Thousands of mass killers
enjoying Pattaya nightlife
Since Bird killed 12 people last week, there has been widespread incredulity that this mild-mannered (according to some accounts) man could have harboured such lethal rage. The search for his motive focused first on a supposed
family feud, moved on to a row with other taxi drivers and has even encompassed being made a fool of by a Thai woman.
Bird travelled regularly to Pattaya in southern Thailand and acquaintances describe him as in love with the woman, who is said to have accepted at least £1,000 from him before breaking off the relationship by
text. I am far from satisfied with these accounts
Pattaya, the resort Bird visited regularly, isn't a beach paradise. It's a centre of Thailand's deeply exploitative sex trade, where foreign men go to pay for sex – it costs as little as £10 – with young Thai girls and
women who have been forced into it by poverty. Here is the account of a barman, Chris Bulmer, who knew Bird and witnessed his transactions with women who worked as prostitutes:
He slept with a few of my girls upstairs and soon got a taste for it … But in the end he would only want to see one young lady in particular. She was about 22 and pretty. He became obsessed. He loved her and whenever he came
back he would immediately find her, compensate the bar [probably he said 'pay the bar fine'] and take her away. She was his. And that was how he saw it .
The barman told the Sun that Bird was besotted and fell into a rage if the young woman wasn't available whenever he wanted her. In the end, according to Bulmer, she became terrified of Bird and ran away.
The widespread cultural imperative to normalise sex tourism by Western men in south-east Asia is a barrier to admitting how damaging the trade is to women. But it also does something else: prevent us from seeing at an earlier
stage that there is something very seriously wrong with men like Bird.
Enjoying life away from the
misery guts back home in Farangland
Bathed in the neon glare of endless bars and clubs, scantily clad Thai prostitutes crowd the street, beckoning Western men in with promises of sexual acts for no more than £5. They pout and strut, dressed in just knickers
and bras while British punters, melting with sweat in 31°C, grab them without shame.
Desperate for the cash these sex tourists have come to spend, girls allow themselves to be groped like pieces of meat.
The girls coo phrases such as I want to be your girlfriend - but it's clearly the only English they know.
They repeat the words like a mantra, hoping to win someone's attention so they can take them to a dingy back room for 15 minutes of sex for cash.
This is Pattaya in Thailand - home to 50,000 prostitutes and where gun-toting maniac Derrick Bird repeatedly came to get a piece of this unsavoury action.
Enjoying life away from the
misery guts back home in Derby
Thailand's capital of fun is how the pocket guidebook to the town describes the place, which attracts a million visitors a year. A less kind, but more accurate, description would be one huge brothel.
The average visitor appears to be male, 40 or more, probably losing his hair, frequently fat, very likely British and there for one reason only - to buy sex with young Thai women.
Though there are many other nationalities there, the town is geared to the Brits. Pubs offer heart-clotting all-day breakfasts and giant portions of toad in the hole to set up holidaymakers for a long night cruising the streets crammed with massage
parlours and bars, many with names too crude to mention.
There are two kinds of bar in Pattaya. Bird apparently preferred the quieter sort, the oddly named bar-beers, over the brasher go-go bars.
[Beer bar prices start] with the bar fine. The man pays 300 baht - £6 - to the bar owner to take out a girl, and before that she earns about 60p for every drink he buys her. To make real money, she has to offer sex. [bar fine details corrected]
Short time in a room over the bar costs £20. To go back to the man's hotel for long time will cost around £30. One long-time customer will earn half of what a girl would make in a whole month of ordinary bar work.
One of the unexpected things about Pattaya is that there's nothing threatening or violent about the atmosphere.
Sat at a crowded bar at 2am is Peter. He's a quietly spoken, neat man in his early 60s from Derby. When one of the BGs asks if he 'wants to play', he nods enthusiastically. As a regular visitor, he knows what will happen next...
From under the bar she pulls out a game of Connect 4 and the pair of them giggle away while she thrashes him at noughts and crosses.
He might pay for 'short time' a bit later, but many evenings he just sits and chats. He says his wife is irreplaceable and: Britain is going to the dogs - can you imagine if this was Derby on a Friday night?
And in many ways he's right. In most British cities, the street would be full of girls brawling, sprawling and spewing. In Pattaya, they're smiling, decorous and attentive.
Clearly all sorts of men go there as sex tourists, not just social misfits.
The Thai sex trade is driven by overweight, unattractive, middle-aged divorcees, right?
Wrong. A Fabulous investigation reveals it's now 20-something Brits paying for sex.
Nick and Gary are on a boys-only holiday with a difference. Their girlfriends think they're on a golfing trip, when in fact they have come to Thailand solely to have sex with prostitutes.
The young men, both 21 and chefs, are in the beach resort of Pattaya for the first time on a two-week break. Good-looking, with decent jobs and gorgeous girlfriends at home, they are not the sort of guys you expect to see paying for sex on the seedy
streets of Thailand. But in the 24 hours since they landed, they've already handed over cash to two prostitutes.
Unashamedly, they compare it to trying to secure a one-night stand. While they might buy girls drinks all night only to get blown out in Tenerife, here they know if they fork out money, they're guaranteed sex at the end of the night.