can be apart for long periods of time. We text each other ever day. We never speak on the phone — I hate the phone. Sometimes we write emails.

What was your first time like?
The first boyfriend I ever had, we had sex for the first time in this very place.

Right here in Bangkok! Does that bring back weird memories?
No, not all. It's fun being back. I thought about contacting him, but I don't know. He doesn't have Facebook.

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