I've heard the stories, same as everyone else. But I must admit, I never took them that seriously. Well, I should have believed — because every tale that ever passed by my ears is 100% true. Bangkok really is full of 50-year-old American men, walking hand-in-hand (or hand-somewhere-else) with 19-year-old Thai girls. And despite the blatant grotesqueness and desperation, most of them stroll the streets loudly and proudly, with no shame whatsoever. It's cliché, it's oh-so-stereotypical, and it's downright sad — but when you look around you, it's undeniable: this is the true story of "Thai love". This is one strange, sleazy and deplorable place: never before have I seen romance being so widely touted to the highest bidder.
So here I am in New York City, in the beating heart of the USA. And what do I hear in my first hour outside today, walking down the streets of Manhattan? Do I hear "let's go for coffee", "put it in the trunk", or "you want that to go"? Not a chance! Every 5 seconds, it's "qué cabrón es mi primo", "hasta once y media", and "estamos tardes, vamos". What's going on — have I left Latin America, or what?! I could barely put one foot in front of the other, in this city, without hearing people talking Spanish, seeing shop signs in Spanish, and even giving passers-by directions in Spanish! Seriously: "¿donde están los gringos?" (lit: "where are all the gringos?"). Apparently, Spanish is just as useful back here in the USA, as it is down south of the border — in some neighbourhoods, perhaps even more useful than English.