When a Chinese general was asked about the defeat of the People's Army by the Vietnamese in 1979, he replied, "We get up at 5am and they get up at 4."
The draconian work ethic of NVA seemed to have been sapped by the torrid climes closer to the equator, because Thais and Laotians are epic sleepers with an uncanny ability to find comfort in conditions better suited to a CIA rendition camp.
Some farangs attributed this hyper-sleeping habit to oriental lassitude, however their Eurocentric observations are way off mark.
Most Thais wake before dawn to work in the rice fields until the heat hits treacherous body-sapping temperatures and then 'Khon tam khao' retreat from the sun for a good meal followed by a better nap or nge'ep before returning to the fields for the long afternoon.
This rice farming tradition has been transported to the cities where workers labor from dawn to dusk six days a week.
Having lived in the South of France, where siestas are a valued cultural treasure, I often defended the Thais and other Asians' sleeping habits.
"Naps are good for you," I once said at the Buffalo Bar.
"So explain to me why bar girls sleep twenty hours at a clip," an English bar-goers asked in Pattaya. Jim had been here for years. His vocabulary in Thai was limited to orders for more beer and sexual propositions.
"Only can be several reasons." I'd been in the Orient since 1990.
I didn't have all the answers.
Just some of the right ones.
"Like what?" Jim was eying his date. The plump bargirl seemed alert for the moment. The fifty year-old mustn't have paid her yet.
"First is that she's exhausted from having sex with you." Many farangs in Thailand exist on a diet of Viagra and alcohol.
"Could be." The bar-goer smiled with pride.
"Second, she could be on ja-bah and crashes after sex." His girl's fatness excluded her huffing meth. She was a healthy eater.
"No way. The cops piss-tested her at Marine Disco the other night. She came up clean."
"Well, that leaves only one other explanation and this comes from a very knowledgeable Mama-san of a go-go bar. She said the reason most of these girls sleep so much is that they're trying to escape the reality of having to have sex with a fat farang and would rather live inside a sleep world until they have enough money to rejoin other Thai people. Of course this couldn't pertain to you since you're such a sex hero."
Jim tipped the scales over 280 and his age was a 20th of Methuselah. No one had called him 'sexy' since he was in his teens and that person had probably been the parish priest. For an Englishman Jim had good smile considering he had half his front teeth.
"I'm not so sure about that." Even Jim recognized that he was no Apollo.
Me neither, but I like hearing girls tell me I'm the best I ever had.
It's a lie which improved with age and I sleep in peace content to accept a well-intentioned lie.
Sleeping well is a talent an old man admires with age.
Those damn Thais.
There is nothing like a good nap and as Carrie Snow once said, “No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap.”