Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bright Lights and Wild Nights « land of smiles

As any visitor to Bangkok will inform you, it is a city where nothing is unavailable.  The first time visitor to The City Of Angels will be overwhelmed by the variety of nightlife.  Cinemas, shows, restaurants, beer bars, go-go dancing, pubs, clubs, ladyboy bars, sex shows, naked dancers, gay bars and everything else imaginable is full on, 7 days a week all year round. Girls are everywhere, and it’s impossible to tell whether they are working or approachable.  Generally they are.  The girl selling perfume in The Emporium Shopping Mall on a Friday afternoon and the girl working in a girlie bar looking for a customer for the night on a Friday night, are all too often one and the same.
The first time I came to Bangkok I had a night out with a friend and his girlfriend.  The bars in Thailand offer a bar fine service.  Basically, if you see a girl in a club or a bar and you would like to take her out for the evening or even home for the night, you ask how much the bar fine is.  This is a sum of money paid to the bar to compensate them for losing the girl for the night.  It is generally around 600THB though bars on Soi 33 for example like to think they are better and charge 1500THB and even more. Anyway, we went out to eat in a Thai restaurant and the girl asked me, “Why you not have lady tonight?”  I was somewhat taken aback by this and just said that I was perfectly happy on my own.  “which lady you want?” she asked pointing round the restaurant at all the beautiful girls eating there.  “I am fine, “I replied, somewhat embarrassed, “It’s no problem.”  “OK,“ She said, “Which lady you think most beautiful in restaurant.”  I looked around and eventually said that I thought the girl serving us was in my opinion the prettiest girl in the restaurant.  She immediately called the waitress over and said something to her. They chatted for a while, then my friend’s girlfriend introduced me to the waitress and said, “She has to work tonight, but she would like to go out with you tomorrow night.”  I was really embarrassed at this point and just smiled and said thank you.  Thai people just say it like it is.

There are thousands of beautiful gogo dancers working in Bangkok.
Of course the girls working in the go-go bars are more “hardcore” and will openly name a price, though as often as not you will hear them say, “up to you.”  When you consider that there are 2500 girls working in Nana Plaza, the same in Soi Cowboy and even more in Patpong and Silom.  Add to that number the many thousands working in the beer bars and clubs of Soi 22, Soi 33 and many many more the numbers are colossal.  On top of this there are literally thousands of massage parlours employing anything from 2 to 50 girls at a time.  It seems like the whole City is on the make.  The police estimate that there are over 400,000 women working in the entertainment industry in Bangkok. A sky train ride into town from On Nut station at 6pm in the evening is a real eye opener.  Almost every seat is occupied by an extremely beautiful young woman on her way to work.  And this is just Bangkok remember, Pattaya is much bigger, then there is Phuket and the Islands and all the provincial cities and towns.
Travel about the city alone and taxi drivers ask, “you want lady?” It’s the same with the motor bike taxis and even when walking one is constantly approached by Thai or Indian men thrusting a photo of beautiful women in your face asking if you want to go for a massage.  In the midst of all this open sex sale, Bangkok remains, a particularly safe place for women to visit.  Western women don’t get hassled and are always made to feel welcome especially by the girls.  Its a very common sight to see a group of western women bar fining a couple of girls and taking them out for the night.
Even the Hotels get in on the act.  Some of the very best hotels in town will charge a man a fee for taking a girl back to his room for the night.  Not all do it, but plenty do.  They do it on the premise of looking after the customer’s safety and will hold the girls ID card, but it’s just a scam.  How they differentiate between a working girl and a man’s real girlfriend or wife is a total mystery.  I would be pretty annoyed if I went to stay in a hotel with my Thai girlfriend and the porter tried to take her ID card and asked for money.
It seems like everywhere you turn, sex is readily available. It takes some getting used to.  Only when you live here can you genuinely get to understand the whole story.
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