A couple of a days ago, I received a phone call from a friend who asked me to write a blog about Thailand’s “working girls.” Although, I’ve mentioned bar girls in earlier blogs, I’ve avoided writing a blog specifically on the topic. However, I’ve actually had a few people ask me, “What’s the deal with all the hookers I hear about in Thailand.” So, what the hell … if people really want that information, I’ll tell them what I know.
In my opinion, Thailand’s reputation as a place for people to come to fulfill all of their sexual fantasies, regardless of how depraved, is grossly misrepresented. Perverts, such as Jared the Subway Guy, haven’t helped the situation. Most of the bars in the tourist areas have women working in them who may be willing to trade sex for money – not all of the bars, and not all of the women. The legal age for drinking, or working in a bar is 20-years old. In my three years, I’ve never seen any underage girls working in bars, nor has anyone ever tried to steer me toward such a place.
The women who work in the bars typically come from poor families in the villages. They make the decision to come to work in a bar in a tourist city to make money for their families. A woman working in a bar, who works for only drink commissions, makes more than she could at a restaurant or grocery store. A woman who sells her body, has the potential to make as much as a doctor here. Bar girls aren’t just a Thailand thing. It’s the same in most Asian countries. In fact, the reason parts of Thailand became known for this, is because during the Vietnam War, U.S. service members came to Thailand for rest and relaxation, and well … supply and demand created the industry.
When I was living in Phuket, I had some friends come from the U.S. for a vacation in Thailand. I was going to take them to a bar I frequented, and one of the women asked, “Are there any prostitutes there? I’ve heard the women are forced to work as prostitutes in the bars here.” I answered as honestly as possible and said, “There are ladies working there, who make money by drinking with the customers. If a customer wants to pay them to go back to the hotel, they may, or may not take him up on it.” She decided the whole situation was too seedy for her, so we ended up having a few drinks in the restaurant.
I’m not saying human trafficking and the exploitation of minors doesn’t occur here. I’ve read stories about Thai girls being taken to China to work in brothels there. These things happen all over the world, including in the good ol’ U.S. of A. What I am saying is, if you come to visit Thailand on a vacation, you are very unlikely to see anyone working in a bar against their will.
In America, there are plenty of freaky people, and plenty of women and men selling themselves through Craigslist ads, working in Asian massage parlors, and even in Nevada brothels. Because of our Puritan roots, however, most people think of this type of activity as immoral and shameful. Most of the rest of the world aren't quite as hypocritical.
All that being said, anyone who wants to find sex in Thailand can find it. Whether you like women, men, or something half-way in between, you can find it here. They even have “boy bars” for women who are looking for young Thai men to take care of their needs. Lady boys and Tom boys are a normal part of society. They’ll wait on you in restaurants and at the grocery store, and nobody thinks a thing about it. There’s no whispering or snickering, because people just don’t give a damn! If you come to Thailand and have a problem with lady boys, I’d recommend you keep it to yourself. In the blink of an eye, the lady boy mafia can appear on the scene and will happily stomp you into oblivion if you cause problems for one of theirs.
In addition to the bars, there are massage parlors, normally located in the “entertainment districts” that provide personal services. There are also plenty of legitimate massage parlors, but the ones who provide extra services are pretty obvious because of their location, and because they have pretty, young Thai women outside, calling out, “You want massage?!” to passersby.
Most of the “entertainment districts” are located in certain areas of the larger cities, the most popular being Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket. If you get out of these areas, you won’t find much of this type of activity going on.
Everything I’ve talked about is just common knowledge here. I’ve discovered in my time here, and all my years in the Navy, I’m one of the least freaky people I know – ha ha! My standard night out consists of grabbing some food at the night market, then heading to the Rainbow Bar. I talk to my friends, and one of the women who works there, typically gives me a nice shoulder massage while I’m having a couple of drinks. I, of course, give her a little tip, and make sure everyone gets at least one drink. After I’ve had a few, and start feeling social, I’ll normally go to a bar with a pool table and shoot a game or two. After losing, I’ll mosey on over to one or two other bars and say hello to people I know. By then, I’ve had too much to drink, and end up going to my room alone, because by that point, I’m wanting sleep more than I’m wanting company. I always get a room when I’m drinking, because I don’t ride my motorbike if I’ve had even one beer.
I’m a live-and-let-live-kinda guy for the most part, and what people do with their own bodies and money doesn’t concern me in the slightest. I try to treat everyone with respect, whether they’re a bar girl or a banker, and I’m reviled by people who come here and think they’re better than the locals.
Hopefully, the subject matter isn’t offensive to anyone. If you have more specific questions, or want more information about this topic, just send me a message. I’ll be happy to answer your questions. Any thoughts?