The sight can be entertaining, enraging or downright depressing depending upon one’s background and point of view: a lumbering, overweight Caucasian, sporting a Goodyear Blimp for a belly, walking down a Bangkok street hand in hand with a small Thai woman. If an earthquake would suddenly hit, the guy could easily topple over and flatten her. They’d end up having to scrape her remains off the sidewalk.
What are we witnessing here? Is it a deep, lasting bond between two cultures? Or perhaps a wayward tourist needs directions. Sadly, it’s neither. What we are privy to is a glimpse of an occupation that has been around as long as Homo sapiens. No, not soccer, but (gasp) prostitution. Right in the heart of the capital city of Thailand. Who would have thought?
Actually, it turns out that a lot of people (or at least a lot of men) have contemplated this. Procuring a lady for the evening can be done in practically every country of the world (with the possible exception of Iran). It’s largely a matter of knowing where to go and whom to ask — a task I never was up to during the course of my many journeys. The Thais are simply less coy about the whole process. It’s as if they are saying: “Let’s cut through the BS, big boy. We know you aren’t here for the food. The ladies are waiting, so quit dawdling and make your choice!” It’s almost as easy as going into a 7-Eleven convenience store, which can also be found on almost every street corner in my neighborhood. (Indeed, one wonders why the Thais have not discovered a way to combine the two services.)
I grew up in a small town in the midwest U.S. where, I think I can state with little fear of contradiction, a fellow did not stumble across available companions on the way to the grocery store. I also, for some unknown reason, happen to prefer Asian women, a condition indelicately referred to by a fellow blogger as “Yellow Fever”. Residing on the fringe of a bar-ridden red light district in Bangkok has therefore presented some overwhelming temptations. At times I’ve contemplated purchasing a pair of horse blinders to keep me focused on my tasks, but that would be defeating one the reasons I chose this area to live in: taking in the sights. At least I’ve trained myself to stop drooling when I see a woman who strikes me as particularly alluring. And when I encounter a fellow Caucasian strolling down the Soi (street) with one of them, my first reaction is now one of curiosity as opposed to condemnation.
Interestingly enough, the longer I stay here, the more natural these everyday pay-for-sex affairs appear. My wholesome all-American upbringing, by contrast, strikes me more and more as being rather uptight and not as healthy as I once imagined. But that is one the reasons why we travel: to gain new perspectives.