In an internet cafe, I notice a Thai girl as she is chatting with her sponsor/boyfriend on the webcam, as other chat windows pop up. Other guys engage her in conversation. Their comments suggest rather more familiarity than mere online pals.
A capable multi-tasker, she opens up Internet Explorer and logs into her email account.
She goes into her email inbox and with the proximity of our terminals I can clearly see that she has been a busy girl. She appears to receive about 5 emails a day, each from a different guy. Her email inbox reveals heaps of names.
While chatting with her sponsor/boyfriend, she is also reading email from other guys. I am worried that she might see me peering at her screen but she's so busy both conversing and reading emails in her second language that she doesn’t notice.
She opens an email and there’s one from someone with a decidedly German sounding name.
He is due in town next month. She composes a reply while she is chatting with her boyfriend, smiling and has completely convinced him of her innocence. She talks about the flowers he recently sent and says they made her "loom" smell nice.
But she is not done online yet. She opens up a chat window with one guy, a late ‘20s looking European. She types some highly flirtatious messages and he has a huge grin on his face. Fortunately he doesn’t suggest webcam sex.
She settles her bill with the net café owner. I notice that the signs are all in English. The price is 1 baht a minute but she is charged half that.
Racism is alive and well in Sukhumvit’s net cafés.
I settle mine - at the full price.