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Bangkok, Thailand; Dec 3, 2004

sex industry

Thousands of travelers have written on this subject, and frankly, I don't really feel like it, but somehow it would seem remiss to leave it out of our Bangkok entries.

We've heard that Bangkok is trying to change its image, but so much momentum already exists; people know that it's the place to go if you want to buy cheap and easy sex. And it doesn't really matter what your sexual preference is; in Bangkok, you can probably find anything that strikes your fancy. What's more, it’s affordable, easy to find, and accepted by local society. (Bangkok is apparently also the place to go if you'd like to undergo a reasonably priced sex-change operation with a good surgeon, but that really should be another entry, and one that we’re not qualified to write.)

There are many night clubs that cater specifically to the prostitution market, but you will see some level of it in almost every club. Even though we’ve been here only a short while, we’ve seen the process at work many times already. The "working" women and paying men spend the evening eyeing their potential targets and making initial contact. Then after last call, all the "interested parties" go outside to negotiate, and men can be seen leaving with one or two or even a small entourage of women. Another common practice is for a woman to work officially for the club, in which case a caller is expected to buy them very expensive (and watered down) drinks all evening, and then pay a "finder's fee" to the club if he'd like to continue on after hours. After the club gets paid the woman usually calls the shots on price and terms.

It's very common to see a 45+ year-old Caucasian man (second most common is an older Japanese man) dancing very closely in the club with a much younger (age 16-25) Thai woman. Or heck, maybe he's dancing with two or three if he wants to pay for it, which as it seems, many do.

Amazingly, it doesn't stop when the sun comes up. You see it going on throughout the daylight hours as well. The man buys the company of a pretty young thing for the day or the week or whatever. And the woman gets a closet full of new clothes, nice meals and some spending money.

As you'd expect, there are plenty of younger bachelor-party types roaming around, too, proud as peacocks with their temporary girlfriends, but for some reason it's the older men that really gross me out. I suppose that there are lots of cultures where prostitution is considered okay, but somehow I will never get used to it. I try to have an open mind about it, but I can't help imagining the wife and kids waiting at home. Blech.

There, I've written about it. I'm sure you can find out as much on this subject as you like, so I think I'll stop here.

© 2004-2012 susan & grace, all rights reserved

-- comments from readers --


I am a Thai girl, working abroad with good position. Whenever I come back with my caucasian boyfriend, I have got the same, ridiculous looks. Believe me, we do not like it but...

--Anonymous; Nov 5, 2005


How ignorant that Westerners criticise the morality of Thais when most bars and clubs, on any given weekend in England, are full of young people getting pissed and having sex. England and the English are hardly role models for social morality.At least Thai people are open and honest about the situation.....

--Cindy (United Kingdom); Nov 4, 2005

Hmm... sounds like we offended you. To be clear, by writing about our reactions to the Thai sex industry, we weren't making any comments (positive or negative) about the club scene in any other country. But we do see a significant difference between young people acting wild (however stupid they may be) and the act of trading sex for money.

Obviously, this is a touchy topic, and not one that we would choose to tackle on our site. We were simply writing about how being in Bangkok made us feel. The only group that we actively criticized were the men that had wives and children waiting at home while they bought sex in Thailand. And even on that subject, I'm sure plenty of people think that's okay, just not us.

Thanks for writing in.

--Grace; Nov 4, 2005