Buddha’s, Baht’s & Blow Jobs
No disrespect intended by the title but that’s a pretty fair summation of Thailand as I have seen it the last few weeks.
This is my first visit to Thailand and I was very excited to get here after everything I had heard about this country, inexpensive living, beautiful beaches and friendly people with great food, street food being the best they say, and of course the Thai Massage comes highly recommended. Within a few days after our arrival in Bangkok we discovered that very little of this information was true.
Our first hotel was located in the Sukhumvit area which is downtown Bangkok and near the Sky train. We found this area to be ideal for getting around town to the markets, Temples, and other attractions on our must visit list.
The week in Bangkok was fairly enjoyable other than dealing with major pollution and having to wear masks much of the time. Even local schools were closed on a few days due to heavy pollution in the air. All of our time was directed toward seeing as much as possible in and around Bangkok and moving on to the beaches hoping to escape the bad breathing conditions.
The first on our list of things to see were the Buddhist Temples. They were the best by far, especially The Golden Palace with it’s beautiful architecture and intricate detailed buildings. As for the markets, China Town Sampeng was our favorite since it was more of an attraction than shopping, nighttime being the best time to go offering great food and entertainment. Most of the other markets were very comparable to the Flea Markets back home with pretty much the same kind of merchandise, no big attraction there.
The Floating Market, a 50-mile trip from Bangkok, was a man-made market opening in the 70’s for tourist, according to one of the guides. While taking this tour we were directed into another attraction offering elephant rides, photos with exotic animals. Most of the people on the tour signed up for the elephant ride and of course we followed along thinking my granddaughters would enjoy seeing the photos. Just before the ride ended the elephant trainer or keeper, who rode in front guiding the elephant as we rode behind, pulled to the side, taking out a small box displaying pieces of jewelry that were suppose to be ivory, (which I’m pretty sure is not even legal,) insisting that we buy something before continuing on. As we sat on top of an elephant we looked at each other deciding our next move. I quickly said, ok I will take these two small bracelets for my granddaughters. After paying him 400 Baht’s and taking the two bracelets we continued on down the trail and back to the platform where we had gotten on allowing us to get off again. Hope my granddaughters enjoy the bracelets!
Thinking back we both agreed that if we had given it more thought we would not have taken that ride seeing how those poor animals are treated. A trip to the elephant sanctuary would have been much more enjoyable.
Normally we pass on the nighttime excursions since safety is very important to us but this time we decided to take another chance checking out Nana Street, a recommended nightspot supposedly enjoyed by all tourists. We took the Sky Train to Nana and a short walk from the train station found something we had not counted on. Huge masses of people lined the streets, mostly older men and young Thai girls, many of who looked to be under-aged and many were boys dressed as girls. Some of these men had already picked themselves one of the girls and others were hanging out, waiting and watching apparently to see if one came their way. We also noticed shops along the street displaying Viagra, Cialis, and a large assortment of sex toys. As it turned out we had stumbled onto Thailand’s largest industry, the sex trade. It would seem that Thailand has more than one kind of pollution to be concerned with, both dirty beyond compare.
It was time to leave this area and go on to the beautiful beaches we had read about. We were not sure where our next stop would be after Phuket so we chose a one-way flight to Patong Beach, which would be our final destination in Phuket, one of the more popular beaches in Thailand. Once again disappointment came our way when we realized what we had seen in Bangkok on Nana Street was in every city in Thailand especially Phuket.
After checking into our hotel located on the beachfront we decided to go for a walk to check out the area. Right away we noticed Massage Parlors with girls standing out front of the business dressed in long skirts split up the front, fully made up as if they were ready for a night out, and were on every corner. What we were seeing was curious of course but the Thai Massage was highly recommended for all tourists and we were determined not to miss out after the trip we had just made carrying heavy bags and backpacks across airports leaving our sore muscles in need of attention. A nice massage to loosen up would be a welcome relief so we stopped to ask one girl out front of one place about the Thai Massage and how much for how long. She spoke very little English so another girl got involved in the conversation, saying they only had one to offer today. She said; Madam you go for walk come back in one hour, as they tried to get Ched inside the building. I picked up right away as to what was happening but Ched did not understand until the first girl said to him: Massagee the Boom Boom, as she bobbed her head back and forth in the motion of the service she would provide to him. When he finally understood what was being offered he replied, “oh no,no,no,no.” After having a good laugh we continued on with our walk in total disbelief as to what we had just witnessed. From that moment on we were made far more aware of what was going on around us and noticed on the doors of a few of the establishments was written “No Sex.” After seeing that we then knew if we wanted to get that Thai Massage we had to be careful as to which of the places we were to go to.
