One night in Bangkok

We’re going to Thailand and Cambodia soon which requires a lot of discussion with our friends here who all travel around Asia whenever possible. Everyone has pretty strong ideas about where we should go and where we should avoid going. Most everyone is pretty cynical about Bangkok. I am not sure why it’s “cool” for foreigners here to dump on such a cosmopolitan city, but it happens.

I’ve been to Bangkok a bunch of times because my parents lived there while I was in college. J’s never been, and he’s almost convinced that it’s not worth going, but I think that you should at least check it out before you form an opinion.

Years ago, I went there with my ex for his first time, too. He was the kind of guy who definitely would have gone to see a ping-pong show with his boys if they were with him. Since it was just me, I figured the best-girlfriend practice was to take him myself.

I managed to go to Bangkok half a dozen times without seeing a woman shoot a dart or various other projectiles out of her vagina, but I went to this show for love.

Now, in my experience, some people have natural street smarts, which are just instincts about self-preservation. I wouldn’t think of myself as someone who really knows how to fend for herself, but then I have seen people in Bangkok a couple of times make really poor choices and I realize that maybe I’m not as useless as I think I am.

My ex’s first bad idea was to allow himself to be led up to a second-floor bar on the infamous Patpong Road. Everything in me thought this was a bad idea because if it’s on the second floor, it’s harder to run if we need to run and these bars are notorious for scamming tourists.

Or were. This story is like eight years old now, and Patpong might be a playground for children now for all I know.

Anyway, I slipped 500baht (like US$15) in my back pocket so that I wouldn’t even have to open up my purse in this place.

It’s big and dark up there. There are only a few other people besides the performers. We were promised one free beer each and a waiter brought them to us right away. As soon as we sat down, a couple of women in the tiniest of outfits started fawning over me and my ex, explaining to him that they were so thirsty, they wanted drinks. He says sure, he’ll buy them drinks like he’s an NBA star in the club or something. I tell him not to do that because the drinks these chicks are ordering are probably gonna show up on our tab at like 500baht each or something.

I felt like he should have realized that, but he didn’t. I think he was a little overwhelmed by the attention.

These women sit with us, both of us, just leaning on us, touching us, whatever. They want to feel my boobs cause I have big boobs, and I let them, cause, whatever, in certain contexts, I don’t mind. It wasn’t particularly sexual, just kind of silly.

Anyway, the performers start performing and they are shooting ping pongs and darts out of their vaginas. At one point I had to hold a balloon and this woman shot a dart at it to pop it…it was actually scary and also man these women are sex workers and I can’t help but wonder what their lives are like, if they’re happy, etc.

I am not fun at parties.

The show is going one when some foreigners at a table across from us stand up. One of them shouts, “Get out of here, it’s a scam!”

Of course it was a scam. I just wasn’t sure how much of a scam it was going to be and yes we were on holiday in Thailand but we were always running on limited funds. I tell them I want the bill and they give it to us…

…and I really don’t remember exactly how much it was. I remember that it was more than the 500baht I had in my pocket, though maybe it wasn’t like mortgage-your-future expensive. I know they wanted to charge us for the beers they said were free and they wanted us to pay for the girls’ drinks and they wanted tips and all. I would have liked to set up college funds for these women and their kids, but all the money we had was the money in my purse and in the big picture, that wasn’t much.

We headed toward the door and the big, fat owner lady tried to get in front of us. I took into account that there were no dudes in this place except my boyfriend so I didn’t expect us to lose any limbs. I threw down the 500baht and when the owner lady dove for it, we booked it down the stairs.

I was pretty shaken up by all of that and I wanted to get a taxi back to the hotel. Only I wanted to have small bills to pay for the taxi so we wouldn’t get scammed by a driver saying he didn’t have any change. (Honestly, Bangkok is a cool city, but there I feel like I always need to travel with a man and I always need be hyperaware of what could happen.) We were headed to a convenience store to break a 1000baht note when these guys started grabbing at me and showing me brochures for their clubs.

I thought it was weird that they were grabbing me and not the guy I was with. But then I saw the flier was full of handsome men. Ooooh. But still, I tried to get away from those guys. I was really hyped up after having to run out of that last place and I told them I wasn’t in the mood for getting tricked. I was fairly belligerent.

They promised us there were absolutely no tricks. And for some reason, I felt like I could believe them. We went into this place just as a sex show with an all-male cast was starting. I was expecting something like a male stripper show, like the Chippendales. Actually, this was a show for a gay audience. There were lots of foreign men in there. And this show was just guys having sex in all sorts of gymnastic and acrobatic ways. Part of me felt like it was good for my ex to have to watch this show just like I had to watch the women sex show. Part of me was just fascinated by the performance. And again, there was a part of me that felt terrible, wondering if these guys were happy doing what they were doing, if their bosses treated them kindly, etc.

I mean, probably not. The world is a terrible place.

At one point, two guys waddleed up and down the rows of seats, one fucking the other. The one getting fucked was holding a basket and collecting donations. It made me think of the collection basket from church.  They leaned across my lap and I laughed awkwardly. I put in a 100baht and they smiled at me, big smiles, and said thank you in Thai.

Then the show was over and we left.

I wouldn’t patronize that kind of show again. I don’t have a problem with sex shows or sex workers, but I hate the idea of someone performing in a sex show unless they are¬†enthusiastic about it. Maybe I am projecting, and that’s patronizing (in the other sense of the word), but how can I know who’s consenting and who’s being exploited?

Anyway, that was basically my wildest night in Bangkok. Possibly my most weirdest night ever. I guess it’s comparatively tame, but I don’t do drugs or have sex with sex workers, so, my story is from the cheap seats.

What do you get up to when you travel?


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