The bar girls of Patong

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If you like whores (and who doesn’t?), then Phuket is Mecca. I had heard about this “sex tourism” thing in Thailand, but I wasn’t prepared for exactly what that meant. First of all, prostitution in Thailand is illegal. (I did my homework…) However, before my arrival I read the following “tip” on the official TMT website, alongside random travel tips about laundry, taxis, and Visa requirements:

Most bars and discos in Patong have Thai women working there as escorts that will talk and drink with you for the evening. If you like the girl, you can pay a bar fine (200-500 baht) to allow the girl to leave with you for the evening. Many Thai girls also work or visit the discos looking for foreign men to date while they are in Thailand. Unlike the beer and go-go bars, Thai bar girls at the discos do not require a bar fine and can go with you for free. Most Thai bar girls will stay with you for the entire night in your room for 1000-1500 baht. Many of our students end up with Thai girlfriends while they are in Phuket and negotiate a price for the girl to stay with them and take care of them and party while they are in Phuket. The Thai bar girls and escorts are great at negotiating discounts on gifts or items you buy and are very friendly…

1,000 baht is $30 for an overnight! I spend that much to go to a 90-minute movie in the states, and I’m almost always left unsatisfied.

Prostitution has been technically illegal in Thailand since 1960, however, the prohibition is just not enforced. The “Entertainment Places Act of 1966”, still in effect today, makes it possible for Thais to render “special services,” and it is left for the customer to decide what kind of special service he really wants. This act paved the way for brothels to be legalized under the guise of massage parlors, bars, night-clubs, and tea-houses. Thus, while technically illegal, a 2003 study placed the trade at US $4.3 billion or 3% of the Thai economy. Holy handjobs!

When I heard that these bar girls will cook and clean for you AND negotiate discounts in Thai while you’re staying at the camp, well, it seemed like a hard deal to pass up (as long as we didn’t have to do that whole sex thing..).

Of course, they do have boy versions as well, and while it’s extremely common to see farangs with much younger, pretty Thai girls (and boys), I didn’t want to be one of those guys. If you’re young and sexed up, it’s excusable, but if you’re just someone who has to pay for sex because you have no other offers, it’s kind of sad. And that’s where the women are ripe for exploitation. Any guy can come over and take advantage of the economic desperation that exists here. Frankly I almost prefer the skin trade in America, which is blanketed in shame and kept behind closed doors. Like the Bible says it should be.

So I decided to just do my own dishes, eat out, and forego the company of a live-in whore.

But my first night out on the town was an experience I’ll never forget. First of all, the “masseuses” are extremely aggressive as they spill out onto the street from the many massage parlors. They start with cat calls and greetings of welcome, and move quickly into “hey baby” and “handsome man!” Sometimes they will grab your arm, and a couple times I’ve had girls throw their arms around me completely and refuse to let go. It’s kind of hilarious and frightening. Every time I looked at Dan, who’s a hot strapping white guy, he was trying to apologize his way out of a massage.

Apologizing to hookers became Dan’s full time job.

We’ve also been attacked by a whole gaggle (murder?) of women who surround us and try to divide and conquer. Other times they spread out across an alley at equal distance so you literally have to rush forward and then dart quickly left and right to try and fake them out like a linebacker. I don’t know what a linebacker is or what he does, but I think it’s something football-related. I really shouldn’t try to use sports metaphors.

Anyway, I always imagined that Thailand was this quiet, lush, Buddhist getaway filled with the smell of incense, and I’d spend my time eating fruit and meditating and walking on the beach and giving offerings to the monks praying around me. This night was my wake up call.

It was such a fun night, and the girls are pretty great. They dance and play board games and do shots with you and dance some more. A lot of the guys take a girl home, but a lot of guys also just enjoy their company while drinking – I know I did! And the girls can still have fun and make lots of tips just hanging out.

A couple other crazy things at the bars (soi) in Patong. For 1,000 baht you can buy everyone at the bar you’re at a shot. They ring a bell and suddenly there are shots on trays all around. This usually leads to several other “thank you” shots from other people, and well, it can get pretty dangerous. Drinks and shots just kept coming and coming all night..

The other hilarious thing is in the restrooms. There are 5-6 guys in there whose sole job is to massage you and crack your back. They do it QUICKLY, and they don’t ask your permission — it’s like an Indy 500 pit-stop. The second you zip up at the urinal or open the stall door you are literally picked up, lifted into the air, and they crack your back. Right, left, back, up and over, turn your neck (SNAP)… meanwhile one guy is massaging your shoulders, another is rubbing your arms, all in 10-15 seconds. You throw them 10-20 baht and stumble out and back onto the floor of the bar, feeling both refreshed and violated. The first time it happened I was completely terrified and I think I managed to get out the words

Where did you go to chiropractic schoo-HUUUUUUUUUH! OK, I guess you’re just gonna–HUUUUUUUH! Wow… is that – should I bend at the HUUUUUUUUH! OK boys… I think I’m just about HUUUUUUUUUH! Thanks.. here you… thanks..

But after the second time it just became fun and I could relax and enjoy it.

So yeah — the bar girls of Thailand. Highly recommended, whether you’re there to get laid, drink, party, play games, or just have a good time. And don’t forget that restroom pit stop.

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