Having such an offer openly made by the girls at the Massage Parlor was a bit of a surprise but at the same time came as no shock after what we had witnessed in Bangkok on Nana Street. These two incidents had made us more aware than ever of what Thailand is all about realizing that we had to look hard to see the good and not so hard to find the bad and the ugly.
We had thoughts of taking part of our month in Asia to visit Vietnam but soon dismissed that idea when we found we had been misinformed about Visa requirements, therefore, we continued on our journey through Thailand. Our next flight took us back to Bangkok and then a 2-hour bus ride to Pattaya.
We arrived in Pattaya around 8:30 PM getting off the bus looking for a ride to the hotel. The only thing available was a small pickup truck with a canopy on back covering seats that were attached to each side. As it turned out this was the major form of transportation in town with very few regular taxis. As we looked around us while riding through the streets on the way to the hotel the area we saw looked the same as we had seen on Nana Street back in Bangkok as well as what we had seen in Phuket, only more, as the entire area was infested with even more old guy foreigners and young, Thai women looking to trade sex for money. The difference here from Patong was a few less Massage Parlors but far more women lined up and down the streets soliciting for prostitution.
Our hotel was located just off Beach Road, which is the center of all that happens in Pattaya. Another issue we were not aware before we came was we had come to the area in the middle of two holidays, one being Chinese New Year celebration, February 5th, and Pattaya Pride Rainbow Festival. This created limits on available hotel rooms meaning we would have to stay where we were in the middle of all the madness.
The hotel was also near Walking Street, an area known for nightlife as well as being Red-Light district of Pattaya. Contrary to what we had read about strict laws in Thailand we’ve seen no kind of enforcement. I suppose with enough money anything can be bought even very young girls who appear to be underage yet these men range anywhere from 50’s to 80’s. Some of the old guys are walking with canes; others severely overweight or appear to have other health issues. They all hang out along the beachfront in the shadows at nighttime, some holding hands with the girls and hugging, holding onto the girls as if they might run away. Many of the photo’s I’ve taken in the area verify what I have seen happen here. It’s difficult to make photos without having them show up in the background. In one shot we pass one of the guys negotiating a price with a girl on the street and hear her quote him 2000 Baht. He did not seem to be happy with the price she quoted him yet he did not walk away. Another old guy with a British accent had a very young girl cornered while sitting on a rail his legs and arms wrapped around her. This girl looked to be no more than 12 or 13.
After seeing so much of this activity going on I became curious enough to do a bit of research finding shocking results; for instance the suicide rate here for old foreign men is quoted to be at least one a week. They are said to have ended their life by hanging, asphyxiation, gunshot and even stabbing. Of course authorities are called out to investigate but most all end with the same ruling of suicide.
Another interesting fact- It is said the women who work the streets selling themselves to the old men come from poor families who send them out to sell themselves in order to support and feed the family. Apparently no one seems to care that over half a million people here suffer from HIV, and those numbers were released in 2017. What must it be today?
Along with all the young girls on the street there are almost as many Lady boys selling sex as well. It’s very difficult to determine if they are male or female. Most of the time the boys are dressed better and look better that the girls.
The Thai News recently reported high numbers of Pedophiles living in Pattaya. Many of them are said to be moving frequently between Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines. Although from what I’ve seen there would be no need for them to keep on the move to prevent being caught. I’ve been in this country now for almost a month and have seen potential sex crimes on a daily basis. I have a feeling of disgust each time I step out on the street or go out of my hotel room only to run into yet another old guy trying to hustle one of these underage girls or boys into a sexual encounter trying to make himself feel young again. Then I have to think, perhaps he will end up in one of those suicide deaths.